300-Level Courses

2022-23 Fall/Winter 300-level courses

Note about Prerequisites:
All 300-series courses have a a general prerequisite of 7.5 courses (in any field) and a prerequisite of three half courses (or equivalent) in philosophy. The courses PHL345H1 to 349H1, PHL354H1, PHL356H1, and PHL357H1 are exempt from the latter rule (the philosophy prerequisite). See a list of specific course prerequisites in the academic calendar of the Faculty of Arts & Science. Students who do not meet the prerequisite for a particular course but believe that they have adequate preparation must obtain the permission of the instructor to gain entry to the course.

PHL301H1S — EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

A study of selected Greek philosophers before Plato. Topics may include the Pre-Socratic natural philosophers, Parmenides and the Eleatics, and the so-called sophistic movement.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL302H1S — ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY AFTER ARISTOTLE

Prof. George Boys-Stones
Thursdays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Three major schools dominated philosophy during the ‘Hellenistic’ period (3rd-1st centuries BCE): Plato’s Academy, and two new foundations, those of the Epicureans and Stoics. These schools responded to the work of Plato and Aristotle in very different ways, and the course will introduce them through the major debates that grew up between them in epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. Central questions include the possibility of empirical knowledge, the conditions for cosmic order, the content of happiness, and the nature of moral responsibility.

Readings: A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers vol. 1 (Cambridge University Press, 1987). (Vol. 2, which is not required, contains the original Greek and Latin of texts translated in vol. 1.)

Evaluation: Two midterm essays / commentaries, each 25%; final essay, 40%; class participation 10%.

PHL303H1F — PLATO

Prof. Lloyd Gerson
Monday and Wednesday 13:00-14:30

Delivery Method: In-person

This course will focus on the various depictions of philosophy and philosophers in Plato’s dialogues.  Socrates appears as Plato’s ideal philosopher. He appears as ‘gadfly’, dialectician, rhetoritician, and erotic expert, among other things.  We will explore all of these ‘roles’ that the character Socrates assumes as well as Plato’s conception of philosophy as a realm of knowledge independent of the natural sciences. We will read selections from many dialogues and several dialogues in their entirety, including Gorgias, Protagoras, and Symposium.

Reading: Selections from Plato. The Complete Works, ed. John Cooper and D.S. Hutchinson (Hackett, 1997).

Evaluation: two essays, term test (20% of final grade); 2,500-3,000 words (20% of final grade); class participation (20% of final grade), final examination (40% of final grade). The penalty for late essays without a written medical certificate is 3 marks per day (weekends included).

PHL304H1S — ARISTOTLE

Prof. Lloyd Gerson
Monday and Wednesday 13:00-14:30

Delivery Method: In-person

The topic of this course is Aristotle’s “anthropology, ” that is, his many-sided account of human nature or of the human person. We will    consider in what sense human beings can be a subject of scientific investigation and how “human sciences” do or do not differ from “natural sciences.” We will also investigate Aristotle’s account of human cognition, human action, and emotions. We will conclude with a brief look at Aristotle’s account of a human being as a “political animal.”

Reading: Aristotle. Selected Works. Third Edition. Hippocrates G. Apostle and Lloyd P. Gerson. Translations. The Peripatetic Press, 1991.

Evaluation: Two essays, 2,000-2,500 words, each worth 30%; final, faculty scheduled  examination, worth 30%; class participation,     worth  10%. The penalty for late essays unaccompanied by a written medical excuse is 3 marks per 24 hour period or fraction thereof.

PHL308H1F — AQUINAS

Instructor: TBA
Monday and Wednesdays 10:30-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course will be an introduction to the thought of Thomas Aquinas. We will take into consideration Aquinas’ statements on the relations between philosophy and theology, and then move to examining some of his views which may be deemed properly philosophical – in the domains of (1) metaphysics, (2) psychology/epistemology, and (3) ethics.

Reading:

Most readings will be taken from Thomas Aquinas: Basic Works, ed. J. Hause and R. Pasnau, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2014. Other readings will be posted on Quercus.

Evaluation: Details TBA, but likely to include attendance/participation, two essays, and final exam.

PHL310H1S — THE RATIONALISTS

Prof. Michael Rosenthal
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-13:30

Delivery Method: In-person

Central philosophical problems in philosophers such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and their contemporaries.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL311H1F — THE EMPIRICISTS

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-13:30

Delivery Method: In-person

This course focuses on the discussion of beauty, taste, and aesthetic judgments that ran through the eighteenth century in Britain, with a special interest in texts coming from the Scottish Enlightenment. We aim to show how authors such as Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Alexander Gerard, and Edmund Burke developed a profound aesthetic reflection on the basis of an empirical philosophical perspective. The course will begin with a discussion of Hutchenson’s An Inquiry into the Original of Our ideas of Beauty and Virtue. Then, we will explore David Hume’s aesthetic ideas from the Treatise of Human Nature and his Essays. After that, we will read Gerard’s An Essay on Taste. Finally, we will discuss Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL313HS — TOPICS IN 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Nick Stang
Mondays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This will be an in-depth study of the second half of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, comprising the Transcendental Dialectic. In the Dialectic Kant provides a diagnosis and refutation of the rationalist metaphysics of his predecessors in three domains: rational psychology (the soul), rational cosmology (the world), and rational theology (God). Kant claims that rationalism rests on conflating reason’s appropriate search for ever further conditions for given objects with the dogmatic assumption that an unconditioned object (the soul, the world, God) exists. Time permitting, we will also consider the Doctrine of Method with which Kant concludes the Critique. While this course is intended as a continuation of 314, that course is not a formal prerequisite. Students who have only taken 210 will be able to jump in.

Reading: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (Cambridge, 1998).

Supplementary Text: Gardner, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason (Routledge, 1999)

Evaluation: One 1000-word paper (20%) due late October; one 2000-word paper due late November (40%); Final examination (40%).

PHL314H1F — KANT

Prof. Nick Stang
Mondays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This will be an in-depth study of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The Critique is Kant’s answer to the question: how is metaphysics possible as a science? In it, Kant attempts to steer a middle ‘Critical’ path between, on the one hand, rationalist dogmatism and, on the other, empiricist skepticism. Topics to be studied include: the nature of space and time, transcendental idealism, the categories, their deduction from the logical functions of judgment, self-consciousness, and the structure of experience. This course will focus on the first half of the Critique, roughly the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Analytic.

Reading: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood (Cambridge, 1998).

Supplementary Text: Gardner, Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason (Routledge, 1999)

Evaluations: One 1000-word paper (20%) due late October; one 2000-word paper due late November (40%); Final examination (40%).

PHL315H1S — TOPICS IN 19TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Nick Stang
Tuesdayss 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This is a course on classical German idealism (from Kant to Hegel) which takes as its starting point the seismic impact of F.H. Jacobi’s book 1785 book On the Doctrine of Spinoza and the ensuing ‘pantheism dispute.’ In that book, Jacobi poses a dilemma for philosophy: either it embraces reason and leads to Spinozism (tantamount to necessitarianism, fatalism, and atheism, according to Jacobi) or it subordinates reason to faith in free will, morality, and the existence of God. We will then read German idealism as a series of responses to Jacobi’s either/or. We’ll start with a crash-course in Spinoza’s metaphysics (Ethics Parts I–II), then read Jacobi, as well as his polemic with Moses Mendelssohn, who tries to uphold classical pre-Kantian rationalist metaphysics while avoiding Spinozism/pantheism. We will then turn to Reinhold, who popularized Kant’s philosophy by presenting it as a third way between the poles of Jacobi’s dilemma. Next we will examine how Fichte and Schelling incorporate Spinozistic elements into their own philosophy, while maintaining a role for the freedom and teleology denied by Spinoza. We will conclude with Hegel’s argument that Spinozism/pantheism entails acosmism (it denies the existence of the finite) and that the only solution to acosmism is his dialectical logic.

Reading: selections made available through Quercus.

Evaluations: One 1000-word paper (20%) due late October; one 2000-word paper due late November (40%); Final essay (40%).

PHL317H1S — MARX AND MARXISM

Prof. Jordan Thomson
Tuesdays 17:00-20:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course is an advanced introduction to the thought of Karl Marx. We may also read some contemporary Marxists, as well as critics of Marxism.

Reading: The Marx-Engels Reader, edited by Robert C. Tucker.

Evaluation: TBA

PHL319H1F — Philosophy and Psychoanalytic Theory

Prof. Nicole Yokum
Friday 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: Online-Synchronous with In-person assessments

This course will begin with a grounding in Freudian psychoanalysis, covering topics such as the unconscious, instinctual drives, psychic structures, civilization and repression, and the controversial status of psychoanalysis as a “science.” We will then consider critiques of Freud from the perspective of feminist philosophy and critical philosophy of race. From there, we will venture into readings in Lacanian and Kleinian psychoanalysis, and consider queer and anti-racist uptakes of these theories. Students should be prepared to actively participate in class discussions in the virtual synchronous format.

Reading: Sigmund Freud’s “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,” The Interpretation of Dreams, Beyond the Pleasure PrincipleCivilization and Its Discontents; Melanie Klein’s “Love, Guilt, and Reparation”; Karen Horney’s “The Problem of Feminine Masochism”; Edward Said’s Freud and the Non-European; Jacques Lacan’s Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading”; Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks’s Desiring Whiteness; Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive

Evaluation: Participation, Mid-term Paper, Final Paper

PHL320H1S — PHENOMENOLOGY

Prof. Tarek Dika
Thursdays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course is an introduction to phenomenology, a philosophical movement founded by Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) in the early twentieth century and practiced well into the present. The aim of phenomenology is to solve philosophical problems by grounding all philosophical demonstrations in the phenomena themselves as they are given in experience. Husserl’s students in Germany and those influenced by Husserl’s philosophy in France criticized Husserl and took phenomenology in interesting new directions, which will also be explored in this course. Readings include texts by Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Sartre, Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Stein, and some contemporary phenomenologists.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL321H1F — HEIDEGGER

Prof. Tarek Dika
Thursdays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course is an advanced introduction to Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) and related texts.  Being and Time is arguably the most important philosophical treatise in what has come to be known as “Continental philosophy” in the twentieth century. Its influence on the subsequent development of philosophy in Europe is difficult to overestimate. The principal objective of the course is to examine the foundations of Heidegger’s ontology. Topics include Heidegger’s overall concept of ontology and its basic problems; his preferred method in ontology (phenomenology); the role he assigns to the human being (or, more accurately, Dasein) in ontology; and his thesis that temporality is the “horizon for any understanding whatever of being.”

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL322H1F — CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. William Paris
Tuesdays 17:00-20:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Time is a fundamental aspect of human experience, social life, and political arrangements. Nevertheless, we should not assume that we immediately understand our various relationships to time. Our relationships to time include how we understand leisure, the composition of political history, the emergence of social identities, or our democratic duties to future generations, just to name a few. This course takes students through a variety of contemporary philosophers and examines the various analyses they produce to help us better understand the complexity of time in our social and political lives.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL323H1F — SOCIAL AND CULTURAL THEORY

Prof. Willi Goetschel
Tuesdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course is an introduction to the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School and some of its early predecessors. The first six weeks will focus on Georg Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin’s critical reflections on various aspects of modern life—such as urban life in the metropolis, culture industry, art, technology, fashion, secularization, mass media—and the fundamental role these aspects continue to play in shaping the way we conceive of freedom, individuality, history, emancipation, aesthetic experience, etc. The remaining six weeks will be similar in spirit and explore these themes through the writings of Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse and most importantly Theodor Adorno. Some guiding questions of the second half of the course—which will consistently appear in Adorno’s Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life and his short papers “Why still Philosophy?”, “Notes of Philosophical thinking” and “Resignation”—will be: How does Critical Theory propose to change the way in which we think about and do philosophy? What role, if any, does the philosopher (academic or non-academic) have to play in modern contemporary society?”

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL325H1F — EARLY ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY

Instructor: TBA
Monday and Wednesday 10:30-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An examination of some of the classic texts of early analytic philosophy, concentrating on the work of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL331H1S — METAPHYSICS

Instructor: TBA
Monday and Wednesdays 15:00-16:30

Delivery Method: In-person

Historical and systematic approaches to topics in metaphysics, such as the nature of reality, substance and existence, necessity and possibility, causality, universals and particulars.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL332H1F — EPISTEMOLOGY

Prof. Cory Lewis
Tuesdays and Thursdays 15:00-16:30

Delivery Method: In-person

What should we believe? This course will introduce and explore questions about the ethics of belief. Do we have a duty to believe only things we have sufficient evidence for? Or is it permissible to believe some things without direct evidence? Is there such a thing as a positive illusion, a false belief which is beneficial? Is there a helpful analogy (or overlap) between virtue ethics and epistemic virtues? Given that it seems we do not control what we believe, can we be held responsible for our beliefs? We will explore these and related questions by discussing two readings per week, primarily drawn from contemporary work on epistemology.

Reading: A selection of journal articles will be provided online

Evaluation: TBA

PHL334H1S — MIND AND LANGUAGE IN CHINESE THOUGHT

Prof. Chris Fraser
Wednesdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Issues in the philosophy of mind and language played a crucial role in the philosophical discourse of classical China. This course will guide students in reconstructing this role and exploring its philosophical significance by interpreting and critically evaluating selected early Chinese philosophical texts that treat mind, language, and interrelated aspects of psychology. Topics to be discussed include the nature and functions of names and speech; the role of “correcting names”; semantic theory and argumentation; perception and knowledge; the role of language in knowledge and action; and the ontological grounds of linguistic distinctions. Texts to be discussed include the Analects, Guǎnzǐ, Mòzǐ, Mèngzǐ, Dàodéjīng, Xúnzǐ, Zhuāngzǐ, and Lv’s Annals.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Two take-home quizzes, final essay, online discussion participation.

PHL336H1S — ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Reza Hadisi
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Some people are clever – they are good at math, they can solve a puzzle quickly, or they might have a good brain for memorizing a lot of obscure facts. But arguably, it is one thing to be clever, another thing to be wise. Similarly, some people are easy-going, they know how to have fun and enjoy themselves. But arguably, it is one thing to just have fun, another thing to live a good and meaningful life. According to an old philosophical tradition, a wise person is someone who knows how to live a good life. But what is wisdom? And what is a good life? This course is an introduction to Islamic medieval philosophy by looking at various conceptions of the good life and practical wisdom that were offered in that tradition. We read some of the major figures from this tradition, including Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Tufayl, and Ibn ‘Arabi.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Participation, Argument Maps, Term Paper

PHL338H1F — JEWISH PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Michael Rosenthal
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-13:30

The purpose of this course is to acquaint the student with the central concepts of traditional Jewish philosophy.  We shall look at how the most important Jewish philosophers of the medieval period—Saadia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Moses Maimonides, and others—used philosophical ideas and arguments in order to understand and defend the fundamental tenets of their own religion.  After having discussed the problem of the relation between reason and revelation, we shall proceed topically, examining such central issues as proofs for the existence of God, the nature of miracles, the problems of free will and evil, and the question of Jewish ethics.  Although our discussion of each topic will focus on Jewish thinkers in the medieval period, we will also consider modern critiques of these canonical views, and ask whether catastrophic modern events, such as the Holocaust, might force us to reevaluate the answers to central philosophical questions of religious belief formulated in earlier times.

Reading: H. Lewy, A. Altmann, and I. Heinemann (eds.), Three Jewish Philosophers:  Philo, Saadya Gaon, Jehuda Halevi, ed. (Toby Press); I. Twersky (ed.), A Maimonides Reader (Behrman House); and other texts posted on Quercus.

Evaluation: Weekly discussion questions (20%); Two Short Papers (25% each); Final exam [format to be determined] (25%); Participation (5%).

PHL340H1F — ISSUES IN PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Prof. Daniel Munro
Friday 09:00-12:00

This course will explore various classic and contemporary topics in philosophy of mind, all through the lens of the relationship between our minds and the modern technologies with which we interact. Topics may include the nature of mental states, the mind/body problem, personal identity, and the nature of particular cognitive faculties like perception. We’ll consider these topics in relation to various modern technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, the internet, virtual reality), investigating what these technologies reveal about our minds and how they work.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA; likely some mix of in-class participation, discussion board posts, a presentation, a paper, and a final exam.

PHL341H1F — FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY AND HUMAN ACTION

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays 18:00-21:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Human action, and the nature of freedom and responsibility in the light of contemporary knowledge concerning the causation of behaviour.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL341H1S — FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY AND HUMAN ACTION

Prof. Simona Vucu
Fridays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Most of us would agree that we have free will, but it is not clear what this amounts to. This course focuses on three issues that are central to contemporary discussions about how we are free. In the first part of the course, we will inquire into views about freedom that focus on the human ability to choose and whether this ability is compatible or incompatible with determinism.  In the second part, we will inquire into views about freedom that focus on our capacity to identify with the choices we make and our capacity for self-determination. The core notion that these views analyze is that of autonomy. In the last part of the course, we will look closer into discussions about the conditions for being morally responsible.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly quizzes: 10%; Two essays: 50%; Final examination (possibly take-home format) 30%; Class participation: 10%.

PHL342H1F — MINDS AND MACHINES

Prof. Dave Suarez
Mondays and Wednesdays 13:00-14:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Topics include: philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence theory; the computational theory of the mind; functionalism vs. reductionism; the problems of meaning in the philosophy of mind.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL344H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTIONS

Instructor: TBA
Thursdays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Emotions are an essential part of the human experience. As such, they have been the target of philosophical interest since antiquity. In recent years the interest in emotions has increased in scientific disciplines such as psychology, neurosciences, and evolutionary biology. Consequently, the philosophical reflection on emotions has also experienced a strong revival and major changes. In this course, we explore the relationship between the scientific and philosophical studies of emotions. To do so, we will embark on a comprehensive reading of the most recent philosophical theories concerning the nature of emotions and their role in human life. The course begins with a historical panorama of the history of the philosophy of emotions. Then we discuss emotions as intentional states to show the complexity of explaining emotions. Then, we spend the lion’s share of the course discussing the main philosophical theories of emotions. Finally, we will spend the last sessions of the course in discussions about the relationship between emotions and morality, emotions and rationality, and emotions and happiness. These discussions complete the understanding of the nature of emotions built on the previous parts of the course.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL345H1F — INTERMEDIATE LOGIC

Instructor: TBA
Fridays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This is a continuation of PHL245H1, requiring no other prior knowledge of philosophy or mathematics. We will examine first-order logic, including basic metalogical results such as soundness and completeness. There will be an introduction to basic set theory and metalogic. Topics may include the Loewenheim-Skolem theorems for first-order logic and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL347H1S — MODAL LOGIC AND PHILOSOPHICAL APPLICATIONS OF LOGIC

Instructor: TBA
Fridays 9:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Formal study of the concepts of necessity and possibility, modal, propositional and quantificational logic, possible-worlds semantics, and the metaphysics of modality. Other topics may include counterfactuals, truth, vagueness, epistemic logic, temporal logic, or non-classical logic.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL354H1F — PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS

Instructor: TBA
Wednesdays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Platonism versus nominalism, the relation between logic and mathematics, implications of Gödel’s theorem, formalism and intuitionism.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL355H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF NATURAL SCIENCE

Prof. Franz Huber
Mondays 18:00-21:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This Seminar in Philosophy of Science will be an introduction to Bayesian topics in the philosophy of science based on Sprenger, Jan and Hartmann, Stephan (2019), Bayesian Philosophy of Science, New York: Oxford University Press.

One way to think of the philosophy of science is as epistemology and metaphysics of science. Bayesian philosophy of science is philosophy of science from a probabilistic point of view, where probabilities are interpreted in terms of degrees of belief. Topics in Bayesian philosophy of science include confirmation and induction, scientific realism, learning conditionals, the problem of old evidence, causation, explanation, inter-theoretic reduction, simplicity, scientific objectivity, as well as model selection and idealization.

Readings: Sprenger, Jan and Hartmann, Stephan (2019), Bayesian Philosophy of Science, New York: Oxford University Press.

Evaluation: A mix of weekly homework assignments, papers, and, perhaps, a mid-term exam (but no problem sets).

PHL356H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICS

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Introduction to philosophical issues which arise in modern physics, especially in relativity and quantum mechanics. This course will be accessible to students without a significant background in physics, but with an interest in the philosophical challenges that modern physics poses.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL357H1F — PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY

Prof. Denis Walsh
Wednesdays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Philosophical issues in the foundations of biology, e.g., the nature of life, evolutionary theory; controversies about natural selection; competing mechanisms, units of selection; the place of teleology in biology; biological puzzles about sex and sexual reproduction; the problem of species; genetics and reductionism; sociobiology; natural and artificial life.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL366H1S — TOPICS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Andrea Lanza
Mondays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

In 1952, J.L. Talmon pointed an accusing finger at a totalitarian conception of democracy and reconstructed its origins. Starting from the stimulating but problematic category of “totalitarian democracy,” the course invites reflection on the delicate balance between unity and conflict. We will approach this question from different perspectives by looking at modern and contemporary Western thinkers (e.g., Rousseau, Marx, and Thoreau). Exploring their ways of conceiving social divisions will prompt a critical reappraisal of shared ideas such as unanimity, struggle, and civil disobedience.

Readings: readings available on Quercus.

Evaluation: Tentative – 3 in-class written commentaries: 36%; final essay: 25%; final test: 25%; participation: 14%.

PHL367H1F — PHILOSOPHY OF FEMINISM

Prof. Simona Vucu
Thursdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

In this course, we will examine some key issues in contemporary feminist philosophy. We will start with a discussion of such central concepts of feminist philosophy as identity, oppression, and intersectionality. The rest of the course will be spent on what feminist philosophers have to say about work and family, violence against women, the social construction of bodies, and cultural differences. The aim of the course is to track how attention to different dimensions of social reality (sexual identity, race/ethnicity, class, nationality) can enrich old philosophical questions and raise new ones.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly quizzes: 10%; Two essays: 50%; Final examination (possibly take-home format) 30%; Class participation: 10%.

PHL369H1S — PHILOSOPHY OF RACE, GENDER AND CAPITALISM

Prof. William Paris
Wednesdays 17:00-20:00

Delivery Method: In-person

What is “capitalism” and how did it come to be? How should our understanding of capitalism be shaped by the realities of racial domination and gender oppression? What are the different accounts of justice and injustice that would emerge from trying to think these three phenomena together? Or are they really one phenomena? This course will survey the complex historical and contemporary debates concerning the specificities and interrelationships between race, gender, and capitalism. We will engage social theory, philosophy of history, phenomenology, intersectionality, and Marxist philosophy. Students will gain a rich understanding of the diverse theoretical tools one needs in order to grasp our complex social reality.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL370H1F — ISSUES IN PHILOSOPHY OF LAW

Instructor: TBA
Mondays and Wednesdays 18:00-19:30

Delivery Method: In-person

Citizens and the Law

In this course, we will consider two questions about our relationship as citizens to the law. First, do we have a duty to obey the law, simply because it is the law? After clarifying the nature of this potential duty, we will consider some proposals that attempt to establish the existence of such a duty to obey the law, including consent, instrumentalist, and fair play theories. Second, is civil disobedience ever permissible? After examining liberal and democratic theories of civil disobedience in detail, we will conclude the course by discussing three topics that are closely related to legal obligation and civil disobedience: whistleblowing, vigilantism, and jury nullification.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: two ~1500-word essays (30% each, 60% total), one midterm (30%), participation (10%)

PHL373H1F — ISSUES IN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

Instructor: TBA
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-7:30

Delivery Method: In-person

Ecofeminism

Ecofeminists argue for two claims. First, we cannot properly understand why environmental degradation is wrong without framing it in terms of oppression or domination of the environment. Second, environmental domination or oppression are themselves linked to the way that men dominate or oppress women. In this course, we will distinguish several versions of these claims, evaluate them, and attempt to bolster them in light of contemporary work on power, standpoint epistemology, and critical theory. We will also consider how ecofeminism relates to another radical criticism of standard environmental ethics, deep ecology.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: two ~750-word papers (20% each, 40% total), one take-home final (40%), five in-class written reflections (2% each, 10% total), participation (10%)

PHL375H1S LEC0101 — ETHICS

Prof. Reza Hadisi
Mondays 09:00-12:00

Delivery Method: In-person

There is a large family of theories in ethics that think about moral knowledge on the model of mathematical sciences. On these views, we can first do rational analysis of the general concepts of good, right, just, etc., and then we can apply them to concrete situations. In this course, we will look at another family of views that are critical of this conception of moral knowledge. In particular, we will study philosophers who think of moral knowledge on the model of aesthetic experiences. According to these theories, we learn about morality by engaging in art, participating in particular experiences such as forming friendships, caring for family members, and so on. We will start with a little bit of Aristotle and Kant, and then we will read more recent texts by authors such as Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, Christine Korsgaard, Martha Nussbaum, and Sophie Grace-Chappell.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: Participation, Midterm Paper, Argument Map, Term Paper

PHL375H1S LEC0201 — ETHICS

Prof. Brendan DeKenessey
Tuesday and Thursdays 1:30-3:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Doing Good: Consequentialism in Ethics

Here’s a simple ethical theory: you should always do whatever will produce the most good. This view, called consequentialism, is both one of the most influential theories in moral philosophy and one of the most reviled. This course will undertake a sustained investigation of consequentialism. Topics include: the extent of our obligations to help strangers in need; whether it is ever permissible to kill in the name of the greater good; whether we can know the long-term consequences of our actions; whether goodness is objective or subjective; whether all moral theories are consequentialist theories in disguise; and more.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

PHL376H1F — TOPICS IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Shruta Swarup
Wednesdays 18:00-21:00

Delivery Method: In-person

The Ethics of Consent

Consent is absolutely central to our moral lives.  We think it matters morally whether a person has consented to surgery, to sex, to her photographs being used by Facebook, or to her personal information being distributed. This course will consider the role that consent plays in various domains: in medical ethics, political philosophy, and sexual ethics. We’ll ask questions such as the following: Can a person give morally binding consent under circumstances in which it is very costly for her to dissent? Are there harms to which we cannot consent? Throughout, we will attempt to draw out the similarities and differences in the way that consent functions across different domains.

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: TBA (will consist primarily of class participation and writing assignments)

PHL376H1S — TOPICS IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Shruta Swarup
Mondays 18:00-21:00

Delivery Method: In-person

The Ethics of Consent

Consent is absolutely central to our moral lives.  We think it matters morally whether a person has consented to surgery, to sex, to her photographs being used by Facebook, or to her personal information being distributed. This course will consider the role that consent plays in various domains: in medical ethics, political philosophy, and sexual ethics. We’ll ask questions such as the following: Can a person give morally binding consent under circumstances in which it is very costly for her to dissent? Are there harms to which we cannot consent? Throughout, we will attempt to draw out the similarities and differences in the way that consent functions across different domains.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL377H1S — ETHICAL ISSUES IN BIG DATA

Prof. Boris Babic
Tuesdays 15:00-18:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An introduction to the ethical dimensions arising in the practice of statistics and data science, including moral puzzles, problems and dilemmas that arise in the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to every day decision making in politics, business, and ordinary life.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL378H1F — WAR AND MORALITY

Prof. Arthur Ripstein
Tuesdays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

This course will examine moral questions about war.  We will begin with a brief examination of “realism” (according to which war is always acceptable as an instrument of national policy) and pacifism (according to which war is never acceptable). Most of the course will be occupied with the theory of “the just war,” including just cause for going to war, the means that are acceptable in fighting a war, and what happens at the end of the war: what are acceptable terms of peace and who properly bears the cost of a war?  Most readings will be by contemporary philosophers, but we will look at some historical precursors of contemporary positions.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL381H1S — ETHICS AND MEDICAL RESEARCH

Prof. Cheryl Misak
Mondays 10:30-12:00

Delivery Method: This is a hybrid course. Students will be required to watch a 90-minute video prior to the in-person meeting section.

This course will examine ethical issues that arise in biomedical research. Topics include: innovation versus risk; informed voluntary consent in research trials; the ethics of genetic engineering research; issues involving human embryos, children, and especially valuable research subjects; the need to act in advance of good evidence, for instance in a pandemic; and the pros and cons of randomized clinical trials and evidence-based medicine.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Weekly discussion participation 20%;  Mid-term exam 30%;  Term Paper 50%

PHL382H1F — DEATH AND DYING

Prof. Jennifer Gibson
Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An intermediate-level study of moral and legal problems, including the philosophical significance of death, the high-tech prolongation of life, the 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

PHL383H1F — ETHICS AND MENTAL HEALTH

Instructor: TBA
Wednesdays 3:00-6:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An intermediate-level study of moral and legal problems, including the concepts of mental health and illness, mental competence, dangerousness and psychiatric confidentiality, mental institutionalization, involuntary treatment and behaviour control, controversial therapies; legal issues: the Mental Health Act, involuntary commitment, the insanity defence.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL384H1S — ETHICS, GENETICS AND REPRODUCTION

Prof. Jennifer Gibson
Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An intermediate-level study of moral and legal problems, including the ontological and moral status of the human embryo and fetus; human newborn, carrier and prenatal genetic screening for genetic defect, genetic therapy; reproductive technologies (e.g., artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization); recent legislative proposals and judicial decisions.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL385H1S — AESTHETICS

Prof. Mark Kingwell
Mondays 12:00-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

The aim of this course is to consider the unique challenge of encountering Self and Other under the doubled sign of ‘familiar strangeness’, using cinema as a mechanism of ontological investigation. Key tropes to be investigated include the nature of observation, the leakiness and vulnerability of the human body, and the epistemological predicament of the detective or investigator.

A key component of the course are reflection papers, due at the beginning of each class on the assigned reading for the week. These papers are typically scholarly in tone, but you may also consider them an opportunity for personal and creative engagement with the texts. There will be film screenings on selected Monday afternoons at the Robarts Media Commons.

Reading: TBA, but including Freud, Kristeva, Zizek, Cavell, Mulhall, Baldwin, and Fisher

Evaluation: Two substantive papers, one short and one longer (30% and 40% respectively); plus reflection papers, attendance, and participation (30%).

PHL388H1F — LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Brian Bitar
Tuesdays and Thursdays 13:30-15:00

Delivery Method: In-person

An examination of the interplay between literature and philosophy, the literary expression of philosophical ideas, the different genres of philosophical writing, the diverse modes of linguistic expression, and the problem of translation or adaption. In any given year the course may focus on any of the following: philosophical themes as explored in literary works (i.e., in plays, poems, etc. by figures not usually considered philosophers); reflections on literature by philosophers; and the literary dimension of philosophical works themselves. Authors studied will vary.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL394H1F — MARKETS AND MORALS

Prof. Jordan Thomson
Tuesdays 17:00-20:00

Delivery Method: In-person

Markets in commodities and labour significantly shape our lives in obvious and non-obvious ways. This fact raises several ethical questions that we will pursue in this class: Are free markets fair and, if not, do we nonetheless have other compelling reasons to support them? Does respecting property rights require unregulated markets, or should markets be regulated in ways that mitigate the poverty of those who do not “compete” as well as others for jobs or profits? Is socialism preferable to capitalism? Does the fact that we benefit from “sweatshop” labour morally implicate us in their operations and, if so, does this mean we should boycott them? Are there some things that should simply not be for sale? If so, why? 

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA