300-Level Courses

Note about Prerequisites:
All 300-series courses have a prerequisite of three half courses (or equivalent) in philosophy, with the exception of PHL345H1-349H1, PHL356H1 and PHL357H1. There is also a general prerequisite of 7.5 courses (in any field). Specific course prerequisites should be reviewed here. 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.

 

PHL301H1F – EARLY GREEK PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Rachel Barney
Wednesdays 3:00-6:00

This course deals with the perennially controversial ancient ‘sophists’ and their legacy to Greek philosophy. We will read closely and discuss the handful of important sophistic texts which survive, as well as Aristophanes’ Clouds and several dialogues in which Plato represents major sophistic figures, including the Protagoras, Gorgias, Euthydemus, and Hippias Minor. We will also briefly look at the rich later reception of the sophists, by authors ranging from Isocrates to Nietzsche. Major topics include sophistic methods of  argument; their theories of virtue and justice; their analysis of society in terms of nature [phusis] and convention [nomos]; and their engagement with ancient scientific and metaphysical ideas.

Readings: J. Dillon and T. Gergel (eds.), The Greek Sophists (Penguin 2003), Plato: Complete Works (ed. J.M. Cooper) (Hackett, 1997), Aristophanes Clouds and other readings TBA.

Evaluation [subject to minor changes]: final exam 30%, short paper 20%, longer paper 25%, short weekly writing assignments 20%, participation 5%

 

PHL302H1S – ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY AFTER ARISTOTLE

Prof. Lloyd Gerson
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30-12:00

This course will examine the last great phase of ancient Greek philosophy, known today as Neoplatonism.  The heyday of this school covers the period roughly 200-600 CE.  It is during this period that Plato’s philosophy came to be systematized and it is this system that was delivered to medieval and subsequent philosophy as perhaps ancient thought’s greatest achievement.   We will begin with a brief look at philosophy between Plato and Plotinus (204/5-270 CE), generally recognized as the founder of Neoplatonism. We will then focus on the central arguments in Plotinus’ account of Platonism.  The last part of the course (about one-third) will focus on some of the writings of the central figures in Neoplatonism after Plotinus, namely, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus.

Readings: Neoplatonic Philosophy. Introductory Readings. Edited and translated by John Dillon and Lloyd P.Gerson

Evaluation: Two essays (each 20% of final grade); class participation (20% of final grade); final exam (40% of final grade).

 

PHL303H1F – PLATO

Prof. Lloyd Gerson
Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00-2:30

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.

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

Requirements: 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).

 

PHL304H1S – ARISTOTLE

Prof. Bryan Reece
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-5:00

This course will focus on Aristotle’s theory of causes and how he deploys it in scientific explanations. We will address questions such as the following: What are Aristotle’s four causes? Why does he think we need to appeal to multiple sorts of causes in order to do science properly? How does his theory of causes enable him to conduct scientific inquiry in ways his predecessors could not? What objects of study admit of explanation in four-causal terms? What impact does Aristotle’s causal theory in say, psychology, have on practical sciences, such as ethics and politics? Answering such questions will require studying a variety of Aristotle’s works, covering physical, metaphysical, psychological, biological, ethical, and political topics. This will allow us to appreciate the breadth, power, and limits of Aristotle’s theory of causes.

Reading: All readings are available electronically through the UofT Library’s access to the Intelex Past Masters database. Readings accessed on that database are from Barnes, Jonathan. (1984), The Complete Works of Aristotle, 2nd ed. (Princeton University Press).

Evaluation: Evaluation will be a function of participation, daily reading quizzes, a short paper, and a medium-length paper. There will be no final exam. Every student enrolled in this class must have a registered clicker and bring it to class every session.

 

PHL307H1F – AUGUSTINE

Prof. Peter King
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-1:30

Augustine (354-430) was one of the most influential philosophers who ever lived.  In this course, we’ll read selected  parts of his late masterpiece, *The City of God Against the Pagans*.  A response to the Sack of Rome in 410, Augustine argues that political societies are distinct from the community of the faithful, the latter being the only one that really matters; along the way he takes up the nature of the state, the political obligations of individuals, happiness, the problem of evil, the morality of war, original sin, the nature of the emotions, why pagan deities aren’t worthy of worship, foreknowledge and free will, death, and all of world history.  We’ll concentrate on the philosophical rather than the polemical or historical aspects of his discussions.

Readings: R. W. Dyson, Augustine: The City of God Against the Pagans (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought), Cambridge University Press 1998.

Evaluation: two short 5-6pp papers (@25%), one longer 6-10pp paper (35%), attendance and participation (15%).

 

PHL308H1F – AQUINAS

Prof. Deborah Black
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-12:00

An exploration of the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas, focusing on three main areas: metaphysics; epistemology and philosophy of mind; ethics and moral psychology. Some attention will be given to Aquinas’s relation to his philosophical sources from the ancient and earlier medieval period, such as Aristotle, Augustine, and the Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Averroes.

Primary Reading: Thomas Aquinas. The Treatise on the Divine Nature, trans. Brian Shanley (Hackett, 2006); Treatise On Human Nature, trans. Robert Pasnau (Hackett, 2002); Thomas Aquinas. Selected Writings, trans. Ralph McInerny (Penguin, 1998).

Recommended Secondary Text: Peter Eardley and Carl Still. Aquinas: A Guide for the Perplexed. (Continuum, 2010).

Evaluation: To be determined, but will likely include the following: Term work (2 essays): 55%; 2-hour final examination: 35%; Participation: 10%.

 

PHL310H1F – THE RATIONALISTS

Prof. Bryan Reece
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-5:00

This course is concerned with a group of philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries known as the rationalists, in particular René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. We will investigate their views about the nature of substances and their causal interactions, and how these views impact their accounts of what freedom is and the extent to which we have it. In order better to understand the philosophical concerns that motivated these views, we will also read selections from Francisco Suárez, a prominent representative of the Early Modern Scholastic tradition to which the rationalists are directly responding. Furthermore, in order to clarify and put pressure on some of the views of the rationalists, we will supplement our readings with selections from Descartes’s correspondence with Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, as well as from the work of Lady Anne Conway.

Reading: All readings will be made available electronically. Most are included in the Intelex Past Masters database, and some will be distributed on Blackboard.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be a function of participation, daily reading quizzes, a short paper, and a medium-length paper. There will be no final exam. Every student enrolled in this class must have a registered clicker and bring it to class every session.

 

PHL311H1S – THE EMPIRICISTS

Prof. Jonathan Payton
Tuesdays 1:00-2:00; Thursdays 1:00-3:00

Philosophers of the early modern period are typically divided into two camps: the rationalists and the empiricists. The empiricists may be broadly construed as having accepted the following two theses. (1) There are no ‘innate ideas’, that is, ideas or concepts that we possess from birth, having been given them by God or nature. Rather, our minds are ‘blank slates’, and we must develop all of our concepts by way of interaction with ourselves and the world through the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) and perhaps introspection (whereby we sense our own mental states). (2) There is no such thing as a priori knowledge, that is, knowledge that is gained solely by way of a faculty of reason. Rather, all of our knowledge, like our concepts and ideas, must be gotten through experience. In this course we will focus on the major texts of John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, each of whom developed the empiricist program in their own distinctive way. Our guiding theme will be the consequences that empiricism has for some of the concepts that have seemed important to metaphysicians throughout the history of philosophy: the concepts of substance, causation, free will, persons, and personal identity. Can these concepts be constructed from the data of experience? Can we have knowledge of substances, causation, etc. that derives from experience? Or must an empiricist say that these concepts are ultimately empty, and that we can therefore have no knowledge of the things these concepts purport to be about?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL313H1S – TOPICS IN 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Nick Stang
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:30

This course will be a survey of Benedict Spinoza’s masterpiece, the Ethics (1677). The aim of the Ethics is to teach us how, through rational understanding of nature as a whole, we can free ourselves from reactive attitudes like fear and resentment and achieve freedom and even beatitude. Famously, it defends the controversial (and influential) idea that God is identical with Nature and that we are all ‘modes’ (dependent aspects) of God/Nature. Constructed on the model of a geometric treatise, the Ethics consists in a series of definitions, axioms, propositions, and proofs of those propositions. It treats, in order, God, the human mind, the nature of the affects (passions), human servitude, and human freedom. In contemporary terms, it touches on almost every area of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, ethics, philosophy of religion, etc. We will read the entire Ethics over the course of the semester, at times reading the text quite closely. Prerequisite: PHL210Y.

Reading: A Spinoza Reader. Ed. and Trans. E. Curley. Princeton University Press.

Provisional marking scheme: Attendance/participation: 25%; Thee short essays (25% each).

 

PHL314H1S – KANT

Prof. Margaret Morrison
Wednesdays 12:00-3:00

This course is intended as an introduction to Kant’s critical philosophy as explicated in the Critique of Pure Reason.  We will begin by examining the influences of Hume and Leibniz on Kant and how transcendental idealism is an attempt to overcome the so-called dogmatic rationalism of Leibniz and the sceptical empiricism of Hume.  We will focus on the assumptions and conditions inherent in transcendental idealism that characterize human knowledge and experience, as well as the ways in which this position attempts to solve the problems of objectivity and the nature of necessity.

Readings: TBA

Evaluations: TBA

 

PHL316H1F – HEGEL

Prof. Nick Stang
Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00-2:30

This course will be a survey of G.W.F. Hegel’s early masterpiece, the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). Philosophy, over the course of its history, and at any given time in that history, is expressed in a wide variety of systems, views, theories, etc., each of which claims to possess “the truth.” However, there is no agreement about what that truth is and it can often seem that, for any philosophical system, there are reasons against it that are just as powerful as the reasons in favour of it. What is more, many philosophers take their theories to capture not merely what is true now about some particular object in the world, but what is true at all times and about everything whatsoever, the “eternal” truth about the “infinite,” whether that be God, the cosmos, or whatever. But we are time-bound finite creatures, who only come to know “the truth” (if we do so at all) over a period of time. This situation—a plurality of systems with equal rational support, each claiming that the eternal and infinite can be grasped by finite beings in time—can naturally lead to scepticism about philosophy’s ability to know the truth. The Phenomenology is Hegel’s attempt at a comprehensive refutation of such scepticism.  As such, the Phenomenology is simultaneously one of the Western philosophical tradition’s most challenging works, and one of its most stimulating. We will read selectively from the Phenomenology to try to understand its core arguments and conclusions. No prior experience with Hegel or German philosophy is required, though familiarity with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason will be helpful at points.

Reading: G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. A.V. Miller. Oxford University Press.

Provisional marking scheme: Two essays (25% each), final take-home exam (50%)

 

PHL317H1F – MARX AND MARXISM

Prof. Daniel Goldstick
Tuesdays 7:00-10:00

An examination of some of the leading themes in the philosophy of Karl Marx. Developments of Marxist philosophy by later thinkers, and critics of Marxism, may also be considered.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL323H1S – SOCIAL AND CULTURAL THEORY

Prof. James Davies
Wednesdays 3:00-6:00

A study of philosophical approaches to understanding various aspects of contemporary culture and/or society. We will begin by focusing on theories of modernity, and capitalism and consumerism. We will then use this background to engage in depth with theories of nonviolent and violent resistance and revolution, as shaped by considerations of postcolonialism, feminism, race, and intersectionality. We will read pieces by Arendt, Appiah, Benjamin, Berlant, Fanon, Frye, and others (including figures not traditionally considered members of ‘the academy’).

Readings: TBA

Evaluation: Midterm exam, final exam, three short essays.

 

PHL325H1S – EARLY ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY

Prof. James Davies
Tuesdays 3:00-6:00

An examination of some of the classic texts of early analytic philosophy, concentrating on the work of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. We will concentrate on two main themes: (i) the role that philosophical theorizing about the nature of mathematics played in the development of early analytic philosophy, and (ii) the relationship this has to the more general metaphysical view known as Logical Atomism as once held by Russell and Wittgenstein. (Note that a background in mathematics is in no way required for success in this course.)

Readings: Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic (trans. J. L. Austin); Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism; Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Supplementary readings will be provided.

Evaluation: midterm exam, final exam, three short essays.

 

PHL331H1S – METAPHYSICS

Prof. Adam Murray
Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00-1:30

This course takes an in-depth look at some of the central topics in contemporary metaphysics. Topics to be discussed include the metaphysics of material constitution, the nature of time and persistence through time, free will, existence, the metaphysics of modality, and causation.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: Evaluation will consist in a combination of short reading responses, in-class participation, and a final essay.

PHL332H1F – EPISTEMOLOGY

Prof. James John
Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30-3:00

Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge, evidence, and rationality. This course will introduce students to the central issues in the field, with a focus on five core topics: skepticism about the external world; the Gettier problem and the analysis of knowledge; the regress problem and the structure of knowledge and justification; the epistemology of disagreement; and the value of knowledge and the ethics of belief.

By the end of the term students will have a good understanding of what philosophers have had to say about these key questions: What is knowledge? Do we have any knowledge? Why should we care about having knowledge?

Reading: TBA (But will be drawn from classic and recent articles and book chapters.)

Evaluation: TBA (Most likely: short reading responses; midterm exam; two term papers; final exam; participation in discussion.)

 

PHL335H1F – TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Prof. Brian Embry
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-7:30

It is of course controversial whether God exists and whether it is rational to believe that God exists. But supposing that (it is rational to believe that) God exists, many questions still follow. What is God like? How is God related to the world and to our lives?  Even if God exists, is it appropriate to make God the object of “reactive attitudes” like gratitude? In this course we will largely grant the assumption that God exists and pursue questions of the latter sort. Topics will include divine attributes such as simplicity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, and foreknowledge, as well as special divine action (miracles) and problems surrounding petitionary prayer. A variety of viewpoints, religious and non-religious alike, will be welcome in class.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL338H1S – JEWISH PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Michael Morgan
Mondays and Wednesdays 11:00-12:30

Modern Jewish Philosophy begins in the seventeenth century, when attempts to understand Judaism were challenged by historical and intellectual developments, such as the rise of the New Science, the emergence of new modes of political thinking and practices, and the growth of Protestant cultures in Europe.  What makes such reflection about Judaism philosophical is the engagement of Jewish thinkers with the Western philosophical tradition.

The same can be said of the major figures in the tradition of Jewish philosophy in the twentieth century.  In this course, we will focus on them and the worlds in which they lived and worked.  First, we will look at European intellectual culture in the period between 1890 and 1940 by discussing some prominent philosophers, theologians, social thinkers, novelists, and poets of the period and then study central Jewish philosophical figures of the period, especially Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, and Franz Rosenzweig.

We shall turn to the postwar period, after the Holocaust, and especially the emergence of a new existential Jewish theology in postwar America and its encounter with Jewish naturalism and secularism.  The central figures are the young Emil Fackenheim, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Joseph Soloveitchik, but there are also many others who transported German theological and philosophical issues into an American context.

Finally, we shall examine the impact of the Six Day War and the impact of the Nazi Holocaust on American Jewish thinkers.  Our focus will be on the period from 1967 through 1982, the heyday of such thinking.  The key figures are Richard Rubenstein, Irving Greenberg, Eliezer Berkovits, and especially Emil Fackenheim.  We shall also make note of those issues which became centrally important in the final decades of the century and the contribution to Jewish philosophy of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL340H1S – ISSUES IN PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Prof. David Barnett
Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00-5:30

This course will explore a series of central topics in recent and contemporary philosophy of mind, including:

-Other minds:  How do you know that other people have the same sorts of thoughts and experiences that you do?  Do animals have minds like ours?  Could a sufficiently advanced computer or robot have a mind someday, and how could we tell whether it does?

-Self-knoweldge:  How do you know about your own thoughts, experiences, desires, and other mental states?  How is knowledge of your own mind different from knowledge of other people’s minds?  Can you ever be mistaken about your own mental states?

-Consciousness:  Is it possible to explain consciousness in purely physical terms, or is consciousness distinct from the physical states and processes of your brain?  Is a scientific study of consciousness possible, and what methodology should it employ?

Reading: readings from the course website and from The Philosophy of Mind, 2nd ed., edited by David Chalmers

Evaluation:  Two or three short writing assignments, class participation, and midterm and final exams

 

 

PHL341H1F – FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY AND HUMAN ACTION

Prof. Bryan Reece
Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:00-7:30

This course explores some of the most pressing issues about our place in the world as agents. We will approach this subject topically, exploring the following questions: To what extent is causal determinism a threat to freedom? Is causal determinism true? What causes actions? Do freedom and responsibility require having the ability to do otherwise? What does it mean to be an autonomous agent? How does addiction affect freedom? What, if anything, can neuroscience tell us about our agency? Our approach will involve seeking answers to these questions through critically reading some of the prominent work in this area over the past half-century.

Reading: The course text is Watson, Gary. (2003), Free Will, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press).

Evaluation: Evaluation will be a function of participation, daily reading quizzes, a short paper, and a medium-length paper. There will be no final exam. Every student enrolled in this class must have a registered clicker and bring it to class every session.

 

PHL341H1S – FREEDOM, RESPONSIBILITY AND HUMAN ACTION

Prof. Jonathan Payton
Tuesdays 10:00-11:00; Thursdays 10:00-12:00

We tend to think of ourselves as possessing free will, and to be accountable for our actions because of that fact. I exercise my free will in typing this course description, and so I can be held accountable for typing it. But what does free will consist in? What distinguishes those entities that possess it from those that don’t? The obvious answer is that, when I act freely, this is because I have the ability to do otherwise than I actually do, e.g. to go for a walk instead of typing this description. But this conception of free will seems to conflict with a deterministic worldview, as this is given to us by the sciences. If our world is deterministic, it seems, we cannot have the ability to do otherwise, and so we cannot be responsible for our actions. In this course we will investigate the nature of free will and moral responsibility. Does free will require the ability to do otherwise, or can it be made compatible with determinism? If we are not free, does it follow that we are not morally responsible for anything, or can responsible action be nonetheless unfree? In addition to examining these questions, we will also investigate the more fundamental phenomenon of agency itself. What does agency consist in? What distinguishes those entities that possess it from those that don’t? It would seem to involve some kind of control – as I type this course description, I am in control of the movements of my fingers. Can we have this sort of control in a deterministic universe? Or is agency itself incompatible with determinism?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL342H1F – MINDS AND MACHINES

Prof. Brian Cantwell Smith
Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-3:00

The idea that the mind is computer (or at least a kind of computer) is known as the computational theory of mind(CTOM). It served as a foundational assumption underlying the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive science in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the last few decades, the computational theory of mind has come under strenuous critique — yet the underlying assumption that at least some kind of machine may be capable of genuine mentality continues to be taken seriously as an intellectual hypothesis. Moreover, as the course demonstrates, several of the founding assumptions and deep insights of the CTOM project remain in place, even in the face of contemporary critiques. And AI proceeds apace.

This course looks at prospects for mental machines by considering the nature of mind, the nature of machines (especially computers), and the foundations of the computational theory of mind. Two themes will be in special focus: (i) causal issues, having to do with mechanism, modularity, architecture, constraints of phy­si­cal embodiment, neuroscience, dynamics, networks, etc.,; and (ii) semantical issues, including meaning, content, reference, semantics, language, representation, and in­formation.

Readings: Joel Walmsley Mind and Machine (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), John Haugeland Artificial Intelligence: The Very Idea (MIT 1989), and extensive lecture notes.

Evaluation: Two papers (30% and 40%, respectively), with each paper consisting of both a first draft and final draft based on feedback. Plus a final exam (30%).

 

PHL344H1S – PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTIONS

Jacob Stump
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30-12:00

A survey of philosophical topics related to the emotions, from a range of philosophical perspectives. Questions to be considered may include the following: What exactly is an emotion? Are emotions feelings? What emotions are there, and how are they shaped by culture and society? How are emotions related to reason, the brain and the body? What role do — and should — the emotions play in decision-making? Can an emotion be morally right or wrong, and what makes it so?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL345H1F – INTERMEDIATE LOGIC

Mihai Ganea
Friday 10:00-1:00

A survey of several major areas of formal logic and their application to philosophical problems, applying formal techniques and building directly on PHL245. Possible topics include set theory, non-classical logics, modal logic and metalogic.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL346H1S – PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS

Prof. James Brown
Wednesdays 2:00-5:00

The central theme of this course will be: The standard picture of mathematics and its critics. We will focus on several traditional topics in the philosophy of mathematics, including: the nature of proofs, Platonism, Intuitionism, and Formalism, Hilbert’s programme and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. We will also devote considerable time to the role of visualization and experimentation in mathematics. A background in mathematics is useful but not necessary for success in this course; however, a liking of mathematics and a willingness to master a few technicalities are essential.

Reading: Brown, Philosophy of Mathematics (in Bookstore)

Evaluation: Three in-class tests (25%, 50%, and 25%). A Weekly Guide will give the dates.

 

 

PHL347H1S – MODAL LOGIC

Mihai Ganea
Fridays 10:00-1:00

Formal study of the concepts of necessity and possibility; modal, propositional and quantificational logic; possible-worlds semantics; the metaphysics of modality.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL355H1F – PHILOSOPHY OF NATURAL SCIENCE

Prof. Alex Koo
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30-12:00

Broadly speaking, philosophers of science can be divided into two camps: scientific realists who are defenders of scientific practice, and scientific anti-realists who are far more critical. This course will consider both perspectives in an attempt to shed light on the following questions. Is science objective? Does science reveal the truth? Do things like quarks and bosons exist? How does science progress? Understanding these questions will lead to a better understanding of science and the world around us. The goal will be to foster a critical perspective of science no matter ones realist or anti-realist leanings.

Readings will be balanced between key figures from the realist and anti-realist camps. Lectures will be discussion based with time split between understanding the core arguments and critically evaluating them. Course evaluations will also reflect this division with take-home tests focussing on understanding and written submissions for more personal reflection.

Reading: TBA – a selection of primary sources made available online.

Evaluation: Class Participation; Two Take-Home Evaluations; Two Short Responses; Final Essay.

 

PHL356H1S – PHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICS

Prof. James Brown
Thursdays 9:00-12:00

This course will examine some of the fascinating issues in contemporary physics. The general theme of the course will be: What is objectively real and what is not (in modern physics)? The first part will be devoted to space and time: Does time pass, or is the flow of time an illusion? In the light of special and general relativity, are temporal order and geometrical structure facts about the world or are they conventions? Is space an entity in its own right or just a system of relations among physical bodies? The second part of the course will be devoted to problems in quantum mechanics: Does QM offer a complete description of reality? Do observers discover an already existing reality or do they somehow create it by measuring and observing? The focus will be on the Copenhagen interpretation, the EPR paradox, and the Bell results concerning non-locality. Some mathematical background, such as first year calculus is recommended.

Reading: (in Bookstore) Huggett (ed), Space From Zeno to Einstein; Rae, Quantum Physics: Illusion or Reality; Lectures and links to various articles (required reading) will also be provided.

Evalution: Two tests (25% each) and a mid-term (50%)

 

PHL362H1F – PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY

Prof. Michael Morgan
Mondays and Wednesdays 11:00-12:30

Typical questions include: Has history any meaning? Can there be general theories of history? How are the findings of historians related to the theories of metaphysics and of science? Is history deterministic? Must the historian make value judgements? Is history science or an art? Are there historical forces or spirits of an epoch?

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL365H1S – POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. Devlin Russell
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:30

A study of some of the central problems of political philosophy, addressed by historical and contempora

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL366H1F – TOPICS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

Prof. David Novak
Thursdays 12:00-3:00

This course will be devoted to the political philosophy of Aristotle. The course will deal with the following questions: (1) What is an optimal human polity? (2) What are the main purposes of this polity? (3) Why is a rational person obligated to be a law-abiding citizen in this polity?

Reading: Readings for class discussion will be taken from Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.

Evaluation: Midterm examination (20%); final examination (40%), term paper of 4500 words (40%).

 

PHL370H1S – ISSUES IN PHILOSOPHY OF LAW

Benjamin Wald
Tuesdays 12:00-3:00

The criminal law is one of the clearest exercises of the states power to coerce its citizens. In this course, we will investigate the moral limits on this power. In particular, we will focus on one very influential proposal about the limits of law—the harm principle. According to the harm principle, the criminal law may only be used to prevent harm, and only to those who have not consented to this harm. It cannot be used to ban actions that are immoral or that only harm consenting participants. We will look at different arguments that have been presented in support of the harm principle, worries about how to define harm, and objections and alternatives to the harm principle.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

 

PHL373H1F – ISSUES IN ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

Prof. Devlin Russell
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:30-5:00

An intermediate-level examination of key issues in environmental philosophy, such as the ethics of animal welfare, duties to future generations, deep ecology, ecofeminism, sustainable development and international justice.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

 

PHL375H1F – ETHICS

Prof. Jonathan Payton
Tuesdays 10:00-11:00; Thursdays 10:00-12:00

This course is an examination of some of the developments that occurred in both ethics (the study of the nature of the good, and of what makes right acts right) and meta-ethics (the study of the metaphysics of moral properties and facts and of the nature of moral thought and language) in the twentieth century. We will begin with the fundamental questions in meta-ethics. When we think or say that some things are good or bad, or that some acts are right and wrong, are we giving a description of reality that could be factually correct or incorrect? Or do moral thought and language simply give expression to emotions, desires, or other non-factive attitudes? If the former, are there really any moral facts, or are our moral thought and language radically mistaken? From here we will turn to the question of what, if anything, makes right acts right. We will examine contemporary defenses of consequentialism (the view that actions are justified by their consequences), deontology (the view that actions are justified by rules of practical reason), and virtue ethics (the view that actions are justified by being expressions of good character). Finally, we will ask what reason we have to be moral. Are the demands of morality inviolable, or does the good life sometimes require us to behave unethically?

Reading: TBA

Evaulation: TBA

 

PHL375H1S – ETHICS

Prof. Thomas Hurka
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:30

This course will examine a number of issues in normative ethical theory, including what is intrinsically good (just the total happiness: an equal distribution of it? one proportioned to desert?), what if anmoral constraints there are on promoting the good (one against causing harm? one against breaking promises? one against lying?), and what permissions morality may give us not to promote the most good even when doing so would violate no constraint.

Reading: Shelly Kagan, Normative Ethics, plus course reader

Evaluation: Essay 1 (25%); Essay 2 (35%); Final Exam (40%)

 

PHL376H1F – TOPICS IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY

Victor Kumar
Mondays and Wednesdays 5:00-6:30

The topic of this course is evolution and ethics. The aim is to learn about the biological and cultural evolution of morality and its potential philosophical implications. We will begin the course by looking at the evolution of altruism and evolutionary game theory. We will explore whether the evolution of morality can help answer philosophical questions. Is morality unique to humans? Are we fundamentally egoists or altruists? Is morality best understood as a social contract? Does morality arise primarily from nature or from culture? Are moral truths relative to culture or sub-culture? Are moral intuitions an untrustworthy relic of our evolutionary past? Does evolution debunk morality? Or does evolution vindicate morality as a form of social technology?

 

 

Reading: Joseph Henrich (2015) The Secret of Our Success; Michael Tomasello (2016) A Natural History of Morality

Evaluation: 3 shorties – You will be asked to email three short critical responses to the readings in the first unit of the course (max 300 words; 1 p). Worth 30% of your final grade2 essays – You will be asked to write two essays, due in person in late Oct. and by email in early Dec. (1500-2000 words; 6-8 pp). Worth 70% of your final grade.

 

PHL382H1F – DEATH AND DYING

Prof. Jennifer Gibson
Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

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

 

PHL383H1S – ETHICS AND MENTAL HEALTH

Prof. Thomas Mathien
Thursdays 6:00-9:00

To speak of “mental health” is generally taken to imply that there is a condition of mental illness that often requires treatment. It has also, at times, been associated with notions of mental hygiene, or practices promoting mental health. There were times when many of the conditions now regarded as mental illnesses were understood differently, and there are communities where many still are. Unlike many forms of ill health, mental illness is commonly associated with social stigma, and certain forms of it are taken to involve diminished responsibility for action or outright incompetence. Some sufferers are considered a danger to the public as a result of their condition. Some behaviour otherwise considered to be criminal, is treated leniently, even “excused,” as a result of certain conditions judged to be mental illnesses. Some forms of treatment can involve involuntary, even forcible confinement. Others involve powerful drugs or invasive treatment techniques. In many cases clinically “useful” identification of conditions is difficult, and aetiology is not well understood. This course will examine ethical problems that arise from our response to the “mentally ill”: questions of identification, treatment and consent, surrogate decision-making, confidentiality, legal (and moral) competence.

Readings: will include George Graham, The Disordered Mind 2nd edition (Routledge, 2013); Abraham Rudnick (ed), Recovery of people with a Mental Illness (Oxford, 2012) and Lubomira Radoilska (ed), Autonomy and Mental Disorder (Oxford, 2012).

Evaluation: will be by three short discussion papers, the third of which may be a development of the second. They will carry equal weight in determining the final grade.

 

PHL384H1S – ETHICS, GENETICS AND REPRODUCTION

TBA
Wednesdays 6:00-9:00

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; the reproductive technologies (e.g., artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization); recent legislative proposals and judicial decisions.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

PHL385H1S – ISSUES IN AESTHETICS

TBA
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:30-12:00

Selected topics in the philosophy of art. Such issues as the following are discussed: whether different arts require different aesthetic principles; relations between art and language; the adequacy of traditional aesthetics to recent developments in the arts; art as an institution.

Reading: TBA

Evaluation: TBA