2019 Summer Courses

Detailed descriptions for the 2019 can be found below. Please note that the descriptions and grading schemes are subject to change. Finalized descriptions and marking schemes will be given out on the first day of classes with your course syllabus. The timetable information is subject to change. Please check the most recent timetable information on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage.

PHL100Y1Y – Introduction to Philosophy

Instructors: Doug Campbell (F-Term) and Rachel Mackinnon (S-Term)
Mondays 6:00-8:00 and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

This course will introduce you to the discipline of philosophy through a survey of some of its major historical figures, such as Plato, Aristotle, the Buddha, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and Simone de Beauvoir. In studying these philosophers, we will ask several questions. First, in what sense are these thinkers doing “philosophy”? Second, what kinds of questions are these philosophers asking and why do they think they matter? Third, how are these philosophers constructing their philosophical systems? For example, how do theories about human nature lead to commitments in political philosophy? We will also look at how these philosophers critique and improve upon one another.

In reading these philosophers our goal is not just to memorize who said what, but to use these readings to learn to do philosophy. Thus, when reading these works and discussing them in class and term papers, you should be able to understand the reasons why a given philosopher holds his or her view and give reasons for why you agree or disagree with them. This is also not a class in which you are expected to have answers to these questions – after all, we’ve been asking them for at least 2,500 years!

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly quizzes: 15%; Participation: 10%; First Essay: 10% (due May 25); Second Essay: 10% (due June 15); Third Essay: 10% (due July 22nd); Fourth Essay: 15% (due August 12th); Final Exam: 30% (time and location TBD)

PHL200Y1Y – Ancient Philosophy

Instructors: Douglas Campbell (F-Term) and Mark Gatten (S-Term)
Tuesdays 9:00-12:00 and Thursdays 9:00-11:00

In the first half of this course, we will study Plato’s answers to central philosophical questions, bearing in mind how he is engaging with his predecessors. We will begin by painting in (very) broad strokes the intellectual scene in ancient Greece before Plato, and then we will spend the rest of the course considering Plato’s dialogues. Some of the questions we will consider are: what is philosophy, and why should we engage in it? What is knowledge? What is virtue, and why, if at all, should be virtuous? What is real? Is there any part of us that survives death? What is nothingness? This class will be problem-based, which means we will jump around a lot; we will have to pay attentions to the limits of this approach. Nevertheless, by the end of the semester, we will have read several dialogues in full.


In the second half, we will study some of the philosophers writing after (and, often, in response to) Plato, beginning with his most famous student, Aristotle. After Aristotle, we will turn to the philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period, specifically, the Stoics and Epicureans. We will conclude by reading Boethius, whose work is situated at the transition from late antiquity to the early middle ages. Our main focus this term will be on ethical questions. What kind of life is best? Why should I be virtuous? What is virtue? Is happiness up to us, or is it in some ways out of our control? We will also study the theoretical philosophy of these figures, partly because these topics are interesting in themselves and partly to see how their theoretical commitments inform their ethical positions. This course is intended to build upon the themes from the previous term, and it is designed to encourage reflection upon why and how these philosophers agree or disagree with each other on these important questions.

Reading: TBA


F semester (47.5%):

  1. Weekly quizzes: 5%; six in total; each is equally weighted.
  2. First essay (max 500 words): 10%. Due: May 25th.
  3. Second essay (max 1000 words): 15%. Due: June 12st.
    1. There will be an optional peer review for this essay, the completion of which will reward you with three extra percentage points on your essay grade.
  4. Take-home test: 7.5%. Due: June 18th.
  5. Attendance and participation in tutorials: 7.5%

S semester (52.5%):

  1. Weekly reading responses (roughly 250 words / week): 5%
  2. Short essay draft (max 1200 words): n/a Due: July 11th. The grade on the draft does not contribute to your final course mark, but failure to submit a draft by the deadline will result in a 10% penalty on the mark for the long essay.
  3. Long, revised essay (max 2100 words): 20%. Due: August 8th
  4. Final exam (non-cumulative): 20%. The final exam will take place sometime during the August examination period, from August 15-22, with the specific date to be determined by the Faculty of Arts and Science. A study guide package with more information and questions will be released by July 30th.        
  5. Attendance and participation in tutorials: 7.5%

PHL217H1S – Introduction to Continental Philosophy

Instructor: J. Riggs
Mondays 6:00-8:00 and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

The aim of this course is to introduce you to some of the central figures of 19th and 20th century continental philosophy. Some of the philosophical movements we’ll examine include German Idealism, Marxism, existentialism, critical theory, and phenomenology. Themes discussed by these philosophers range from the meaning of life and the significance of death, to the nature of history, to the nature and limits of rationality. We will read, among other people, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Foucault.

Reading: All readings will be available through Quercus.

Evaluation: Participation in tutorials (10%), mid-term exam (20%), final exam (20%), five short writing assignments (4% each), and one paper (30%).

PHL232H1F – Knowledge and Reality

Instructor: Robert Matyasi
Mondays 3:00-6:00 and Wednesdays 3:00-5:00

This course is an introduction to some key issues in two central areas of contemporary philosophy: epistemology and metaphysics. Epistemology is the study of knowledge; metaphysics is the philosophical study of the nature of reality. In the epistemology section we will cover topics such as skepticism, the nature of epistemic justification, reliabilism, contextualism, and truth-tracking accounts of knowledge. In the metaphysics segment we will discuss causation and causal explanations, the nature of time, metaphysical questions concerning material objects, free will, and the possibility of time travel. We shall also cover some basic concepts of logic that are necessary to engage with these topics and that will prove to be useful in your future as a student of philosophy and a critical thinker.

Readings: all readings will be made available electronically through Quercus. I expect you to do the readings closely and attentively at some time—you may find it helpful to skim them first and read them in detail after the lectures, whatever suits you best. The readings will be supplemented by a logic primer and lecture handouts summarizing the main arguments and directing your focus to the most essential parts of the readings. The handouts supplement the readings, but you cannot substitute doing the readings by just reading the handouts.

Evaluation: Mid-term Exam: 22 May (20%); Short Essay: due 2 June (20%); Long Essay: due 18 June (30%); Final Exam: exam period in June (20%); Tutorial participation (10%) Determined by the TA.

PHL240H1F – Persons, Minds and Bodies

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays 6:00-8:00 and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

Consciousness and its relation to the body; personal identity and survival; knowledge of other minds; psychological events and behaviour.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL243H1S – Philosophy of Human Sexuality

Instructor: Michaela Manson
Tuesdays 6:00-9:00 and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

For many, sex and sexuality are meaningful aspects of one’s life. The subject of human sexuality is represented pervasively in media and cultural artefacts, past and present. This course explores questions about sex and sexuality from a primarily anglo-American analytic philosophical perspective. This is a perspective that seeks to uncover and assess our own or others’ assumptions, in this case, assumptions about sex and sexuality. We may then assess whether these assumptions are true or false, or whether the practices that are based on these assumptions are good or bad, right or wrong, etc. Two of the principal methods of philosophy used to investigate and assess assumptions are critical analysis and rigorous, logical argumentation.

Some of the questions we will consider in this course include: What is sex? What is human sexuality? What is distinctive about human sexuality? How are sexual relationships distinctive from other forms of human relationships? How are other forms of human relationships related to sex, sexuality, and sexual activity? Are these relations ethical? What do love, marriage, and personal autonomy have to do with sex and sexuality? What is desire, and how does it explain or relate to sex, sexuality and sexual experience? We will also discuss questions related to the topics of objectification, consent and sexual assault, sex work, sexual orientations, identities, preferences, and (non-)monogamy.

This course does not endorse any particular conclusion about the topics to be discussed. The aim is for us to understand what others have said about the topic, and to develop, and possibly change our views, and to learn how to intelligently support our own ideas.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Participation (10%); Reading Responses (25%); Short Creative Project (15%); Final Paper (30%); Final Exam (20%);

PHL245H1Y – Modern Symbolic Logic

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

The application of symbolic techniques to the assessment of arguments. Propositional calculus and quantification theory. Logical concepts, techniques of natural deduction.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL271H1F – Law and Morality

Instructor: Steven Coyne
Mondays 9:00-12:00 and Wednesdays 9:00-11:00

Law and morality are both systems of norms, meaning that both tell people what they ought to do. While they often coincide with one another, occasionally they do not. On the one hand, it is legally impermissible, but probably morally permissible, to jaywalk through an empty intersection; on the other hand, it is legally permissible, but probably morally impermissible, to break a promise to a friend. While most philosophers think that this shows that law and morality are distinct from one another, many of them still think that law and morality still have some necessary relationships to one another. In this course, we will consider three of these supposed relationships, which reflect the three central roles occupied by persons in legal systems. First, judges may wonder whether they can or must apply moral tests to establish whether someone has broken the law. Second, citizens may wonder whether they have a moral duty to obey the law. Finally, in crafting laws, legislators may wonder whether the immorality of some conduct permits or even requires them to criminalize it. In thinking about these questions, you will learn how to both legally and morally evaluate legal decisions issued by courts.

Reading: H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law (available for purchase in the bookstore); The remaining readings will be accessible through Quercus.

Evaluation: One Argument Analysis (800-1000 words) 20%;  One Case Evaluation (1500-1800 words) 30%; Final Exam 35%; Participation 10%; Four Low-Stakes Writing Assignments (min. 250 words) 5%.

PHL273H1S – Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Evan Taylor
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-3:00

This course addresses a number of ethical questions relating to the environment and humans’ relationship to it. At the beginning of the course, we’ll look at a few different ways of thinking about the moral standing of non-human living things, and the natural environment that supports them. We’ll then move to several more specific topics, including feminism and the environment, overpopulation and the scarcity of resources, obligations to possible future people, climate change policy and economics, individual responsibility, and the relationship between philosophy and activism.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Pre-lecture Reading Responses (10): 10%; First Writing Assignment: 25%; Second Writing Assignment: 30%; Final Exam: 35%

PHL275H1S – Introduction to Ethics

Instructor: Michael Fatigati
Mondays 12:00-3:00 and Wednesdays 12:00-2:00

An introduction to central issues in ethics or moral philosophy, such as the objectivity of values, the nature of moral judgements, rights and duties, the virtues, and consequentialism. Readings may be drawn from a variety of contemporary and historical sources.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL281H1F – Bioethics

Instructor: Steven Coyne
Mondays 6:00-8:00 and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

This course will provide students with the tools to philosophically evaluate the moral, legal and professional standards governing health care in Canada. In the first half of the course, we will investigate a number of moral questions around birth, illness and death. Do embryos and fetuses have moral standing, and if they do, what does that imply about our obligations towards them? What do we mean when we say that someone is healthy or ill? Why are our deaths bad for us? In the second half of the course, we will evaluate the standards that govern the relationship between health care professionals and patients. As we will discover, Canadian law and professional standards strongly prioritize respect for patients’ self-determination over other considerations. We will consider the implications of this emphasis on autonomy on topics like informed consent, advanced directives, euthanasia and human research.

Reading: Bioethics in Canada, edited by Charles Weijer and Anthony Skelton [labelled ‘BIC’ on the Reading List]; Other readings available on Quercus. [Labeled ‘Quercus’ on the Reading List]

Evaluation: Midterm (May 22) 25%; Policy Evaluation Paper (1500-1800 words) 35%; Final Exam (scheduled by registrar) 30%; Practical Groupwork / Participation 10%

PHL313H1S – Topics in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Instructor: Valerie Bernard

Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

How do we know that our perceptual experience of the world is a true representation of theworld as it actually is? Can we trust our senses not to deceive us? What is the difference between perception and imagination? Starting with Descartes, early modern philosophers grappled over these very questions as they sought to reconcile an apparently mindindependent world with our mind-dependent ideas about that world. This third-year course will examine this conversation and its philosophical implications in depth, looking specifically at questions about perception and imagination. We will be reading, and reading about, Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Hume and Kant.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: Attendance and participation (10%); 1 short writing assignment (2 pages, 15%); 1 longer paper (8-10 pages, 50%); Final exam (3 hours) (25%) — date & time TBA

PHL340H1S – Issues in Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Rory Harder
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-6:00

We begin the course with a debate about the nature of conscious perception. One side, representationalism, holds that the content of a perception is just a representation that things are a certain way. This representation could be present whether or not things actually are that way. The other side, naive realism, holds that the content of a perception includes the perceived objects and  properties.

We finish by looking at an important debate in theoretical vision science. One side, calculationism, holds that vision should be characterized in inferential terms. The other side, the ecological approach, holds that vision should be characterized in terms of an individual’s relations to their environment. We end the course by considering how these views may be relevant to the philosophical debate about perception.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: One argument analysis (750 words): 15%; Two short papers (1500 words): 22.5% each; Final test (in-class): 30%; Attendance and participation: 10%

PHL375H1F – Ethics

Instructor: C. Diehl
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

This course will investigate whether there is `moral luck’—that is, can an agent be held responsible for something that is not fully under her control? Our consideration of this question will also lead to a broader investigation of the conditions under which an agent is culpable for her actions more generally. We will look at the relation between culpability and freedom of the will and whether we can hold anyone responsible if we live in a deterministic world. In addition, we will examine the application of this debate for egalitarianism. We will approach these questions by reading a variety of historical and contemporary texts in normative theory, as well as more specialized papers concerning the moral luck debate.

Students should expect to gain a rich understanding of the debate concerning moral luck, as well as to solidify their knowledge of the foundational approaches of ethics. They will also have the opportunity to hone their skills in argument analysis and develop their skills in philosophical writing.

Reading: All readings will be posted on Quercus

Evaluation: Presentation – 25%; Two Essays – 25% each; Attendance and Participation – 25%.

PHL382H1S – Death and Dying

Instructor: Matt Wurst
Mondays and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

An intermediate-level study of moral and legal problems, including the philosophical significance of death, the high-tech prolongation of life, definition and determination of death, suicide, active and passive euthanasia, the withholding of treatment, palliative care and the control of pain, living wills; recent judicial decisions.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL388H1F – Literature and Philosophy

Instructor: Michael Fatigati
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-6:00

The literary expression of philosophical ideas and the interplay between literature and philosophy. Such philosophical issues as the nature and origin of good and evil in human beings, the nature and extent of human freedom and responsibility, and the diverse forms of linguistic expression. Such authors as Wordsworth, Mill, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Miller, Camus, and Lawrence are studied.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA