The study of philosophy is very old and very diverse. Philosophy students acquire skills in questioning, interpreting, analysing, criticizing and independent thinking, and are able to analyze and critique issues. By relying on both the history of philosophy and current philosophical issues philosophy students learn to inspect problems, locate hidden assumptions, presuppositions, and argument structure and carefully examine possible solutions. To achieve these goals and inculcate these skills, the Department of Philosophy offers a wide variety of courses in the Western philosophical tradition, both historical and cutting edge modern, as well as a selection of courses from other traditions.
Western philosophy has traditionally been interested in certain general questions that have been thought about for thousands of years. Questions like: What is truth? What does it mean to do a good act? Is there something that all good arguments have in common? What does it mean to be a person? How is it that people acquire knowledge? Is having knowledge the same as being wise? Does God exist?
We also study questions that have arisen more or less recently: Is cloning right or wrong? When is civil disobedience justified? Is democracy better than any other systems of government? Why do we punish criminals by putting them in prison? Can computers think? Do animals have rights? Philosophers study these questions not only for their own sake, but also to sharpen their ability to think clearly, and to understand and interpret other points of view. So the goal of studying philosophy is to better understand important ideas, and to become a better thinker, debater and writer.
Why Major in Philosophy
Philosophers work in industry, government, and education. They become lawyers, doctors, administrators, teachers, diplomats, consultants, stockbrokers, bankers, and managers. Having a reputation as first rate critical thinkers and problem solvers, philosophy majors are accepted and respected in all professional schools and welcomed into management training programs. So, even though it is not easy to obtain an academic position in philosophy, there are many alternatives.
Indeed, given the nature of their discipline, philosophers develop analytic and verbal skills applicable to almost every imaginable problem, and as a result, are professionally involved with almost every area of human endeavour. This explains why philosophy majors outperform most, if not all, other disciplines on the following: the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test); the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test); and the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).
On the verbal portion of the GRE, philosophy majors outperformed all other humanities majors (only English came close) as well as individuals majoring in all other fields (social sciences, natural sciences, business, engineering, computer science). On the quantitative portion of the GRE where the highest scores were attained by engineering and science majors, humanities majors made a poor showing. But even there philosophy majors scored higher than average--indeed their quantitative scores were higher than those of all the social sciences except economics.
On the LSAT and GMAT (which few students would think to prepare for by studying metaphysics and ethics) philosophy majors performed substantially better than majors in any other humanities field, better than all the social science majors except economics, better than all natural science majors except mathematics, and better than all business and applied fields, including engineering.
So who says philosophy isn't practical!
Please note that York University has two philosophy departments which work independently, but try to co-ordinate their efforts. This Philosophy Department is part of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The courses listed in this mini-calendar are organized and run by the LA&PS philosophy department and our professors and staff are able to answer questions about them. They are NOT able to answer questions about the courses offered by Glendon.
Philosophy courses are also offered through the Philosophy Department at Glendon College. Their offices are located in C221 York Hall and their phone number is 416-487-6733. http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/philosophy/index.html
COURSES IN LA & PS PHILOSOPHY AND PREREQUISITES
This mini-calendar contains descriptions of the courses to be offered by the Department of Philosophy in the LA&PS Faculty.
1000 Level courses: Introductory and general
PHIL 1000 6.0 Introduction to Philosophy provides an overview of several different areas within philosophy, and is recommended as a general introduction to the subject.
PHIL 1002 Justice, Law & Morality An introduction to the development of philosophical thinking about law, justice and punishment, from its origins in classical Greek, Hebrew and Roman thought, up to common law and civil law, and such modern theories as Mill's, Rousseau's, Burke's, Hegel's and Marx's.
PHIL 1100 3.0 The Meaning of Life is also an introductory course for those not acquainted with philosophy, but the course introduces it through discussion of questions concerning the meaning of life and death. This course is especially recommended for new students who have had some Philosophy in High School.
PHIL 1000 6.0, PHIL 1002 3.0 and PHIL 1100 3.0 are NOT prerequisites for further course work in philosophy, and all count towards fulfilling the degree requirements for course work in philosophy.
Majors can have a maximum of 9 credits of Philosophy applied towards their major at the 1000 level.
2000 Level courses: Introductory and focussed
Courses at the 2000 level in philosophy serve as an introduction to a particular area or subject matter in philosophy. They do not require any previous training in philosophy, and they have no prerequisites. They may be taken by any student in the university. Some students may take these courses because they have had some previous acquaintance with the subject and want to pursue a university-level introduction to a particular aspect of philosophy. Others may find themselves curious about the subject matter discussed in a particular course and be drawn to it without any previous background in philosophy. These courses are designed to be of interest to philosophy majors and to those who may be pursuing philosophy as an elective subject. These courses may be taken at the same time as philosophy courses at the 1000 level. Some of these courses serve as pre-requisites for the 3000 and 4000 level courses.
3000 and 4000 Level Courses
Philosophy courses at the 3000 level have prerequisites on a course by course basis. In many cases there is a general requirement that the student has taken 6 credits in philosophy. This reflects the fact that students at the 3000 level are expected to have some familiarity with philosophical questions, but not all courses expect students to have studied any particular background or taken any particular course. Other courses, however, do have a specific requirement, and for these courses some specific background is presupposed. Pre-requisites are in place to ensure a student’s ability to succeed in the course and should be taken seriously. You may only take an upper level course without the pre-requisite if you have the permission of the instructor.
Philosophy courses at the 4000 level are small seminar courses in which student attendance and participation in discussion are important parts of the learning experience. These courses are intended for students who have taken several 3000 level courses. In addition to that there may be specific prerequisites for individual courses. This mini-calendar accurately gives all the information about what prerequisites the instructor wants the students to have. If after consulting the information in this booklet (under “Our Courses”) you still have questions about the prerequisites for a given course, please consult the course director or the Undergraduate Program Director for more information before the first day of the class.