2020 Summer Courses

Detailed descriptions for the 2020 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: Taylor Barinka (F-Term) and Mark Gatten (S-Term)

Course Information: This is an online, hybrid course. F-Term: Lectures will be delivered asynchronously, and tutorials will include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous forms for discussing philosophical material. The instructor will also hold a synchronous online webinar class for 1-2 hours per week, where students may ask questions about lecture and tutorial content. Students need Power Point, Microsoft Word, and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate. S-Term: The S-term lectures will be delivered asynchronously online each week. There will also be non-mandatory live discussions and group activities to supplement lectures. Tutorials are planned as asynchronous activities but are subject to change.

Description: An introduction to the central branches of philosophy, such as logic, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. Writings from the central figures in the history of Western and non-Western philosophy, as well as contemporary philosophers, may be considered.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL210Y1Y – 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Instructors: Robbie Mattyasi (F-Term) and Michael Blezy (S-Term)

Course Information: This is an online, hybrid course. The first term lectures and tutorials will be held asynchronously. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Quercus. The second term lectures and tutorials will be taught synchronously on MS teams.

Description: This course will offer a survey of some of the major philosophical figures working in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. In the fist half of the course we will read René Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Baruch Spinoza, Anne Conway, Nicolas Malebranche, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Lady Damaris Masham. In the second half of the course, we will read John Locke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant.

While discussing the philosophers from the first half of the course, we will focus on the following questions: What are the fundamental entities in the world and how do they relate to each other? Are there only bodies, or are there also minds or souls, or perhaps only souls? What is the nature of God, and how does God relate to the world we live in? In addition, we will explore questions about causation: How can minds and bodies act on each other, and how does causation really work? Are we capable of action in the first place or does God do everything?

In the second half of the course, we will tackle issues such as: How are we to understand the self? What is personal identity? Are we the same person through time? What makes us think that tomorrow will be like today? What justifies our use of induction and our belief in cause and effect relations? We will end the course by familiarizing ourselves with Kant’s ‘Copernican Revolution’ and his critique of traditional metaphysics. In this last portion of the course we will attempt to answer question such as: What is our reason capable of accomplishing? Are there limits to what we can know? Under what conditions are objects of experience given and thought?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: 6 assignments (10% each = 60%); Online Term Test (15%); Final Exam (15%) Participation (10%)

PHL217H1S – Introduction to Continental Philosophy

Instructor: Griffin Klemick

Course Information: This is a hybrid course. All lecture content will be delivered asynchronously via online videos (~5 hours/week). Tutorials (1 hour/week) will be conducted synchronously via Blackboard Collaborate at the times listed.

One important commonality between many philosophical thinkers and viewpoints often labeled “Continental” has been their project of reuniting theory and practice: to reach an understanding of humanity’s place in the world that carries implications concerning the meaning of human life and how it ought to be lived. Two important challenges for this project are skepticism, the view that we cannot reach any rationally satisfactory understanding of the world and our place in it, and nihilism, the view that there ultimately is no genuine meaning to human life or valuable end that it can achieve. This course is a survey of 19th- and 20th-century Continental philosophy, one focused on how various Continental thinkers have undertaken the project and addressed the challenges just mentioned. Along the way, we will consider such additional questions as the proper basis (if any) for ethical and religious commitments, and their value (if any) for human life; the extent of human freedom and its relationships to the contexts in which we develop and live; the sources of race and gender categories, and the proper attitude to take toward such categories in service of human freedom and equality; and the role of interpersonal relationships in enabling meaningful thought and action. Thinkers covered may include Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, Fanon, Arendt, and Levinas.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Tutorial Participation (15%); 1300-14oo Word Essay (25%); 1700-1800 Word Essay (35%); Take-Home Final Essay Exam (25%)

PHL232H1F – Knowledge and Reality

Instructor: Evan Taylor

Course Information: This is an online, hybrid course with both synchronous and asynchronous modules. Lecture content will be delivered asynchronously (in the form of audio files accompanied by handouts, ~4hrs weekly), and there will be weekly 1hr synchronous tutorial sections, using Bb Collaborate. Attendance and participation in tutorials will be part of the “Engagement” evaluation component. There will also be an asynchronous Q&A (max. 1hr) uploaded weekly, answering questions sourced from the Quercus discussion board.

Description: This course serves as an introduction to epistemology and metaphysics, two core areas of contemporary analytic philosophy. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and rational belief; metaphysics is the study of the fundamental structure of reality. Topics which may be covered in this course include the skeptical paradox, the analysis of knowledge and justification, testimony, disagreement, material constitution, the nature of causation, and the nature of time, including the logical possibility of time travel.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: 1st Writing Assignment (25%); 2nd Writing Assignment (35%); Final Take-Home Exam (30%); Engagement (10%)

PHL240H1F – Persons, Minds and Bodies

Instructor: Jessica Wright

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be delivered asynchronously as videos 2-3 hours/week. Students will have the option to attend 1-2 hours/week of synchronous discussion with the professor and/or the course TA (times TBD). Students must be able to access Quercus multiple times per week, because weekly engagement in the form of answering quiz questions and/or engaging with a discussion board is expected and will constitute part of the grade.

Description: 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: Melissa Rees

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Quercus.

Description: 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.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL245H1Y – Modern Symbolic Logic

Instructor: Boaz Schuman

Course Information: This is an online, hybrid course with lectures posted weekly for online viewing. Mandatory, synchronous tutorials will take place on Tuesdays from 3-6 to cover problem sets.

Description: This course is an introduction to deductive arguments in modern symbolic logic.  The emphasis is on rigorous formal methods, though we will be paying close attention to arguments in ordinary, day-to-day language as well.  Part I of the course will introduce propositional logic (sometimes called zeroth-order logic): students will be introduced to arguments, formal symbolizations, and deductions.  In Part II (following the June reading break), these skills will be extended to predicate logic (or first-order logic), with a special emphasis on derivations.  Time permitting, we will conclude with a look at first-order set theory.

While the course aims to make students proficient in symbolising natural language sentences and producing derivations, it has application to virtually all other areas of study: students who complete the coursework can expect to improve their critical thinking in general.  Careful reading of the assigned texts prior to class, attentive class participation, and above all frequent practice, will pay significant dividends.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly Assignments (60%); Contributions on Piazza (5%); Mid-term (15%); Final Exam (20%)

PHL271H1F – Law and Morality

Instructor: Steven Coyne

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. It will be taught using pre-recorded video lectures, with optional tutorials to clarify course material on Blackboard Collaborate. (Wednesday 9-10AM and 5-6PM)

Description: 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.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL273H1S – Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Steven Coyne

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. It will be taught using pre-recorded video lectures, with optional tutorials to clarify course material on Blackboard Collaborate (Wednesday 9-10AM and 5-6PM).

Description: A study of environmental issues raising questions of concern to moral and political philosophers, such as property rights, responsibility for future generations, and the interaction of human beings with the rest of nature. Typical issues: sustainable development, alternative energy, the preservation of wilderness areas, animal rights.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL275H1S – Introduction to Ethics

Instructor: Etye Steinberg

Course Information: This is an online, hybrid course with synchronous and asynchronous modules. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Quercus. Tutorials will held weekly at the scheduled time.

What is the right thing to do? How should we live our lives? Do we have a duty to act morally? What does ‘acting morally’ mean? These questions seem extremely important to us, not only as philosophers, but (even more importantly) as people living our lives in the world. These and related questions are at the heart of this course. In this course, we will discuss three main questions: (1) is there any such thing as the right/good? (2) what is the right/good? and (3) how can we apply moral theories to the real world? We begin by examining meta-ethical questions and positions regarding the significance of disagreement in morality and the nature of moral claims and judgments. We then move on to review – and critically evaluate – different views in moral philosophy regarding what is the good, and what is the right thing to do. We will discuss virtue ethics, consequentialism, and deontology: their historical formulations and their current, refined versions. We will follow each theoretical discussion with an applied case and see how each theory bears on this case. We will discuss the treatment of nonhuman animals – e.g. is it moral to use them for food or to rely on their labor; the moral considerations introduced by the use of autonomous vehicles; and euthanasia – should physicians be permitted to assist terminal patients in committing suicide, and what can we learn from this regarding the value of life. These cases will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the abstract moral theories at the center of the course and will (hopefully) help us understand how we should act in the world.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL281H1F – Bioethics

Instructor: Emma McClure

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be given as 2 hrs of online videos/week asynchronously. Tutorials will be held over Quercus discussion board, asynchronously. Students will have the opportunity for synchronous online webinar class 2hrs/week (Monday and Wednesday 6-7pm) to ask questions and clarifications about lecture and tutorial content. Students need Power Point, regular access to Quercus, and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate (Ultra).

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.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL303H1S Plato

Instructor: Rachel Mackinnon

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous courses. Lectures will be delivered as 3-4 hours/week of online audio/video alongside slides through Bb Collaborate (Tuesday and Thursday, 6-7:30 pm). Attendance to these lectures is optional, but encouraged. Recordings of these optional lectures will be posted on Quercus. Synchronous discussion sessions will be offered according to demand/student schedules. Students need PowerPoint and the ability to use Blackboard Collaborate.

Description: “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” – Alfred North Whitehead

Western philosophy is generally taken to have begun with Plato – and for good reason. Although there were philosophers before him (his teacher Socrates being the most famous), Plato is the first European philosopher for whom we have a large surviving corpus and whose works touch on every branch of what we now call philosophy. In his dialogues, Plato discusses ethics, politics, epistemology, metaphysics, psychology (philosophy of mind), and aesthetics. His influence also spans the 2500 years since his death – if you study the history of philosophical thought, you will find Platonists in every age.

The aim of this course is to provide an in-depth study of Plato’s thought and to discover what Platonism comprises. We will focus primarily on Plato’s most famous work, the Republic, with forays into Plato’s other dialogues as supplementary texts. The main interpretive assumption behind this approach is that Plato has a doctrine and that this doctrine is consistent across his entire corpus. Nonetheless, a secondary concern in this class is to discuss whether this is a coherent way to read Plato and what the difficulties are for reading off a system from a series of dialogues.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Questions and Participation (15%); 2 Exegetical Assignments (10% each); Literature Review (25%); Final Paper (40%)

PHL313H1F – Topics in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Instructor: Valerie Bernard

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Quercus.

Description: Central philosophical problems arising in the early modern period.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL322H1S – Topics in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Instructor: Natalie Helberg

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be given as 3hr online videos (2 per week) asynchronously. Students will be able to seek clarification regarding course material and talk about the ideas touched on in lectures during scheduled office hours, which will be held via Zoom, or during separately scheduled meetings, which will also be held via Zoom.

Description: German and French philosophy after World War II, focusing on such topics as: debates about humanism, hermeneutics, critical theory, the structuralist movement, its successors such as deconstruction. Typical authors: Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Derrida.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL340H1S – Issues in Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Zach Weinstein

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lecture will be given in online videos, which students can watch at their convenience. There will be one or two synchronous online discussion sessions weekly, but attendance for these sessions is not required. Other activities, such as a course discussion board, can be completed asynchronously.

Description: This course is an introduction to some topics in the philosophy of perception. We will start by considering foundational questions about the nature of perceptual experience and our perceptual connection with the world. From there, we will move on to consider what we perceive. We will focus on vision and audition, though we will also touch on touch and olfaction. Do we only see colors and lines? Or do we see full-blooded objects, like tables and chairs? What exactly are sounds? Can we hear anything other than sounds? We will also consider two special objects of vision and audition that raise interesting questions: photographs and audio recordings. When I look at a photograph of David Bowie, do I literally see David Bowie, as some have thought? When I hear a recording of David Bowie singing, do I literally hear his voice? What is the nature of such ‘mediated’ perception?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Either three short papers (21.66% each) OR one short paper (21.66%) and one longer paper (43.33%). ; 25%; Participation: 10%.

PHL375H1F – Ethics

Instructor: Douglas Campbell

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be recorded on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00-9:00pm on BB Collaborate (Quercus). Students can attend to ask questions or they may watch a recording later. Online office hours will also be available.

Description: Virtually every aspect of Western life has been touched by social media. The ever-increasing popularity of social-networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has posed distinct challenges for ethicists. As our friendships, romantic and professional relationships, and even our relationships to ourselves transform under the influence of social media, philosophers naturally ask questions about, say, privacy norms or the advantages of online friendships. Students in this class will be invited to reflect on their own experience with social media within the context of contemporary analytic philosophy. Questions we shall consider include whether social media improves or damages our friendships; whether our democracy is threatened by so-called echo chambers online; whether social networks limit our autonomy by encouraging passive forms of self-presentation; whether social networks increase our autonomy by letting us create ourselves without constraint; whether online friendships are superior to offline ones; and more.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Quizzes (20%); Introductory Exercise (5%); Reading Response (15%); First Essay (25%); Second Essay (35%)

PHL382H1S – Death and Dying

Instructor: C Dalrymple-Fraser

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be recorded and posted on Quercus.

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: Natasha Hay

Course Information: This is an online, asynchronous course. Lectures will be recorded and posted weekly to Quercus. There will be optional discussions on BB Collaborate twice weekly, for the first hour of the designated course time (TR 3-4).

Philosophy and literature have typically defined themselves against one another. In this course, we will ask how setting philosophy and literature into conversation might illuminate both their affinities and their differences. Students will be invited to consider whether and how philosophy’s understanding of its ways of reasoning and its modes of representation can be altered through an engagement with literature. Reciprocally, we will look at various ways in which literary writing opens onto philosophical questions and themes. Our readings will focus on the modern turn to inner experience in philosophy and literature, including the emergence of reflections on time, memory, and intention to understand the self. We will examine representations and expressions of this first-person consciousness that take place in key encounters between twentieth-century philosophical methods (phenomenology, critical theory, deconstruction) and literary movements (modernism, Surrealism, New Narrative). We will practice strategies of interpretation that attend to the interplay between philosophical and literary discourses, especially with regard to encounters between: epistemology, fiction, and truth; the reasoning mind and the structures of language; and the ‘view from nowhere’, the narrative persona, and the lyric voice.

Reading:Both philosophical and literary texts, including Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Proust, Adorno, Baudelaire, Derrida, Stanley Cavell, Jorge Luis Borges, Dodie Bellamy. All readings will be made available via Quercus.

Evaluation: Reflection paper (10%), Mid-term paper (30%), Term paper & proposal (50%), Participation (10%)