2021 Summer Courses

Detailed descriptions for the 2021 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: Damian Melamedoff (F-Term) and Caitlin Hamblin (S-Term)

Schedule: Mondays 18:00-20:00 and Wednesdays 18:00-21:00 (Tutorials: Mondays 20:00 or Wednesdays 17:00)

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

PHL200Y1Y – Ancient Philosophy

Instructors: Taylor Barinka (F-Term) and Rachel O’Keefe (S-Term)

Schedule: Tuesdays 09:00-12:00 and Thursdays 09:00-11:00 (Tutorials: Thursdays 11:00 or 12:00)

Description: This course will introduce you to Ancient philosophy, a roughly 1000-year period that introduced some of the foundational questions with which Western philosophy has since grappled – questions like: ‘what sorts of things exist?’; ‘how do we come to know them?’; ‘what is the good life?’ We will explore these questions alongside a wide swath of Ancient philosophers, starting (chronologically) with brief reports of the Presocratics, then moving onto the ‘classical’ period as represented by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, then onto Hellenistic philosophy – the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics – and finally concluding with an overview of Later Ancient philosophy (with a special focus on Neoplatonism, the revival of Plato’s works).

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: First expository paper worth 10%; Second expository paper worth 15%; Two short critical papers, one per semester (1250-1500 words) – 35%; Final exam (cumulative) – 25%; Tutorial attendance and participation – 15%.

PHL217H1S – Introduction to Continental Philosophy

Instructor: Natasha Hay

Schedule: Mondays 18:00-20:00 and Wednesdays 18:00-21:00 (Tutorials: Mondays 20:00 or Wednesdays 17:00)

Description: An introduction to some of the post-Hegelian thinkers who inspired the various philosophical movements broadly referred to as continental, such as phenomenology, existentialism, deconstruction, and post-modernism. Questions include the will, faith, death, existence, history and politics, rationality and its limits, encountering an other. Authors studied may include: Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Heidegger, Sartre.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL232H1F – Knowledge and Reality

Instructor: Griffin Klemick

Schedule: Mondays 15:00-18:00 and Wednesdays 15:00-17:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 17:00 or 18:00)

Description: What is reality fundamentally like? How, if at all, can we reach knowledge, or at least reasonable beliefs, about it? This course is an introduction to the philosophical subfields that offer answers to these questions: metaphysics and epistemology, respectively. We’ll treat such perennial philosophical topics as what precisely knowledge is, whether we can have any reasonable beliefs at all about the world, whether you can prove that a world independent of your mind exists by just holding up your hands, whether time moves, and whether ordinary objects like tables *really* exist. But we’ll also treat more contemporary topics like how encountering people who disagree with you should affect your confidence in your beliefs, when it’s reasonable to believe things based on the testimony of others, how our biases affect who we find trustworthy, and how to think about the foundations of race and gender categories.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: 25% – essay 1 (1100-1200 words); 35% – essay 2 (1700-1800 words); 30% – take-home final exam; 10% – tutorial attendance/participation.

PHL240H1F – Persons, Minds and Bodies

Instructor: Zachary Weinstein

Schedule: Tuesdays 18:00-20:00 and Thursdays 18:00-21:00 (Tutorials: Tuesdays 20:00 or Thursdays 17:00)

Description: If you’re reading this, you’re (almost certainly) a person with a mind and a body. This course will investigate just what it is to be a person with a mind and a body. We’ll begin by considering personal identity. What makes you the same person now as you were before the pandemic?  Does it have something to do with your mind? Your memory? Your body? Your life story? What makes you you? In the second half of the course we’ll consider the nature of the mind. What are mental states, like seeing an apple, or believing that apples are fruits, or wanting to eat an apple? Are mental states the same as brain states? If not, what are they? Could the mind extend beyond the body?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Two short writing assignments (20% each) and peer commentaries (2.5% each); Longer writing assignment (25%); Final exam (20%); Participation (10%)

PHL243H1S – Philosophy of Human Sexuality

Instructor: Melissa Rees

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 18:00-21:00

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: J. Riggs

Schedule: Tuesdays 15:00-18:00

Description: 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.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL271H1F – Law and Morality

Instructor: Steven Coyne

Schedule: Mondays 09:00-12:00 and Wednesdays 09:00-11:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 12:00 or 13:00)

Description: 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, in crafting laws, legislators may wonder whether the immorality of some conduct permits or even requires them to criminalize it. Finally, citizens may wonder whether they have a moral duty to obey the law.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Four Quizzes – 30%; Short Paper – 20%; Long Paper – 35%; Participation – 15%

PHL273H1S – Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Bowen Chan

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-15:00

Description: This course offers a look at our relations as humans with nature thru a philosophical lens. First, we will start with examining our relationship with farm animals and consider the ethics of eating meat. Second, we will look more broadly at ecosystems, and consider the ethics of environmental conservation. Finally, we will look more specifically at issues with collective responsibilities and responsibilities to future generations while considering the ethics of combatting climate change. Throughout the course, we will examine the power of various philosophical tools to subject our own ordinary social norms and practices to philosophical scrutiny which will be of great use to you in school and beyond.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: 10% Bi-Weekly Reflections, 10% 5 Reading Responses, 45% 2 Papers, 35% Final Exam

PHL275H1S – Introduction to Ethics

Instructor: Dylan Shaul

Schedule: Mondays 12:00-15:00 and Wednesdays 12:00-14:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 14:00 or 15:00)

This course will provide a historical introduction to the philosophical study of ethics, from Plato to the present. Ethics investigates concepts like good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust, and so on. We will consider such questions as: What is a good life? What makes an action right or wrong? How should our ethical values inform our social and political practices?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Paper #1 (25%), Paper #2 (25%), Final Paper (40%), Participation (10%)

PHL281H1F – Bioethics

Instructor: Steven Coyne

Schedule: Mondays 18:00-20:00 and Wednesdays 18:00-21:00 (Tutorials: Monday 20:00 and Wednesdays 17:00)

Description: This course will provide students with the tools to philosophically evaluate the moral, legal and professional standards governing health care in Canada. We will first evaluate the standards that govern the ideal care of 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, advance directives, and physician-assisted dying. Next, we will discuss the ethical standards for circumstances in which it is not possible to provide ideal care – which very sadly is likely to include the current pandemic situation in Ontario. Finally, we will discuss several moral questions around birth, life and death. Should we have children? Do embryos and fetuses have moral standing, and if they do, what does that imply about our obligations towards them? Why are our deaths bad for us?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Three In-Class Tests – 30%; Essay 1 – 25%; Essay 2 – 30%; Practicals – 5%; Participation – 10%

PHL303H1S Plato

Instructor: Rachel O’Keefe

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 18:00-21:00

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.

The assignments for this course are also designed to help students become familiar with the task of writing a paper in philosophy that engages with a piece of secondary literature.

Since this is an online course, synchronous lecture attendance is optional, though recommended. Lectures will be recorded live through Bb Collaborate and posted through Quercus. There will also be regular office hours for those who want to talk about the material.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Submitted questions and participation 15%; Exegetical Assignments (x2, 10% each) 20%; Literature Review (due July 23rd): 25%; Final Paper (due August 15th) 40%.

PHL313H1F – Topics in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Instructor: R. Matyasi

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-15:00

Description: This course will be about 17th and 18th century theories of the self and its relationship to the natural world. In particular, we will focus on the following historical controversies: What is a person? How can we relate the self to human minds and bodies? In general, are there only material things, or are there also minds or souls, or perhaps only souls? How can minds and bodies interact with each other? In addition, we will look at the relevant implications of these questions concerning the wider issue of human difference. In particular, we will discuss the status of women philosophers and conceptions of race in the period.

The historical figures we will read include René Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Benedictus de Spinoza, Thomas Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, John Locke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Anton Wilhelm Amo.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: Two paper assignments (25% each, 50% total); Midterm assignment (20%); Quizzes (20%); Active participation (10%)

PHL322H1F – Contemporary Continental Philosophy

Instructor: D. Suarez

Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays 09:00-12:00

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: D. Munro

Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays 15:00-18:00

Description: This course will explore work on the imagination in contemporary philosophy of mind. In doing so, we’ll also touch on many foundational issues in other areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy more generally, including philosophy of perception, philosophy of memory, and epistemology. We’ll investigate questions such as: What, exactly, is the imagination? Which domains of human cognition involve imagination? And what kinds of epistemic and practical value does the imagination have?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly questions (12%); Short reflection (10%); Short paper (18%); Medium paper (25%); Long paper (35%)

PHL375H1F – Ethics

Instructor: M. Kirley

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 18:00-21:00

Description: An intermediate-level study of selected issues in moral philosophy, or of influential contemporary or historical works in ethical theory.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL382H1S – Death and Dying

Instructor: TBA

Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays 18:00-21:00

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: Natalie Helberg

Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays 15:00-18:00

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

PHL409H1F – New Books Semianr

Instructor: Prof. Jonardon Ganeri

Schedule: Monday and Wednesday 09:00-12:00

Advanced study of key philosophical works published within the last five years.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL455H1F – Seminar in Philosophy of Science

Instructor: Travis LaCroix

Schedule: Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-15:00

Artificial intelligence research is progressing quickly, and along with it the capacities of AI systems. As these systems become more sophisticated and more deeply embedded in society, it will become increasingly essential to ensure that we are able to maintain control of these systems, and that the decisions and actions they take are aligned with the values of humanity, writ large. These are known, in the field of machine ethics, as the control problem and the value alignment problem, respectively.

In the first part of this course, we will examine the concepts of control and value alignment to see how they are connected and what practical, scientific, ethical, and philosophical questions arise when trying to solve these problems. We will focus on both the normative and technical components of value-aligned artificial intelligence—namely, how to achieve moral agency in an artificial system. The normative component of the value alignment problem asks what values or principles (if any) we ought to encode in an artificial system; whereas, the technical component asks how we can encode these values. In the final part of the course, we will examine the social, ethical, and philosophical consequences that might arise (indeed, have arisen) from misaligned AI systems.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Attendance and Participation (20%); Weekly Discussion Board Questions & Responses (20%); Paper Outline (20%); Research Paper (40%); Bonus Marks (2%)