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Fall 2020 Course Offerings

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Special Terms for Fall 2020:

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a few changes to Philosophy course offerings in the Fall semester of 2020: While you can expect the quality of instruction to continue at the same high standards as before, the mode of class delivery will be different for this semester. For Fall 2020, no classes or tutorials will be offered purely in person. Instead, every course listing will indicate whether materials are offered in dual-delivery, online-asynchronous, or online-synchronous mode. Here is what these terms mean:


PHLA11H3: Introduction to Philosophy: Reason and Truth

Instructor: Julia Nefsky

Lecture Mode: TU: Online, Synchronous / THU: Online, Asycnhronous
Tutorial Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: Ethics is concerned with concrete questions about how we ought to treat one another as well as more general questions about how to justify our ethical beliefs. This course is an introduction that both presents basic theories of ethics and considers their application to contemporary moral problems


PHLB05H3: Social Issues

Instructor: Rachel Bryant

Lecture Mode: Online Synchronous
Tutorial Mode: Online Synchronous

Our theme in this course is boundaries. Boundaries demarcate who or what belongs within them from who or what belongs outside. They separate the familiar from the strange, the safe from the dangerous, the welcome from the unwanted. In this course, we will identify and critique the philosophical bases and ethical implications of the boundaries we construct around states, neighborhoods, ecological communities, and Indigenous lands, as well as of those we draw between humans and nature.


PHLB07H3: Ethics

Instructor: Rachel Bryant

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous
Tutorial Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description :“How should I lead my life?” might be the most important question we can ask ourselves. In this course, we will ask the question from an ethical point of view, and investigate the answers offered by four major theories in the western philosophical tradition: Aristotle’s virtue ethics; Kant’s deontology; classical utilitarianism; and Beauvoir’s existentialist ethics. Each theory suggest a different principle around which we should organize our lives. According to Aristotle, we should aim for a life of virtuous activity. For Kant, respect for human dignity should be our number one commitment. Utilitarians think that we should live in a way that maximizes the aggregate happiness of all sentient beings. And Beauvoir argues that our ultimate purpose should be to realize existential freedom. As we study, discuss, and write about historically important philosophical texts, we will also engage with contemporary philosophers who apply ideas from those texts to current ethical issues.


PHLB09H3: Biomedical Ethics

Instructor: Joshua Brandt

Lecture Mode: Online, Asynchronous
Tutorial Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: This course is an examination of moral and legal problems in medical practice, in biomedical research, and in the development of health policy. Topics may include: concepts of health and disease, patients' rights, informed consent, allocation of scarce resources, euthanasia, risks and benefits in research and others.


PHLB17H3: Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: Waheed Hussain

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: This course will introduce some important concepts of and thinkers in political philosophy from the history of political philosophy to the present. These may include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, G.W.F. Hegel, John Stuart Mill, or Karl Marx. Topics discussed may include political and social justice, liberty and the criteria of good government.


PHLB20H3: Belief, Knowledge and Truth

Instructor: Benj Hellie

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: An examination of the nature of knowledge, and our ability to achieve it. Topics may include the question of whether any of our beliefs can be certain, the problem of scepticism, the scope and limits of human knowledge, the nature of perception, rationality, and theories of truth.


PHLB31H3: Introduction to Ancient Philosophy

Instructor: Christian Pfeiffer

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: A survey of some main themes and figures of ancient philosophical thought, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle. Topics include the ultimate nature of reality, knowledge, and the relationship between happiness and virtue.


PHLB50H3: Symbolic Logic I

Instructor: Philip Kremer

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description:An introduction to formal, symbolic techniques of reasoning. Sentential logic and quantification theory (or predicate logic), including identity will be covered. The emphasis is on appreciation of and practice in techniques, for example, the formal analysis of English statements and arguments, and for construction of clear and rigorous proofs.


PHLB99H3: Philosophical Writing and Methodology

Instructor: Jessica Wilson

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: In this writing-intensive course, students will become familiar with tools and techniques that will enable them to competently philosophize, on paper and in person. Students will learn how to write an introduction and how to appropriately structure philosophy papers, how to accurately present someone else's position or argumentation, how to critically assess someone else's view or argumentation, and how to present and defend their own positive proposal or argumentation concerning a given topic. Students will learn many more specific skills, such as, how to `signpost' what students are doing, how to identify and charitably interpret ambiguities in another discussion, and how to recognize and apply various argumentative strategies.


PHLC07H3: Death and Dying

Instructor: Joshua Brandt

Lecture Mode: Online, Asynchronous

Description: An intermediate-level study of the ethical and legal issues raised by death and dying. Topics may vary each year, but could include the definition of death and the legal criteria for determining death, the puzzle of how death can be harmful, the ethics of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the relationship between death and having a meaningful life, and the possibility of surviving death.


PHLC20H3: Theory of Knowledge

Instructor: Elliott Carter

Lecture Mode: Online, Asynchronous

Description: A follow up to PHLB20H3. This course will consider one or two epistemological topics in depth, with an emphasis on class discussion.


PHLC37H3: Kant

Instructor: Rachel Bryant

Lecture Mode: TU: Dual-Delivery / THU: Online, Asycnrhonous

Description: In this course, we will explore the critical philosophy of 18th century thinker Immanuel Kant. Kant revolutionized modern philosophy; without endorsing relativism, he claimed that truth, goodness, and beauty derive from human subjectivity. We will examine Kant's accounts of how truth, goodness, and beauty originate in the human subject. More specifically, we will study how Kant argues that that the standards according to which we determine truth, goodness, and beauty come from within us rather than outside of us. Among our methods will be frequent short writing assignments based on close readings of selected sections of Kant's major texts.


PHLC60H3: Metaphysics

Instructor: Jessica Wilson

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: A follow up to PHLB60H3. This course will consider one or two metaphysical topics in depth, with an emphasis on class discussion.


PHLC86 Issues in the Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Elliott Carter

Lecture Mode: Online, Asynchronous

Description: Advance Issues in the Philosophy of Mind. For example, an examination of arguments for and against the idea that machines can be conscious, can think, or can feel. Topics may include: Turing's test of machine intelligence, the argument based on Gödel's theorem that there is an unbridgeable gulf between human minds and machine capabilities, Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment.


PHLC89H3: Topics in Analytic Philosophy

Instructor:  Mark Fortney

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: Mental health and mental disorder – what are they, exactly? And how can we come to know about what they are? In this course we’ll look at work that applies the methods of analytic philosophy to questions like those two, which concern the metaphysics and epistemology of mental disorder. We’ll address questions like, “Do mental disorders really exist?”, “If they do exist, do they exist because of how our society happens to be arranged today, or would they continue to exist even in a radically transformed society?”, “What roles should philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry play in the study of mental disorder?”, and “How can the study of disability and ableism inform discussions about mental disorder?”.


PHLD51H3 Metalogic

Instructor: Phil Kremer

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description: Symbolic Logic deals with formal languages: you work inside formal proof systems, and also consider the "semantics", dealing with truth, of formal languages. Instead of working inside formal systems, Metalogic treats systems themselves as objects of study, from the outside.


PHLD87H3: Advanced Seminar in Philosophy of Mind

Instructor:  Benj Hellie

Lecture Mode: Online, Synchronous

Description:  This course offers in-depth examination of selected contemporary theories and issues in philosophy of mind, such as theories of perception or of consciousness, and contemporary research examining whether minds must be embodied or embedded in a larger environment.


PHLD88Y3: Advanced Seminar in Philosophy: Socrates Project

Instructor: Mark Fortney

Lecture Mode: Dual-Delivery

Description: The Socrates Project Seminar is a full-year seminar course that provides experiential learning in philosophy in conjunction with a teaching assignment to lead tutorials and mark assignments in PHLA10H3 and PHLA11H3. Roughly 75% of the seminar will be devoted to more in-depth study of the topics taken up in PHLA10H3 and PHLA11H3. Students will write a seminar paper on one of these topics under the supervision of a UTSC Philosophy faculty member working in the relevant area, and they will give an oral presentation on their research topic each semester. The remaining 25% of the seminar will focus on the methods and challenges of teaching philosophy, benchmark grading, and grading generally.