200-Level Courses

2021-22 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
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-13:00

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: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL201H1S — INTRODUCTORY PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Mason Westfall
Fridays 12:00-15:00

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

In this course we’ll read a variety philosophers from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions covering the period from the 4th to the 12th centuries CE including Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, and Abelard among Christian authors, and Avicenna (Ibn Sina), Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon), and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) among Islamic and Jewish authors. We’ll focus on the issues of central concern to these philosophers, including the relation between philosophy and religious belief, the existence and nature of God, freedom and determinism, and the problem of universals.

Readings: Arthur Hyman, J. J. Walsh, T. Williams, eds. Philosophy in the Middle Ages, 3d edition; other readings to be posted on Quercus.

Evaluation: Term work (details TBA, but will include at least one essay): 50%; Final examination (possibly take-home format) 35%; Tutorial/participation: 15%.

PHL206H1S — LATER MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY

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

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, and William of Ockham, 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: Term work (details TBA, but will include at least one essay): 50%; Final examination (possibly take-home format) 35%; Tutorial/participation: 15%.

PHL210Y1Y — 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Profs. Nick Stang
Tuesdays 14:00-16:00

This is a survey of modern European philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; in terms of historical figures, we will begin with Descartes and end with Kant. Our guiding thread through this extraordinarily rich period will be a set of inter-related questions. What is the fundamental structure of reality? What, if anything, can we know about it? What is the nature of the human mind, and its connection to reality, that makes such knowledge possible at all? This period overlaps with what is known as the ‘Scientific Revolution’ so we will also consider how these questions, and their answers, might be affected by the development of the new science.  Does modern mathematical natural science tell us about the fundamental nature of physical reality?  Where do the basic concepts of natural science (cause-effect, matter, etc.) come from, and why should we think they accurately describe reality?  How is scientific knowledge of nature possible in the first place? In the Fall semester we will read works by Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and Leibniz; in the Spring, we will read more Leibniz, Clarke, Newton, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.  No previous familiarity with philosophy is required.

Readings: Ariew & Watkins. Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources. Hackett Publishing Company

Evaluation: 2 Essays (3–5 pgs.)  each term (15% each, 4 total), Fall term test (20%), Final Exam (20%).

PHL217H1S — INTRODUCTION TO CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Mark Kingwell
Tuesday and Thursday 14:00-15:00.

The primary aim of this course is to introduce students to the subject of continental philosophy, understood as the tradition of aesthetic theory, phenomenology, and cultural-critical thought that develops in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will raise questions concerning aesthetics, history, political systems, and culture, using ideas and methods which are rooted in the critical philosophy of the German Idealist school(s), flower fully in the “Skeptical Triumvirate” of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, and continue today in such figures as Adorno, Debord, and Žižek.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL232H1S — KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

Profs. Michael Caie
Mondays and Wednesdays 15:00-16:00

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

PHL233H1F — PHILOSOPHY FOR SCIENTISTS

Prof. Imogen Dickie
Tuesday and Thursday 14:00-15:00

An introduction to philosophy tailored for students with backgrounds in mathematics and science. Topics include causation, explanation, the relation between scientific and mathematical theories and reality, the role of mathematics in scientific theories, the relevance of scientific and mathematical discoveries to ‘big’ traditional philosophical questions such as the nature of consciousness, whether we have free will, and the meaning of life.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

PHL235H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

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

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

PHL237H1F — HISTORY OF CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Chris Fraser
Mondays and Wednesdays 15:00-16:30

What is the Way to live? How can we become exemplary persons? How does human life properly fit into the natural world? What should the role of government be in social life? Chinese thinkers throughout history were deeply concerned with exploring these and related questions, and considering their reflections can help us make sense of our own lives and better understand our own path. This course is a historical introduction to Chinese philosophy, covering selected figures and texts from the classical period through the Qīng dynasty. Schools of thought discussed include Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, Legalism, “Profound Learning,” Neo-Confucianism, and “Evidential Learning.” Texts and thinkers include the Confucian Analects, Mòzǐ, Mèngzǐ, Xúnzǐ, Dàodéjīng, Zhuāngzǐ, Hán Fēi, Guō Xiàng, Zhū Xī, Wáng Yángmíng, and Dài Zhèn.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL239H1F — INTRODUCTION TO SOUTH ASIAN PHILOSOPHY

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

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” outside of the Euro-American traditions.

You may be here because you are curious about the millenary culture of India, the theory of karman, Yoga, brahman and the Upaniṣads. If this is the case, beware of the fact that I am going to disappoint you, explaining that there are multiple theories of karman, that Sanskrit philosophy is not a monolith, and discussing Yoga as a philosophy and not as a soteriological path. However, like Ariadne abandoned on an island by Theseus and then ending up marrying Dionysus, the disappointment might open the door to a deeper fascination.

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

Evaluation: Participation (24%); Weekly Reading Assignments (24%); 2-page summary (4%); Mid-term Paper (24%); Final Test (24%)

PHL240H1S — PERSONS, MINDS AND BODIES

Prof. David Barnett
Mondays and Fridays 11:00-12:00

A traditional view holds that human life begins at conception, that an adult at the end of his or her life can be the same person who was once a child and who was before that that an embryo, and that this same person will go on to survive the death of his or her body.  Does this traditional conception of human existence hold up to critical scrutiny?  In this introductory philosophy course, we will address such fundamental questions of human existence as:  When does life begin?  When during the development of an embryo into an adult human being does one acquire moral rights?  What is a mind, and what is the mind’s relationship to the brain?  Do animals have minds?  Could robots or computers have minds someday?  Do you have an immaterial soul that is capable of surviving the death of your body and brain?  When does life end, and why is it bad?  Do human beings in a persistent vegetative state have the same right to life that most adult humans have?  No prior background in philosophy will be presupposed, although a willingness to ask difficult questions and develop careful and methodical reasoning in support of one’s answers will be essential.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL243H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF SEXUALITY

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

Philosophical issues about sex and sexual identity in the light of biological, psychological and ethical theories of sex and gender; the concept of gender; male and female sex roles; perverse sex; sexual liberation; love and sexuality.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

PHL244H1F — HUMAN NATURE

Prof. Brendan DeKenessey
Mondays and Wednesdays 13:30-15:00

Aspects of human nature, e.g., emotion, instincts, motivation. Theories of human nature, e.g., behaviourism, psychoanalysis.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

PHL245H1F — MODERN SYMBOLIC LOGIC

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

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 philosophy of science, 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 are useful in every day life.

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

Readings: Text provided online

Evaluation: 4 term tests, 11 weekly quizzes, final exam

PHL245H1S — MODERN SYMBOLIC LOGIC

Instructor: TBA
Fridays 9:00-12:00

An introduction to formal deductive logic. Semantics, symbolization, and techniques of natural deduction in sentential logic. Symbolization, natural deduction, and models in monadic predicate logic. Symbolization and natural deduction with polyadic predicates. Introduction to advanced concepts in first-order logic, such as operations, identity, and models.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL246H1F — PROBABILITY AND INDUCTIVE LOGIC

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

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.

PHL255H1F – PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

Prof. Alex Koo
Monday and Wednesday 10:00-11:00

When it comes to generating useful theories of our world, science is the best and most successful discipline that we have. Given this success, it seems that we ought to trust science and believe that the statements of science are facts—that they are true. However, as we know this is not always the case and, perhaps surprisingly, there are strong philosophical reasons to doubt the absolute truth of our best scientific theories. So, what ought our epistemic position towards science be?

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of science with focus on epistemic arguments related to belief in science and the extent of the truth of scientific theories. We will discuss a broad range of topics including logical positivism, scientific methodology, holism, naturalism, scientific realism, and anti-realism. The goal is for students to sharpen their understanding of science and to appreciate that these philosophical questions have genuinely shaped the development of scientific practice. No prior scientific knowledge is required to succeed in or to enjoy this class.

Reading: Selection of primary sources provided online

Evaluation: TBA

PHL256H1S — PHILOSOPHY IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET

Prof. Evan Taylor
Tuesdays and Thursdays 18:00-19:30

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

PHL265H1F — INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

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

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

PHL268H1S – PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL CRITICISM

Prof. William Paris
Monday and Wednesday 10:00-11:30

The subject of this course centers on two questions in 20th century continental philosophy. First, what can theory bring to our understanding of politics? Second, what is the role of critique for political judgment? We will begin with Kant for an understanding of the meaning of “critique” that many 20th century continental philosophers draw upon. Following this introduction, the course will be split between German philosophers and French philosophers to allow us to understand the tensions and convergences between the two camps. The German philosophers we will read are Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Hannah Arendt. For the French philosophers, we will read Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault. By the end of the course students will be able to assess how different thinkers attempted to resolve the relationship of the philosopher to political society.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL271H1F — LAW AND MORALITY

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

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

PHL273H1F — ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

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

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 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%)

PHL281H1S — BIOETHICS

Prof. Andrew Franklin-Hall
Tuesday and Thursday 12:00-13:00

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
Tuesday and Thursday 12:00-13:30

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

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