Fall 2021

Phil 4220
Lesley Jamieson
Iris Murdoch and Behaviourism in the Philosophy of Mind
Tuesdays, 11:30-2:30 P.M.
In postwar Britain, the philosophy of mind was dominated by linguistic philosophy and a position we can broadly label as behaviourism: the view that the meaning of our mental concepts (e.g., understands, intends, imagines, sees, thinks) is determined by public, behavioural criteria. On this view, our mental concepts do not refer to private, mental entities that others can only make inferences about. Rather, our mental states are manifest in what we say, do, or how we move. While this was an important shift in the discussion about the knowability of other minds, it also led to the devaluation of the inner life. Iris Murdoch is not typically read as a philosopher of mind, and yet her work from this period offers a distinctive challenge to behaviourism. In this seminar, we’ll examine three aspects of Murdoch’s challenge: her recounting of inner life experiences that her contemporaries either neglected or denied the reality of; her discussion of the individuality of the mind; the connections she draws between behaviourism and literature; and her argument that behaviourist assumptions about meaning and interiority have shaped analytic moral philosophy in objectionable ways. As we shall see, how philosophers regard the mind has ramifications for how we understand moral agency and the value of literature.
Phil 4008
Gabriele Contessa
The Corporation
Wednesdays, 11:30-2:30 P.M.
Corporations raise a variety of metaphysical, ethical, legal, social, and political questions, such as “What exactly is a corporation?”, “Who controls the corporation?,” “Are corporations agents?,” “Are they persons?,” “Are they morally responsible?,” “What (if any) are their moral, political, and social responsibilities?”, “What (if any) are their rights?”, “Should the power of corporations be limited? And can it be limited?”. This seminar will explore some of these questions.
Phil 4006
Andrew Brook
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
Mondays, 2:30-5:30 P.M.
A close reading of one of the most important works in western philosophy, Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The class is discussion-centred and interactive, with both student presentations every week and introductory talks.

Winter 2022

Phil 4100
Vida Panitch
Health & Distributive Justice
Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 P.M.
This course explores the relationship between health and distributive justice. It asks whether there is a basic entitlement to health care and what obligations this may engender with respect to the allocation of scarce goods. We will begin by looking at the arguments from philosophy for the distribution of health care as a public good, and at the various bioethical principles proposed regarding the allocation of scarce health resources, in both a private and a public system, under conditions of scarcity. We will apply these considerations throughout the course to many of the health injustices made plain and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phil 4210
Eros Corazza
Literal vs. Non-Literal Meaning
Mondays, 2:30-5:30 P.M.
Starting from the semantics/pragmatics distinction as proposed by Grice, we will discuss how such a distinction can cope with so-called non-literal meaning (e.g. sarcasm, metaphors, etc.) Text to be read will come from D. Sperber & D. Wilson (in particular their Relevance Theory), F. Recanati, E. Camp, etc.
Phil 4005
Kyla Bruff
A Historical Introduction to F.W.J. Schelling’s Philosophy of Freedom (Schelling’s Philos. of Freedom in Carleton Central)
Tuesdays, 11:30-2:30 P.M.
Schelling’s definition of freedom in 1809 as the capacity to choose between good and evil introduced a groundbreaking existential dimension into the relationship of the individual to the universal in the German tradition. For Schelling, the individual ought to actively work to overcome her internal, deep-seeded, personal challenges to develop into a person who wills the universal or the Good. In the Freedom Essay, Schelling responds to a number of his predecessors to develop this unique philosophy of freedom. But the text is admittedly difficult. This course will prepare students to read Schelling’s philosophy of freedom by offering an overview of the theses most important to his Freedom Essay in the history of philosophy, specifically from the 16th to 18th century. We will discuss the theosophy of Jacob Boehme, Spinoza’s philosophy of nature, key selections from Kant’s critical philosophy and late philosophy of evil, and Fichte’s philosophy of subjectivity. We will then be well-positioned to read Schelling’s Freedom Essay. After a brief examination of Schelling’s early philosophy of nature and his philosophy of art, we will study the Freedom Essay together in depth. We will end the course by exploring the most important concepts in the Freedom Essay for 20th century existentialism.