400-Level Courses (2020-21)

PHL 400F Seminar in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Special topic “Scepticism”
Instructor: J. Allen     M 3-6  Online synchronous 
We owe the term ‘sceptic’, together with our idea of what scepticism is,  to ancient Greek philosophy. It comes from a word originally meaning inquiry or investigation and was applied to the members of two ancient philosophical schools, who shared a distinctive stance or attitude. Unlike others, their schools were defined not by allegiance to a set of doctrines, but by a commitment to the open-ended pursuit of truth.  The first was the Academy, the school founded by Plato, which underwent a ‘sceptical turn’ in the early third century BCE.  The second, that of the Pyrrhonists, which took its name and its inspiration from a shadowy 3rd century figure, Pyrrho of Elis, though it seems actually to have been founded in the 1st century by a former member of the Academy. Though both schools ranged widely in their inquiries, they were chiefly occupied with questions about the nature and possibility of knowledge. The arguments that they raised challenge the possibility of knowledge, which are behind our sense of the term ‘sceptic’, have exerted an immense influence ever since. Present day philosophers are still wrestling with them. The seminar will explore both forms of ancient scepticism, mainly through a careful reading  of Cicero’s Academica and Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism.
Prerequisites: PHL245H5 and 4.5 PHL credits

PHL 432S Seminar in Metaphysics – The reality of universals
Instructor:  B. Yi     M 3-6 Online Synchronous
In this course, we will study one of the oldest issues in philosophy: the reality of universals. Are there universals or attributes (e.g., colors, shapes, kinds) in addition to particulars (e.g., red shirts, circular domes, dogs)? If so, how do they exist? Do they exist independently of how we conceive them? Or do they exist as concepts in our mind? We will read both classical and recent writings on these issues.[36S]
Prerequisites: 4.5 PHL credits

PHL 440S Seminar in the Philosophy of Mind
Instructor: M. Matthen T 12-3 Online Synchronous

In this course, we’ll explore sensory states with motivational force. Specifically, we’ll try to understand mental states like these: desire, pleasure, pain, and bodily urges (such as hunger and thirst).

The course will be conducted in seminar format. Classes will be discussion-based. Readings for each session will be posted a week in advance. Students should come to class prepared to ask critical questions and to discuss possible answers. The instructor’s role will be to facilitate discussion and provide background information where needed. [36S]
Prerequisites: 4.5 PHL credits

PHL 475F Seminar in the Moral and Political Philosophy
Instructor: A. Sepielli W 3-6 Online synchronous 
Advanced topics in moral, social or political philosophy. [36S]
Prerequisites: 4.5 PHL credits

PHL489Y The Socrates Project (by application only)
Instructor:  S. Tenenbaum     T 2-5 Online synchronous
The Socrates Project, offered every year, is a full year course with two components.  First, you will serve as a TA for either PHL103H5 Knowledge and Reality or PHL113H5 Persons and Value during winter semester.  You will attend the two course lectures each week and teach one tutorial section of 20-25 students, meeting with them for 1 hour each week on Friday.  You will grade their papers, hold office hours, and meet with the professor and head TA (a graduate student) as needed.  You will be paid for at least 80 hours of work at the regular unit 1 TA hourly wage.

The second component of the course is a seminar led by a member of the Philosophy faculty during fall semester, together with the writing of a research paper for an Independent Study course in winter semester.  Your supervisor for the Independent Study will be a faculty member of your choosing who is an expert in the area of your research paper.  The seminar will meet once a week for 3 hours during fall term.  Roughly 25% of the seminar will focus on the methods and challenges of teaching philosophy, in preparation for your winter TA work.  The remaining 75% of the seminar will focus on the topics that members of the seminar will write about in their research papers.  Each student will choose a paper topic, assign several readings for the seminar, and then lead the seminar discussion of the topic.  Guest faculty who work on these topics may visit the seminar from time to time.  [36S]  See here for further information and application form.
Preparation: PHL245H5 and 4.5 PHL credits preferred.

PHL 496F, 497S   Individual Studies
Individual studies courses (PHL 496H5F, PHL 497H5S) must be arranged well in advance of registration with the individual faculty advisor, and the plan of study must be approved by the departmental chair (please fill out and submit the Independent Study Form – PDF). Anyone wishing to take an individual studies course must contact a potential faculty supervisor with a plan of study (a topic, a course of readings). Spaces are very limited, and faculty will agree to supervise only students who show evidence of excellent self-motivation.