Note: Not all courses listed will necessarily be offered each year.
An introduction to philosophy through the study of major figures and movements in the Western philosophical tradition. The figures and themes selected for any given year will be chosen by the instructor.
What is human nature? How do we think of ourselves as human beings? The focus of the course will be theories of human nature that have been put forward in Western philosophy. Some non-Western Philosophical sources may be used.
A critical examination of philosophical arguments about controversial moral issues. Readings will be chosen by the instructor on issues connected with one or several areas such as: biomedical ethics, euthanasia, suicide, environmental ethics, the treatment of animals, war and violence, pornography, censorship. Some non-Western Philosophical sources may be used.
A philosophical inquiry into one or more of the more important contemporary cultural forms and phenomena. Topics may vary and may include popular music, television, virtual reality, sexual roles and stereotypes, or other topics.
An explanation of, and practice in, the basic knowledge, skills and attitudes which are essential components of reasoning well. Topics include: the role of language; evaluating sources (including from the internet); analyzing, evaluating and diagramming arguments; inference strength; writing an extended piece of reasoning. (Antirequisite: PHIL-1620.) (1.5 lecture, 1.5 lab hour per week)
Basic deductive logic and argumentation theories and their application to the interpretation, assessment and construction of arguments used in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences as well as in discourse in the public realm. Topics include: deductive, inductive, presumptive reasoning or arguments, elementary sampling, differences between the kinds of support in different fields, elementary rhetoric and dialectic, and common fallacies. (Prerequisite: Open only to students in the IAS program or in the FAHSS Leadership Pathway.) (Antirequisite: PHIL-1600.)
A survey of the main contending theoretical positions on such basic questions of ethics as: Are all moral values and norms subjective or objective, relative or absolute? What makes right actions right? What is the good life for human beings?
An examination of some of the main contending theories about the nature of society and the state, or of some of the central controversies in social and political theory. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor). (Also offered as POLS-2220.)
An introduction to some central ethical notions (e.g., justice, the common good, moral vs. legal obligation); application of these issues and concepts to cases drawn from the experiences of business men and women (concerned with such issues as corporate responsibility, conflict of interest, honesty in advertising, preferential hiring, corporate responsibility for environmental externalities).
The course will focus on the ethical issues arising from human mortality and vulnerability to sickness. Problems to be explored will vary from year to year and may include: the relation between mortality and the value of life, the ethics of life-extension, the legitimacy of suicide, physician assisted or not, the ethics of human reproduction, allocating scarce medical resources in an ageing population, and the ethics of genetic engineering.
An introduction to the philosophical issues related to understanding the nature of law and legal obligation, the relation between law and morality, and the purpose of punishment. The theoretical points and distinctions will be illustrated by their applications to particular current issues. (Prerequisite: semester 3 or above standing, or consent of the instructor.)
What ethical obligations do we have to the non-human environment? The course examines various answers to that question. Topics may include: animal rights, the moral status of non-human life, the intrinsic value of ecosystems, the importance of wilderness, deep ecology, eco-feminism, economic development, environmentalism, and politics.
An exploration of the philosophically important ethical concepts of human nature, freedom, progress, the good life, moral responsibility, and the environment as these relate to advances in technology. Topics may include: pollution, mass production, the commodification of nature, new technologies (e.g., biotechnology, nanotechnology).
An introduction to the philosophical thought associated with the narratives, culture, and traditions of the Indigenous people in North, Central, and South America. Topics include (but are not limited to): creation stories, Indigenous responses to European ‘discovery,’ legal reasoning concerning indigenous people/communities, subjects of scientific examination, indigenous epistemology, environmental concerns, identity, activism, and the effects of colonialism (such as residential schools, land allotment/reserves, the 60’s Scoop, and cultural appropriation.) (Prerequisite: Semester 3 standing.)
An examination of key philosophical themes in feminism and philosophical debates among feminists. The themes and subjects of debate addressed may include sexism and oppression; feminist identity; the political significance of language, personal appearance, and pornography; feminist ethics; and feminist theories of knowledge. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor. Can be taken as an Arts credit) (Also offered as Women's and Gender Studies WGST-2360)
This course explores the philosophical significance of social identity and the value of diversity with particular attention to issues of race and ethnicity. Philosophical issues to be examined may include: the scientific and socio-political nature of race categories; the status and effectiveness of minority rights in liberal democracy; problems arising from the intersection of race and ethnicity with other political dimensions such as gender and class; the status of general philosophical values across diverse cultures. (Prerequisite: semester 3 or above standing.)
An examination of the philosophical problems involved with religious belief and language. Can the existence of God be proven? Can the non-existence of God be proven? Can claims to religious knowledge be legitimized? Is there a unique logic of religious language that is cognitively meaningful? Is there any basis for claims about life after death? What is the nature of faith? These are the sorts of questions which are dealt with in this course. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing.)
Aesthetics is concerned with problems which arise in the appreciation of objects which are deemed to have aesthetic value. Problems which may be raised in this course include the nature of aesthetic experience and aesthetic objects such as works of art and nature, as well as problems related to aesthetic value and judgment. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing.)
An examination of fundamental questions about the nature of reality. What kinds of things are real; what distinguishes the real from the ideal, or the real from the illusory? Are there abstract entities (e.g., numbers)? The nature of necessity and possibility, essence and existence. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor.)
A study of the views of some of the major existentialists. Figures studied may include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Camus, and Jaspers. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing.)
An examination of: contemporary views of the nature of mind and its relationship to body; whether human action is free, determined, or both; the relationship between a theory of personal identity and the answers to the preceding questions. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing.)
An examination of the nature of knowledge, with topics such as: definitions of knowledge, accounts of its structure, the extent and limits of knowledge, the relationship between experience and knowledge, the bases of rational or justified belief formation. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor.)
The course explores the relationship between what individuals know and their participation in society, including as members of scientific communities. Topics may include: the ways communities rather than individuals can hold knowledge; how cognitive authority depends on a person's membership in, and social position in, society; the role of testimony in knowledge; how the legal system creates knowledge; the roles of gender, race, class, and culture in knowledge; and the ethical implications of knowledge. (Prerequisite: semester 3 or above standing.)
What is a scientific explanation? A theory? How does observation relate to theory? Do theories describe reality, or are they just conventional tools? The course examines answers to these and similar questions, and the general conceptions of science behind the answers. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing.)
The objective is to develop the ability to discriminate between good and bad reasons found in everyday settings, using tools of argumentation theory. A variety of errors of reasoning such as those involving cognitive biases and/or fallacies are explained, and the skills needed to identify them are introduced. The basic tools for analyzing arguments are presented and put to use. Material for analysis is drawn from social media, newspapers, current periodicals, and other sources of actual arguments. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor.)
The objective is to develop the ability to analyze and evaluate extended arguments found in the public media, books and articles, and to construct a well-argued case. (Prerequisite: PHIL-2600 or PHIL-1600 or PHIL-1620 and semester 3 or above standing; or consent of the instructor.)
The course covers propositional logic as well as an introduction to the basic concepts of predicate logic. Topics include the construction of symbolic representation of natural language sentences, semantic methods for evaluating symbol formulas, and methods of constructing deductions or proofs. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing, or permission of the instructor. Antirequisite for nonPhilosophy majors: COMP-2310, MATH-1020.)
How to evaluate extraordinary claims, such as claims about psychic phenomena (e.g. ESP), subliminal messages, crop circles, and water divining. The course may include topics such as: the limits of personal experience as a source of evidence, expert opinion, assessment of studies, scientific method. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing; or consent of instructor.)
The course is a survey of major thinkers and themes in Greek philosophy with particular emphasis on Plato and Aristotle, but may include attention to Pre-Socratic and post-Aristotelian thinkers. The course will concentrate on the main developments in Greek, philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, politics, and ethics.
The course will examine the development and major problems of rationalist and empiricist philosophy during the historical period of the rise of modern natural science. It will emphasize the metaphysical and epistemological changes introduced into Western philosophy during this period. Thinkers studied will include Descartes and Hume. Other thinkers examined may include one or more of Bacon, Locke, Berkeley, Spinoza, and Leibniz.
Special Topics courses will be offered occasionally, as resources allow, to meet a demonstrated academic need, where that need cannot be satisfied by any of the regular course offerings. Interested students should inquire in the Philosophy office. (Prerequisites: Semester 3 or above standing or permission of an advisor in Philosophy.)(May be repeated for credit if content changes.)
The course examines the emergence of pathological forms of social life that systematically undermine human interaction, distort social communication, and falsify individual and group consciousness. The course may explore the work of major social thinkers such as Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Lukacs, Weber, Schmidt, Freud, Adorno, Marcuse, Arendt, Habermas and Honneth or investigate one or more specific forms of modern social pathologies such as racism, gender inequality, colonialism, extreme poverty, the destruction of the environment.(Prerequisite: PHIL-2210 or permission of the instructor).(Also offered as POLS-3190.)
This course will examine issues in ethical theory at an advanced level. Topics may include detailed and critical examination of ethical theories, rigorous exploration of the differences between ethics and other kinds of normative practices and theories, meta-ethical questions regarding the nature of the Fall 2021 Undergraduate Calendar 165 good, or the relation between ethics, politics and other aspects of social life. The authors studied may be wide ranging, depending on the particular focus of the instructor. (Prerequisite PHIL-2210)
The course will focus on the meaning and nature of human rights and their relationship to global justice. Topics may include: the historical development of human rights doctrines, their relationship to classical citizenship rights, the relationship between universal human rights and culturally distinct life ways, relationship between legal/moral principles, material reality, and different conceptions of global justice, the strengths and limitations of human rights as principles to advance global justice. (Prerequisite: Semester 3 or above standing, or permission of the instructor.)](Also offered as POLS3620.)
The course examines philosophical views about our relationship to animals and the relation of these views to the evaluation of moral principles and ethical theories, including notions of justice and rights. It may cover such topics as: attitudes towards animals, animal awareness and autonomy, whether moral consideration should be extended to animals, whether animals have rights. (Prerequisites: Semester 3 standing and at least one prior Philosophy course, or permission of the instructor.)
This is an advanced philosophical exploration of some of the key intersections between humanity and the environment. The focus will be on articulating, understanding and evaluating important relations between the human and the non-human environment. Issues covered may include: the philosophy of nature, technology and environment, science and environment, metaphysics and environment, ecofeminism, radical ecology, and environmental politics. (Prerequisites: Semester 3 standing and at least one Philosophy course, or permission of the instructor)
A critical examination of theories about the nature, goals and values of education. The approach of the course may be historical, contemporary or a combination. (Prerequisites: Semester 3 or above standing and at least one prior Philosophy course, or consent of the instructor.)
This course will introduce students to philosophical conceptions of language. Its focus may range from an historical overview of the philosophy of language, from either analytic or continental perspectives. Thinkers covered may include Ludwig Wittgenstein, A. J. Ayer, Robert Brandom or Hans Georg Gadamer. (Prerequisite: Fifth semester standing).
Philosophers studied in this course may include Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Deleuze, and Guattari. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1100 or PHIL-1120, or at least one 2000-level Philosophy course, or consent of the instructor.)
An exploration of feminist theories about knowledge and reality that inform and are informed by scholarship in Women's Studies. Students examine how gender might affect identity, reasoning, objectivity, and evidence, and in turn, how such variations might affect feminist political practices. (Prerequisites: Two courses at the 2000-level or above from Women's and Gender Studies and/or Philosophy an at least semester 5 standing.) (Also offered as Women's and Gender Studies WGST3590.)
Topics may include: the nature and uses of argument; the evaluation of argument; arguments and argumentation; the relations between argument and rhetoric, logic, and pragmatics; linguistic theories of argument; ethics and epistemology related to argument; the role of argument in philosophy. (Prerequisite: PHIL-2600 or PHIL-2610, or consent of the instructor.)
The Enlightenment ushers in a new era in modern philosophy whose tenets are the autonomy of reason in the face of prejudice, individual dignity as the foundation for social justice, moral progressthrough human perfectibility, and the scientific explanation of the world of nature. This course explores the emergence and development of these ideas in the work of prominent representatives of the Scottish, French and German Enlightenment such as Hume, Smith, Reid, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, D’Alembert, Lessing, Kant, Wollstonecraft, and Herder. (At least third semester standing, and one philosophy course with a middle digit of seven, or permission of the instructor.)
A study of the critical philosophical writings of Immanuel Kant. Topics may include Kant's theories about: the limits of human knowledge, how knowledge in mathematics and the natural sciences is possible, whether it is possible to have moral knowledge, whether it is possible to have religious knowledge. (Prerequisite: PHIL-2760, or consent of the instructor.)
Various nineteenth century thinkers may be studied in this course, from either the pragmatist or European traditions, including Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, but also Dilthey, Schopenhauer, Comte, Mill, Peirce and others. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1100 or PHIL-1120, or at least one 2000-level Philosophy course, or consent of the instructor.)
Senior seminars are the undergraduate sections of M.A. courses. (Normally open only to Philosophy majors in the final year of their program. Consent of the instructor is required. Consult a program advisor during the term preceding planned registration.)
The objective of this course is to introduce the student to contemporary issues concerning the philosophy of law, to include European and Indigenous law. Particular emphasis will be placed upon thepresupposed relation of concepts to society, including European and Indigenous. The course will examine such issues as the difference and relation of legitimacy to legality, the relation of legal analysis to social needs, the relation of morality and ethicality to the content of legal rules and legal reasoning. (Pre-requisite: Final Year of Honour’s B.A or by instructor permission) (Cross-listed with PHIL-8260.)
Significant developments in German philosophy in the twentieth century will be examined. Portions of the course may be devoted to Husserl (the founder of the phenomenological school), Heidegger (a seminal figure in existentialism), Gadamer (a key figure in the development of hermeneutics), Critical Theory (a Freudian and Marxist approach to social and economic issues), and second-generation critical theorists such as Habermas. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1120, and one 2000-level or above Philosophy course, and semester 5 or above standing, or permission of instructor.) (Cross-listed with PHIL-8700.)
A study of significant developments in recent French thought as found in Bergson, Sartre, MerleauPonty, Bataille, and Levi-Strauss, for example. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1100 or PHIL-1120, at least one 2000-level or above Philosophy course, and semester 5 or above standing, or consent of the instructor.) (Cross-listed with PHIL-8710.)
Advanced study of themes and trends in analytic philosophy, in which logic, language, and scientific evidence play central roles. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1100, or PHIL-1120, and at least one 2000-level or above Philosophy course, and semester 5 or above standing, or permission of instructor.) (Cross-listed with PHIL-8720.)
Advanced study of some of the major themes or figures in pragmatist philosophy, which takes practice, in a broad sense of the term, to have a central role in most if not all philosophical issues. (Prerequisite: PHIL-1100 or PHIL-1120, and at least one 2000-level or above Philosophy course, and semester 5 or above standing, or permission of the instructor.) (Cross-listed with PHIL-8730.)
An in-depth investigation of a philosopher, text, or movement from either the Ancient or Early Modern period. Topics may include individual dialogues or texts of figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Descartes or Hume. Or movements such as the Greek Sophists, Stoics, or British Empiricists. (Prerequisite: PHIL-2730).
A study of early 19th century philosophy centered on the idealism of G.W.F. Hegel, focusing on such problems as the nature of the dialectic, the notion of absolute spirit, and the Hegelian conception of philosophy. (Prerequisite: PHIL-3760, or consent of the instructor.)
The aim of the seminar is to give students a solid historical background in a given area of philosophy (e.g. ethics, epistemology, metaphysics). A philosophical theme is traced through a number of key figures in the history of philosophy. (Open only to four-year Honours in Philosophy students in their final year.)