Winter 2021 Course Offerings

PHLA10H3: Reason and Truth

Instructor: William Seager

Description: An introduction to philosophy focusing on issues of rationality, metaphysics and the theory of knowledge. Topics may include: the nature of mind, freedom, the existence of God, the nature and knowability of reality. These topics will generally be introduced through the study of key texts from the history of philosophy.

PHLB02H3: Environmental Ethics

Instructor: Julia Nefsky

Description: This course examines ethical issues raised by our actions and our policies for the environment. Do human beings stand in a moral relationship to the environment? Does the environment have moral value and do non-human animals have moral status? These fundamental questions underlie more specific contemporary issues such as sustainable development, alternative energy, and animal rights.

PHLB04H3:  Philosophy and Literature

Instructor: TBD

Description: This course examines some of the classic problems concerning literary texts, such as the nature of interpretation, questions about the power of literary works and their relationship to ethical thought, and problems posed by fictional works - how can we learn from works that are fictional and how can we experience genuine emotions from works that we know are fictional?

PHLB09: Biomedical Ethics

Instructor: Joshua Brandt

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.

PHLB13H3: Philosophy and Feminism

Instructor: Rachel Bryant

Description: 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.

PHLB35H3: Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy

Instructor: Mark Fortney

Description: This is an introduction to the major themes and figures of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy. One particular issue we’ll focus on is the right characterization of the natural world – can it be fully accounted for in terms of mechanical laws, or is there something in the world that defies that kind of explanation? Anne Conway, for instance, wrote that “Nature ... is a living body which has life and perception, which are much more exalted than a mere mechanism or a mechanical motion.”  (The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, §9.2). In the course, we’ll unpack her reasons for taking this stance on nature, as well as many of the other options that were part of the conversation in the early modern period. 

PHLB60H3: Introduction to Metaphysics

Instructor: Elliot Carter

Description: A consideration of problems in metaphysics: the attempt to understand ‘how everything fits together’ in the most general sense of this phrase. Some issues typically covered include: the existence of God, the nature of time and space, the nature of mind and the problem of the freedom of the will.

PHL81H3: Theories of Mind

Instructor:  Elliot Carter

An examination of questions concerning the nature of mind. Philosophical questions considered may include: what is consciousness, what is the relation between the mind and the brain, how did the mind evolve and do animals have minds, what is thinking, what are feelings and emotions, and can machines have minds.

PHLB91H3: Theories of Human Nature

Instructor: Mark Fortney

Description:  What, if anything, is distinctive about being a human? And is there anything particularly valuable or morally significant about being a human? We'll begin addressing these questions by examining ancient theories of human nature, including the debate between Nyāya and Buddhist philosophers about the reality of the self. In the second part of the course we’ll address whether humans have a natural tendency towards good or evil. First we’ll look at the debate as it occurred between Confucian philosophers Mencius and Xunzi. Then we’ll discuss more modern work that focuses on Darwin’s principle of natural selection, and what, if anything, that principle can teach us about human nature. 

PHLC06H3: Topics in Ethical Theory

Instructor:  Rachel Bryant

Description: The topic on which we'll focus is *ethics and the animal.* We will investigate how some important classical and contemporary philosophers present the ethical dimensions of human beings’ relationships with and treatment of other animals. In doing so, we will learn not only about animal ethics, but also about how the theories we study conceive of and value human beings, and how our treatment of other animals reflects how we conceive of and value human beings.

PHLC10H3: Topics in Bioethics

Instructor: Joshua Brandt

Description: An intermediate-level study of bioethical issues. This course will address particular issues in bioethics in detail. Topics will vary from year to year, but may include such topics as reproductive ethics, healthcare and global justice, ethics and mental health, the patient-physician relationship, or research on human subjects.

PHLC14H3: Topics in Non Western Philosophy

Instructor:  Jessica Wilson

Description: Contemporary Philosophy, as taught in North America, tends to focus on texts and problematics associated with certain modes of philosophical investigation originating in Greece and developed in Europe and North America. There are rich alternative modes of metaphysical investigation, however, associated with Arabic, Indian, East Asian, and African philosophers and philosophizing. In this course, we will explore one or more topics drawn from metaphysics, epistemology, or value theory, from the points of view of these alternative philosophical traditions.

PHLC43H3: History of Analytic Philosophy

Instructor: Benj Hellie

PHLC31H3: Topics in Ancient Philosophy: Plato

Instructor: Christian Pfeiffer

Description: This course examines the foundational work of Plato in the major subject areas of philosophy: ethics, politics, metaphysics, theory of knowledge and aesthetics.

PHLC32H3: Topics in Ancient Philosophy: Aristotle

Instructor: Christian Pfeiffer

Description: This course examines the foundational work of Aristotle in the major subject areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics.

This course explores the foundation of Analytic Philosophy in the late 19th and early 20th century, concentrating on Frege, Russell, and Moore. Special attention paid to the discovery of mathematical logic, its motivations from and consequences for metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.

PHLC80H3: Philosophy of Language

Instructor: Philip Kremer

Description: An examination of philosophical issues about language. Philosophical questions to be covered include: what is the relation between mind and language, what is involved in linguistic communication, is language an innate biological feature of human beings, how do words manage to refer to things, and what is meaning.

PHLC92H3: Political Philosophy

Instructor: Waheed Hussain

Description: An examination of some central philosophical problems of contemporary political philosophy.

PHLD05H3:  Advanced Seminar in Ethics

Instructor: Julia Nefsky

This course offers an in-depth investigation into selected topics in moral philosophy.

PHLD09H3: Advanced Seminar in Bioethics

Instructor: Joshua Brandt

Description: This advanced seminar will delve deeply into an important topic in bioethics. The topics will vary from year to year. Possible topics include: a detailed study of sperm and ovum donation; human medical research in developing nations; informed consent; classification of mental illness.


PHLD20H3: Advanced Seminar in Theory of Knowledge

Instructor:  Elliot Carter

Description: This courses addresses core issues in the theory of knowledge at an advanced level. Topics to be discussed may include The Nature of Knowledge, Scepticism, Epistemic Justification, Rationality and Rational Belief Formation.

PHLD78H3: Advanced Seminar in Political Philosophy

Instructor:  Waheed Hussain

Description: This advanced seminar will delve more deeply into an issue in political philosophy.  Topics will vary from year to year, but some examples include: distributive justice, human rights, and the political morality of freedom.  Students will be required to present material to the class at least once during the semester.

PHLD88Y3: Advanced Seminar in Philosophy: Socrates Project

Instructor:  Mark Fortney

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.