Advanced and Special Topics Courses
- Check the university's scheduling system for a list of all courses currently on offer, together with scheduling information.
- Consult the Academic Calendar for a complete list of all our courses, including ones that may not be on offer this year, with generic descriptions of these courses.
- For the Advanced (400 level) courses and Special topic courses (such as PHIL 298) that we are currently offering, we list below some information that is not in the scheduling system: a brief description of course content from the instructor, if available; otherwise, we give the generic course descriptions from the Academic Calendar.
PHIL 430 - Advanced Studies in Ethics
Instructor: Jing Hu
Prerequisite: PHIL 232 or 330, or permission of the Department. This course will examine a topic in value theory, such as the exploration of different conceptions of well-being, the good, or of virtues. We will focus on virtues and their development in various traditions of ethical theories, such as Aristotlean ethics, sentimentalist tradition, and Confucianism.
* * * *
PHIL 463 - Honours Seminar in Epistemology: Experimental Epistemology
Instructor: Murray Clarke
Prerequisite: PHIL 263 or 265 or 364 or 365, and 12 credits in Philosophy, or permission of the Department. The goal of this course is to engage the recent literature in experimental epistemology both as an attack on analytic epistemology and its method of appealing to pre-theoretic intuitions, and as an alternative approach to doing epistemology by means of empirical experiments. We begin by considering Kornblith’s book, On Reflection (OUP, 2012), where he argues that intuition and reflection cannot play the role that they have traditionally been thought to play in epistemology. We then look at empirical attacks on analytic epistemology by Stich, Weinberg, Nichols, and others together with responses by Nagel, Sosa and others, in Knobe and Nichols’ anthology, Experimental Philosophy: Volume Two (OUP, 2014). Finally, we examine Edouard Machery’s recent book, Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds (OUP, 2017). In this book, Machery offers the first synthesis of experimental philosophy’s empirical results and its implications for a range of philosophical topics. A critique of standard analytic epistemology and a reconfiguring of what one can expect from philosophical analysis are among the results of Machery’s book.
* * * *
PHIL 482 - Advanced Topics in Ancient Philosophy: The Greek Origins of Scientific Writing and Thinking
Instructor: Andrea Falcon
Prerequisite: PHIL 260, 261. Ancient Ionia, on the western coast of Asia Minor, is often described as the birthplace of western science and philosophy. In this course, we will look in some detail at the Ionian tradition of scientific thinking. We will try to understand how this tradition tried to make sense of the surrounding world by looking at how it wrote about peoples and places (Herodotus and his Histories) and about the human body (Hippocrates and the so-called Hippocratic writings).
NB: Willingness to engage in close and attentive reading of complex works as well as ability to do independent research outside class are absolutely essential to success in this course.
* * * *
PHIL 488 - Topics in 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy: Reasons and Rationality - Theoretical and Practical
Intstructor: Ulf Hlobil
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy, or permission of the Department. A course on the nature, epistemology and structure of reasons and rationality, including theoretical and practical rationality. We will look at contemporary theories of what (normative) reasons are and what it means to be rational. Topics include: reasons and rationality in probabilistic and decision theoretic frameworks, the reasoning-view of reasons, the relation between responsiveness to reasons and rationality, norms of rationality and their authority, and more.
* * * *
PHIL 490 - Continental Philosophy: Critical Phenomenology and Normativity
Instructor: Matthias Fritsch
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy including PHIL 374 or 377, or permission of the Department. The course will begin with Heidegger's ontological account of normativity, from Being and Time to some later texts on language and on the earth. We will then study some contemporary interpretations of this source of normativity and its relation to moral, political, and environmental critique (Llewelyn, Crowell, Kompridis, and others). We will then read texts by Levinas and Derrida that can be seen as further developments of both the normativity and the possibility of critique.
* * * *
PHIL 440 - Advanced Political Philosophy
Instructor: Pablo Gilabert
Prerequisite: PHIL 241 or 342, or permission of the Department. This course will focus on the concept of domination in social and political philosophy. Authors read will include Amy Allen, Michael Foucault, Rainer Forst, Juergen Habermas, Steven Lukes, Martha Nussbaum, Philip Pettit, Amartya Sen, Laura Valentini, and Erik Wright, among others.
* * * *
PHIL 441 - Philosophical Foundations of Biology
Instructor: Matthew Barker
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy or permission of the Department. This course helps students critically engage biology’s philosophical foundations. Topics typically include the nature of scientific reasoning, testing, and evidence in biology; how best to discover, define, and apply biological concepts; and how to structure the aims of biology to fit our diverse and changing societies.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for BIOL 421 may not take this course for credit.
* * * *
PHIL 471 - Advanced Topics in Feminist Theory
Instructor: Emilia Angelova
Prerequisite: PHIL 371, or permission of the Department. This course is an advanced study of problems in feminist philosophy and gender, with a special interest in topics of subjectivity and subject formation. Main study will be from the tradition of post-1968 French feminist theory (for us these are Wittig, Irigaray and Kristeva) and its readings of main texts of the Western philosophical tradition using Lacanian and Foucauldian discourse analysis (for us these include Judith Butler and Patricia Collins).
* * * *
PHIL 483 - Advanced Topics in the History of Philosophy: Teleology and Mechanism in Early Modern Philosophy
Instructor: Nabeel Hamid
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy, or permission of the Department. This seminar examines debates on the structure, value, and limits of teleological reasoning in natural science, specifically in the context of the new, mechanical conception of nature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
* * * *
PHIL 489 - Phenomenology
Instructor: David Morris
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy, or permission of the Department. A close study of several key results and texts in the phenomenological tradition, namely: a small selection from Husserl; a substantial selection from Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception; and a short selection from his The Invisible and the Visible. A central focus of our study is the ways that these results locate the activity of philosophy and thinking in the bodily and worldly processes. This reveals that the sort normativity at stake in philosophical reflection, meaning-making and critical analysis (as generating and sorting out, e.g., good and bad concepts or methods) arises in and through a time that cannot be reduced to some eternal or ideal order. This approach will invite further reflections on how our normative considerations do or do not emerge from the time of various domains we think about (e.g. nature, ecosystems, bodies, in discussions of, e.g., climate change, biodiversity, well-being and disability). These might also be amplified with some cross-cultural philosophical comparisons regarding time. [Revised Oct 2019]
* * * *
PHIL 498 AA - Advanced Topics in Philosophy: Values & Biotechnology
Instructor: Katharina Nieswandt
Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy, or permission of the Department. “Biotechnology” is an umbrella term for genetic engineering techniques. We shall discuss moral and metaphysical questions that arise for these techniques, such as: (1) What is a disability, and should we genetically engineer human beings not to have any? (2) Are genetically modified plants a good solution to malnutrition in poor countries? (3) What's good about biodiversity? (4) Can genes be patented; i.e., are they fit to be private property? (5) Is lobbyism a social problem? (6) Should scientific journals routinely publish non-significant results, too?
Readings in this course include: classics in philosophy of science; contemporary empirical studies from biology, medicine and political science; and contemporary articles in applied ethics.
* * * *