Philosophy explores the fundamental matters of existence, knowledge, truth, goodness, beauty, law, justice, logic, mind and language.

This is done through asking age-old questions: Why are we here? How ought we live? What is knowledge, and what are the principles of reason? What is the essential nature of being human? Our Department of Philosophy seeks to open up these questions, rather than take our inherited answers for granted. 

Philosophy Electives 

Below is a list of all philosophy electives that anyone can register for, because they have 0 or just 1 prerequisite. For a complete list of our philosophy courses, see the university calendar


1000-level courses are an introduction to the study of Philosophy, its methods, its general questions, and some of the major historical figures in the discipline.

2000-level courses offer an introduction to major fields, applied ethics, and interdisciplinary electives, and can be taken beginning in a student's first year of study.

3000- and 4000-levels courses require 6 credit hours in philosophy courses and are therefore not included here as Philosophy electives.

Introduction to Philosophy
(PHIL 1002)

A general introduction to the study of Philosophy both as a contemporary intellectual discipline and as a body of knowledge. It introduces philosophy’s forms of enquiry, the nature of its concepts, and its fields (epistemology, logic, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and political philosophy) by way of the critical study of primary works by major philosophers. Authors may include Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, de Beauvoir, Arendt.

Note: same as the former PHIL 1200

Philosophy As a Way of Life
(PHIL 1004)

An introduction to the ancient ideal of philosophy as a way of life, or philosophy as a spiritual practice. We will examine how this ideal changes over time and returns in 20th century existentialism. We will compare the Western approach to philosophy as a way of life with Chinese and Japanese traditions, notably Daoism and Zen Buddhism. No prior knowledge of philosophy is required.

Philosophy of Human Nature
(PHIL 1005)

An approach to philosophical thinking by way of analysis and critique of theories of human nature, classical and modern, and the world views associated with them. This course is of particular value to students interested in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Note: same as the former PHIL 1000, the former PHIL 1600

Critical Reading and Writing in Human Nature
(PHIL 1010)

Provides an overview of foundational knowledge and skills to enable critical reading and writing at the university level by way of analysis and critique of selected conceptions and theories of human nature raised throughout the history of philosophy. All sections of this course follow the Critical Reading and Writing Course Guidelines available at

Note: same as the former PHIL 1001

Critical Reading and Writing in Ethics
(PHIL 1011)

Will focus on learning and practicing the fundamental skills required for university-level critical reading and writing that will prepare students for other Humanities and Social Sciences courses regardless of discipline. The course will focus on foundational skills in how to differentiate ethical questions (how ought we to live?) from other types of reasoning. All sections of this course follow the Critical Reading and Writing Course Guidelines available at

Note: same as the former PHIL 1230

Critical Thinking
(PHIL 1100)

Aims to impart critical analytic skills: i.e., the ability to recognize good and bad arguments, the ability to explain why a particular argument is good or bad, and a general understanding of why a good argument ought to persuade and a bad argument ought not to persuade.

(PHIL 2010)

An introduction to the systematic inquiry into the nature of reality. Topic may include the nature of being, time, the question of God, appearance and reality, the one and the many, mind and matter, essence and existence.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2000

(PHIL 2020)

Introduces philosophy by way of the question of the nature of knowledge. Is knowledge a possession or an activity? Is truth an illusion, a correspondence, or a form of coherence? What does it mean to ‘hold a belief’ or ‘affirm a proposition’? Short classical texts form the basis of the works studied and may include Plato, Descartes, and Ayer.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2220

(PHIL 2030) 

Aims to improve the student’s ability to formulate and evaluate arguments. At the end of the course, the student will have a thorough understanding of the essentials of argument, the rules of valid inference, and ways of proving the validity of good arguments and the invalidity of bad arguments. Open in any year to all students desiring acquaintance with basic logical skills. All sections of this course follow Quantitative Reasoning Course Guidelines available at

Note: same as the former PHIL 2210

Intermediate Logic
(PHIL 2031) 

Aims to give students a more thorough understanding of the essentials of argument, and, consequently, the opportunity to become better reasoners. The course builds on and further cultivates the skills and techniques previously developed. Thoroughly completing what is generally known as 'standard logic', the course then surveys important work in elementary meta-theory, modal logic, and other non-classical domains. All sections of this course follow Quantitative Reasoning Course Guidelines available at

Note: same as the former PHIL 2211, the former PHIL 3110

Prerequisite: PHIL 2030 or the former PHIL 2210 or permission of the Department

Moral Philosophy
(PHIL 2040)

Aims to identify and justify the principles by which we evaluate our behaviour. It explores such questions as: Is there a universal moral principle governing the conduct of all human beings? Are there specific character traits necessary to being a good person? Can we determine a moral law that would guarantee right action? What is the role of emotion in moral behaviour? The course may also include treatment of specific moral problems.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2230

Social and Political Philosophy
(PHIL 2050)

 is concerned with the social

and political institutions and practices by which human life is organized. Historical and/or contemporary texts will be engaged to explore some of the following issues: What is the nature of political authority? What is the nature of freedom? What material and social conditions must be met in order for societies to be just? How are existing societies unjust, and how should that injustice be addressed?

Note: same as the former PHIL 3400

Philosophy of Language and Mind
(PHIL 2060)

A survey of philosophical thinking about human language and thought, and about how these phenomena relate to the rest of the natural world. Topics covered include the nature of language, the relations between thought and language, and the nature of consciousness.

Note: same as Linguistics 2300, the former Linguistics 2710, the former PHIL 2300

Philosophy of Religion
(PHIL 2070)

Examines the philosophical aspects of religious belief, religious language, and theology. Topics may include: the distinction and relation between reason and faith, the existence of God, the meaning of human existence, the problem of evil, and the religious foundations of moral action.

Note: same as the former PHIL 3500, Religious Studies 2070, the former Religious Studies 3500

Health Ethics
(PHIL 2100)

Examines concepts of health and illness and their ethical implications.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2551

Biomedical Ethics
(PHIL 2110)

Examines medical dilemmas from legal and ethical points of view.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2553

Mental Health Ethics
(PHIL 2120)

An inquiry into the morality of mental health care and the epistemology of mental illness claims. We will study the mental illness definitions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases, together with critical philosophical essays and nonmedical theories (e.g., Foucault, Mosher).

Note: same as the former PHIL 2552, the former PHIL 2802

Environmental Ethics
(PHIL 2130)

A philosophical approach to issues in ecology. Topics may include historical and contemporary concepts of nature, technology, the ethical status of animals and the non-human, the application of traditional ethical paradigms to environmental issues, and the future of humanity in an age of climate change, ballooning human population, disappearing wilderness, and dwindling resources.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2561, the former PHIL 2809

Media Ethics
(PHIL 2140)

Examines ethical issues and dilemmas arising in the realm of the mass media, within the context of foundational ethical theories and major philosophies of mass communication. Topics include the nature and structure of mass communication, the public sphere, and the role of the media in a functioning democracy. Subtopics include: propaganda, censorship, freedom of speech, and access to information and communication.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2582

History of Ancient Philosophy
(PHIL 2201)

Introduces students to the origins of philosophy among the ancient Greeks and Romans. Topics include cosmology, metaphysics, physics, ethics, God, and the ancient ideal of philosophy as a ‘way of life.’ We will examine the texts and fragments of the most influential and foundational philosophers of the ancient world, focusing primarily on the thought of Plato and Aristotle, their engagement with the Pre- Socratic philosophers who came before them, and their influence upon philosophers since.

Note: same as Classics 2701, the former PHIL 2701

History of Medieval Philosophy
(PHIL 2205)

Examines and traces the historical developments of a number of philosophical themes, questions, and ideas throughout medieval philosophy by reading, analyzing, and discussing selected primary texts from philosophers and theologians from the 4th to 14th centuries. Authors may include Augustine, Proclus, Boethius, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Anselm, Ibn Rushd, Maimonides, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus, and Ockham, among others.

Note: same as Medieval Studies 2205, Religious Studies 2205

History of Modern Philosophy
(PHIL 2215)

A survey of the development of Western philosophy since the 17th century until the late 18th century. Topics may include the existence of God, whether nature is determined and if there is free will, the rise of early modern science, and the debates over rationalism and empiricism.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2702

Philosophy and Literature
(PHIL 2310)

Engages philosophically with different literary forms such as poetry, drama, and fiction. Possible topics include the use of literary works to express philosophical ideas, the nature of literary expression, and different traditions of literary criticism and interpretation. Course readings will comprise both literature and philosophy.

Note: same as the former PHIL 3610 

Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
(PHIL 2320)

Examines Western theories and practices of soul-care (especially traditions of depth psychology) in a historical perspective, with selections from Augustine, Eckhart, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Freud, Jung, Lacan and Foucault. Students will not only gain knowledge of Western therapeutical cultures, but also an understanding of themselves.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2541

Philosophy and Technology
(PHIL 2330) 

Examines concepts of technology and their ethical implications.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2571, the former PHIL 2801

Philosophy of Film
(PHIL 2340)

Introduces some of the central philosophers, topics, and themes in the philosophy of film. Topics and themes include: the nature of film image, the relationship between film and “reality”, the social/ political role and function of film, and the nature and value of the documentary. The course will also consider the representation of broader philosophical ideas in film. A film or films will accompany each section.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2581

Philosophy and Art
(PHIL 2360)

Addresses various philosophical questions concerning art, such as the nature of the work of art, the nature of beauty, the nature of artistic experience, and the social function of art. Course content will include historical and/or contemporary works of art and philosophical texts.

Note: same as the former PHIL 3620

Philosophy of Law
(PHIL 2370)

Examines the nature, history, purpose, and operation of law. It covers such topics as natural law, legal positivism, responsibility, justice, individual human rights, the relationship between law and individual freedom, the idea of international law, prominent critiques of law, and the historical development of conceptions of law from the ancient world to the contemporary era.

Note: same as the former PHIL 2400