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Undergraduate Philosophy 2017-2018

PH1023: EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we 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. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics. Download course guide

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 worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups? Download course guide

 

 

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. 

PH201B: WHAT WE ARE: MIND IN A PHYSICAL WORLD

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Watch the course video! In this course we explore a series of arguments which suggest that it is hard to fit the mind into the physical world. In particular, we 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. Download course guide

PH2535: GENDER EQUALITY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

For a course description, watch this brief 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 the gender pay gap, the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and popular culture, pornography, abortion, the objectification of women, gender equality in sports, and epistemic injustice.

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.

PH302F: INDEPENDENT STUDY

30 credits

Level 3

First 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. Download course guide

PH304H: ANCIENT ETHICS

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course is an exploration of Ancient Greek ethics through a careful study of the arguments of several important Greek philosophers (e.g., thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Through close readings of primary texts, classroom discussions, and writing assignments, students will become familiar with the way in which these crucial early philosophers addressed important ethical issues. Download course guide

PH305L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course provides students with an advanced introduction to key problems of scientific rationality. The central question that the course aims to address is whether scientific change is rational, and in what sense it is so. The first part of the course analyses in detail scientific, historical and philosophical aspects of the Copernican Revolution, during which the Geocentric theory of the universe was replaced with the Heliocentric one. The second part of the course introduces basic ideas and problems of confirmation theory and scientific methodology. Some familiarity with elementary logic is preferable, though not required. Download Course Guide  

PH354G: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course examines issues lying at the intersection of epistemology and social, political and feminist philosophy. We will investigate how differences in the power of certain social groups affect the ability to create and share knowledge, and vice-versa. Topics of discussion include epistemic injustice, propaganda and the signficance of minority groups' pride movements.

PH354J: GLOBAL JUSTICE

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

In this course we examine a range of authors and texts in political philosophy, both historical and contemporary, and from both the Anglo-American and continental traditions. Taking a different author and approach each week, we will address topics such as justice, freedom, inequality, citizenship, rights, conflict, and power, and use these discussions to think critically about today’s political problems and political landscape. Assessment is based on a project that students develop over the course of the semester.

PH354K: GENES, BRAINS AND EVOLUTION

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Over the last decades philosophy of biology has matured into a dynamic field of philosophical inquiry. Apart from reflecting on specific findings and controversies within the life sciences, such inquiry can shed light on debates in general philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. This course examines both classical topics and more recent developments. It will address questions such as: Do genes really carry information or is this just a metaphor? What does it mean to say that the function of the heart is to pump blood? Are biological species natural kinds? Do animals have beliefs and desires? 

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. Download course guide.

PH404H: ANCIENT ETHICS

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course is an exploration of Ancient Greek ethics through a careful study of the arguments of several important Greek philosophers (e.g., thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Through close readings of primary texts, classroom discussions, and writing assignments, students will become familiar with the way in which these crucial early philosophers addressed important ethical issues. Download course guide

PH405L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course provides students with an advanced introduction to key problems of scientific rationality. The central question that the course aims to address is whether scientific change is rational, and in what sense it is so. The first part of the course analyses in detail scientific, historical and philosophical aspects of the Copernican Revolution, during which the Geocentric theory of the universe was replaced with the Heliocentric one. The second part of the course introduces basic ideas and problems of confirmation theory and scientific methodology. Some familiarity with elementary logic is preferable, though not required. Download course guide

PH454G: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course examines issues lying at the intersection of epistemology and social, political and feminist philosophy. We will investigate how differences in the power of certain social groups affect the ability to create and share knowledge, and vice-versa. Topics of discussion include epistemic injustice, propaganda and the signficance of minority groups' pride movements.

PH454J: GLOBAL JUSTICE

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

In this course we examine a range of authors and texts in political philosophy, both historical and contemporary, and from both the Anglo-American and continental traditions. Taking a different author and approach each week, we will address topics such as justice, freedom, inequality, citizenship, rights, conflict, and power, and use these discussions to think critically about today’s political problems and political landscape. Assessment is based on a project that students develop over the course of the semester.

PH454K: GENES, BRAINS AND EVOLUTION

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Over the last decades philosophy of biology has matured into a dynamic field of philosophical inquiry. Apart from reflecting on specific findings and controversies within the life sciences, such inquiry can shed light on debates in general philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. This course examines both classical topics and more recent developments. It will address questions such as: Do genes really carry information or is this just a metaphor? What does it mean to say that the function of the heart is to pump blood? Are biological species natural kinds? Do animals have beliefs and desires? 

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