2022-23 Undergraduate Timetable

The department is excited to announce that the majority of classes for the upcoming 2022-23 term are scheduled for in-person delivery. Please note that all scheduling is dependent on the relevant public health measures, and any changes to the below schedule will be updated here and on the Western Timetable. Please continue to monitor our website and the timetable for updates, and see below for a further description of each of the teaching methods:

Reading Courses: Students in their third or fourth year registered in an  Honors Specialization, Honors Double Major or Specialization module in Philosophy may apply for one advanced reading course during their degree. Further information available  here.

1000- Level Courses

Philosophy 1020: Intro to Philosophy

A look at some central questions in philosophy, including: Does God exist?  What is knowledge?  Truth? How do we distinguish between right and wrong?  What justifies political authority?  Does morality ever permit or require us to break the law? Specific topics will include: race and racism, fake news, and the justification and limits of rights in property.  Examples and case studies will be drawn from a wide range of disciplines and areas, from the natural and social sciences to art and music.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 1000E, Philosophy 1022E, Philosophy 1100E, Philosophy 1250F/G, Philosophy 1300E, Philosophy 1350F/G.

Instructor: D. Klimchuk Blended: online lecture with in-person tutorials Course Outline

Philosophy 1030A: Understanding Science

This non-essay course is aimed both at non-science majors who want to gain an understanding of the place of science in our world and how it relates to other parts of our culture, and also at science students who want to gain an appreciation of the place of their discipline in the wider culture.

Science plays a central role in our lives. It is the source of new technological developments, and of information about safety and risks that are relevant to our decisions as individuals and as a society. Yet many people find science disquieting. There is a feeling that science destroys the wonder of nature. Moreover, many people mistrust what scientists tell them.

This course is aimed at helping students understand how science works, and its role in society. It will include modules on science and the media, on scientific methodology, and on contemporary controversies.

Instructor: W. Myrvold Monday, Wednesday 9:30- 10:30 SH 3345 Course Outline

Philosophy 1040G: Ethics, Law, & Politics

In our everyday experiences, we are confronted by situations in which we have to decide what is right, and what is wrong. Broadly, we can think of these as ethical “moments”, where we have to make a certain kind of judgment: normative or moral judgment. We ask: what is morally permissible in these circumstances? What is morally obligatory? What is forbidden? The answers that we give are important – they will guide our actions, or we may use them to evaluate the actions of others. Either way, they will determine what counts as a right action, or who is a good person.

Politics and law sometimes generate very similar experiences – we ask ourselves whether an action is legal or illegal, which tax or environmental policy is the best for the country, whether the government has done something to violate our rights, and so on. There are many instances where ethics, law and politics intersect.

Instructor: T. Isaacs Tuesday, Thursday 11:30-12:30 + tutorial SEB 1059 Course Outline

Philosophy 1130F: Big Ideas

This course will discuss some of the ideas that have shaped modern culture, politics, science, and philosophy. These “big ideas” are familiar and widely debated in our culture. What we often miss is how closely they are connected with philosophy. Many of the most powerful and influential ideas-- not only in philosophy, politics, and culture, but even in science and technology--developed through philosophical reflections on human problems. Historic figures such as Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Alan Turing, as well as many of the transformative thinkers of our own time, began by asking new philosophical questions about old and established beliefs. Reading and discussing original texts by these and other authors, we will try to understand some of the most revolutionary and interesting of these ideas from a critical philosophical perspective. We will talk about the impact that they have had, might have, or ought to have on our lives and thought. “Big ideas” to be discussed include: justice, equality, evolution, infinity, determinism, materialism, computation, artificial intelligence, theism, atheism, skepticism, certainty, evil, relativity, and others.

Instructor: R. DiSalle Tuesday, Thursday 11:30-12:30 + tutorial WSC 55 Course Outline

Philosophy 1230A: Reasoning & Critical Thinking

An introduction to the basic principles of reasoning and critical thinking designed to enhance the student's ability to evaluate various forms of reasoning found in everyday life as well as in academic disciplines. The course will deal with such topics as inductive and deductive reasoning, the nature and function of definitions, types of fallacies, the use and misuse of statistics, and the rudiments of logic. Primarily for first year students.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 1000E, Philosophy 1200.

Instructor: A. Mendelovici Online Course Outline

Philosophy 1230B: Reasoning & Critical Thinking

An introduction to the basic principles of reasoning and critical thinking designed to enhance the student's ability to evaluate various forms of reasoning found in everyday life as well as in academic disciplines. The course will deal with such topics as inductive and deductive reasoning, the nature and function of definitions, types of fallacies, the use and misuse of statistics, and the rudiments of logic. Primarily for first year students.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 1000E, Philosophy 1200.

Instructor: A. Mendelovici Online Course Outline

2000- Level Courses

Philosophy 2020: Basic Logic

This is an introductory course in formal logic, which may be used to satisfy the logic requirement for the HSP module in Philosophy. The focus of the course is on Modern Symbolic Logic. The first term focuses solely on propositional or sentential logic; the second term is dedicated to first-order predicate logic. A system of natural deduction is introduced for proving statements and assessing natural language arguments. A formal language is introduced along with techniques for translating between this formal system and natural language. Truth tables are used to test for truth-functional properties. A more efficient system of truth trees is then introduced to test for these properties. Time permitting the course will conclude with a brief introduction to modal and other alternative logics.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 2250, Philosophy 2252W/X, Computer Science 2209A/B.

Instructor: C. Viger Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2032G: Einstein for Everyone

This course considers the work of Albert Einstein and its impact, focusing mainly on the theories of relativity and cosmology. Mathematics will be kept to a minimum, and no physics background will be assumed. The course starts with special relativity, as formulated by Einstein in 1905. We will discuss Einstein’s two postulates and explore their strange consequences for the behavior of measuring rods and clocks, and explain the meaning and importance of the relativity of simultaneity. How did Einstein discover special relativity? We will look at the historical context of his work, showing how it related to 19th century physics. We will also consider various consequences of the theory, such as E = mc2, and alleged paradoxes (such as the twin paradox). We then turn to Einstein’s most striking achievement, the general theory of relativity (1915). This theory is based on the remarkable idea that spacetime is curved. We will develop the background needed to understand this concept and the other basic ideas of the theory, and consider consequences of the theory related to cosmology and black hole physics. We will also consider Einstein’s innovative path to general relativity as exemplifying an effective critical analysis of a physical theory.

Instructor: C. Smeenk Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2033B: Introduction to Environmental Philosophy

We live in a time in which environmental issues are very much in the news; climate change is one prominent issue.
This course is about how to think about such things. How are we to react to sometimes contradictory information in the media? Once we believe we know what is happening, what are the causes and solutions? Is environmental degradation an inevitable by-product of the presence of more than 7 billion human beings, or is it rooted in some fact about our culture? Is it the Western attitude towards the natural world? Is it something about our economic system? If we want to protect our environment, what is it that is worth saving, and why? Do we have a duty to protect Nature which is independent of its benefits to human beings? Is governmental regulation the answer, or should we let markets take care of things? This course is an invitation to think about and discuss these philosophical questions and others, and to investigate what others have said about them.

Instructor: W. Myrvold Tu 2:30- 3:30, Th 1:30- 3:30 UCC 56 Course Outline

Philosophy 2037F: Philosophy and AI

Will robots take all our jobs? Will humans become cyborgs? Will nano-technology revolutionize medicine? As we rely more on machines, they are changing how we interact with the world and one another. In this course we will consider the impact of technology on our current lives, and on our future.

Extra Information: Blended, Tutorial

Instructor:M. Barnes Online Lectures; In-Person Tutorials Course Outline

Philosophy 2062F: Power, Privilege, & Oppression

To say our society is racist, sexist, or the like is to say it is marked by systems and relationships of power that are oppressive to certain groups of people. This course examines these systems and relationships and considers what philosophers have said about them. We will explore their answers to questions that include the following: What does it mean to be oppressed or be the target of something like homophobia or ableism? How should we understand power as it occurs in relationships of both oppression and privilege? How do different systems of oppression intersect and inform one another? How do tools of oppression (e.g., microaggressions, stereotyping) work? How can people be empowered to resist their own oppression or the oppression of others? How can they act in solidarity with one another to achieve this goal?

The above questions fit under categories that correspond to different ways that power can manifest itself: as domination (power over others), as resistance (power to resist), and as solidarity (power with others). The course will be divided up according to these three topics. We will also apply the theories we learn to case studies such as those of police violence against Black people, reproductive injustice toward Indigenous people, the misgendering of trans people, and Quebec’s ban on government employees wearing religious “symbols” such as the hijab.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 2630F/G.

Extra Information: Blended

Instructor: C. McLeod M 1:30- 3:00 FNB 1250 Course Outline

Philosophy 2065G: Evil

A study of philosophical approaches to evil through the history of Western philosophy. We will consider evil as a theological problem (i.e., the problem of evil), the metaphysical character of evil (i.e, what is it?), and philosophical responses to the fact of evil and suffering, especially pessimism (the view that this is the “worst of all possible worlds”).

Extra Information: Blended

Instructor: C. Dyck Th 1:30- 3:30 UCC 41 Course Outline

Philosophy 2073G: Death

This course is focused on understanding and engaging the arguments that scholars have made about death. The specific arguments we consider attempt to answer the following questions: What does it mean to say that a person is dead? What, if anything, survives beyond death? Is death bad? Conversely, is immortality good? Are there any circumstances in which it is morally permissible to bring about the death of another and if so, why?

Instructor: R. Robb Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2074F: Business Ethics

It is sometimes said that the phrase “business ethics” is an oxymoron. In this course we will attempt to dispel this popular conception. By working our way through many of the moral issues to which the practice of business gives rise, we will show that the interests of business people and moral philosophers converge. Topics include: What is the relation between business and free market capitalism? What is the nature of moral reasoning? Do corporations have social responsibilities? What social responsibilities do corporations have when operating in the global context? Are there universal ethical principles which can guide the conduct of multinational corporations? Do international sweatshops violate human rights? Can the capitalist market economy be justified? What constitutes a just distribution of the goods and services produced by society? Is affirmative action morally justified? How much information about a product is a corporation morally obligated to disclose to consumers, and how and to whom should this information be disclosed? Is business bluffing ethical? When is advertising ethically questionable? What rights and obligations do employees and employers have in the workplace? Do employees have the right to know of work-related safety hazards? Is whistle-blowing morally justified?

Instructor: D. Proessel Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2078G: Ethics for a Digital World

We spend a considerable portion of our lives in the digital world. What moral considerations ought to guide our conduct as cyber-citizens, given the possibility that online behaviour is morally distinct from real world behaviour? This class will engage materials that address the philosophical issues raised by these two questions: Specifically: What’s the relationship between our virtual identities and our physical identities? How is online activity changing our interpersonal relationships? What are our rights and responsibilities toward others in the cyberworld? How do we trade between the potentially conflicting values of anonymity and accountability? How do we balance copyright claims against demands for open access? Is piracy always wrong? Does a hacker’s code of ethics make any sense? How should we respond to forms of hate and exclusion in online communities?

Instructor: R. Robb Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2080: Philosophy of Law

We will study the fundamental concepts of law, and the philosophical principles on which they are based. The course is divided into four sections, two each term, as follows: the first term will be spent on tort law and contract law; the second term criminal law and constitutional law. There will also be an introduction to the basic structure of our court system, the difference between statute law and common law, and some basic knowledge of the legal process.

In the study of tort law the main focus will be on the law of negligence, including the expanding areas of liability of product manufacturers, tavern owners, and other public ‑ private entities. We will be reading an essay describing the difference between American and Canadian approaches to tort law, and illustrating themes that are ever present in the law's development.

In the study of contract law, the student will gain an understanding of the basics of contract law by looking at pivotal cases, and applying the principles found in those cases in various other situations. Again, a philosophical essay will lead the way to conceptual underpinnings of contract law.

For criminal law, the questions of culpability, intention, and available defences are considered.

Finally, constitutional law will be studied with the main focus on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and litigation based on that legislation.

While there is no claim that the student will gain knowledge of the most current state of the law, there will be an effort to consider current events and controversial issues that are topical during the study of the course.

In addition, and in conjunction with the cases studied, will be a discussion of the philosophical principles that underlie, justify and inform the law. Controversial areas of the law will be discussed including such topics as the independence of the courts from political influence, freedom of speech, pornography, the tension between legal obligations to accused persons and the rights of victims of crime etc.

Instructor: J. Hildebrand W 7:00 -9:00 UCC 56 Course Outline

Philosophy 2082F: Introduction to the Philosophy of Food

A philosophical reflection on food and our current food system. Issues may include food and climate change, food justice, local and global hunger and food insecurity, the industrialization of food and agriculture, the moral and political dimensions of genetically modified food, or the treatment of animals and lab cultured meat.

Extra Information: 2 hour lecture + 2 hour tutorial

Instructor: B. Hill M, W 12:30- 1:30 SSC 2050 Course Outline

Philosophy 2200F: Ancient Philosophy

This course will provide students with an introduction to the questions confronted by the main figures of Ancient Greek philosophy (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Philosophers). We shall examine such questions as: What is philosophy and how should it be practiced? What is the underlying nature of reality? Is the fundamental state of the universe motion or stability? Is knowledge possible? If so, how do we acquire it? Can we have knowledge of a changing world or does knowledge require eternal, unchanging objects (e.g. Plato’s Forms)? What is the nature of happiness and how does one attain it? How many kinds of friendship are there? Is friendship necessary for happiness?

Extra Information: Blended

Instructor: D. Henry Tu 9:30- 11:30 FNB 1240 Course Outline

Philosophy 2202G: Early Modern Philosophy

A critical examination of key works of selected figures of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Instructor: B. Hill Tu 10:30- 12:30, Th 11:30- 12:30 FNB 2240 Course Outline

Philosophy 2300F: Philosophy of Science

This introduction to the philosophy of science explores how philosophical questions are linked to sciences. Over the course of the semester, we will look at examples of successes and failures in science and reflect on issues such as: What are the aims of science? What demarcates science from pseudoscience? Does science progress? Is scientific knowledge objective? Are scientific representations real? How historical and social contexts affect the work of scientists? These questions will be explored through a wide range of topics that became the center of attention in the natural and social sciences, including astronomy, geography, climate science, evolution, genetics, ecology, and medicine.

Antirequisite(s): The former Philosophy 2030F/G.

Instructor: E. Desjardins Tu 6:30-9:30 SH 2317 Course Outline

Philosophy 2320F: Philosophy for Integrated Science

An introduction to aspects of science not covered in traditional science courses. This includes history of science, scientific methodology, ethical dimensions of conducting and applying research, and conceptual issues in specific disciplines. The role of the media in disseminating science and how science shapes public policy will be discussed.

*Please note that the attached syllabus for this course is identical to Philosophy 2300G, as the two courses will be merged.

Antirequisite(s): Philosophy 1030A/B.

Prerequisite(s): Enrolment in Year 2 of the Western Integrated Science program.

Instructor: E. Desjardins Th 6:30-9:30 SH 2317 Course Outline

Philosophy 2350G: Darwinian Revolution

Charles Darwin is one of the most important figures in the modern world. His thinking about evolution has revolutionized not only biology but also psychology, sociology, and economics. The first half of this course retraces the steps leading from the first scientific theory of evolution elaborated during the early 1800s to Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, one of the most important books ever published. This survey will lead us into a reflective examination of Darwin’s work and responses to it. Along the way, we will examine debates in biology, geology, and the philosophy of science that had a profound impact on Darwin’s thinking. Some of the figures we will meet in this section include Lamarck, Georges Cuvier, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Charles Lyell, Robert Chambers, John Herschel, William Whewell. The second half of the course focuses on the reception of Darwin's theory. We will retrace how early interpretations of his views on evolution triggered important developments in the theory of heredity and biometry that paradoxically resulted in a transient eclipse of Darwinism at the end of the 19th century. Finally, we will turn our attention to the rebirth of Darwinism through the Modern Synthesis, and look at the debates surrounding adaptationism and human evolution.

Instructor: E. Desjardins Tu 12:30- 2:30, Th 12:30- 1:30 FNB 1270 Course Outline

Philosophy 2356F: Philosophy and Climate Change

This course explores philosophical issues related to climate change, including problems of knowledge in climate science; making choices when outcomes are deeply uncertain; international justice in climate policy; weighing harms to future generations and to non-human nature; the moral significance of risk of human extinction; and revision of cultural values.

Instructor: W. Myrvold M 3:30- 5:30, W 3:30- 4:30 TC 205 Course Outline

Philosophy 2400F: Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Controversies about the moral status of animals, embryos and PVS patients, not to mention the possibility of life beyond the grave, often trace back to a more fundamental controversy in the philosophy of mind: What are minds? This course is about this latter controversy. UNIT 1 begins by discussing two strikingly different pictures of the human mind that go back to the ancient world, viz., materialism and dualism. It then explores how these views were modified and contested in early modern Europe. UNIT 2 examines some more recent, i.e., 20th century, theories of mind and some difficulties they have faced (mostly having to do with pain, zombies, colours and/or bats). UNIT 3 surveys a variety of contemporary topics, including AI, simulated worlds and extended cognition.

Instructor: D. Bourget Tu 11:30- 12:30 P&AB 148 Course Outline

Philosophy 2500G: Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge

This course considers some of the most important problems in the theory of knowledge, from a selection of classical and contemporary viewpoints. In this way we will gain some insight into the origins, motivations, and evolution of these problems and their implications for contemporary thought. Topics will include the nature of perception, the relation between sense and reason, scepticism and certainty, knowledge of language, deductive and non-deductive inference, and the role of the a priori in our common sense and scientific knowledge. Although there are no formal prerequisites, some prior familiarity with philosophical texts will be assumed.

Instructor: R. DiSalle M 10:30- 12:30, W 11:30- 12:30 SSC 2020 Course Outline

Philosophy 2557F: Existentialism

This course focuses on five philosophers of the existentialist movement, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and de Beauvoiur. A variety of themes will be investigated; most importantly, why these philosophers call into question the traditional view of the subject as detached from the world in a relation that is epistemic, and how, in doing so, they emphasize our existence as living individuals, that is, as always already situated in a world and as open to future possibilities. These two aspects come together in the idea that human existence involves having to create meaning out of the conditions in which we find ourselves—thus giving rise to related themes including: alienation, authenticity, freedom, and being with others. Accordingly, our investigation will include questions such as: What is our relation to the world and how does the world take on meaning in our everyday lives? What is freedom? To what extent is our freedom shaped by the world and others? What might it mean to live authentically? Who is the other and what role do others play in our lives?

Instructor: D. Proessel Tu 6:30- 9:30 FNB 1250 Course Outline

Philosophy 2700F: Intro to Ethics & Value Theory

This course introduces students to the attempts by scholars to understand whether, and the degree to which, humans can/should be held responsible for their actions. Do humans have ethical duties and responsibilities toward one another or themselves? If so, what are the foundations of those ethical duties, and what do they demand? Our survey of the scholarly responses to these questions will be separated in two parts: First a review of prominent positions on meta-ethics, followed by a survey of the five dominant ethical theories.

Antirequisite(s): Governance, Leadership and Ethics 2002F/G.

Instructor: A. Skelton Tu 12:30- 1:30, Th 12:30- 2:30 SSC 2032 Course Outline

Philosophy 2715F: Health Care Ethics

Ethical issues in health care represent some of the most pressing issues faced by Canadians. In this course, students will learn about the most important bioethical issues across the human life span, from conception to death. At what point in development do human beings acquire moral status? Is it ethical to select human embryos for desirable features? When patients and physicians disagree about treatment, who has the final say? Should COVID-19 vaccinations be mandatory? And can we harvest organs for transplantation from the dead? Diverse philosophical approaches to these—and other—bioethical problems will be considered with an emphasis on the role of moral reasoning. Readings and online video lectures will be supplemented with discussion of real-world bioethics cases. The course is recommended for students considering a career in the health professions, or those who seek a deeper understanding of contemporary social issues. No prior background in philosophy is assumed.

Antirequisite(s): Health Sciences 2610F/G.

Instructor: C. Weijer Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2730G: Media Ethics

This course is an introduction to various political and ethical issues that arise when considering the function and practice of the media. These include: What is ethical theory and what are the duties and responsibilities of those engaged in disseminating information? What is the relation between the media and the market? Is the news a mere commodity? Is the mass media a “propaganda machine” representing the commercial interests of the property class? Or, is the media an instrument of democracy, a “fourth estate” fostering the pursuit of truth and objectivity? What are the foundations and limits of freedom of the press in a liberal society? What is the role of the media in the formation of social, civic and moral space? Do we live in a post-truth world and how is this related to the phenomenon of fake news? What might it mean to say that our experiences are mediated and how in a globalized world do such mediations construct and make possible the appearance of distant others? What risks and promises do these mediations pose for the other? What, for instance, is the connection between the media and political violence or between the media and minorities? What role can the media play in the construction of a just moral order? Should journalists be considered professionals, and how have new communication technologies shaped the practice of journalism?

Instructor: D. Proessel Online Course Outline

Philosophy 2821F: Philosophy of Law

An introduction to the philosophy of law. Topics typically covered include responsibility and punishment, freedom of expression, the constitutional protection of fundamental freedoms, and jurisprudence (the study of the question, "What is law"?)

Instructor: D. Klimchuk Tu 8:30- 9:30, Th 8:30- 9:30 SH 2317 Course Outline

3000- Level Courses  

Philosophy 3003G: Plato

This course is a critical examination of the philosophy of Plato and (Plato’s) Socrates. Plato is agreed to be one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most engaging and influential philosophers in the history of Western thought. The course will cover representative dialogues from each of the three traditional periods of Plato thought: the early “Socratic” dialogues; the so-called middle dialogues; and his late period. Throughout these dialogues we find the character of Socrates engaged in conversation with various Athenians on a whole range of philosophical issues: What is philosophical inquiry and how should it be conducted? Can rational arguments be used to convince people to follow their best interests or does philosophy need to rely on the art of persuasion (rhetoric)? Does knowledge require an unchanging world of Forms or can it be grounded in our immediate sensations of the things around us? Is it more shameful to commit injustice or to suffer injustice? Is the life devoted to the pursuit of pleasure philosophically defensible? If not, what role does pleasure occupy in the good life? Students will engage original texts in translation. Although the course is intended for students who wish to examine the philosophy of Plato and Socrates, it will also be suited for those with a general interest in the history of philosophy, ethics, and metaphysics.

Extra Information: Blended

Instructor: D. Henry Th 9:30- 11:30 AHB 1B08 Course Outline

Philosophy 3170F: Plato’s Republic

This course is a comprehensive examination of one of Plato’s most famous dialogues, the Repub-lic. The ostensible question of the Republic is, ‘What is Justice?’ But the Republic deals with a whole host of philosophical issues, ranging from tough ethical questions (Why should I be moral?), to metaphysical questions about the nature of reality (Can we trust our senses?), to questions about education (Should the State be in the business of moral development?), to asthetic questions (What grounds our judgements about beauty?). This course is suited to all stu-dents, both philosophy majors and students from other disciplines, whether this is your first jour-ney through the Republic or whether you have travelled this road before.
Overview of Plato’s Republic: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-ethics-politics/ 

Instructor: D. Henry M 10:30- 12:30, W 10:30- 11:30 UC 1225 Course Outline

Philosophy 3555G: Continental Philosophy

The emphasis in this course will be on understanding some of the key questions at stake for continental philosophy such as the relation between truth and appearance, perception and meaning, and what it means to inhabit the earth in this age of technology. We will read some works that can help us to think about what is happening in our contemporary technological world, and we will complicate what is meant by reality. Humans in the modern age are planners. We plan for the future based on the past, attempting to secure everything around us. Contemporary events reveal how that is not completely possible. The future is unpredictable. Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger will help us to think through these questions. But we will also draw on some contemporary thinkers to explore how this urge to control intersects with a certain understanding of the world. This understanding provides the bedrock of Western thinking that contributes to racialization, sexism and other forms of oppression.

Instructor: H. Fielding Tu 4:30- 5:30, Th 3:30- 5:30 SH 2317 Course Outline

Philosophy 3601F: Metaphysics

An introduction to current debate on metaphysical questions. Topics may include the nature of space and time, the status of phenomenal sensible qualities, the existence of natural kinds, causality and determinism, counterfactuals and possible worlds, identity and individuation, and personal identity.

Instructor: R. Stainton M 3:30- 4:30, W 3:30- 5:30 SSC 3006  Course Outline

Philosophy 3720G: Normative Ethics

Moral philosophers engaged in normative ethics seek to articulate and justify systems of normative standards - of action or of character - to guide our moral life. This course is an advanced study of normative ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue theories.

Instructor: A. Skelton M 1:30- 3:30, W 2:30- 3:30 UC 1225 Course Outline

Philosophy 3730G: Research Ethics

The course will provide students in science, health science and the humanities with an introduction to ethical issues in human experimentation. The course will review relevant history, an ethical framework for research ethics, and cover core topics, including informed consent, confidentiality, benefit-harm analysis, participant selection, vulnerable participants and communities. Special topics, such as randomized controlled trials, Covid-19 human challenge studies, gene therapy trials, cluster randomized trials, social science research, and health policy and systems research may also be covered.

Instructor: C. Weijer Tu 12:30-2:30, Th 12:30-1:30 UCC 54B Course Outline

Philosophy 3870G: Philosophy of Social Science

A survey of a number of core philosophical questions raised in and about the social sciences, for example: Can, and ought, the social sciences aspire to objectivity? Is the goal of the social sciences explanation, prediction, understanding, prescription or some combination? Is social life governed by laws?

Instructor: D. Klimchuk M 10:30- 12:30, W 11:30- 12:30 UC 1225 Course Outline

Philosophy 3997G: Knowledge in the Age of Fake News

Traditional epistemology has focused on the individual relationship between perceivers and their environment, investigating such issues as how evidence should guide and constrain belief, and how scientific procedures improve the likelihood of uncovering truths. But current events raise the urgent question: how do we even know what counts as evidence? In this course we will explore philosophical accounts of knowledge that foreground the social, both because they are interesting in their own right, but crucially because they may help illuminate knowledge production in our current age.

Instructor: M. Anderson Tu 3:30- 4:30, Th 3:30- 5:30 SH 2316 Course Outline

4000- Level Courses  

Philosophy 4037G: Leibniz to Kant

TBA

Instructor: R. DiSalle W 2:30- 5:30 TBD Course Outline

Philosophy 4051F: Seminar in Kant’s Practical Philosophy

In this seminar we will engage in a close reading of Kant’s second Critique. We will consider its context, both broadly and within Kant's developing moral philosophy, and its various doctrines, including the fact of reason, respect for the moral law as the sole moral incentive, the highest good, and the postulates of pure practical reason.

Instructor: C. Dyck W 11:30- 2:30 STVH 3166 Course Outline

Philosophy 4310F: Philosophy of Technology

From sidewalks to computers, technology occupies such large a part of our existence that we often forget how much we rely on it. While most of us are appreciative of how various technological developments make our lives easier, it is a common conception is that technology is just a tool that we create, wield, and optimize to enhance our limited physical and cognitive abilities. It has been used for good and bad purposes, but it is, in itself, just a tool. Alternatively, our dependence on technology has grown to a point where we also see a fatalistic attitude that alienates us from the process of its evolution. Once invented and launched to the world, some technological developments are taken as inevitable, regardless of their consequences. Are these commonly received views well supported? Is technology neutral? How does it evolve? Is it always a synonym for progress? Is it just a way to extend our natural abilities or is it an intrinsic part of what we are and how we gain knowledge? This course will be the occasion to reflect upon these questions (and many others!). Students will be encouraged to bring their own favorite examples of technology to address these philosophical issues.

Instructor: E. Desjardins M 1:30- 3:30, W 2:30- 3:30 STVH 3166 Course Outline

Philosophy 4311F: Measurement

Measurement is a central part of scientific practice. As Lord Kelvin once put it, in words now inscribed on the facade of a building at the University of Chicago, “If you cannot measure, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory.” What is measurement, and is Kelvin right to view it as an essential part of scientific knowledge? Histories of science often focus on successful measurements as anchoring a field of study. Similarly, in philosophy of science, successful measurements are often taken to decide among competing theories. Recently there has been a renewed interest in understanding measurement among philosophers of science, and this seminar will survey this work. We will approach questions regarding measurement from three different perspectives: (i) historical analysis of case studies, including Smith and Seth _Brownian Motion_, and Chang’s _Inventing Temperature_; (ii) recent work on the epistemology of measurement, including papers by Cartwright and Tal; (iii) challenges regarding how to introduce and justify measurable quantities in the social sciences. The course will not presume background knowledge of the relevant scientific areas.

Instructor: C. Smeenk Tu 11:30 - 2:30 STVH 1140 Course Outline

Philosophy 4320G: Synthetic Biology and Philosophy

Synthetic biology is the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes. This relatively new field has generated several reactions, from the hope of curing diseases and solving environmental issues to the fear of seeing a new wave of eugenics and endangering native species. In this discussion-based course, we will alternate between understanding various types of research and applications of synthetic biology, followed by a discussion of philosophical issues arising from these research types and applications

Instructor: E. Desjardins F 9:30- 12:30 AHB 1B08 Course Outline

Philosophy 4331F: Women and Science

The course focuses on the intersection between scientific knowledge and women. We consider the historical and sociological contexts that prevented women from accessing and producing scientific knowledge. We then discuss the questions at the center of the feminist reflection on science and the different perspectives produced in the feminist epistemologies.

Instructor: F. Vidotto Th 8:30- 11:30 SH 3307 Course Outline

Philosophy 4410F: Concepts

Concepts are considered to be the essential elements or building blocks of thought. In this course, we will read primary sources articulating various theories of concepts from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. We will review the strengths and weaknesses of views that concepts are definitions, prototypes, exemplars, stereotypes, or words in a language of thought. We also study various constraints that have been suggested for any theory of concepts, such as that they must compose or whether they are holistic or atomistic and critically assess those constraints. We conclude by considering how the human brain is structured to facilitate the acquisition of concepts.

Prerequisite(s):   Philosophy 2400F/G

Instructor: C. Viger Tu 8:30- 11:30 STVH 2166 Course Outline

Philosophy 4901G: Honours Capstone- Community Engaged Learning

Students will apply their philosophical skills outside the classroom through a Community Engaged Learning (CEL) experience. Through project-based partnerships with community groups selected by or for students, they will use their philosophical talents to contribute to their community partner’s mission and learn for themselves how philosophy can impact daily life.

Prerequisite(s):  Third or Fourth year standing in the Honours Specialization in Philosophy. 

Instructor: C. McLeod Tu 9:30- 12:30 FNB 2210 Course Outline