PHL/PHI Philosophy Courses
Undergraduate seminar that focuses on specific ideas, questions, phenomena or controversies, taught by a regular Faculty member deeply engaged in the discipline. Open only to newly admitted first year students. It may serve as a distribution requirement course; see page 40.
Central texts of the pre-socratics, Plato, Aristotle, and post-Aristotelian philosophy.
See “Trinity College Courses”
An introduction to philosophy focusing on the connections among its main branches: logic, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and ethics. This course is intended for those with little or no philosophy background but have completed four FCEs in any subject.
A study of issues such as the relations of reason and faith, the being and the nature of God, and the problem of universals, in the writings of such philosophers as Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm and Abelard.
A study of issues such as the relations of reason and faith, the being and the nature of God, and the structure of the universe, in the writings of such philosophers as Aquinas and Ockham.
Central texts of such philosophers as Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.
An examination of central themes in the thought of Kierkegaard (e.g., the leap of faith, paradox, decision) and Nietzsche (e.g., will to power, the death of God, eternal return, the overman) through a selection of their texts.
An examination of some leading themes in the theory of Karl Marx.
This influential way of thinking in philosophy, theology, psychotherapy, and literature became prominent with such 20th-century authors as Jaspers, Heidegger, Buber, Camus, and Sartre, but it had its roots in the 19th-century, especially in the writings of Kierkegaard. Principal themes: nature and predicament of the self, self-deception, and freedom of choice.
An introduction to epistemology: the nature and scope of human knowledge. Perception, meaning, evidence, certainty, skepticism, belief, objectivity, and truth.
An introduction to metaphysics: conceptions of the overall framework of reality. Typical problems include: existence and essence, categories of being, mind and body, freedom and determinism, causality, space and time, God.
Some central issues in the philosophy of religion such as the nature of religion and religious faith, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, varieties of religious experience, religion and human autonomy. (Offered in alternate years)
The distinctive features of religious living; the relationship of religious living and critical thinking; the meaning of “God”; arguments regarding the existence and nature of God; the problems of God and evil; the meaning of death; arguments regarding the existence and nature of a personal afterlife.
An historical and systematic introduction to the main phases of Chinese philosophical development, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism; the challenge of Western thought and the development of modern Chinese Philosophy.
Consciousness and its relation to the body; personal identity and survival; knowledge of other minds; psychological events and behaviour.
Philosophical issues about sex and sexual identity in the light of biological, psychological and ethical theories of sex and gender; the concept of gender; male and female sex roles; “perverse” sex; sexual liberation; love and sexuality.
Aspects of human nature, e.g., emotion, instincts, motivation. Theories of human nature, e.g., behaviourism, psychoanalysis.
The application of symbolic techniques to the assessment of arguments. Propositional calculus and quantification theory. Logical concepts, techniques of natural deduction.
The elements of axiomatic probability theory and its main interpretations (frequency, logical, and subjective). Reasoning with probabilities in decision-making and science.
The area of informal logic - the logic of ordinary language, usually non-deductive. Criteria for the critical assessment of arguments as strong or merely persuasive. Different types of arguments and techniques of refutation; their use and abuse.
See “History & Philosophy of Science & Technology”
An introduction to the problems, theories and research strategies central to an interdisciplinary field focussing on the nature and organization of the human mind and other cognitive systems. Interrelations among the philosophical, psychological, linguistic and computer science aspects of the field are emphasized. (Offered by the Department of Philosophy and University College)
An examination of (e.g.) ESP, astrology, race and I.Q., scientific creationism, psychoanalysis, sociobiology; the principles of good science as opposed to pseudo-science, especially in “borderline” cases; misuses of science.
The course explores a range of African cosmologies, epistemologies, and theologies, as well as specific case studies on justice, the moral order, and gender relations. The influence of these richly diverse traditions is traced as well in the writings of African thinkers in the Diaspora. Jointly taught by the Departments of Anthropology and Philosophy.
Central issues in political philosophy, e.g., political and social justice, liberty and the criteria of good government are introduced through a comparative and critical study of major philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle in the classical period, and Hobbes, Mill, and Marx in the modern era.
Main types of feminist theory: liberal, Marxist, Existential and “Radical”. A number of ethical, political and psychological issues are considered.
Justifications for the legal enforcement of morality; particular ethical issues arising out of the intersection of law and morality, such as punishment, freedom of expression and censorship, autonomy and paternalism, constitutional protection of human rights.
The nature, aims, and content of education; learning theory; education and indoctrination; the teaching of morals and the morality of teaching; the role and justification of educational institutions, their relation to society and to individual goals; authority and freedom in the school. (Offered in alternate years)
A study of environmental issues raising questions of concern to moral and political philosophers, such as property rights, responsibility for future generations, and the interaction of human beings with the rest of nature. Typical issues: sustainable development, alternative energy, the preservation of wilderness areas, animal rights.
Central issues in ethics are introduced through a comparative and critical study of some of the major figures in the history of moral philosophy, such as Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Mill. Some 20th-century philosophers may also be studied.
Moral and political issues concerning warfare: the theory of the “just war”, pacifism, moral constraints on the conduct of war, war as an instrument of foreign policy, the strategy of deterrence. Special attention to the implications of nuclear weapons. (Offered in alternate years)
An introduction to the study of moral and legal problems in medical practice and in biomedical research; the development of health policy. Topics include: concepts of health and disease, patient rights, informed consent, allocation of scarce resources, euthanasia, abortion, genetic and reproductive technologies, human research, and mental health.
An historical and systematic introduction to the main questions in the philosophy of art and beauty from Plato to the present. These include the relation between art and beauty, the nature of aesthetic experience, definitions and theories of art, the criteria of excellence in the arts, and the function of art criticism. (Offered in alternate years)
The literary expression of philosophical ideas and the interplay between literature and philosophy. Such philosophical issues as the nature and origin of good and evil in human beings, the nature and extent of human freedom and responsibility, and the diverse forms of linguistic expression. Such authors as Wordsworth, Mill, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Miller, Camus, and Lawrence are studied. (Offered in alternate years)
Philosophical issues in ethics, social theory, and theories of human nature insofar as they bear on contemporary conduct of business. Issues include: Does business have moral responsibilities? Can social costs and benefits be calculated? Does modern business life determine human nature or the other way around? Do political ideas and institutions such as democracy have a role within business?
Credit course for supervised participation in faculty research project. See page 40 for details.
See “Victoria College”
Selected metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical themes in Plato’s dialogues.
Selected anthropological, ethical and metaphysical themes in the works of Aristotle.
Central themes in St. Augustine’s Christian philosophy, such as the problem of evil, the interior way to God, the goal of human life and the meaning of history. (Offered in alternate years)
Philosophical innovations that St. Thomas Aquinas made in the course of constructing a systematic theology: essence and existence, the Five Ways, separate intelligences, the human soul and ethics. (Offered in alternate years)
The systems of thought that followed Kant, including Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Then later authors such as Schopenhauer, Marx, and Nietzsche who were, in part, critics of Hegel, but who were also creative thinkers who shaped the future. (Offered in alternate years)
An examination of Hegel’s project of absolute knowing, its philosophical assumptions, and its implications for history, science and experience.
Interpretations of Marxism: pro- and anti-Marxist arguments and concerns down to the present day. Possible focuses are the philosophical developments or critiques of Marxism by Lenin, Mao, Gramsci, Lukacs, Althusser, Habermas, the “analytic Marxists”, or others. (Offered in alternate years)
Phenomenology is a method used in the analysis of human awareness and subjectivity. It has been applied in the social sciences, in the humanities, and in philosophy. Texts studied are from Husserl and later practitioners, e.g., Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Gurwitsch, and Ricoeur. (Offered in alternate years)
Some work from the 1920’s (either Being and Time or contemporary lectures) and selections from Heidegger’s later work on poetry, technology, and history are studied. Heidegger’s position within phenomenology and within the broader history of thought is charted. (Offered in alternate years)
German and French philosophy after World War II, focusing on such topics as: debates about humanism, hermeneutics, critical theory, the structuralist movement, its successors such as deconstruction. Typical authors: Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Derrida.
Analytic philosophy up to the present day. Authors from Frege and Russell to Quine and Kripke. (Offered in alternate years)
Wittgenstein’s views on the structure and function of language, meaning, the possibility of a private language, and the concepts of feeling and thinking. The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations.
Historical and systematic approaches. Principal issues include: the nature of reality, substance and existence, necessity and the a priori, truth, knowledge and belief, perception, causality.
Some specific problem(s) in the philosophy of religion, such as the relationship of religious faith and religious belief, the ontological argument for the existence of God, theories about divine transcendence, the philosophical presuppositions of religious doctrines, the modern critique of religion.
An introduction to the major thinkers in classical Islamic philosophy, with emphasis placed on developing a properly philosophical understanding of the issues and arguments. Topics include the existence of God; creation and causality; human nature and knowledge; the nature of ethical obligations; and the constitution of the ideal political state.
An intermediate level treatment of such topics as: human nature; good and evil; the role of emotions; the metaphysical ultimate.
A selection of texts and issues in Jewish philosophy, for example, Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, Buber’s The Prophetic Faith, prophecy and revelation, Divine Command and morality, creation and eternity, the historical dimension of Jewish thought. (Offered in alternate years)
Topics include: philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence theory; the computational theory of the mind; functionalism vs. reductionism; the problems of meaning in the philosophy of mind.
An examination of social and political thought concerning the nature of women and their role in society, including the relation between the family and “civil society”. The debate between Aristotle and Plato; treatment by early modern individualism; the anti-individualist theory; some major contemporary perspectives, especially liberal and Marxist feminism. (Given by the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science)
Soundness and completeness of propositional and quantificational logic, undecidability of quantificational logic, and other metalogical topics.
A sequel to PHL245H1, developing skills in quantificational logic and treating of definite descriptions. The system developed is used to study a selection of the following topics: philosophical uses of logic, formal systems, set theory, non-classical logics, and metalogic.
Platonism versus nominalism, the relation between logic and mathematics, implications of Gödel’s theorem, formalism and intuitionism.
Formal study of the concepts of necessity and possibility; modal propositional and quantificational logic; possible-worlds semantics; the metaphysics of modality. (Offered in alternate years)
Axiomatic set theory developed in a practical way, as a logical tool for philosophers, with some attention to philosophical problems surrounding it.
The nature of language as a system of human communication, theories of meaning and meaningfulness, the relation of language to the world and to the human mind.
Introduction to philosophical issues which arise in modern physics, especially in Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Topics include: the nature of spacetime, conventionality in geometry, determinism, and the relation between observation and existence. (Offered in alternate years)
Philosophical issues in the foundations of biology, e.g., the nature of life, evolutionary theory; controversies about natural selection; competing mechanisms, units of selection; the place of teleology in biology; biological puzzles about sex and sexual reproduction; the problem of species; genetics and reductionism; sociobiology; natural and artificial life.
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? (Offered in alternate years)
Major issues in philosophy of law, such as legal positivism and its critics, law and liberalism, feminist critiques of law, punishment and responsibility.
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.
A study of some of the main problems in moral philosophy, such as the objectivity of values, the nature of moral judgements, rights and duties, the virtues, and consequentialism.
An intermediate-level study of problems in biomedical and behavioural research with human subjects: informed voluntary consent, risk and benefit, experimental therapy, randomized clinical trials, research codes and legal issues, dependent groups (human embryos, children, the aged, hospital patients, the dying, prisoners, the mentally ill. (Offered in alternate years)
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. (Offered in alternate years)
An intermediate-level study of moral and legal problems, including the concepts of mental health and illness, mental competence, dangerousness and psychiatric confidentiality, mental institutionalization, involuntary treatment and behaviour control, controversial therapies; legal issues: the Mental Health Act, involuntary commitment, the insanity defence. (Offered in alternate years)
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. (Offered in alternate years)
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. (Offered in alternate years)
Individual Studies courses (PHL390Y1, PHL395H1/396H1/ 397H1), which involve directed study and research, are available to advanced students. Arrangements must be made with a faculty supervisor, and approval of the Undergraduate Co-ordinator obtained before registration. No more than one individual studies course can be counted towards any philosophy program.
An instructor-supervised group project in an off-campus setting. See page 40 for details.
Advanced study of some of the principal figures in a particular historical, philosophical tradition.
Typical problems include the nature of knowledge and belief; perception; theories of truth and necessity; skepticism.
Typical problems include causality and determinism; ontological categories; mind and body; the objectivity of space and time.
Advanced discussion of issues in moral philosophy, including issues of applied ethics.
Topics vary but bridge two or more areas or traditions of philosophy.
Advanced study of key philosophical works published within the last five years.
The claims of logical positivism, ordinary language philosophy, structuralism, or generative linguistics about the importance of language for philosophy; hypotheses about mind, metaphysics, and meaning.
Recommended preparation: PHL200Y1
Recommended preparation: Two of PHL344H1-349H1
Recommended preparation: PHL351H1
Recommended preparation: PHL355H1
Recommended preparation: PHL365H1
Recommended preparation: PHL362H1
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