St. F.X. Department of Philosophy Courses

100 Introductory Philosophy 
135 Healthcare Ethics: Theories, Values, & Practice
201 Ancient & Medieval Political Philosophy
202 Modern Political Philosophy
213 Philosophy of Science
231 Human Nature I: Consciousness & Epistemology
232 Human Nature II: The Emotions
245 Philosophy of Religion
251 Critical Thinking
281 Aesthetics
331 Introduction to Ethics
332 Contemporary Moral and Social Issues
333 Environmental Ethics
335 Ethics in Health and Medicine
342 Logic
351 Socrates and Plato
352 Aristotle
361 Early Medieval Philosophy
362 Philosophy in the High Middle Ages
365 The Rationalists
366 The Empiricists
367 Philosophy from Kant to Hegel
371 Social and Political Philosophy
372 Philosophy of Law
381 Existentialism and Phenomenology
391 Mind, Language and Logic
451 Seminar in Ethics, Political Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Law I
452 Seminar in Ethics, Political Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Law II
461 Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology I
462 Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology II
489 Honours Thesis

Philosophy 100 is normally a prerequisite for advanced courses. Exceptions are (i) PHIL 210 (no prerequisite); (ii) PHIL 331 and 336, to which students are admitted with either PHIL 100 or third-year standing or permission of the department; and (iii) other courses at the discretion of the department.

Students planning the advanced major or honours degree in this field are required to consult the department chair about their program of study. See chapter 4 for degree regulations. The department also offers an honours degree with a subsidiary subject see chapter 4.


100 Introductory Philosophy 
An introduction to the study of philosophy that looks at major thinkers in the history of western philosophy as well as the fundamental and enduring questions they raised. Among the philosophers considered are Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Hume. The questions raised by these thinkers include: What is it to think rationally and critically? Can we demonstrate the existence and nature of God? Can we discover any ethical principles that should guide our actions? What are the limits of human knowledge? Six credits.

135 Healthcare Ethics: Theories, Values, & Practice
The course introduces students to ethical reasoning about problems in healthcare. It does so by exploring four fundamental philosophical theories (Virtue Ethics; Contractarianism & Rights; Duty-Based Ethics; and Consequentialism), presenting the corresponding values in healthcare workers, and showing how these principles and values can be applied to specific cases. Restricted to students in the BSc Nursing program.

201 Ancient & Medieval Political Philosophy
This course will examine the political philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas through a careful reading of primary texts. The relevance of these philosophies will be evaluated critically with a view to their contemporary relevance. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 201 or PSCI 200. Cross-listed as PSCI 201. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

202 Modern Political Philosophy
A critical text analysis of modern philosophers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, MIll, and Marx, with emphasis of their political philosophy. This course will stress the continuing relevance of these thinkers to current policies and the search for a just society. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 202 and PSCI 200. Cross-listed as PSCI 202. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

213 Philosophy of Science [AR]
Examines the methodology of the natural and social sciences, including the logic of scientific discovery and experimental testing, the confirmation of hypotheses, and the nature of scientific explanation. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 213 and PHIL 210. Three credits.

231 Human Nature I: Consciousness & Epistemology
A philosophical investigation of what it means to be human. Topics may include: relation of mind and body; the problem of soul and body; immortality; free will; consciusness; and human knowledge. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 231 and PHIL 230. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

232 Human Nature II: The Emotions
A philosophical investigation of what it means to be human. Topics include: consciousnes; human emotions and their relation to moral virtues; freedom and emotions; the basis for morality in human nature. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 232 and PHIL 230. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

245 Philosophy of Religion
Explores the philosophy of religion, including different concepts of God with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian tradition; arguments for the existence of God; classical and modern challenges to belief in God. Issues such as 'life after death', miracles, religious experience, and the concept of prayer may also be discussed. Cross-listed as RELS 246. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 245 and PHIL 240. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or RELS 100 or 110 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

251 Critical Thinking
What is an argument? How do arguments work? What makes some arguments better than others? This course will equip students to recognize and analyze arguments as they occur in a variety of contexts such as media editorials, speeches, textbooks, argumentative essays, and philosophical texts. To accomplish this, we will study the components of good arguments and techniques for criticizing and constructing arguments. Students will also be introducted to propositional logic. Prerequisite: normally have at least one semester of successful university study. Three credits.

281 Aesthetics
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Is it necessary or possible to define art? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? This course will examine several classical and modern theories of art and beauty selected from such writers as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Maritain, Dewey, Goodman, Danto, Foucault. It will also draw on a variety of examples of art, including literature, visual arts, music, poetry, theatre, architecture, and artistic handiwork. Three credits.

331 Introduction to Ethics
This course introduces students to several major ethical theories, including utilitarianism, virtue-based ethics, natural law theory and deontology. It addresses such questions as: Is there an objective moral standard? Is there a common good? Do we have duties to others? What does morality have to do with personal happiness? Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 331, 334, and 336. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or third-year standing or permission of the department chair. Three credits.

332 Contemporary Moral and Social Issues
Building on PHIL 331, this course examines contemporary moral and social issues such as freedom of speech and censorship; equality and affirmative action; legalization of non-medical drug use; the duty to alleviate suffering; assisted suicide and euthanasia; justifications for punishment and capital punishment. Prerequisite: PHIL 331. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 332, 334, and 336. Three credits.

333 Environmental Ethics [AR]
This course examines the ethical relationship between humans and the natural environment. It begins with the theoretical principles that help determine human conduct within the natural world. Once these beliefs about nature have been examined, it assesses different normative models that might govern our behaviour regarding the environment. Prerequisite: PHIL 331. Three credits.

335 Ethics in Health and Medicine 
Introduces students to ethics as it bears on health and medicine. After a brief survey of ethical principles and values, the course addresses a number of contemporary issues such as: the ethical responsibilities of professionals and professional integrity; autonomy and consent; dying and euthanasia; abortion and infanticide; research involving human subjects; allocation of medical resources; confidentiality and privacy; reproductive technologies and rights. Credit will be granted for only one of PHIL 335, PHIL 135 or PHIL 336. Prerequisite: junior standing, or PHIL 100, or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

342 Logic
A course in formal logic. Presupposing a familiarity with propositional logic, it focuses on first order predicate logic (with identity) and metalogic. Topics to be covered include translating sentences from English into symbolic notation, the semantics of predicate logic, deductions, soundness and completeness. Prerequisite: PHIL 251. Three credits.

351 Socrates and Plato
Topics include the nature of Socratic dialectic, Socrates’ responses to the pre-Socratic philosophers, and Plato’s contributions to ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. Three credits.

352 Aristotle
Topics include Aristotle’s contributions to metaphysics, natural philosophy, and epistemology; his response to Plato and the pre-Socratic philosophers; and the development of Greek philosophy in the subsequent Stoic, Epicurean, and Neo-Platonic schools. Three credits.

361 Early Medieval Philosophy
A study of the Christian and Neo-Platonic influence on philosophy from the 4th to the 12th centuries. Principal thinkers: Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, and Abelard. Principal problems: faith and reason; knowledge; evil; providence; free will; immortality of the soul; universals; ethical principles. The course ends with an introduction to important medieval Islamic and Jewish thinkers: Avicenna, Averröes, Maimonides. Prerequisite: PHIL 100. Three credits.

362 Philosophy in the High Middle Ages
A study of the influence of Christian theology and Aristotelian philosophy on thinkers of the 13th and 14th centuries. Principal figures: Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham. Principal problems: faith and reason: knowledge; evil; providence; free will; immortality of the soul; universals; and ethical principles. Prerequisite: PHIL 100. Three credits.

365 The Rationalists
A review of the intellectual developments of the Renaissance relevant to philosophy is followed by a study of Descartes and his rationalist successors, such as Spinoza and Leibniz. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

366 The Empiricists
British philosophy of the late 17th and 18th century is traced through a study of the writings of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Works by Kant may also be studied. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Three credits.

367 Philosophy from Kant to Hegel
In the 19th century, German philosophy found expression in the idealist movement. Major figures such as Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel were united in the belief that reality and the categories we use to understand it had a common origin and development. Out of this belief came new conceptions of science, history, theology, and politics. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

371 Social and Political Philosophy
Examines fundamental issues in social and political philosophy through a discussion of such questions as: What would an ideal society be like? Should there be limits on human freedom? Do human beings have rights that everyone should respect? Is it ever morally acceptable to disobey or rebel against the state? Texts will be selected from the classical, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods, but topics will focus on issues of current interest. Prerequisite: PHIL 100. Three credits.

372 Philosophy of Law
Examines fundamental issues in legal philosophy through a discussion of such questions as: What is the nature and function of law? What is the relation between law and morality? What is the character of legal reasoning and judicial decision-making? What are the justifications and aims of punishment? Texts will be selected from the classical, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods, including works on liberal, libertarian, Marxist, and feminist thought. Three credits.

381 Existentialism and Phenomenology
Examines 19th- and early 20th-century philosophical ideas in continental Europe. A look at the philosophical antecedents of existentialism and phenomenology will be followed by an discussion of the writings of some of the major figures in these movements: Kierkegaard, Sartre, Beauvoir, Marcel, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Arendt, and Heidegger. Prerequisite: PHIL100 or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

391 Mind, Language, and Logic
Presents some of the major currents of philosophy in the English-speaking world in the 20th century, up to 1950. The course includes a brief account of 19th-century empiricism, pragmatism, and idealism, before turning to ‘common sense analysis’ (e.g., G.E. Moore), early discussions of logical positivism and the place of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics (e.g., Bertrand Russell, A.N. Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, A.J. Ayer, and Karl Popper), and the beginnings of ‘ordinary language’ philosophy. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor; junior standing strongly recommended. Three credits.

451 Seminar in Ethics, Political Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Law I
A seminar course that focuses on questions of ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. Topics to be addressed may include: the state and society, rights and duties, justice and equality, freedom and punishment, the moral basis of political obligation, and the concept of law. Prerequisite: Junior standing in philosophy or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

452 Seminar in Ethics, Political Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Law II
A seminar course that focuses on questions of ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law, not discussed in Philosophy 451. Content varies from year to year. The course will include both classical and contemporary authors. Prerequisite: Junior standing in philosophy or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

461 Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology I
A seminar course that focuses on issues in classical and contemporary epistemology and metaphysics. Topics to be considered may include: an investigation of the ultimate structure of reality as a whole: the nature of material things; the existence of the immaterial; the meaning of being; what can and cannot be known of reality; whether there is a First Cause. Prerequisite: Junior standing in philosophy or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

462 Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology II
A seminar course that focuses on issues in metaphysics and epistemology, not discussed in Philosophy 461. Content varies from year to year. The course will include both classical and contemporary authors. Prerequisite: Junior standing in philosophy or permission of the Instructor. Three credits.

489 Thesis
Each student works under the supervision of a professor who guides the selection of a thesis topic, the use of resources, the methodological component, and the quality of analysis. Restricted to honours students. Three credits.