2017 Summer Courses

Below you will find information regarding 2017 Summer Courses.

Please note that PHL210Y1, PHL217H1, PHL232H1, PHL240H1, PHL271H1, PHL275H1 and PHL281H1 have mandatory tutorials that might be scheduled immediately before or after the scheduled lecture hours. More information about enrolment and scheduling of those tutorials will be given out during the first class.

For courses that have pre-requisites, please check the Faculty of Arts and Science calendar to confirm that you have completed all necessary requirements. Failure to do so can result in your removal from the course. If you do not have the published prerequisites but feel that you have adequate preparation, you must speak with the instructor(s) for the course to seek permission to remain enrolled.

Note: The descriptions (including evaluation schemes) and timetable listed below are subject to change. The syllabus handed out on the first day of classes will have all the finalized information.


PHL100Y1Y – Introduction to Philosophy

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 5:00 and 8:00)

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 1085

Instructors: D. Rabinoff & J. Smith

Why be good? What is knowledge? What is it to be a person? Does God exist? What is consciousness? This course is an invitation to think about some of life’s important questions in a rigorous and critical way. The goal is to scratch the surface of many of the major topics in philosophy, while providing instruction and practice in philosophical methods. The course will explore some of the central questions in philosophy and some of the answers that have been given to those questions in the writings of major Western philosophers. By the end of term, you should have developed the skills of extracting and critically analyzing arguments. Additionally, you should have a good idea of what sorts of things philosophers think about when they study metaphysics, knowledge, theology, ethics, mathematics, and mind.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: short writing assignments (35%); term paper (30%); final exam (35%)

PHL200Y1 – Ancient Philosophy

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:00-12:00 (Tutorials: Thursdays 11:00 and 12:00)

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 1083

Instructors: M. Remacle & R. MacKinnon

This course will introduce you to Ancient philosophy, a roughly 1000-year period that set out 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 Hellenistic philosophy – the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics – and finally concluding with an overview of Later Ancient philosophy (Neoplatonism, the revival of Plato’s works, and the so-called ‘Commentator’ tradition that flourished in Greece but especially Alexandria). Besides the heavy-hitting questions outlined above, time-permitting we’ll tackle more specific ones like ‘how does language work?’ and ‘what purpose does religion serve?’

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: 2 short expository papers – 25%; 2 short critical papers – 35%; Final exam – 25%; Tutorial attendance and participation – 15%.


PHL217H1S – Introduction to Continental Philosophy

Time: Mondays and Wednesday 6:00-9:00 (Tutorials: Wednesday 5:00 and 8:00)

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2125

Instructor: B. Sopher

The term ‘continental philosophy’ refers to a loosely related group of European philosophers and philosophical movements in the 19th and 20th century that occurred outside of the context and canon of mainstream academic philosophical institutions in the Anglo-American world. While divergent from that context in terms of method and concerns, continental philosophy likewise pursues the perennial questions of Western philosophy, considering fundamental questions on the nature of reality, knowledge, and values. This course introduces this discontinuous “tradition” in terms of its response to a shared point of departure: the problem of idealism, especially as received from Kant. Our starting point is Kant’s claim that we cannot know things in themselves, as they are apart from the way we structure them in our experience, situating this claim in terms of the European enlightenment. The thinkers we study in this course find this claim both intolerable and yet feel the pull of its unavoidability. From there we will investigate writings by Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, Marx, Lukács, Benjamin, and Adorno. Questions raised in the context of these writings include: is truth basically subjective, and what does that mean? Is there a fundamental difference and gap between the subject and object of experience? What kind of thought or practice is needed to bridge such a gap? What is it to experience something wholly other? And how do history and society inform the ways we can ask such questions?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: short weekly writings (25%), tutorial participation (15%), first exegetical essay (25%), final critical essay (35%).


PHL232H1F – Knowledge and Reality

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-6:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 2:00 and 5:00)

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 1070

Instructor: J. Bunke

An introduction to issues in the fundamental branches of philosophy: metaphysics, which considers the overall framework of reality; epistemology, or the theory of knowledge; and related problems in the philosophy of science. Topics in metaphysics may include: mind and body, causality, space and time, God, freedom and determinism; topics in epistemology may include perception, evidence, belief, truth, skepticism.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA


PHL240H1F – Persons, Minds and Bodies

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-9:00 (Tutorials: Thursdays 5:00 and 8:00)

Location: Carr Hall, Room 403

Instructor: C. Cooper-Simpson

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 Sexuality

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

Location: Wilson Hall, Room 1017

Instructor: M. Westfall

Sexuality occupies a unique position in our lives and the cultural imagination. It also presents a unique suite of philosophical questions. This course is an introduction to some of these questions and philosophical approaches to answering them. Some are metaphysical: What is love? What is sex? Some are ethical: To what extent should we restrict pornography? And some are a bit of both: What is objectification and is it always morally problematic? What is the difference between flirting and being creepy? The philosophy readings will be supplemented with cultural criticism, short fiction, and even a scientific study or two.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: 500 word papers, 3×20%; Final Exam, 40%


PHL245H1Y – Modern Symbolic Logic

Time: Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

Location: Ramsay Wright Laboratories, Room 110

Instructor: K. Kuhl

The application of symbolic techniques to the assessment of arguments. Propositional calculus and quantification theory. Logical concepts, techniques of natural deduction.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA


PHL271H1F – Law and Morality

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00-12:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 11:00 and 12:00)

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, room 1070

Instructor: S. Coyne

This course examines the complex relationship between law and morality. We will begin by discussing how judges decide cases in which the existing law provides an incomplete guide for judges. Is there a single correct way of deciding these cases, implying that judges can be in error if they decide otherwise? Many philosophers believe that this question hinges on a debate between legal positivists and natural law theorists about the nature of law, so we will read work by some of the key figures from this debate, such as H.L.A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin. In the second half of the course, we will consider two further questions about the relationship between law and morality. Is there a moral duty to obey the law? Is the immorality of some conduct a necessary or sufficient condition for criminalizing it?

Reading: H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law (available for purchase in the bookstore). The remaining readings will be accessible through Blackboard.

Evaluation: Five Low-Stakes Writing Assignments (min. 250 words) (+/-); Two Essays (max 1200 words each) (50%); Final Exam (35%);

Tutorial and Lecture Participation (15%)


PHL273H1S – Environmental Ethics

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-3:00

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2180

Instructor: H. Russell

This course discusses moral and political questions relating to human’s impact on the environment. Do ecosystems have moral standing, or just the animals that live in them? Should we use genetic technology to eradicate species that are harmful to humans, such as the malarial mosquito? When considering projects like oil pipelines, how should policymakers balance economic benefits against environmental costs? Should current citizens of industrialized countries compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions of earlier generations? If none of my individual actions make a difference to the scale of climate change, do I have any reason to reduce my carbon footprint? How can grassroots environmental movements, such as consumer boycotts, ensure that all affected groups have a democratic voice? Can feminist and indigenous perspectives teach us to value nature in more caring, respectful ways?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Blackboard questions – 10%; First paper (750-1000 words) – 25%;  Second paper (750-1000 words) – 35%; Final exam (750-1000 words) – 30%.


PHL275H1S – Introduction to Ethics

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-3:00

Location: Ramsay Wright Laboratories, Room 117

Instructor: E. Steinberg

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 much 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 two main questions: (1) what is the right/good? and (2) is there any such thing as the right/good? In the first part of the course we will 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, deontology, and consequentialism: their historical formulations and their current, refined versions. We will then discuss challenges to morality. According to egoism, for instance, we never act on altruistic motives. Others may say that there is no objective sense of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, given widespread disagreement between different people and different societies and cultures about what is good or bad. We conclude the course by examining how ethical theories can be applied to the real-world cases of poverty and euthanasia.

Reading: Immanuel Kant (2011[1785]) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals 2nd edition (Mary. Gregor, trans., Jens Timmerman, ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rosalind Hursthouse (1999) On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. All other readings will be made available through blackboard.

Evaluation: Lecture Attendance (5%); Tutorial Participation and attendance (10%); 5 Short papers (600 words) (50%); Final exam (35%)


PHL281H1F – Bioethics

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 6:00-9:00 (Tutorials: Wednesdays 5:00 and 8:00)

Location: Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories, Room 162

Instructor: M. Wurst

This is an ethics course that engages with ethical questions that arise in the context of medicine and healthcare. To start, we’ll introduce some of the key moral principles of biomedical ethics, and outline a couple of major moral theories. This will help prepare us to consider issues such as: the responsibility of doctors to patients; ethical issues surrounding human research and clinical trials; the morality of abortion; the morality of euthanasia; and the allocation of healthcare resources. In addressing these questions, we’ll cultivate skills such as: the ability to construct and critically examine philosophical arguments; the ability to write clearly and persuasively; the ability to forward and philosophically defend our own positions; and the ability to respectfully engage in dialogue and conversation on controversial topics with people with whom we disagree. 

Reading: Lewis Vaughn, Bioethics: Principles, Issues, Cases, Third Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). ISBN: 9780190250102

Evaluation: Tutorial attendance and participation, 15%; First essay, 20% (800 words, due June 4); Second essay, 30% (1200 words, due June 18); Final exam, 35%


PHL340H1S – Issues in Philosophy of Mind: Perception

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-6:00

Location: University College, Room 161

Instructor: D. Melamedoff

What, if any, are the objects of perception? Are they things in the world, or things in our minds? Is perception even the kind of thing that has objects? In this course, we will begin by exploring various answers that philosophers have given to these questions, as well as the philosophical motivations behind them. In the second half of this course, our focus will turn to representational theories of perception, according to which perceptual experiences should not be characterized in terms of what their objects are, but rather in terms of they represent the world to be. We will look at some motivations for representationalism, as well as some current disagreements about what representationalists should take the representational contents of perception to be.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: 2 tests (30% each); 1 short argument reconstruction (10%); 1 paper (30%)


PHL370H1S – Issues in Philosophy of Law

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-9:00

Location: University College, Room 161

Instructor: S. Coyne

H.L.A. Hart famously wrote that the law is not merely a ‘gunman writ large’. The difference, arguably, is that the law claims authority over those subject to it – sometimes, perhaps, it even has that authority. But what is involved in this claim of authority? How do claims of authority differ from advice, threats, and requests? And what moral features of the law, if any, allow it to make good on such claims?

Reading: I will make the readings available on Blackboard.

Evaluation: Six Short Reading Responses -250 words each (+/- from total mark); Two Essays – 1,500-1,800 words each (60%); In-class Midterm (25%); Participation (15%)


PHL375H1F – Ethics

Time: Tuesdays and Thursday 6:00-9:00

Location: Carr Hall, room 405

Instructor: E. Mathison

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

Time: Mondays and Wednesday 6:00-9:00

Location: University College, Room 161

Instructor: J. Davis

Death is inevitable, and so is thinking about it. Nearly every intellectual tradition has formulated different ways of understanding the idea of death, whether it is something to be feared, the mysteries of what comes after, and how this ought to influence our lives as we live them. While death can be inspected through any number of academic lenses—e.g., religious studies, literature, biology, anthropology, etc.—in this course, we will attempt to better understand it using the resources of (mostly) analytic moral philosophy.

Among the questions we will ask are the following: Is death bad for the one who dies? If so, what makes death bad? Would it be better if we were immortal? Or is death somehow necessary for life to have the meaning we take it to have? How does the prospect of our eventual death shape our evaluative perspectives during our lifetimes? Is death sometimes worth seeking out? And what moral conditions govern such a choice?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: short essay (20%), a longer essay (35%), a final exam (35%), and five short reading responses (10%)


PHL388H1F – Literature and Philosophy

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-6:00

Location: Sidney Smith Hall, Room 2110

Instructor: J. Davies

An introduction to some issues arising from philosophical reflection on literature. We will consider questions in areas such as metaphysics (e.g. what kind of entity is Sherlock Holmes?), philosophy of language (in what sense is it ‘true’ that Sherlock Holmes is better known than any actual detective?), and epistemology (can we gain knowledge from fictions?). We will consider answers from Jody Azzouni, Ross Cameron, Julian Dodd, Jerrold Levinson, David Lewis, and Amie Thomasson, among others. We will also apply these answers to specific pieces of literature, both historical and contemporary, from authors including Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Neal Stephenson.

Reading: there is no textbook for the course; readings will be provided through the portal website.

Evaluation: midterm exam, final exam, two essays, one reading response.