Courses (2022-2023)

The 2022-23 Graduate Course listings have been posted below.

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About our Graduate Courses

Students who are not graduate students in the Department of Philosophy must secure an instructor’s approval before taking a graduate-level philosophy course. This level of approval will be sufficient for students of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST) who are seeking to enrol in a course with a faculty member cross-appointed to IHPST and for Centre for Medieval Studies students. 

All other students not enrolled in the Department of Philosophy must have their request approved both by the course instructor and by the Director of Graduate Studies in Philosophy (DGS). Requests to the DGS should be submitted with a transcript (if no grades have been received in the current University of Toronto graduate program, then the transcript from the previous degree should be attached). 

Find detailed guidelines about how to enrol in courses on ACORN on our instructions sheet.

Fill out the SGS Add/Drop Course(s) Form, have it signed by the instructor, and submit it to the Graduate Administrator.

Students from other Ontario universities must request enrollment in U of T graduate-level courses through the Ontario Visiting Graduate Students Exchange Program. Contact the Graduate Office of your home university for more information.

We anticipate that all Philosophy graduate courses will meet in person. This is subject to change pending governmental and university health advisories.

Breadth Requirements

History of Philosophy and Philosophical Traditions Drawn from Geographical Regions

  1. Ancient
  2. Medieval
  3. 17th and 18th Century
  4. 19th Century
  5. 20th Century
  6. East Asian Philosophy
  7. South Asian Philosophy

(Note: This list is flexible and may be expanded to accommodate a wider range of philosophical traditions from geographical regions, depending on courses offered in any given year). 

Contemporary Problems of Philosophy

  1. Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science (MES)
  2. Values (Ethics and Metaethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Religion) (V)
  3. Mind, Language, Logic (MLL)

2022-2023 Graduate Courses

(TENTATIVE AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Fall 2022 Graduate Courses

HPS 3010F Social Epistemology               

Instructor: Jossi Berkovitz           

Time: Thur 12-2 PM

Location: VC 304 (Victoria College/Old Vic, 73 Queen’s Park)

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years, it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology in general and to social epistemology of science, in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, “knowledge that” (something true) vs. “knowledge how,” the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice, and feminist epistemology.

 

HPS 4011F Cognitive Technologies: Philosophical Issues and Debates 

Instructor: Karina Vold 

Time: Fri 10 AM – 2 PM 

Location: NF 235 (Northrop Frye Hall, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East)

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Many technological developments have brought with them significant changes in both the modes and scope of human thinking, including how we learn, how we remember, and how we perceive and engage with the world. This seminar will introduce graduate students to philosophical issues and debates that arise from the development of cognitive technologies. We will analyze and discuss key epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues that sit at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of technology, and neuroethics. Topics covered will include situated views of cognition, cognitive artifacts, cognitive enhancement, and artificial intelligence.

 

MST 3346F Avicenna’s Metaphysics       

Instructor: Riccardo Strobino

Time: Mon 2-4 PM

Location: LI 301 (Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park)

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS Medieval

Description: The graduate seminar explores various themes in Avicenna’s metaphysics, based on a back-to-back reading of the Ilāhiyyāt from the Book of the Cure in English translation. Topics of discussion will include the status and structure of metaphysics as a science, essentialism, ground and real definition, universals, causality, contingency and necessity, nature and proofs of the existence of God. 

 

PHL 1111F PhD Proseminar: Religious Tolerance (Required for and only available to first year PhD students)

Instructor: Michael Rosenthal   

Time: Tue 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418             

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 17th and 18th century 

Description: One of the hallmarks of a liberal society is that it tolerates a variety of beliefs and ways of life. In this course we will examine the philosophical justifications of toleration from both a historical and contemporary perspective. First, we will examine ideas of toleration (and justifications of intolerance) in medieval and illiberal societies. Second, we will look at the rise of classically liberal justifications of toleration during early modern disputes over religion. We will consider the role of disputes among Christian sects, the precarious place of Jews, and the image of Islam. Third, we will discuss Enlightenment ideals of toleration and their critics. Finally, we will look at some contemporary philosophical discussions of toleration. Some of the questions we will ask are: What is toleration and how have conceptions of it changed over time? Are some justifications better than others? What are the limits of toleration? What is the place of toleration in a person’s life and in the social order? Although we will focus on debates within Europe, we will conclude with looking at critiques of this perspective from outside the West, especially from India and the Muslim world.

 

PHL 2007F Aristotle’s Criticisms of Plato

Instructor: Lloyd Gerson              

Time: Mon 9 AM – 12 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS Ancient

Description: This course focuses on Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato’s metaphysics, both in his small treatise On the Ideas and in his Metaphysics. To contextualize these criticisms, we shall begin with a survey of Plato’s metaphysics, especially as this is found in Phaedo, parts of the Republic, and Parmenides. We shall then proceed to a compact exposition of the elements of Aristotle’s metaphysics, especially his hylomorphism and essentialism. Finally, we will consider Aristotle’s arguments, both those that seek out internal contradictions in Plato’s theory and those that depend on Aristotle’s own principles. By means of Aristotle’s encounter with Plato, we aim to acquire a good understanding of the fundamental metaphysical issues that underlie ancient philosophy and beyond.

 

PHL 2089F Hegel and Heidegger                              

Instructors: Tarek Dika & Nick Stang       

Time: Tue 6-9 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 19th or 20th century, depending on final paper topic

Description: Although Hegel and Heidegger are two of the most important figures in contemporary so-called Continental philosophy, they represent, in many ways, diametrically opposed philosophical standpoints. While Hegel thought that all human activities were manifestations of thinking, and that being is fully transparent to thinking (logic, the science of thinking, “coincides” with metaphysics, the science of being), Heidegger held that thinking (or, at least, thinking understood as judging) was a derivative activity and did not constitute our most fundamental access to being. As a result, they have quite different understandings of logic, the relation of thinking to being, and the being of human beings (what Heidegger calls Dasein). In this course we will examine their fundamental starting points and methods to determine the scope of the divergence, and the possible points of convergence, between their respective ontologies. We will focus on selections from Hegel’s Science of Logic and Heidegger’s Being and Time, with some consideration of other texts (e.g. Hegel’s Encyclopedia, Heidegger’s Identity and Difference). Previous familiarity with one or both thinkers will be helpful, but not presupposed.

 

PHL 2111F Seminar in Epistemology: Bayesian Probability           

Instructor: Jonathan Weisberg 

Time: Wed 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: This course is a survey of Bayesian epistemology and statistics. We will introduce some of the work that’s been done by Bayesian philosophers, especially in epistemology and the philosophy of science. But we’ll also learn how Bayesian methods are used in statistics and scientific modelling, via the first half of Richard McElreath’s textbook, Statistical Rethinking.

No special formal background is required; if you took Grade 9 math, you can take this course. But we will be learning to do Bayesian calculations both manually and using computer code. So students must be prepared to learn some math and basic programming.

 

PHL 2131F Seminar on the Good in Human Lives                              

Instructor: Tom Hurka  

Time: Thur 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: VAL

Description: This seminar will examine a number of views about the good, i.e., about what’s in itself worth desiring and pursuing, in particular in individual lives. Some of the candidate goods to be discussed include pleasure, with its contrary evil, pain; the fulfilment of desire (though perhaps only when informed, autonomous, or in some other way restricted); knowledge and/or understanding; achievement; moral virtue; and love and friendship. The aim will be to survey a fairly wide range of states of individuals that can be held to be good in themselves and to see what in detail they may involve and how persuasive their claims are to being good.

 

PHL 2132F Ethics and Speech Acts—Please note, the course is NO LONGER OFFERED this academic year   

 

PHL 2140F Feminist Philosophy: Ethics and Social Philosophy                    

Instructor: Amy Mullin 

Time: Mon 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: VAL

Description: In this course we still study a range of topics in the area of feminist ethics and social philosophy, such as interpersonal trust and its connection to sometimes sexist and racist expectations of gendered and minoritized caregiving; relationships between autonomy, dependency, vulnerability, and oppression; the meaning of sex and gender in a context of politicized trans identities; interactions between ethics, politics, and aesthetics in feminist art-making practices; and feminist epistemology, trust, and testimony. The final selection of topics will be decided in the first two weeks of the course, with some flexibility regarding the themes and readings of the last one third of the class meetings. It is anticipated that students with an interest in bioethics could write their final paper on a topic in that area.

 

PHL 2146Y Topics in Bioethics   

Instructor: James Anderson       

Time: Fri 8:15 AM – 12 PM

Location: HS 734 (Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street)

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: This course explores a number of key concepts and issues using ethical theories and principles in bioethics. The approaches we will consider include: utilitarianism (consequence-based theory); Kantianism (duty-based theory); communitarianism; “principlism”; feminist ethics; virtue ethics; and the ethics of care. We will also briefly explore putative foundations for ethical judgment, bioethics scholarship developed by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, and the relationship between theory and practice in bioethics. Topics to be discussed include: the foundations of ethical judgment; the nature of ethical reasoning in philosophical bioethics; the fact/value distinction; personhood and moral status; autonomy; relational selfhood and autonomy; beneficence, non-maleficence and paternalism; distributive justice and social justice; gender, race, and other markers of equality and difference; the possibility of a global bioethics; the ethical status of legal and religious texts and opinions/commands; cultural relativism; communities, cultures, and religions in bioethics.

Note: This is a year-long course beginning in the Fall 2022 semester and running through Winter 2023.

 

PHL 2199F Seminar in Philosophy of Science: Memory and Imagination

Instructor: Sara Aronowitz          

Time: Thur 9-12

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Memory and imagination are both cognitive capacities that support learning, though exactly how remains a topic of debate. In this course, we’ll look at recent work in the philosophy and cognitive science of both systems and their connection, with a focus on function. We’ll also consider the contribution memory and imagination make to artificial systems and to group agents.

 

PHL 2222F MA Proseminar: Metaethics (Required for and only available to students in the generalist MA)             

Instructor: Andrew Sepielli        

Time: Wed 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: This course will focus on some of the most important issues in meta-ethics. Meta-ethics takes, well, a meta perspective on ethics, inquiring into the metaphysics of ethical properties, the semantics of ethical terms and concepts, the psychology of ethical thought and of agency, and the epistemology of ethics. We might also say that meta-ethics asks of the uncanny realm of ethics what it’s like — i.e., to which other practices or domains of inquiry it can most illuminatingly be assimilated.

I find meta-ethics to be less productive (or at least, less productive of good things!) when it traffics in arguments that merely indicate some problem, somewhere for a certain view, or some advantage for another view; I find it to be more productive when it endeavours to explain why some view is correct or incorrect — say, by ensconcing that view within a broader philosophical world-picture. Accordingly, my plan is to read the work of some of the best contemporary meta-ethicists in conjunction with other work — in other areas of philosophy, both contemporary and “historical” — that fills out worldviews within which their meta-ethical theories may be explained.

 

PHL 3000F PhD Professional Development Seminar — Section Code LEC 0101 (Accessible only to PhD students and required for those seeking to use the department’s Placement service. This is a CR/NCR course.)                  

Instructor: Donald Ainslie           

Time: Tue 6-9 PM

Location: JHB 401             

Description: The aim of this course is to prepare students entering the job market for careers as professional philosophers. Students will present and receive feedback on work from their dissertations, and receive training on preparing dossier materials, creating a website, and interviewing.

 

PHL 3000F MA Professional Development Seminar — Section code LEC 9101 (Accessible to all MA students and required for students in the generalist MA. This is a CR/NCR course.)                        

Instructors: Martin Pickavé, Marleen Rozemond & Amy Mullin 

Time: Mon 6:30-8:30 PM held on September 19, October 17, November 14, December 5 only                   

Location: JHB 418

Description: This four-session course provides MA students with professional advice. The topics will be Pedagogy, Writing Philosophy, Graduate Studies in the Overall Structure of the University, and Philosophical Research. The seminar is a required course for all MA students, including those in the Philosophy of Science stream, and is graded on a CR/NCR (credit/non-credit) basis.


Winter 2023 Graduate Courses

 

CLA 5012S Studies in Ancient Philosophy — Intellectual Debate in the Fifth Century BCE              

Instructor: Rachel Barney            

Time: Wed 1-4 PM          

Location: LI 103 (Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park)

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS Ancient

Description: We will investigate a number of competing discourses and debates involving claims to wisdom in the so-called fifth-century Enlightenment. Themes and topics will include poetic authority and literary interpretation; the attractions and dangers of the new (“Presocratic”) science; religion and atheism; debates about nature (phusis) and convention (nomos); cultural relativity and moral relativism; and rival methods of agonistic argument and proof. Each week we will focus on close reading of a paradigmatic text as a way into a proto-disciplinary intellectual discourse and a subject of debate: likely candidates include Aristophanes’ Frogs or Clouds, the Derveni Papyrus, the Anonymous Iamblichi, On Ancient Medicine or On the Art, The Contest of Homer and Hesiod, Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, Antiphon’s Tetralogies, and the discussion of Simonides in Plato’s Protagoras. All of these texts are the subject of lively interpretive contestation; many are anonymous, fragmentary, or deeply enigmatic. We will contextualize them with other relevant fifth-century texts, and investigate the resources of multiple interpretive strategies and interdisciplinary approaches for placing them in a rich, coherent picture of fifth-century intellectual debate. 

 

JGC 1855S Critical Theory — The French-German Connection                   

Instructor: Willi Goetschel         

Time: Wed 3-5 PM

Location: NF 205 (Northrop Frye Hall, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East)

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 20th century

Description: This course examines central theoretical issues in critical theory, with particular attention to the role that the so-called Frankfurt School and its affiliates—such as Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Max Horkheimer, and Theodor Adorno—and others play in the context of modern German social and cultural thought. In France, thinkers like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida respond to this tradition and enrich it. The course explores in which way the continuing dialogue between these thinkers informs current critical approaches to rethinking issues and concerns such as theorizing modernity, culture, secularization, multiculturalism, difference, and alterity.

 

MST 3310S Thomas Aquinas                      

Instructor: Martin Pickavé          

Time: Mon 2-4 PM

Location: LI 301 (Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen’s Park)

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS Medieval           

Description: Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) is one of the most prominent figures in medieval philosophy. In fact, he is so prominent that many modern readers take his views, mistakenly, as the expression of what medieval philosophers in general say about a given topic. In this class we will look at three key areas of Aquinas’s teaching. We will start with his views on human nature and psychology as they are developed in his main work, the Summa theologiae. Next, we shall focus on his philosophy of action, including his account of virtues and vices and moral goodness, before we end with an exploration of some issues in Aquinas’s teaching on metaphysics. Knowledge of Latin is not required, since all texts will be read in English translations.

 

PHL 2009S Ancient Skepticism                     

Instructor: James Allen

Time: Wed 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS Ancient

Description: The term sceptic is derived from ancient Greek word originally meaning “inquiry” or “investigation.” The history of philosophy recognizes two ancient schools of sceptics. The first was the Academy, sometimes called the “New” or “Sceptical” Academy, to distinguish it from the Old Academy of Plato and his immediate successors, of which it was the direct institutional continuation after a so-called sceptical turn in the early third century BCE. The second was that of the Pyrrhonists, which took its name and its inspiration from a shadowy third-century figure, Pyrrho of Elis, though it seems actually to have been founded in the first century by a former member of the New Academy. Though both schools ranged widely in their inquiries, they were chiefly occupied with questions about the nature and possibility of knowledge. The arguments that they raised challenge the possibility of knowledge, which are behind our sense of the term sceptic, and have exerted an immense influence ever since. The seminar will explore both forms of ancient scepticism, mainly through a careful reading of Cicero’s Academica and Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism.

 

PHL 2014S East Asian Philosophy: Sources of Normativity in Chinese Thought                   

Instructor: Chris Fraser 

Time: Mon 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS East Asian Philosophy

Description: This course will explore the implications of selected discussions in the Chinese philosophical tradition on metaethical and moral psychological or epistemological questions concerning the grounds for ethical normativity. Our guiding questions will be: What is the basis for, or what explains, ethical norms? What gives them their force as norms? How do moral agents recognize norms? How does their normative force impinge on us? The reason for addressing these two sets of questions together is that some Chinese thinkers address these issues as two aspects of a single theory. The course will focus on select readings from Mozi, Xunzi, Zhuangzi, Guo Xiang, Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming, and Dai Zhen.

 

PHL 2057S Hume’s System of Ethics                       

Instructor: Donald Ainslie           

Time: Fri 12-3    

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 18th century     

Description: David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) is widely thought to be the most significant English-language text in the philosophical canon. He embraces there a kind of naturalism by which he investigates the mind using the same experimental methods that had had such success in the science of nature. He thus eschews appeals to the divine and instead grounds all our fundamental attitudes and beliefs in a human nature that is continuous with animal nature. He covers a wide swath of topics in the Treatise: epistemology and metaphysics in its first book; the theory of emotions and motivation in its second; and morality and politics in the third. Hume intends to present a unified philosophy, which he says “will acquire new force as it advances,” even if “[m]orality is a subject that interests us above all others” (T 3.1.1.1).

This seminar will be an exploration of Hume’s “system of ethics” (T 3.3.4.1, 3.3.6.1) in the Treatise. In particular, we will focus on Book 2’s account of the passions and its link to Book 3’s treatment of morals, though we will connect both to his rejection of a self-conscious subject in his discussion of personal identity in Book 1 (T 1.4.6).

 

PHL 2097S History of Analytic: Wittgenstein, Ramsey, MacDonald, and Ryle

Instructor: Cheryl Misak               

Time: Tue 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 20th century

Description: It is often said that Gilbert Ryle’s 1949 The Concept of Mind was heavily influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein. We will trace this lineage and also that from C. S. Peirce to Frank Ramsey to Margaret MacDonald to Ryle. We shall explore the claim that Ryle helped himself to MacDonald’s reading of Peirce’s and Ramsey’s idea that laws are inference tickets or rules with which we meet the future and to the distinction between knowing how and knowing that. We shall look at MacDonald’s contribution to the 1937 Joint Session of the Aristotelian and Mind Societies in Bristol, a symposium in which Ryle and Berlin also participated. Not only will this bring the superb analytic philosopher and Peirce scholar Margaret MacDonald back into the light, where she belongs, but it will start to show how Oxford philosophy in the 1940s was influenced by American pragmatism.

 

PHL 2122S Advanced Logic: Causation and Counterfactuals          

Instructor: Franz Huber

Time: Thur 6-9 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL or MES depending on final paper/major project

Description: This seminar will deal with the logic of counterfactuals and causation. We will begin by reviewing the possible worlds semantics for modal statements. Then we will study the so-called similarity approach to counterfactuals. Next, we will focus on the relation between causation and counterfactuals, as well as discuss what the relata of the causal relation are. Against this background, we will then study the structural equations approach to causal counterfactuals from economics that has made its way into philosophy in the past two decades. This will include a discussion of interventions in terms of which structural equations are often interpreted. It will also include a discussion of empirical results on the role that judgments of normality – in both its descriptive and evaluative form – play for judgments of (actual) causation. We will conclude by looking at an alternative approach to causation – and, if time permits, we will briefly look into topics that relate causation and probability: causal models, causal inference, and causal decision theory. It should perhaps be mentioned that, while we will focus on the philosophy literature, there will also be readings from other disciplines such as computer science and cognitive science.

Background: A background in logic equivalent to an undergraduate course in symbolic logic is strongly recommended.

 

PHL 2142S Colonialism                

Instructor: Shruta Swarup           

Time: Wed 6-9 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: In this seminar, we’ll consider the project and practice of colonialism.  We’ll address questions such as the following: What is the distinctive moral wrong of colonialism?  How should we respond to the cultural injustices of colonialism?  Does institutional accommodation aimed at reconciliation advance indigenous interests or further reproduce and entrench unjust relations of domination?  Readings may include work by Lea Ypi, Glen Coulthard, Catherine Lu, Margaret Moore, Kok-Chor Tan, Janna Thomson, Shashi Tharoor, Rebecca Tsosie, Dale Turner, Rajeev Bhargava, Jeremy Waldron, and Laura Valentini, amongst others.

 

PHL 2144S Seminar in Social Philosophy: Utopia and Mythology                              

Instructors: Owen Ware & William Paris              

Time: Mon 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 19th or 20th century OR VAL, depending on final paper topic               

Description: What is utopia? Historically, the answer to this question for critical philosophy has been vexed and contentious. If utopia designates a place of impossible arrival, then is it nothing more than a regulative ideal? But if utopia designates hitherto unactualized possibilities of social life, then are we saying that human nature can be transformed? Conversely, might utopia actually evince a nostalgia for a lost human nature that modern life has distorted? Alongside these questions, we may also ask: Why has the very notion of utopia often emerged within the framework of myth? What is the relationship between utopia and mythology? And is mythology, like utopia, nothing more than a bygone mode of representing the human condition? Or are there positive and even transformative aspects to mythic thinking that are relevant for our understanding of modernity? Whatever one’s position on utopia and myth, it is clear that these concepts raise complex aesthetic, political, ethical, and epistemological questions for the practice of critique. In this course, we will investigate the work of various thinkers and their reflections on utopia and myth in the discourses of phenomenology, German romanticism, Marxist theory, aesthetics, and philosophy of race. These figures include Thomas More, Friedrich Schlegel, Paul Ricœur, Sylvia Wynter, Novalis, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Ernst Cassirer, and Ernst Bloch.

 

PHL 2146Y Topics in Bioethics   

Instructor: James Anderson       

Time: Fri 8:15 AM – 12 PM

Location: HS 734 (Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street)

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: This course explores a number of key concepts and issues using ethical theories and principles in bioethics. The approaches we will consider include: utilitarianism (consequence-based theory); Kantianism (duty-based theory); communitarianism; “principlism”; feminist ethics; virtue ethics; and the ethics of care. We will also briefly explore putative foundations for ethical judgment, bioethics scholarship developed by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, and the relationship between theory and practice in bioethics. Topics to be discussed include: the foundations of ethical judgment; the nature of ethical reasoning in philosophical bioethics; the fact/value distinction; personhood and moral status; autonomy; relational selfhood and autonomy; beneficence, non-maleficence and paternalism; distributive justice and social justice; gender, race, and other markers of equality and difference; the possibility of a global bioethics; the ethical status of legal and religious texts and opinions/commands; cultural relativism; communities, cultures, and religions in bioethics.

Note: This is a year-long course beginning in the Fall 2022 semester and running through Winter 2023.

 

PHL 2171S Philosophy of Mind: Philosophy of Perception           

Instructor: Mohan Matthen       

Time: Wed 9 AM – 12 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL         

Description: An introduction to some recent research in philosophy of perception, with a focus on questions like the following. 1) Do we perceive “ideas” (or sense-data as they are sometimes called)? Or do we perceive “ordinary’ objects without the intermediacy of ideas? 2) The status of colour—is it is a secondary quality? And what does it mean to say they are? 3) Sounds are said to be what we hear. What are they? Disturbances of the air? Or events like a person speaking or a gun firing? 4) Material objects. Do we perceive them, or do we perceive only their qualities? 5) Hunger and thirst. Are they perceptions, and if so, what are they perceptions of?

 

PHL 2172S Philosophy of Mind: Nature and Content of Thought

Instructor: Nate Charlow             

Time: Tue 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL  

Description: TBA

 

PHL 2196S Philosophy and Scientific Progress: The Role of Formal and Applied Ontology

Instructor: Rasmus Larsen           

Time: Wed 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Philosophy is traditionally described as an academic discipline fundamentally different from those in the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc. An often-highlighted difference is that philosophy is characterised as a speculative or a priori approach to knowledge formation, thus strictly disjointed from the natural sciences that are predominately informed by empirical experimentation. However, recent developments in modern science have demonstrated why this “hard” distinction between philosophy and science is untenable and obscures philosophy’s role in scientific progress. In this course, we explore some of these developments, focusing mainly on contributions in the field of formal and applied ontology. To most philosophers, ontology is synonymous with metaphysics, a branch of philosophy concerned with outlining and elucidating the most basic categorisation of reality (e.g., dispositions, properties, processes, etc.). However, to a rapidly growing group of philosophers, ontology is also synonymous with a method in computer and data science broadly praised for its innovative role in advancing knowledge in an array of scientific domains (such as genomics, artificial intelligence, mental health, etc.). During the semester, we will explore the history, influence, and real achievements of formal and applied ontology; moreover, the important role we philosophers can play in advancing scientific knowledge.

 

PHL 2198S Advanced Introduction to the Philosophy of Science               

Instructor: Denis Walsh

Time: Thur 9 AM – 12 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES        

Description: This course offers an advanced introduction to several contemporary topics in the general philosophy of science. Topics to be considered may include inductive inference, confirmation, models and theories, scientific representation, approximation and idealization, realism and empiricism, reduction and emergence, explanation, causation, and experimentation.

 

PHL 2223S MA Proseminar: Metaphysics (This course is required for students in the generalist MA and available also to students in the MA Phil of Science)     

Instructor: Byeong-uk Yi              

Time: Thur 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES        

Description: In this course, we will study one of the oldest issues in philosophy: the reality of universals. Are there universals or attributes (e.g., colors, shapes, kinds) in addition to particulars (e.g., red shirts, circular domes, dogs)? If so, how do they exist? Do they exist independently of how we conceive them? Or do they exist as concepts in our mind? We will read both classical and recent writings on these issues.

 


Summer 2023 Graduate Courses (May/June)

PHL 2018S South Asian Philosophy                         

Instructor: Nilanjan Das

Time: Mon & Wed 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS South Asian      

Description: This course is about the problem of universals, the problem of explaining how multiple particulars can have the same properties. In Sanskrit philosophy, many Brahmanical thinkers solved this problem by endorsing realism about universals. They claimed that multiple particulars can have the same properties because they can instantiate universals that exist over and above these particulars. By contrast, the Buddhists typically were nominalists about universals: they denied the mind-independent existence of universals. To solve the problem of universals, some of them appealed to objective similarities among these particulars (resemblance nominalism), while others took the attribution of the same property to multiple particulars as a matter of mere conceptual construction (concept nominalism).

Our aim will be to reconstruct and assess these theories. We will primarily study annotated translations of Sanskrit texts by authors like Vasubandhu, Dignāga, Uddyotakara, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa, Dharmakīrti, Dharmottara, Bhaṭṭa Jayanta, and Vācaspati Miśra. At the same time, we will keep an eye on the connections between these ancient debates and more recent work on the problem of universals, concepts, and the distinction between perception and cognition.

 

PHL 2144S Seminar in the Philosophy of Language (Subtitle TBA)

Instructor: Diana Raffman

Time: Tue & Thur 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Description: TBA

 

MA Concentration Philosophy of Science—program requirement course listings (Fall 2022 & Winter 2023)

FALL 2022

HPS 1000F HPS Proseminar        

Instructor: Denis Walsh

Time: Mon 2-4 PM

Location: BC 20 (Birge-Carnegie Library, 75a Queens Park )

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: The purpose of this course is to introduce students to some of the key conceptual developments in the history and philosophy of science and technology. The history of science and the philosophy of science tend to operate at a distant remove from each other: they often employ different methodologies to address different kinds of questions. The objective of this course is to carve out common ground in which historians and philosophers may productively engage with one another, and at the same time to survey various issues in the history and philosophy of biology. We will do this in an unorthodox way by focusing on the so-called problem of the organism. Organisms, of course, are the subject matter of biology. They are at the same time problematic sorts of natural phenomena. We will examine the changing approaches to understanding (or ignoring) organisms throughout the history of biology as a lens through which to discuss issues in the philosophy of science such as explanation, the metaphysics of science, experiment, modelling, and the laws of nature.

 

HPS 3010F Social Epistemology               

Instructor: Jossi Berkovitz           

Time: Thur 12-2 PM

Location: VC 304 (Victoria College/Old Vic, 73 Queen’s Park)

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Traditionally, epistemology has dealt with the ways in which an individual acquires knowledge through perception and reasoning. However, in recent years, it has become apparent that the traditional discussions of knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular, fail to capture important aspects of the social dimension of knowledge. We acquire most of our beliefs from the testimony of others, including experts, and from social institutions that are in charge of the generation of knowledge. The relatively recent branch of philosophy that deals with the social dimensions of knowledge is called social epistemology. It has developed through dialogue with the history of science, sociology of scientific knowledge, anthropology, and philosophy of science. The course will provide an introduction to social epistemology in general and to social epistemology of science, in particular. It will deal with various aspects of the nature of knowledge from this new perspective, including issues such as the development of scientific knowledge, “knowledge that” (something true) vs. “knowledge how,” the influence of social and cultural factors on scientific methodology, scientific rationality and scientific knowledge, scientific realism vs. social constructivism, distributive cognition, holism vs. methodological individualism, trust, expertise, consensus, distributive epistemic injustice, and feminist epistemology.

 

HPS 4011F Cognitive Technologies: Philosophical Issues and Debates

Instructor: Karina Vold 

Time: Fri 10 AM – 2 PM 

Location: NF 235 (Northrop Frye Hall, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East)

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Many technological developments have brought with them significant changes in both the modes and scope of human thinking, including how we learn, how we remember, and how we perceive and engage with the world. This seminar will introduce graduate students to philosophical issues and debates that arise from the development of cognitive technologies. We will analyze and discuss key epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues that sit at the intersection of philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of technology, and neuroethics. Topics covered will include situated views of cognition, cognitive artifacts, cognitive enhancement, and artificial intelligence.

 

HPS 4020F Postcolonialism and the Global Turn in Science and Technology Studies

Instructor: Adrian Zakar               

Time: Tue 2-4 PM            

Location: NF 205 (Northrop Frye Hall, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent East)

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: This seminar introduces graduate students to the role of postcolonial theory in generating a “global turn” in histories of science and the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss the key critiques of historical and social studies of science by postcolonial scholars, debate the theoretical and methodological significance of ideas like “global perspectives,” the “Global South,” and “non-Western science” in STS. To evaluate the impact of these ideas on the field, we will review recently published case studies applying postcolonial approaches to histories of science, technology, and medicine. Students will also have the opportunity to compare these approaches with the related but distinct concepts of decoloniality emerging from Indigenous studies, and to consider how postcolonial STS can inform their own ongoing research.

 

PHL 2111F Seminar in Epistemology: Bayesian Probability           

Instructor: Jonathan Weisberg 

Time: Wed 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: This course is a survey of Bayesian epistemology and statistics. We will introduce some of the work that’s been done by Bayesian philosophers, especially in epistemology and the philosophy of science. But we’ll also learn how Bayesian methods are used in statistics and scientific modelling, via the first half of Richard McElreath’s textbook, Statistical Rethinking.

No special formal background is required; if you took Grade 9 math, you can take this course. But we will be learning to do Bayesian calculations both manually and using computer code. So students must be prepared to learn some math and basic programming.

 

PHL 2146Y Topics in Bioethics   

Instructor: James Anderson       

Time: Fri 8:15 AM – 12 PM

Location: HS 734

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: This course explores a number of key concepts and issues using ethical theories and principles in bioethics. The approaches we will consider include: utilitarianism (consequence-based theory); Kantianism (duty-based theory); communitarianism; “principlism”; feminist ethics; virtue ethics; and the ethics of care. We will also briefly explore putative foundations for ethical judgment, bioethics scholarship developed by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, and the relationship between theory and practice in bioethics. Topics to be discussed include: the foundations of ethical judgment; the nature of ethical reasoning in philosophical bioethics; the fact/value distinction; personhood and moral status; autonomy; relational selfhood and autonomy; beneficence, non-maleficence and paternalism; distributive justice and social justice; gender, race, and other markers of equality and difference; the possibility of a global bioethics; the ethical status of legal and religious texts and opinions/commands; cultural relativism; communities, cultures, and religions in bioethics.

Note: This is a year-long course beginning in the Fall 2022 semester and running through Winter 2023.

 

PHL 2199F Seminar in Philosophy of Science: Memory and Imagination

Instructor: Sara Aronowitz          

Time: Thur 9-12

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Memory and imagination are both cognitive capacities that support learning, though exactly how remains a topic of debate. In this course, we’ll look at recent work in the philosophy and cognitive science of both systems and their connection, with a focus on function. We’ll also consider the contribution memory and imagination make to artificial systems and to group agents.

 

PHL 3000F MA Professional Development Seminar — Section code LEC 9101 (Accessible to all MA students and required for students in the generalist MA. This is a CR/NCR course.)                        

Instructors: Martin Pickavé, Marleen Rozemond & Amy Mullin 

Time: Mon 6:30-8:30 PM                             

Location: JHB 418

Description: This four-session course provides MA students with professional advice. The topics will be Pedagogy, Writing Philosophy, Graduate Studies in the Overall Structure of the University, and Philosophical Research. The seminar is a required course for all MA students, including those in the Philosophy of Science stream, and is graded on a CR/NCR (credit/non-credit) basis.

 

WINTER 2023

HPS 3004S Philosophy of Medicine

Instructor: Brian Baigrie

Time: Thur 2-4 PM

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: This seminar course provides a graduate-level introduction to the philosophy of medicine, a fast-growing philosophical field. We will explore both classic and cutting-edge work. In line with the orientation of the field, we will examine metaphysical/conceptual and epistemic questions in medicine and medical research rather than the kinds of questions traditionally asked in the field of bioethics. Also following the contemporary focus of philosophy of medicine, most of the readings are situated in the philosophy of science. Topics explored will include: varieties of medicine (mainstream, alternative) and their critics; the concepts and nature of health, disease, and illness; disease kinds and classification; the philosophy of psychiatry; biomedical science and medical explanation; the methodology of clinical research and epidemiology; the epistemology of evidence-based medicine; clinical reasoning; and values and the social epistemology of medicine. While most readings follow an “analytic” approach to philosophy of medicine, some follow a more “continental” approach. Classes will consist in a discussion of the course readings with an introduction to the topics provided by the instructor. Links to all required readings will be provided.

 

HPS 4300S Feminism and Science and Technology Studies

Instructor: Elise Burton 

Time: Tue 4-6 PM            

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: This seminar introduces graduate students to intersections of feminist theory with the multidisciplinary field of science & technology studies (STS). We will analyze and discuss notable critiques of science and technology by feminist and queer studies scholars who have transformed not only the field of STS but also research practices and concepts within STEM fields. This year’s seminar focuses primarily on Sex & Gender in the History of Science, with key topics including biomedical and technological representations of sex, gender, and sexuality; women in STEM professions; human reproductive technologies; as well as intersectional and transnational approaches to studying gendered labour and knowledge production. Course assignments will enable students to consider how the themes, theoretical approaches, and/or methodologies of feminist STS can inform their own research interests.

 

PHL 2097S History of Analytic: Wittgenstein, Ramsey, MacDonald, and Ryle

Instructor: Cheryl Misak               

Time: Tue 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: GEO/HIS 20th century

Description: It is often said that Gilbert Ryle’s 1949 The Concept of Mind was heavily influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein. We will trace this lineage and also that from C. S. Peirce to Frank Ramsey to Margaret MacDonald to Ryle. We shall explore the claim that Ryle helped himself to MacDonald’s reading of Peirce’s and Ramsey’s idea that laws are inference tickets or rules with which we meet the future and to the distinction between knowing how and knowing that. We shall look at MacDonald’s contribution to the 1937 Joint Session of the Aristotelian and Mind Societies in Bristol, a symposium in which Ryle and Berlin also participated. Not only will this bring the superb analytic philosopher and Peirce scholar Margaret MacDonald back into the light, where she belongs, but it will start to show how Oxford philosophy in the 1940s was influenced by American pragmatism.

 

PHL 2101S Causation and Counterfactuals          

Instructor: Franz Huber

Time: Thur 6-9 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Description: This seminar will deal with the logic of counterfactuals and causation. We will begin by reviewing the possible worlds semantics for modal statements. Then we will study the so-called similarity approach to counterfactuals. Next, we will focus on the relation between causation and counterfactuals, as well as discuss what the relata of the causal relation are. Against this background, we will then study the structural equations approach to causal counterfactuals from economics that has made its way into philosophy in the past two decades. This will include a discussion of interventions in terms of which structural equations are often interpreted. It will also include a discussion of empirical results on the role that judgments of normality – in both its descriptive and evaluative form – play for judgments of (actual) causation. We will conclude by looking at an alternative approach to causation – and, if time permits, we will briefly look into topics that relate causation and probability: causal models, causal inference, and causal decision theory. It should perhaps be mentioned that, while we will focus on the philosophy literature, there will also be readings from other disciplines such as computer science and cognitive science.

 

PHL 2146Y Topics in Bioethics   

Instructor: James Anderson       

Time: Fri 8:15 AM – 12 PM

Location: HS 734

Breadth Requirement: VAL         

Description: This course explores a number of key concepts and issues using ethical theories and principles in bioethics. The approaches we will consider include: utilitarianism (consequence-based theory); Kantianism (duty-based theory); communitarianism; “principlism”; feminist ethics; virtue ethics; and the ethics of care. We will also briefly explore putative foundations for ethical judgment, bioethics scholarship developed by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, and the relationship between theory and practice in bioethics. Topics to be discussed include: the foundations of ethical judgment; the nature of ethical reasoning in philosophical bioethics; the fact/value distinction; personhood and moral status; autonomy; relational selfhood and autonomy; beneficence, non-maleficence and paternalism; distributive justice and social justice; gender, race, and other markers of equality and difference; the possibility of a global bioethics; the ethical status of legal and religious texts and opinions/commands; cultural relativism; communities, cultures, and religions in bioethics.

Note: This is a year-long course beginning in the Fall 2022 semester and running through Winter 2023.

 

PHL 2171S Philosophy of Mind: Philosophy of Perception           

Instructor: Mohan Matthen       

Time: Wed 9 AM – 12 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL         

Description: An introduction to some recent research in philosophy of perception, with a focus on questions like the following. 1) Do we perceive “ideas” (or sense-data as they are sometimes called)? Or do we perceive “ordinary’ objects without the intermediacy of ideas? 2) The status of colour—is it is a secondary quality? And what does it mean to say they are? 3) Sounds are said to be what we hear. What are they? Disturbances of the air? Or events like a person speaking or a gun firing? 4) Material objects. Do we perceive them, or do we perceive only their qualities? 5) Hunger and thirst. Are they perceptions, and if so, what are they perceptions of?

 

PHL 2172S Philosophy of Mind: Nature and Content of Thought

Instructor: Nate Charlow             

Time: Tue 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MLL  

Description: TBA

 

PHL 2196S Philosophy of Science: Current Trends in Formal and Applied Ontology

Instructor: Rasmus Larsen           

Time: Wed 3-6 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES

Description: Philosophy is traditionally described as a discipline fundamentally different from those in the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc. An often highlighted difference is that philosophy is characterized as a speculative or a priori approach to knowledge formation, strictly disjointed from the natural sciences that are predominately informed by empirical experimentation. However, recent developments in philosophy have demonstrated why this “hard” distinction between philosophy and science is untenable and obscures philosophy’s role in scientific progress. In this course, we explore these developments, focusing mainly on contributions from the field of formal and applied ontology, and how these have innovated research methods in an array of scientific domains ranging from genetics to artificial intelligence to mental health studies. During the semester, we will cover themes in the history of metaphysics and formal ontology; innovations in, and the utility of applied ontology; and case studies from the use of (formal and applied) ontology across scientific disciplines and domains.

 

PHL 2223S MA Proseminar: Metaphysics (This course is required for students in the generalist MA and available also to students in the MA Phil of Science)     

Instructor: Byeong-uk Yi              

Time: Thur 12-3 PM

Location: JHB 418

Breadth Requirement: MES        

Description: In this course, we will study one of the oldest issues in philosophy: the reality of universals. Are there universals or attributes (e.g., colors, shapes, kinds) in addition to particulars (e.g., red shirts, circular domes, dogs)? If so, how do they exist? Do they exist independently of how we conceive them? Or do they exist as concepts in our mind? We will read both classical and recent writings on these issues.