Courses (2020-2021) – Preliminary

The 2020-21 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.

You will not be able to add these courses to your schedule via ACORN.

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.

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has required a diversification of modes of class delivery. Classes may be delivered in person, online synchronously (meaning that students and instructors meet online at a predetermined time), or online asynchronously (meaning that class lectures and materials will be made available online for viewing, with no shared meeting times). If you would like to take an in-person course but are unsure whether you can be physically present, please contact the instructor(s). Please note: The modality indicated in the course description is subject to change pending governmental and university health advisories.

Breadth Requirements

History of Philosophy

  1. Ancient
  2. Medieval
  3. 17th and 18th century
  4. 19th century
  5. 20th century

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)

2020-2021 Graduate Courses

Fall 2020 Graduate courses

AMP2000Y — Proseminar for the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP)

Instructor: James Allen

Time: Mondays, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: N/A

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

Limited to CPAMP students

Description: This course is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. The proseminar has three components: a series of seminars; an ancient Greek philosophy reading group; and a Latin medieval philosophy reading group. All students in the proseminar must attend the seminars and at least one of the reading groups; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups. For the course schedule and details on the reading groups, see the CPAMP website.

 

MST3346F — Medieval Islamic Philosophy

Instructor: Deborah Black

Time: Wednesdays, 10:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: Medieval

Location: TBD

Description: This course is an introduction to the major figures and themes in classical Islamic philosophy (falsafah) from the 9th to the 12th centuries, with a focus on the works of Al-Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), as well as other less well-known figures from the classical period. We will consider a range of philosophical problems in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and epistemology, as well as topics in ethics and political philosophy. Some consideration will also be given to the views of the Muʿtazilite and Ashʿarite schools of theology (kalām), the rival intellectual traditions to philosophy within the medieval Islamic world.

 

PHL1000F — Individual Reading and Research Course

Description: Philosophy graduate students who wish to take a reading course must draw up a detailed course plan with a member of the philosophy graduate faculty who is prepared to provide supervision. All reading courses must be approved by the graduate director. Please fill out a Request for Reading and/or Research Course form.

 

PHL1111F — PhD Proseminar: The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction

Instructors: Cheryl Misak & Gurpreet Rattan

Time: Mondays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: 20th Century; or MLL

Location: TBD

Description: This course considers the highly contested distinction between the analytic and the synthetic (between, roughly, those truths that are true solely in virtue of meaning and those true in virtue of meaning and the way the world is) and the allied distinction between the a priori and a posteriori. These distinctions have been present in philosophy since at least the empiricism of Locke and Hume, and play an important role in Kant. They are also arguably central to the very idea and advent of analytic philosophy. The course considers these distinctions in this latter connection, tracing their use and understanding in Frege, Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, the pragmatism of C. I. Lewis, and the logical empiricism of Carnap. The middle of the 20th century saw the distinction between the analytic and synthetic come under severe attack in the work of W. V. O. Quine, Nelson Goodman, Morton White, and Hilary Putnam, and a central question of the course will be to understand and evaluate this attack. The course concludes by considering the contemporary state of the art on the distinction between analytic and synthetic, in work by Tyler Burge, Paul Boghossian, Gillian Russell, David Chalmers, Timothy Williamson, and others.

 

PHL2003F Aristotle — Aristotle and Kant on the Science of Metaphysics

Instructors: Christian Pfeiffer & Nick Stang

Time: Wednesdays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: History: Ancient or 17th & 18th Century

Location: TBD

Description: What we now call ‘metaphysics’ derives from a set of books collected under that name by early editors of Aristotle; in them, Aristotle defines what he calls ‘first philosophy’ as the science of all beings insofar as they are beings. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks the question, how is metaphysics as a science possible? He argues that it is possible only insofar as it concerns the conditions of the possibility of our experience of objects, rather than those objects in themselves. In this seminar, we will examine Aristotle’s and Kant’s conceptions of the science of metaphysics and how it is possible. Central questions will include: What is the science of metaphysics, according to Aristotle and Kant? Are they even talking about the same thing? According to Aristotle and Kant, is it possible for human souls to acquire scientific knowledge in metaphysics, and, if so, how? How do Kant’s arguments about the possibility of metaphysics fare in an Aristotelian context? Did Aristotle already explain the possibility of metaphysics, 2000+ years before Kant formulated his question? Time permitting, we will also discuss the connections of these issues to later developments in analytic philosophy and German idealism. We will focus on primary texts by Aristotle and Kant, with some consideration of secondary literature as appropriate. Reading knowledge of Greek or German is not required, though both will be helpful.

 

PHL2018F — South Asian Philosophy

Instructor: Elisa Freschi

Time: Tuesdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: In this course, we will focus on one of the most influential currents within South Asian Philosophy, namely, the Mīmāṃsā school, and its approach to the logic of commands. After a short introduction to Mīmāṃsā, its history (spreading over more than 20 centuries), and the topics it primarily focused on (from epistemology to philosophy of language), we will look at the argumentative methods analysing some sample debates in Mīmāṃsā texts. Next, we will see how Mīmāṃsā authors focused on the problem of contradictory commands and devised several ways to avoid contradictions within a given corpus of commands by applying suspension, contraction, etc.
Our sources will be texts by Mīmāṃsā authors (in translation), as well as contemporary studies based on them. Since Mīmāṃsā methodologies to deal with deontic conflicts were applied also to jurisprudence, we will also look at some debates within South Asian philosophy of law.
For their final paper, students will be encouraged to analyse a further topic dealt with by Mīmāṃsā authors and comment on its philosophical solution.
Evaluation: presence and active participation to the seminar (40%), weekly assignments (10%), final paper (50%).

 

PHL2084F — Seminar in 19th-Century Philosophy: Hegel/Marx

Instructor: Rebecca Comay

Time: Thursdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: 19th Century and Values

Location: TBD

Description: In his 1873 afterword to the second edition of Capital, Marx announced his ambivalent fidelity to the Hegelian legacy, variously describing his own project as a “flirtation with Hegel,” a (materialist) “inversion” of Hegel, and as a surgical extraction of the “rational kernel” of the dialectic from its metaphysical Hegelian carapace. Ever since, Marxists have never stopped arguing about what that kernel might be or even if there is one. Is Hegel the key or the impediment to unlocking Marx’s own radical potential? Some turned to Hegel’s celebrated parable of the Master/Slave with its supposedly emancipatory conclusion. Some tried to climb the austere scaffolding of the Science of Logic with its demonstration of the destabilizing power of contradiction. Lenin, who was feverishly annotating the Logic while preparing for the revolution, remarked that it was impossible to understand the first chapter of Capital – or likely anything else – “without having thoroughly studied and understood the whole of Hegel’s Logic.” Some wondered whether the Philosophy of Right, Hegel’s most notoriously reactionary text, could be purged of its “Prussian” orientation. Some refused the salvage operation, arguing that it was a lingering attachment to Hegel that was the source of Marxism’s most retrograde commitments—teleology, totality, the forced march of progressive universal history. This was never an arid philological exercise. For the first half of the twentieth century, the debate took place against the backdrop of two world wars, the Russian Revolution, fascism, genocide, the entrenchment and expansion of Stalinism. Later, it continued in the context of decolonial struggles, the intensification of global capitalism, more genocides, the civil rights movement, and the rise of new social movements. In this course, we’ll be exploring the Hegel/Marx entanglement in the light of the current political conjuncture. What might it mean, today, to take seriously the possibility of an encounter between a materialist Hegel and a speculative Marx? We’ll be thinking not only about the standard chestnuts—labor, alienation, surplus value, exploitation, fetishism, ideology, class struggle, revolution, communism—but also about issues that were undertheorized (or badly theorized) by both authors, notably, race, gender, and the vicissitudes of nonproductive and reproductive labour.

Primary readings:

Hegel: selections from Phenomenology of Spirit, Science of Logic, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Right.

Marx (and Engels): selections from Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, “Economic and Political Manuscripts” (1844), Holy Family, German Ideology, Eighteenth Brumaire, Grundrisse, Capital.

While we’ll focusing mainly on the writings of Marx and Hegel, we’ll also be considering the trajectory of Hegelian Marxism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (e.g., Vladimir Lenin, Karl Korsch, Georg Lukács, Antonio Gramsci, Ernst Bloch, Herbert Marcuse, Raya Dunayevskaya, C. L. R James, Rosa Luxemburg. Theodor Adorno, Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Žižek). And, for a taste of anti-Hegelian Marxism: Louis Althusser.

 

PHL2100F Metaphysics — The Reality of Universals

Instructor: Byeong-uk Yi

Time: Thursdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

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.

  

PHL2105F — Topics in Metaphysics, Higher-Order Metaphysics: Properties, Propositions, and Relations

Instructor: Michael Caie

Time: Thursdays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: This class will focus on the nature of properties, propositions, and relations. We’ll begin by looking at some so-called first-order theories about the nature of such entities, and consider some paradoxes and limitative results that arise for certain natural such theories. We’ll then introduce some tools from higher-order logic and show how they can be fruitfully applied to these metaphysical questions. There has recently been a lot of work done in higher-order metaphysics, and in the second part of this class we’ll look at some recent papers from this field. This class will not presuppose any knowledge of logic beyond that covered in an introductory course.

 

PHL2111F — Seminar in Epistemology: Probability

Instructor: Jonathan Weisberg

Time: Fridays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: This course is a walk-through of Richard McElreath’s book, Statistical Rethinking: A Bayesian Course with Examples in R and Stan. A summary and table of contents are available here: https://xcelab.net/rm/statistical-rethinking/.  Since much of this material falls outside the instructor’s expertise, the course will be a cooperative effort. We will work through the book together, doing our best to help one another understand the material.

 

PHL2115F — Topics in Epistemology: Binary and Graded Epistemic States

Instructor: Jennifer Nagel

Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: Some epistemological questions are typically posed in binary, yes-or-no terms: Does S know that p? Other epistemological questions ask for fine-grained evaluations: What degree of confidence in p is rational for S, given q? This course examines the contrast between these ways of approaching epistemological questions, and looks at strategies for reducing one way to the other, as well as ways of reconciling the two approaches. We will also look at some empirical work on general cognition and mental state attribution.

 

PHL2132F — The Practical/Theoretical Distinction in Ethics, Action Theory, and Beyond

Instructor: Phil Clark

Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: A unified account of rationality, one that covers belief, action, emotion and desire, has become a kind of Holy Grail in contemporary philosophy. A recent trend toward a broader conception of the categories of belief and knowledge has complicated the quest. If there are distinctively practical beliefs, and if there is a distinctively practical kind of knowledge, does this help us see the unity of reason? Does it hurt? We will read recent work on different ways of distinguishing the practical from the theoretical, and different ways of trying to unify them. Possible suspects include Pamela Hieronymi, Richard Moran, David Velleman, Elizabeth Anscombe, Berislav Marušić, Lucy Campbell, John Schwenkler, Sarah Paul, and Matthew Boyle.

 

PHL2140F — Feminist Philosophy: Epistemic Injustice

Instructor: Amy Mullin

Time: Mondays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: Epistemic injustice occurs as a result of systemic identity prejudice and is the name of a kind of harm done to people in their capacity as a knower. In cases of epistemic injustice, people are wronged either because of their belonging to an oppressed or marginalized group or groups, or because they are assumed to belong to such a group. The term is best known because of Miranda Fricker’s book Epistemic Injustice, in which she identifies two distinct types of epistemic injustice: testimonial and hermeneutical. In the former type of injustice, people’s testimony is not given the weight that it should because of assumptions about the epistemic capacities, or lack thereof, of members of the group to which they are taken to belong. In hermeneutical injustice, members of an oppressed or marginalized group are deprived of social resources that would better enable understanding of aspects of their experience, for them and for their broader society. Women are one important group that have often been the target of epistemic injustice, and our course will focus on instances of epistemic injustice targeting cis women and trans women. Our discussion will invariably discuss other kinds of oppressed and/or marginalized groups that are similarly targeted, and how intersectional identities complicate epistemic injustice. In addition to discussing Fricker’s work and distinctions, we will discuss criticisms of her framework. For instance, does her focus on credibility deficits ignore credibility excess which, when directed towards a member, or supposed member, of an oppressed or marginalized group, can also be a source of epistemic injustice? Our main text will be The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, available for free online through the U of T Library.

 

PHL2144F — Seminar in Political Philosophy

Instructor: Arthur Ripstein

Time: Mondays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: We will read Kant’s major works in political philosophy, focusing primarily though not exclusively on his view of public law and relations between nations, including his view of peace.

 

PHL2172F — Seminar in the Philosophy of Mind: Pleasure

Instructor: Mohan Matthen

Time: Wednesdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: An examination of the psychological and normative character of pleasure. In some traditions, it is considered merely an affective state; in others, it is (additionally) an apprehension of value; in yet others, it is a psychological reward state that accompanies certain activities. We’ll consider the psychological merits of these approaches and their relevance to theories of motivation, learning, and (moral and aesthetic) value. The goal of the seminar is to form an approach to and evaluation of various forms of hedonism.

 

PHL2222F — MA Proseminar: Contemporary Philosophy of Perception

Instructor: Sonia Sedivy

Time: Wednesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: This course will examine themes in contemporary philosophy of perception by focusing on two recent books: Susanna Siegel’s The Rationality of Perception (2017) and Susanna Schellenberg’s The Unity of Perception (2018). We will begin with background to contemporary debates about the nature of perception, its relationship to action and other capacities, and its epistemic contribution. The chosen books tie together recent debates as well as going beyond them. (Please read the Introduction to the Unity of Perception and chapter 1 of The Rationality of Perception for the first class.)

Assignments:

2 short presentations (approximately 6 pages or 20 minutes)

1 short analysis (2 pages or 600 words)

1 short essay (5-6 pages or 1500-1800 words)

1 long essay (10 pages or 3000 words)

5 reading responses (no longer than one page)

 

PHL3000F — MA Professional Development Seminar

Instructors: Varied

Time: Tuesdays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Location: Room 401, Jackman Humanities Building

Description: This four-session course provides MA students with professional advice. Topics may include: writing for writing sample and publication; active/flipped classrooms; the role of graduate studies in the university; and the ethics and politics of professional philosophy, among other things. The seminar is a required course for all MA students, and is graded on a CR/NCR (credit/non-credit) basis. Classes are held on four Tuesdays during the fall term.


Winter 2021 Graduate Courses

AMP2000Y — Proseminar for the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP)

Instructor: James Allen

Time: Mondays, 4:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: N/A

Location: TBD

Limited to CPAMP students

Description: This course is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. The proseminar has three components: a series of seminars; an ancient Greek philosophy reading group and a Latin medieval philosophy reading group. All students in the proseminar must attend the seminars and at least one of the reading groups; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups. For the course schedule and details on the reading groups see the CPAMP website.

 

COL5140S — Beckett and Philosophy

Instructor: Rebecca Comay

Time: Tuesdays, 1:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: 20th Century

Location: TBD

Description: Beckett was notoriously skittish about philosophical approaches to his work, and this reticence has naturally made him even more adorable to philosophers of all stripes. This course will be exploring the fraught relationship between Beckett and philosophy, trying to think about what might be at stake in his recalcitrance. We’ll be reading a variety of Beckett’s works, from his early poetry and fiction to his late experimental texts—the stories; the poetry; the novels; the stage plays and “dramaticules”; the work in radio, film, and television; and the unclassifiable remainder—paying particular attention to the ways in which his writing puts pressure on the concepts of genre, medium, language, translation, history, and politics. We’ll also be considering some of Beckett’s philosophical interlocutors, including Bataille, Blanchot, Lukács, Adorno, Kristeva, Badiou, Cixous, and Deleuze.

A detailed reading list will be posted closer to the start of the course. Students who want to get ahead with the reading might want to read the “Trilogy” (MolloyMalone Dies, The Unnamable).

 

JGC1855S Critical Theory – The French-German Connection
Instructor: Willi Goetschel

Time: Wednesdays 3:00 pm-5:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: History: 20th Century

Location: Seminar Room 319, 3rd floor, Centre for Comparative Literature (93 Charles Street West)

Description: This course examines central theoretical issues in contemporary thought, with particular attention to the role that the “Frankfurt School” and its affiliates such as Benjamin, Kracauer, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas, and others play in the context of modern German social and cultural thought. In France, thinkers like Levinas, Foucault, and 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, and the vital role of cultural difference.

 

MST33015S — Themes in Medieval Philosophy

Instructor: Peter King

Time: Mondays, 2:00 pm-4:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: Medieval

Location: TBD

Description: In this seminar we’ll look at medieval treatments of some of the topics raised for philosophical exploration by Descartes in his Meditations. Possible topics include: skepticism, self-knowledge, the cogito, theory of error, dualism, and so on. Knowledge of Latin not necessary; I hope to have translations of the relevant discussions available.

 

PHL1000S — Individual Reading and Research Course

Description: Philosophy graduate students who wish to take a reading course must draw up a detailed course plan with a member of the philosophy graduate faculty who is prepared to provide supervision. All reading courses must be approved by the graduate director. Please fill out a Request for Reading and/or Research Course form.

 

PHL2002S Seminar in Plato — The Politics of Plato’s Republic

Instructor: Rachel Barney

Time: Fridays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: History: Ancient

Location: TBD

Description: In recent decades Plato’s political ideas in the Republic have largely been shunned as authoritarian or totalitarian. We will ask how far those charges are true, but we will also try to think afresh, and in a maximally open-minded way, about what those ideas really are, and whether they might have anything to offer for our political predicament today. We will also try to make contact with older traditions of reading the Republic, notably 19th-century democratic readings like those of Mill and Jowett. Topics to be considered include questions about method in political philosophy; the problem of greed or acquisitiveness as a starting point for political theory; the ‘noble lie’ and the significance of ideology; the so-called philosopher-kings and Plato’s argument for the necessity of a managerial political class; utopianism; Plato’s grounding of political theory in human nature, and his account of the tripartite soul; his typology of regimes and the relation of regime change to individual psychology; the importance of culture for politics; and Plato’s argument for the management of culture by the state.

 

PHL2019S — Topics in South Asian Philosophy

Instructor: Owen Ware

Time: Thursdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: History: Medieval

Location: TBD

Description: The Pātanjalayogaśāstra, more commonly known as the Yoga Sūtras attributed to Patañjali, offers a powerful synthesis of ideas from Sāṃkhya, Vedanta, and early Buddhism. Yet it also remains one of the most enigmatic texts from the South Asian philosophical tradition. The aim of this seminar is threefold. The first is to examine the intellectual context of the Yoga Sūtras through a selected study of the Vedas, Upanishads, Dhammapada, Bhagavad Gita, and Sāṁkhya Kārikā. The majority of the seminar will then offer a close study of the Yoga Sūtras with the aim of understanding its conceptual structure. Time permitting, we shall discuss the relationship between Yoga Sūtras and the Haṭha Pradīpikā. What makes the Yoga Sūtras a bold work is that it seeks to present a unified metaphysical and ethical system that overcomes the shortcomings of earlier Hindu systems of thought. Some of the core questions guiding this seminar will be: What is the nature of Patañjali’s dualism of purusha (consciousness) and prakṛti (materiality)? What is the status of ‘personhood’ in the Yoga Sūtras, and how does Patañjali try to navigate between the extremes of a Buddhist no-self theory and Sāṃkhya-style determinism? Finally, in what way does the Yoga Sūtras defend a normative conception of freedom as something to be attained? While not a course in comparative philosophy, we shall on occasion see how Western philosophers have addressed similar questions, with particular attention to Kant and the German idealists. We shall also benefit from guest lectures provided by Shyam Ranganathan (York), Elisa Freschi (Toronto), Jonardon Ganeri (Toronto), and James Milligan (London).

No previous knowledge of Sanskrit is required.

Required texts: TBA

Assignments: TBA

Please contact the instructor if you would like to audit the seminar.

 

PHL2051S — Seminar in 17th- and 18th-Century Philosophy Seminar: Spinoza’s Ethics

Instructor: Michael A. Rosenthal

Time: Thursdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: History: 17th-18th Century

Location: TBD

Description: In this course students will study the development and structure of Spinoza’s philosophical system. We will begin with selections from Spinoza’s early works, which include a treatise on philosophical method, a summary and analysis of the Cartesian system, and a critique of religion. We will spend most of our time on a careful reading of the Ethics, which presents Spinoza’s mature views on metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and the ethical life. We will analyze his arguments in detail, compare them to those of his contemporaries (e.g., Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz), and discuss the influence and relevance of Spinoza’s work to contemporary philosophical projects.

 

PHL2063S — Kant’s Ethics

Instructor: Sergio Tenenbaum

Modality: TBD

Time: Mondays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Breadth Requirement: History: 17th and 18th Century

Location: TBD

Description: Kant’s practical philosophy has provided influential answers to central questions in normative ethics and the theory of practical reason (and perhaps a bit less influential answers to questions in applied ethics such as the morality of haircuts and the comparative disvalue of alcohol abuse and gluttony). Kant’s views about the relation between freedom and rationality, the nature and content of the moral law, the value of human beings, the value of autonomy, and the relation between morality and rationality, have been at the forefront of contemporary debates. However, contemporary ethicists will often ignore large parts of Kant’s practical philosophy (especially its metaphysical commitments) and pick and choose the items they find most attractive. However, Kant himself seems to have thought that his practical philosophy (and his critical philosophy more generally) formed a systematic whole, whose parts could not be so easily sold separately. In this course, we will aim at a historically accurate understanding of Kant’s practical philosophy, while also assessing the relevance of his work for contemporary ethics.

 

PHL2084S — Seminar in 19th-Century Continental Philosophy: Nietzsche

Instructor: Andrew Sepielli

Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: History: 19th Century

Location: TBD

Description: This course will focus on three central and interrelated themes in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. For the first four weeks or so, we will try to understand Nietzsche’s views about the psychology of philosophy and philosophers. I want us to consider to what extent Nietzsche gets us right, and how his insights might then bear on our philosophical practice. But Nietzsche seems to have thought that the physiological is actually even more fundamental than the psychological in explaining human behaviour, including the behaviour of inquirers and theorists as such. So in the middle four weeks, we’ll explore the role of physiology in Nietzsche’s philosophy. We’ll see that one major function it serves for Nietzsche is in accounting for decadence, exhaustion, and “the uncanniest of all guests,” nihilism. In the last four weeks of the course, then, we’ll try to get a handle on Nietzsche’s story about the advent of nihilism, and his proposals for how it might be overcome.

Readings will likely include large chunks of On the Genealogy of Morality, Beyond Good and Evil, and The Gay Science, along with parts of The Will to Power and other material from Nietzsche’s notebooks. I will also sprinkle in some secondary literature and background reading here and there.

 

PHL2097S Topics in Analytic Philosophy — Logical Mentalism and Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Benj Hellie

Time: Mondays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: Consider a dispute in philosophy of logic between ‘realism’ and ‘mentalism’. For realists, logic is about *truth*, a relation to the *world* (Q entails P when the world’s ‘verifying’ Q requires its ‘verifying’ P); for mentalists, logic is about *endorsement*, a relation to *minds* (Q entails P when a mind’s endorsing Q requires its endorsing P). In light of the foundational role of logic, the dispute might be expected to ramify widely.

Unfortunately, we have little idea of *how* it might ramify: following Frege’s (not very good) attacks on mentalism, realism has been unchallenged orthodoxy in the analytic tradition. This is particularly unfortunate given that realism is not the prima facie correct option. After all, mentalism is favored by common sense (intuitively, logic is about *reasoning*), while obvious data frustrate realism (‘open the door and close the window’ entails ‘open the door’, but neither is plausibly thought of as even potentially true).

It would be appropriate to begin exploring the ramifications in the most immediately affected region, the philosophy of mind. By building the mind into the ground floor of reasoning, mentalism releases the world from its burden of taking care of the mind. This course explores some of the fallout, in diverse subregions, for example: the ‘hard problem’; the possibility of ‘nonobservational self-knowledge’; the significance of empathy; Kripkenstein; how to think about rationality; the problem of hallucination; ‘Frege Cases’; mental causation.

Discussion will be guided by Hellie’s book manuscript, /Out of This World: Logical Mentalism and the Philosophy of Mind/.

 

PHL2101S Seminar in Metaphysics — Metaphysical Indeterminacy

Instructor: Jessica Wilson

Time: Mondays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: Many phenomena appear to be indeterminate, including material macro-object boundaries, quantum superpositions, cut-off points in sorites sequences (e.g., of pairwise indiscriminable colour patches), and certain states of the future. In this seminar we will consider the options for understanding the indeterminacy at issue in these and other cases in metaphysical, rather than semantic or epistemic, terms. One running theme of the course will be the comparative assessment, both in general and in specific applications, of two recent approaches to metaphysical indeterminacy (MI): one on which MI involves its being indeterminate which of various determinate (precise) states of affairs obtain (along lines of the metaphysical supervaluationist accounts offered by Akiba, Barnes, Williams, and others), and another on which MI involves its being determinate (or just plain true) that an indeterminate (imprecise) state of affairs obtains (along lines of the determinable-based account I and some others have previously endorsed). Other themes will be the consideration of available strategies of accounts of MI for responding to concerns raised about the intelligibility and consistency of this notion, the import of a given account for semantics and logic, and the resources a given account may provide for addressing puzzles such as Unger’s ‘problem of the many’.

 

PHL2105S Topics in Metaphysics — Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics

Instructors: Michael Miller & Trevor Teitel

Time: Tuesdays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: In this course we will investigate a number of metaphysical issues that arise in, or might be informed by, quantum mechanics (QM), without presupposing that students have had any previous exposure to the theory. QM is widely believed to show that our world is a very strange place, but there is heated debate concerning what precisely the strangeness amounts to. We will begin by developing the structural core of QM and the empirical basis for its acceptance. We will then consider several realist interpretations of this structural core and their respective merits. From this basis, we will pursue two collections of issues. The first collection will consist of metaphysical questions arising directly from QM. Topics in this collection may include: (i) views according to which QM teaches us that the space we inhabit has vastly many more dimensions than the familiar three dimensions of our ordinary experience; (ii) Bell’s theorem, which many take to teach us that our world is non-local in the sense that it allows for unmediated causal influence across vast spatial distances; (iii) compatibility between relativity theory and QM; and (iv) whether QM in relativistic spacetime can possibly be understood in terms of an ontology of particles rather than fields. The second collection will consist of general topics in metaphysics where insights from QM might bear on the extant debate. Topics in this collection may include: (i) what role, if any, evidence from ordinary experience should play when adjudicating between competing metaphysical doctrines about the fundamental world; (ii) whether parts are more fundamental than the composite objects they compose, or vice versa, and the implications of this question for the debate between monists and pluralists; (iii) Lewis’s doctrine of modal realism, and whether the quantum multiverse can be used to defend a modified version of the doctrine; (iv) metaphysical indeterminacy, and whether QM provides paradigmatic cases of this phenomenon; and (v) the tenability of the Humean “best-system” account of laws, and how far the account can be generalized beyond laws.

 

PHL2131S — Theories of the Good

Instructor: Tom Hurka

Time: Tuesdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: This seminar will examine a number of views about the good, that is, about what’s in itself worth desiring and pursuing. Some of the candidate goods to be discussed are located in individual lives, such as pleasure; the fulfilment of desire (perhaps only informed and/or autonomous); knowledge or understanding; achievement; moral virtue; and love and friendship. Others are found in larger entities such as societies; they include equality in the distribution of happiness; the distribution of happiness in proportion to merit or desert; and the environmental good of a complex ecosystem. The aim will be to survey a wide range of things that can be held to be good in themselves and to see what in detail they may involve and how persuasive their claim is to be good.

 

PHL2148S — Philosophy of Law

Instructor: Sophia Moreau

Time: Fridays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: In this seminar, we will be considering a variety of questions about why equality matters, and what constitutes wrongful discrimination. We will start by looking at debates about how the value of equality should be understood, and what exactly we are (or should be) objecting to when we object to inequality. To structure our discussion of these issues, we will read Tim Scanlon’s new book, Why Does Inequality Matter? We will also read several historically important articles on inequality that Scanlon engages with. Next, we will turn to work from the emerging field of discrimination theory. We will ask what makes discrimination wrong, when it is wrong. Is it something about the discriminator’s motives? Is it one of the effects of discrimination on the discriminatee—for instance, her loss of freedom or autonomy, or her unfair subordination to others? Is discrimination always wrongful for the same reasons, or are different types of discrimination wrongful for different reasons? Can we say something similar, for instance, about wrongful racial discrimination and wrongful discrimination on the basis of gender identity—or not? Is it even possible to come up with a coherent theory of why discrimination is wrong?

 

PHL2171S Philosophy of Mind – Theories of Consciousness

Instructor: William Seager

Time: Mondays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: This course aims to examine a number of philosophical theories of consciousness, with some emphasis on “unorthodox” (i.e., non-physicalist) approaches. Particular theories to be considered include higher-order thought accounts, representational theories, emergentism, panpsychism, eliminativism (or “illusionism”) about consciousness, and neutral monism.

 

PHL2172S Seminar in Philosophy of Mind — Fernando Pessoa as Cosmopolitan Philosopher

Instructor: Jonardon Ganeri

Time: Wednesdays, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) has become many things to many people in the years that have passed since his untimely death. For some he is simply the greatest poet of the 20th century, certainly in Portuguese and arguably more widely. His poetry, much loved and widely read, has over the years been meticulously edited, published, and translated. For others he has gradually emerged as a forgotten voice in 20th-century modernism, now finally taking his rightful place alongside giants such as C. P. Cavafy, Franz Kafka, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Jorge Luis Borges. And yet Pessoa was also a philosopher, and it is only very recently that the philosophical importance of his work has begun to attract the attention it deserves. Pessoa composed systematic philosophical essays in his pre-heteronymic period, defending rationalism in epistemology and sensationism in the philosophy of mind. His heteronymic work, decisively breaking with the conventional strictures of systematic philosophical writing, is a profound and exquisite exploration in the philosophy of self. What this course will do is to pull together the strands of this philosophy and to rearticulate it in a way that does justice to its breathtaking originality. We will find that we shall need to repurpose tools and techniques in contemporary philosophy of mind, and also that in many places, Pessoa’s philosophy of self goes far beyond anything in current theory. Pessoa made two great discoveries about consciousness: the existence of heteronymic subjectivity, and the possibility of multiplicity in the subject position. His leading concern is with their implications for the metaphysical grounding of individual subjects of experience. His investigation of the problem is brilliant, original, and multifaceted. It is multifaceted in the particular sense that each of the literary genres he writes in is associated with a distinct approach to its solution. There are his heteronymic and intersectionist experiments in poetry, his prose antinovel The Book of Disquiet, his formal philosophical essays, and his Neopaganist notes. In each of these genres the problem of the grounding of subjects is explored from a different angle, and, indeed, different solutions are proposed. The course aims to demonstrate the extraordinary explanatory power of Pessoa’s theory by applying it to the analysis of some of the trickiest and most puzzling problems about the self to have appeared in the global history of philosophy. We will in this way seek to read Pessoa as a model for a newly emerging trend within philosophy, that of philosophy as a cosmopolitan endeavour.

Schedule:

Week 1: Pessoa’s novel invention
Week 2: Heteronyms as virtual subjects
Week 3: The enigma of heteronymy
Week 4: The multiplicity of I
Week 5: Simulating subjectivity
Week 6: The grammar of subjectivity: Pessoa & Nagel

Week 7: Being at the centre: Pessoa & Valberg
Week 8: Uncentred minds: Pessoa & Weil
Week 9: Centres without sensibility: Pessoa & Avicenna

Week 10: Dreams inside dreams: Pessoa & Zhuangzi

Week 11: Building subjects: Pessoa & Buddhism
Week 12: The cosmos and I: Pessoa & Vedānta

 

PHL2190S — Philosophy of Language

Instructors: Imogen Dickie & Philip Kremer

Time: Wednesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: In this course, we will read some of the classic literature in the philosophy of language, together with one or two books published in the last four years. The aim is to acquaint students both with some longstanding issues in the philosophy of language and with up-to-date discussion of those issues.

 

PHL2191S Seminar in the Philosophy of Language — Attitudes in Language

Instructor: Nate Charlow

Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: MLL

Location: TBD

Description: This course is about the interplay between theorizing about attitudes like belief and theorizing about language and language use. Topics covered in this seminar will include:

Representations of uncertainty in thought and language

“Self-locating” belief and perspective-sensitivity in language (e.g., “tasty”)

Imperatives/instructions in thought and language

Psychologistic theories of logical consequence and semantic content

 

PHL2057S/2196S Topics in Philosophy of Science — Teleology

Instructors: Marleen Rozemond & Denis Walsh

Time: Wednesdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

Modality: TBD

Breadth Requirement: History: 17th-18th Century; or MES

Location: TBD

Description: Aristotle thought that the explanation of natural phenomena requires an appeal to ends; teleology is required to understand the world. During subsequent centuries this view was widely adopted, but it was also subject to critical reflection. In this course, we will focus on discussions of teleology in the early modern period and in recent philosophy. The early modern period is widely seen as the age of the demise of teleology, but recent scholarship has revealed that the reports of its demise were premature for this period. Furthermore, teleology has recently received a significant revival in the natural sciences, especially in evolutionary biology, and in autonomous-systems theory. We will examine the question what teleological explanation is for various thinkers and contexts and compare the historical and current treatments of the issue.

 

PHL2199S — Seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Bayesian Philosophy of Science

Instructor: Franz Huber

Time: Thursdays, 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: MES

Location: TBD

Description: This seminar will be an introduction to Bayesian topics in the philosophy of science based on Jan Sprenger & Stephan Hartmann’s Bayesian Philosophy of Science (2019). Here is the link to the library’s e-book:

https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/lib/utoronto/detail.action?docID=5847848

One way to think of the philosophy of science is as epistemology and metaphysics of science. Bayesian philosophy of science is philosophy of science from a probabilistic point of view, where probabilities are interpreted in terms of degrees of belief. Topics in Bayesian philosophy of science include: confirmation and induction, scientific realism, learning conditionals, the problem of old evidence, causation, explanation, inter-theoretic reduction, simplicity, scientific objectivity, as well as model selection and idealization.

 

PHL2222S — MA Proseminar: Aristotle and the Study of Argument: Dialectic and Rhetoric

Instructor: James Allen

Time: Wednesdays 6:00 pm-9:00 pm

Modality: in person

Breadth Requirement: History: Ancient

Location: TBD

Description: Aristotle invented formal logic. His groundbreaking contribution is set out in the Prior Analytics. He did not do so in a vacuum or without preparation, however. In the background, preceding his logic, were longstanding concerns with practices of argument like rhetoric and dialectic and the corresponding argumentative arts or disciplines, which equip practitioners to construct and evaluate arguments belonging to the practices. His versions of these disciplines are presented in the Rhetoric and Topics. In this seminar we will attend to the broader context of Aristotle’s logic furnished by these practices of argument as we know them through the treatises he dedicated to them.

 

PHL3000S — PhD Professional Development Seminar

Instructor: Mark Kingwell

Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Modality: online, synchronous

Breadth Requirement: N/A

Location: TBD

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.


Summer 2021 Graduate Courses (May/June)

PHL2007F — Seminar in Aristotle Aristotle’s de Motu Animalium

Instructor: Jessica Gelber

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Breadth Requirement: History: Ancient

Location: TBD

Description: This seminar will be a study of Aristotle’s de Motu Animalium. We will read this short treatise in its entirety (and more than once), as well as both recent and classic scholarly articles on the wide range of philosophical and interpretive issues that the book raises. Among such issues are those concerning the so-called practical syllogism, the role of pleasure in action, questions about how the soul moves the body, the role of sumphuton pneuma in mediating psychological and physiological states or changes, the coherence of self-movers in Aristotle’s physical system, as well as general issues to do with teleology, hylomorphism, and the contrast between practical and theoretical thinking.

 

PHL2133F Topics in Ethics — Morality and Social Relationships

Instructors: Andrew Franklin-Hall & Waheed Hussain

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00 pm-3:00 pm

Breadth Requirement: Values

Location: TBD

Description: This course will explore a distinctive form of value and obligation that we associate with people being in a “relationship” with each other or being members of a “community.” Married partners, members of a family, or citizens in a political community typically see themselves as having an obligation to think and act in certain ways towards other members, and they see other members as having a similar obligation to think and act in certain ways towards them. Voluntarists think that these obligations arise only through the voluntary choices of members to participate. Welfarists think that these obligations exist only when adherence is optimal from the standpoint of aggregate welfare. But many theorists take a nonreductive view, according to which certain kinds of relational obligation are basic features of morality that cannot be understood in terms of nonrelational notions of consent or welfare. Some examples of nonreductive views include views that draw on Aristotle, the Natural Law tradition, and on notions of equality and solidarity in the thought of Rousseau and Kant. We will pay special attention to how different views about the normative status of social relationships bear on how we should think about social institutions, especially those that are hierarchical or competitive.

Readings will cover historical figures (including Sidgwick, Rousseau, and Kant), as well as contemporary ones (including J. Rawls, R. Nozick, R. Dworkin, J. Finnis, J. Cohen, T. M. Scanlon, E. Anderson, S. Scheffler, and N. Kolodny).