Course Offerings in Philosophy 2015-16

What is Philosophy?

“Does God exist?” “How can we know we’re not dreaming?” “What is the best way to live?” “What is justice?” If you’ve ever asked yourself questions like these, you’ve already discovered an interest in philosophy. Philosophy is often described as including four areas of study. It investigates questions about reality that are not addressed by the sciences, such as “What is real?” and “Does God exist?” This area of philosophy is called “metaphysics.” Philosophy also investigates what knowledge is and how we can obtain it. This part of philosophy is called “epistemology.” Another set of philosophical topics concern what is right, good, fair, or beautiful. This third area of philosophy can be called “value theory,” and it covers ethics, politics, and aesthetics. The fourth area investigates reliable and unreliable ways of thinking. It includes logic and other topics in critical thinking.

Why do philosophy?

  • Philosophy is fun and challenging.
  • It helps you reflect on the deeper issues in life.
  • It helps you improve your critical thinking skills.
  • Philosophy provides a solid background for those who intend to go on for further studies in philosophy and many other areas.
  • Studying philosophy is good for your career prospects:
    • You acquire skills valued by most employers, like the ability to analyse and solve problems, to communicate, to organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons. These skills are important not just in philosophy but also in the modern job market.
    • Many employers prefer students with broad intellectual experience and skills. This is particularly true of students who study philosophy in combination with other subjects. You can take a social science subject (e.g. politics or psychology) as one of your double majors.
    • The study of philosophy is useful for at least the following careers: business, management, public administration, journalism, law, communication, public relations, teaching and publishing.

Our syllabus enables you to take a small amount of philosophy (in any year of study, without prerequisites), to major in philosophy, to take a double major, combining philosophy with another Arts or Social Sciences discipline, or to take a minor in philosophy. We recommend that students complete PHIL1012 or PHIL1034 before enrolling in upper-level courses, but students who have not done so may enroll with the permission of the instructor. Philosophy majors and minors are required to take one of these courses as a prerequisite for the major and minor.

Courses are generally organized as lectures or seminars and often include tutorials.


List of courses 2015-16

Intro courses

  • Semester 1: PHIL1012 Mind and Knowledge (Dr Deutsch)
  • Semester 2: PHIL1034 Ethics and politics (Dr Fraser)

Senior courses - Semester 1

  • PHIL2025 Hume (Dr Arthur Chin)
  • PHIL2105 Vagueness, indeterminacy, and uncertainty (Dr McCarthy)
  • PHIL2230 Philosophy and Cognitive science (Dr Lau)
  • PHIL2260 Seminar in Mind and Language (Dr Michael Johnson)
  • PHIL2310 Theories of morality (Dr Asay)
  • PHIL2341 Bioethics (Dr Canca)
  • PHIL2380 Phil and literature (Dr Luke Philips)
  • PHIL2470 Moral psychology (Dr Fraser)
  • PHIL2520 Philosophy of logic (Dr Michael Johnson)

Senior courses - Semester 2

  • PHIL2060 Wittgenstein (Dr Deutsch)
  • PHIL2080 Marxist philosophy (Prof Ci)
  • PHIL2110 Knowledge (Dr Deutsch)
  • PHIL2115 Skepticism and relativism (Dr Asay)
  • PHIL2120 Topics in analytic philosophy (Dr Lau)
  • PHIL2140 Philosophy of social science (Dr McCarthy)
  • PHIL2217 Issues in Contemporary Metaphysics (Dr Wolff)
  • PHIL2340 Moral problems (Dr Arthur Chin)
  • PHIL2360 Political philosophy (Prof Ci)
  • PHIL2450 Zhuangzi (To be confirmed)

Special cases

  • PHIL1068 Elementary logic (Dr Deutsch coordinator, 1st semester)
  • PHIL4810 Senior seminar (Dr Fraser, 1st semester) by invitation only

Course selection information

Our courses are divided into three levels and four groups. The three levels are introductory (first-year), senior, and final-year courses. But students in any Faculty may take, for instance, a first-year philosophy course in any year of study (provided that the regulations of their own degree programme permit it). The four groups are of courses related by subject. The two first-year courses correspond roughly to the first two and the second two of these groups.

First Year

The department offers two general introductory courses in philosophy and one introductory course in logic. There are no prerequisites. These courses will normally be offered every year.

Students who intend to declare the major or minor in Philosophy are required to take PHIL1012 or PHIL1034. These courses are usually taken in the first year of study but may also be taken in other years. These two courses are also strongly recommended for students interested in taking individual second- and third-year courses without majoring or minoring in philosophy.

All students, whether prospective philosophy majors or not, are encouraged to acquire a basic knowledge of logic by taking PHIL1068, an online, self-study logic course.

Second Through Fourth Years

Students wishing to take senior-level courses are strongly recommended to have taken PHIL1012 or PHIL1034. However, students who have not done so may enroll with the instructor's permission. Some of these courses are also available to students of other faculties as "broadening courses".

All senior-level courses (not including the final-year courses) fall into one of four groups:

  • Knowledge and reality
  • Mind and language
  • Moral and political philosophy
  • History of philosophy

Of the senior-level courses, twelve to sixteen will normally be offered each year. Details are indicated below. Most of these courses consist of 24 lecture hours in one semester.

Final-Year Courses

Philosophy majors in the four-year curriculum must take a "capstone" course giving them the opportunity to apply disciplinary knowledge and methods learned in their previous years of study. In addition, fourth-year majors who qualify will be invited to take PHIL4810 Senior Seminar.

Philosophy majors and minors