200-Level Courses

2020-21 Fall/Winter 200-level courses

Note about prerequisites/co-requisites for 200-level courses:

Only PHL201H1 has a prerequisite: it requires the completion of four Arts and Science full-course equivalents (FCEs).

PHL233H1 has a co-requisite: it requires one FCE in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, or Computer Science.

 

PHL200Y1Y — ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY

Profs. Jessica Gelber and Doug Campbell
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-13:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and online, synchronous tutorials.

This course is an introduction to some of the main figures and problems in Ancient Greek Philosophy. We will read texts spanning from the Presocratics through Hellenistic philosophers, but the majority of our attention will be given to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Our goal will be not only to understand the views these thinkers held but also why they held them and how they argued for them. When we engage in this activity, we are doing philosophy. So, this course is also an introduction to philosophy itself.

Readings: Plato readings will be selected from Plato: Complete Works (Hackett Publishing Press). (This will be available for purchase in the bookstore, but PDFs of all assigned Plato readings will also be available on Quercus.) For Aristotle, we will use The Basic Works of Aristotle (Modern Library). The readings from the last section of the course will be taken from Hellenistic Philosophy (Hackett).

Evaluation: Essays, regular reading, and lecture-comprehension quizzes, exams, and tutorial participation (details TBA)

PHL201H1S — INTRODUCTORY PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Mason Westfall
Fridays 12:00-3:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

An introduction to philosophy focusing on the connections among its main branches: logic, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and ethics. This course is intended for those with little or no philosophy background but who have completed four FCEs in any subject.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL205H1F — EARLY MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Martin Pickavé

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

A study of issues such as the relations of reason and faith, the being and nature of God, and the problem of universals in the writings of such philosophers as Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, and Abelard.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL206H1S — LATER MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Deborah Black
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

In this course we’ll read a variety of philosophical works from the 13th and 14th centuries, when the West first gained complete access to the works of Aristotle and the writings of Islamic and Jewish philosophers. The result was a period of intense philosophical speculation, controversy, and debate. We’ll focus on the issues of central concern to medieval philosophers, such as the existence of God, the eternity of the world, free choice, human nature and knowledge, and the relation between faith and reason. Some of the philosophers whom we’ll be reading are Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, and Nicholas of Autrecourt.

Readings: Our main text will be Arthur Hyman, J. J. Walsh, T. Williams, eds., Philosophy in the Middle Ages, 3rd edition; other readings TBA.

Evaluation: Details TBA, but likely to include one short and one longer essay; a final exam; and tutorial participation.

PHL210Y1Y — 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Profs. Michael Rosenthal and Owen Pikkert
Tuesdays 14:00-16:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

This course will survey the development of philosophy in the early modern period. We will study in some detail philosophical texts from both the so-called rationalist and empiricist traditions and conclude with an examination of Immanuel Kant’s critique and synthesis of these traditions. We shall focus on metaphysical and epistemological questions and their implications for scientific inquiry. This course will have two primary goals: 1) to understand the texts themselves and their place within each philosopher’s intellectual development; and 2) to understand the interrelations of the texts and their place in the development of philosophy in this period.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL217H1F — INTRODUCTION TO CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY

Profs. Willi Goetschel and Michael Blezy
Mondays and Thursdays 14:00-15:00

This course will have online, synchronous lectures and dual-delivery tutorials.

This course will introduce students to the central theme that defines continental philosophy by familiarizing students with a central issue informing this tradition: What is critique? We will begin by looking at Kant’s idea that critique involves the “free and open examination” not only of our most cherished ideas and institutions but also an inquiry into the conditions of the possibility of knowledge, i.e., the very foundation of philosophy. Kant formulates his project in the context of the European Enlightenment, and we will also read the other decisive philosopher of the German Enlightenment, Moses Mendelssohn. The course will then move on to a number of thinkers (Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche) that build on the Enlightenment’s project of critique. Finally, we will look at the ways in which these challenges to the legacy of the Enlightenment are reworked and developed by a number of  20th-century figures (Freud, Heidegger, Adorno, and Derrida) that give us reason to think that the project of Enlightenment either cannot succeed or needs to be radically rethought if philosophy is not to be complicit in new forms of barbarism and social control. By the end of the course, students should have a grasp of the following concepts: transcendental philosophy, idealism, dialectics, materialism, genealogy, the unconscious, ideology, and deconstruction.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL232H1F — KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

Profs. Michael Caie and Imogen Dickie

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures and online, synchronous tutorials.

An introduction to issues in the fundamental branches of philosophy: metaphysics, which considers the overall framework of reality; epistemology, or the theory of knowledge; and related problems in the philosophy of science. Topics in metaphysics may include mind and body, causality, space and time, God, freedom and determinism; topics in epistemology may include perception, evidence, belief, truth, skepticism.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL233H1S — PHILOSOPHY FOR SCIENTISTS

Prof. Alex Koo
Mondays and Wednesdays 14:00-15:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

STEM students typically focus on developing technical skills to succeed as a practitioner in their discipline. A common by-product of this singular focus is a lack of critical reflection about the discipline itself. The reality is that every STEM discipline faces deep philosophical issues at its core. In addition, philosophy has to incorporate the technical results from the sciences to remain relevant. The principle aim of this course is to explore some of the philosophical issues that both lie at the foundation of and arise from STEM.

This course will be a survey of six metaphysical and epistemic topics related to philosophy and STEM: physics and free will, scientific methodology, mathematics, mind and computation, social constructions, and questions from science fiction. Students who complete this course will have a grasp of basic metaphysics and epistemology that will be sufficient to continue in second-year Philosophy courses. Students will develop their critical reading, writing, and thinking skills through assignments and tutorial activities.

No prior philosophical knowledge is required to succeed in this course.

Readings: Primary sources will made available online.

Evaluations: Tutorial; short writing assignments; final exam.

PHL235H1F — PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Prof. Elisa Freschi
Mondays and Wednesdays 09:00-10:30

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

Some central issues in the philosophy of religion that this course will address are the nature of religion and religious faith, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, varieties of religious experience, religion and human autonomy.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL237H1S — HISTORY OF CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

Instructor: TBA
Thursdays 18:00-21:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

A historical and systematic introduction to the main phases of Chinese philosophical development, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism; the challenge of Western thought and the development of modern Chinese Philosophy.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL239H1F — INTRODUCTION TO SOUTH ASIAN PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Elisa Freschi
Mondays and Wednesdays 09:00-10:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

This course is an introduction to the main topics, schools, and figures in the philosophy of the Indian subcontinent. We will read texts (in their English translation) spanning from the Upaniṣads to contemporary Indian philosophers, and I will introduce you to the main topics thinkers particularly dealt with, from epistemology to philosophy of language, and from ontology to rational theology. We will also discuss the structure of their arguments and debate what it means to speak of “philosophy” beyond Europe.

Readings: Mysore Hiriyanna, Outlines of Indian Philosophy; Frauwallner, History of Indian Philosophy; Johannes Bronkhorst, The Śabda Reader.

Evaluation: presence and active participation, also to the tutorial (15%), weekly assignments (including a short essay) (60%), two-hour final examination (25%).

PHL240H1S — PERSONS, MINDS AND BODIES

Prof. Evan Taylor
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:00

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures and online, synchronous tutorials.

We will explore: consciousness and its relation to the body; personal identity and survival; knowledge of other minds; psychological events and behaviour.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL243H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF SEXUALITY

Prof. Belinda Piercy
Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

This course will examine philosophical arguments concerning a range of issues related to human sexuality. Despite the common idea that sexual desire is a straightforward physical need like scratching an itch, most of us have also encountered the complexity of sexual experience. Sexual desire itself involves the complexity of playing the role of both an active subject who looks with desire at another and a passive object who is admired in turn. These roles are not always easy for us to accept, or combine, and they have deep connections to cultural ideas about femininity and masculinity. Sexuality also raises a host of important but difficult questions: Should sex be tied to romantic love? Should we be monogamous? What are we doing when we use porn? Is there something morally wrong with prostitution? How do I know that someone has consented to sexual activity—do they need to shout ‘Yes!’ or is it enough that they haven’t shouted ‘No!’? In this course we will look at the reflections philosophers have given to these and other questions, from ancient thinkers like Plato to the existentialists Sartre and de Beauvoir, up to present-day philosophers like Alan Goldman, Thomas Nagel, Martha Nussbaum, and David Benatar.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

PHL245H1F&S — MODERN SYMBOLIC LOGIC

Prof. Alex Koo
Fridays 9:00-11:00

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures. Synchronous class time will be used for problem sets and tests.

Logic is a central pillar of philosophy that has its roots in ancient civilizations. Aristotle was one of the first to formalize the discipline into a highly applicable system for analyzing arguments. Logic was modernized by Frege at the end of the 19th century and by Russell and Whitehead at the start of the 20th century. Since then, logical tools have become essential in many areas of analytic philosophy, such as the philosophy of science, the philosophy of language, and epistemology.

Modern Symbolic Logic is a technical course in first-order logic. Students will learn the meaning of logical symbols and develop the skills for performing derivations in both sentential and predicate logic. The course will begin with truth tables of basic logical operators and end with polyadic predicates, identity, and operations. Learning these tools will foster critical thinking skills, lead to a precise understanding of natural language, and result in better reading and writing skills. All of these are essential to the practice of philosophy and other academic disciplines, critical for excelling on standardized tests such as the LSAT, and they are also useful in everyday life.

This is an online course. Lecture materials will be posted for asynchronous viewing. Term tests will be done online synchronously.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL246H1F — PROBABILITY AND INDUCTIVE LOGIC

Prof. Franz Huber
Mondays and Wednesdays 18:00-19:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

Probability and Inductive Logic is an introduction to the mathematical theory of probability and its applications in philosophy. On the philosophical side we will mainly be concerned with the so-called problem of induction and its reception in the philosophy of science, where it is normally discussed under the heading of “confirmation theory.” On the mathematical side we will study propositional and predicate logic, as well as elementary set theory, so as to be able to formulate the theory of probability.

The first two weeks will provide us with the relevant background in logic and set theory.

During the following three to four weeks we will cover Hume’s argument for the thesis that we cannot justify induction; Hempel’s work on the logic of confirmation and the ravens’ paradox; Popper’s falsificationism and hypothetico-deductive confirmation; as well as Kolmogorov’s axiomatization of the probability calculus.

During the following three to four weeks we will cover Carnap’s inductive logic and philosophy of induction; Goodman’s philosophy of induction and the new riddle of induction; Haack’s comparison between deduction and induction; and the Dutch Book argument for subjective, or Bayesian, probabilities.

The last three weeks will be devoted to Bayesian confirmation theory and the distinction between absolute versus incremental confirmation; Lewis’s principal principle relating subjective credences and objective chances; and Reichenbach’s “straight(-forward) rule” and the strong law of large numbers.

Along the way we will come across probability puzzles such as Bertrand’s paradox and von Mises’s wine/water paradox, as well as paradoxes from logic and set theory such as the liar paradox and Russell’s paradox.

Reading: We will work with my textbook A Logical Introduction to Probability and Induction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Evaluation: Details will be announced in September, but the assignments will include weekly problem sets. So, while the course is structured along philosophical problems, please be prepared to use mathematical symbols and logical formulas, as well as to calculate and solve equations and to prove and derive theorems.

PHL256H1S — PHILOSOPHY IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET

Prof. Mark Kingwell
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00-11:30

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

The internet and digital technology have had a transformative impact on the economy, society and politics, art and culture, and everyday life. This course explores the fascinating, often urgent, new philosophical questions raised by these changes, as well as the way they invite a rethinking of many older philosophical questions. Topics to be addressed may include artificial intelligence and the singularity; identity through social media; digital ownership and privacy; and collective/distributed knowledge and its relation to information, among others.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL265H1S — INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Andrew Franklin-Hall
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-13:00

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures and dual-delivery tutorials.

This is an introduction to central issues in political philosophy, e.g., political and social justice, liberty and the criteria of good government. The writings of contemporary political philosophers, as well as major figures in the history of philosophy, may be considered.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL271H1S — LAW AND MORALITY

Prof. Julia Smith
Mondays 18:00-20:00

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures and dual-delivery tutorials.

We will explore: justifications for the legal enforcement of morality; particular ethical issues arising out of the intersection of law and morality, such as punishment, freedom of expression and censorship, autonomy and paternalism, constitutional protection of human rights.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL273H1S — ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

Prof. Jordan Thomson
Tuesdays and Thursdays 13:00-14:30

This course will have online, synchronous lectures.

When we think about morality, we usually think about obligations we have to other human beings. But we have relationships to all kinds of other things, including non-human animals and the planet we share with them. These relationships raise ethical questions of their own: Do non-human animals have rights? Is the environment valuable in itself or only in virtue of its benefits to humans? How should we deal with conflicts between our duties to human beings and those we may have to the natural environment? In this course, we will critically examine these issues.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL275H1F — INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS

Prof. Tom Hurka
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-1:00

This course will have online, synchronous lectures and dual-delivery tutorials.

This course will introduce the main questions of moral philosophy, under three main headings. 1) The Nature of Morality: Do moral judgements apply universally or are they all relative to a particular society or person? What is the relation between morality and religion? Can moral judgements be objectively true or do they merely express emotions? 2) Moral Principles: What are the most general principles that determine which actions are right and which are wrong? Do these principles tell us always to do what will bring about the most good, and, if so, what does that good consist in? Or is it sometimes wrong to do what will have the best result? If so, why? 3) Ap­plied Ethics: How does philosophy help us solve particular moral problems such as ones about world hunger, euthanasia, and war?

Reading: Course reader

Evaluation: Essay 1 (20%); Essay 2 (35%); Final Exam (35%); Participation (10%)

PHL281H1F — BIOETHICS

Prof. Andrew Franklin-Hall

This course will have online, asynchronous lectures and dual-delivery tutorials.

An introduction to the study of moral and legal problems in medical practice and in biomedical research; the development of health policy. Topics include: concepts of health and disease, patient rights, informed consent, allocation of scarce resources, euthanasia, abortion, genetic and reproductive technologies, human research, and mental health.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL285H1F — AESTHETICS

Prof. Francesco Gagliaridi
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-13:30

This course will have dual-delivery lectures.

This course will offer an introductory survey of some of the ways philosophers have thought about art from classical antiquity to modern times. The course will be structured around three complementary approaches: close readings of primary texts, surveys of specific philosophical issues regarding art, and broader surveys of major art historical developments.

The primary texts we’ll be reading include classical texts from the Western philosophical canon (Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant), more recent texts in the analytic philosophical tradition (Danto, Dickie, Carroll), as well as texts more properly belonging to the field of critical theory, loosely defined (Benjamin, Barthes, Nochlin), and texts written by artists and art theorists whose views have been enduringly relevant to the philosophical study of art (Tolstoy, Bell).

The philosophical surveys will help us put our primary texts into context by providing an overview of the questions they are responding to, and of the larger philosophical conversations they are part of.

The art historical surveys will help us establish a common understanding of some of the key developments in the history of Western art; while this is not an art history class, it will be important not to lose sight of what is supposed to be our actual subject matter: the art itself.

Some of the questions we’ll be working through are the following: What is art and why does it matter? How does representation work? How do we distinguish works of art from mere objects: can a urinal be turned into art just by virtue of an artist’s designating it as such? What is the relationship between artistic value and moral value: can art with morally objectionable content still have artistic merit? How has the advent of technologies of mass reproduction and distribution (photography, social media) affected the status of art works?

Through a number of written assignments you will improve your abilities to read, understand, and summarize difficult philosophical material, to analyze, evaluate, and respond to philosophical arguments, and to communicate your ideas in clear and concise prose.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL295H1F — BUSINESS ETHICS

Prof. Mason Westfall
Wednesdays 18:00-20:00

This course will have dual-delivery lectures and tutorials.

We will examine philosophical issues in ethics, social theory, and theories of human nature insofar as they bear on contemporary conduct of business. Issues include: Does business have moral responsibilities? Can social costs and benefits be calculated? Does modern business life determine human nature or the other way around? Do political ideas and institutions such as democracy have a role within business?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA