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Undergraduate Philosophy 2016-2017

PH1023: EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

How “real” is reality? Where does knowledge come from? How does mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. Through reading Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, and miracles. Critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on their readers and critics.

PH1027: CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

Watch this course video! We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own  body, even if it’s ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those who are worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups?

 

 

PH1522: HOW SHOULD ONE LIVE?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

Why do the morally right thing when you have much more to gain by doing evil and know you could get away with it? Should you save five lives even if this requires you to kill someone in exchange for them? Would you lie on the witness stand to protect your guilty mother from life in prison? We will read and discuss responses to these questions that have been presented in both historical and contemporary texts, including those by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Bernard Williams, Judith Thomson, Shelly Kagan, and T.M. Scanlon.

PH2035: GENDER EQUALITY

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

 

Watch this course video!

In recent times equality among genders has attracted increasing attention. This is no longer a matter of concern to a fringe movement, but a central issue to contemporary society. In this course we will examine some of the crucial issues in the debate and assess the merits of key arguments. The topics we’ll discuss include pay inequality, the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and popular culture, abortion, pornography, and issues confronting transgender men and women.

PH251B: WHAT WE ARE: MIND IN A PHYSICAL WORLD

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Watch the course video! We will explore a series of arguments which suggest that it is hard to fit the mind into the physical world. In particular, we will focus on three topics: the Mind/Body Problem, Free Will and Determinism, and Personal Identity. Each topic starts with an argument which suggests that we are not merely physical entities like brains, the central nervous system or other biological entities. Taken together, these arguments offer a serious challenge to the view that we can explain human cognition in terms of the physical characteristics of human brains and bodies.

PH2538: METAPHYSICS, EPISTEMOLOGY AND LANGUAGE

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic and philosophy of language. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate. In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of language, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems.

PH3054: KANTS CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is one of the most important works of Western philosophy. Kant focuses on what we can and cannot know, transforming concepts of freedom, God, self, and nature along the way. In resolving the impasse between rationalism and empiricism, Kant set out a new approach to epistemology and metaphysics called transcendental idealism. This fundamental turning-point in philosophy also generated some enduring problems. This course focuses on reading and understanding the Critique alongside selected critical works. Working closely with the text, we will understand Kant's arguments, their significance, and the problems that they generated.

PH305K: CLASSIC TEXTS IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

Many religious questions and topics have often been central to philosophical reflection in the long philosophical tradition of the West that reaches from Ancient Greece to the present day.  By way of common close extended reading and analysis of one or more classic texts from this tradition of Philosophy of Religion, this course invites students to delve more deeply into the way religious questions have been approached  by important philosophical thinkers as wider ranging as Plato, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Plantinga.

PH352F: INDEPENDENT STUDY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Each student will choose a specific topic of interest to them. (These choices will be confirmed by / negotiated with the department). With supervision and direction from elected supervisors, the student will produce an extended essay of 5,000 words.

PH353Z: PHILOSOPHY OF TIME

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

How does time feature in the physical description of the world, and how does this description relate to how time appears to us? Among other things, this course will look at how time is defined and used in the physics from Aristotle to Einstein, at the experience of a 'flow' of time, at time travel, at why Champagne corks pop but not 'unpop', and at whether one could causally affect the past.

PH354B: SCEPTICISM

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH354D: RESEARCH RELATED SUBJECT 1

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

 

The Metaphysics of Possibility. In almost any area of contemporary philosophy that you study, you will eventually encounter talk of possible worlds. Physicalism, naturalism in ethics, counterfactuals, necessity and possibility, propositions, mental and linguistic content, to name a few, are often stated or analyzed in terms of possible worlds. What should we make of all this possible worlds talk? Should we take it as the literal truth? Is there really a possible world in which I am a concert violist? If so, then what sorts of things are possible worlds?

PH354F: SEX, RACE AND DISABILITY

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

 

Some of the most pervasive forms of discrimination are based on sex, sexual orientation, race, and disabilities. Each of these categories straddles the boundaries between facts and values. This course investigates the extent to which they reflect biological features and value judgements and how they underpin intuitions about what is ‘natural’, ‘abnormal’, ‘innate’ or ‘a matter of choice’.

PH402D: PHILOSOPHY DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

Both Sessions

The dissertation is on a topic in philosophy. The specific topic will be chosen by the student with the approval of the supervisor. The choice of topics is restricted insofar as it must fall within the teaching competence of the supervisor.

PH4054: KANTS CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) is one of the most important works of Western philosophy. Kant focuses on what we can and cannot know, transforming concepts of freedom, God, self, and nature along the way. In resolving the impasse between rationalism and empiricism, Kant set out a new approach to epistemology and metaphysics called transcendental idealism. This fundamental turning-point in philosophy also generated some enduring problems. This course focuses on reading and understanding the Critique alongside selected critical works. Working closely with the text, we will understand Kant's arguments, their significance, and the problems that they generated.

PH405K: CLASSIC TEXTS IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

Many religious questions and topics have often been central to philosophical reflection in the long philosophical tradition of the West that reaches from Ancient Greece to the present day.  By way of common close extended reading and analysis of one or more classic texts from this tradition of Philosophy of Religion, this course invites students to delve more deeply into the way religious questions have been approached  by important philosophical thinkers as wider ranging as Plato, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Plantinga.

PH454B: SCEPTICISM

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH454D: RESEARCH RELATED SUBJECT 1

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

 

The Metaphysics of Possibility. In almost any area of contemporary philosophy that you study, you will eventually encounter talk of possible worlds. Physicalism, naturalism in ethics, counterfactuals, necessity and possibility, propositions, mental and linguistic content, to name a few, are often stated or analyzed in terms of possible worlds. What should we make of all this possible worlds talk? Should we take it as the literal truth? Is there really a possible world in which I am a concert violist? If so, then what sorts of things are possible worlds?

 

PH454F: SEX, RACE AND DISABILITY

15 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

 

Some of the most pervasive forms of discrimination are based on sex, sexual orientation, race, and disabilities. Each of these categories straddles the boundaries between facts and values. This course investigates the extent to which they reflect biological features and value judgements and how they underpin intuitions about what is ‘natural’, ‘abnormal’, ‘innate’ or ‘a matter of choice’.

PH454Z: PHILOSOPHY OF TIME

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

How does time feature in the physical description of the world, and how does this description relate to how time appears to us? Among other things, this course will look at how time is defined and used in the physics from Aristotle to Einstein, at the experience of a 'flow' of time, at time travel, at why Champagne corks pop but not 'unpop', and at whether one could causally affect the past.

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