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Program Details

Learn how to think, not what to think. As you study the big philosophical questions — What is truth? How can we know the truth? What does it mean to be a person? Is morality relative or are there absolute moral truths? Is it ever justified to punish criminals by putting them in prison? — you will develop a better understanding of different points of view and become a better thinker, debater, and writer.

In our bilingual program, you’ll get the essential components of a liberal arts education, including courses that encourage discussions of values, religion, meaning, and our relation to nature and the state. You’ll also earn valuable critical thinking skills, since analyzing and evaluating reasoning is an essential component of philosophy.

You’ll benefit from the small size of most Philosophy classes, which will allow you to get to know your professors and classmates well. You’ll be encouraged to participate actively in class, to ask questions, and to argue for or against the theories and ideas being presented. You’ll earn a much deeper understanding of the philosophical problems you’re studying and of what makes them deep and difficult. 

You may also choose to complement your Philosophy degree with the General Certificate in Law & Social Thought, which is likely to be of help if you want to apply to law or graduate school. Explore what each year of your degree could look like, as well as how you can boost your major and career options.

Wondering what each year of your degree will look like? Check it out here.


Throughout your degree, you’ll find a curriculum that offers an in-depth and balanced approach to philosophy, from introductory survey courses that tackle the classic philosophical problems to more specialized topics, such as Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Time, and Climate Change: Ethical and Political Issues.

View course timetables on York University's site

Course Catalogue

1611 3.00 Introduction to Philosophy: Mind, Meaning and Freedom

What is consciousness? Am I the same person through time? Do I have free will? What can be known? These questions and others will be addressed in this course through the works of significant thinkers in the history of philosophy. Course credit exclusions: AP/PHIL 1000 6.00, GL/PHIL 1410 3.00 (prior to Winter 2014).

1612 3.00 Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics and Religion

This course begins with the question whether morality is all relative. Do absolute moral standards require the existence of a supreme being as their source? This query prompts an examination and assessment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. Course credit exclusions: AP/PHIL 1000 6.00, GL/PHIL 1420 3.00 (prior to Winter 2014).

1690 6.00  Introduction à la philosophie : les grands penseurs

Vue d’ensemble de l’histoire de la pensée européenne de l’Antiquité grecque à nos jours, dont le but est de mettre en évidence les rapports entre la philosophie d’une part, et les sciences, la politique, la religion et l’art d’autre part. Cours incompatible : AP/PHIL 1000 6.00.

2605 6.00  Truth, Mind and Reality

This course is an introduction to three core areas of Philosophy. It deals with epistemology (the nature and scope of human knowledge); metaphysics (categories of being; freedom and fatalism); and philosophy of mind (personal identity, knowledge of other minds).

2606 3.00 Truth and Reality

This course gives students an introduction to recent and contemporary epistemology and metaphysics in the analytic tradition. We consider such questions as: what is knowledge? What is truth? What is existence? Course credit exclusions: GL/ PHIL 2605 6.0

2607 3.00 Mind and the Self

This course gives students an introduction to recent and contemporary philosophy of mind, and related topics in metaphysics, in the analytic tradition. What is the relation between mind and brain? What is consciousness? What is the self?  Course credit exclusions: GL/ PHIL 2605 6.0

2608 3.00 Modern philosophy: Rationalism

We consider central texts in early modern rationalist philosophy: Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz, with a glance ahead to Kant. A key question is the source of knowledge, but other topics will include God, substance, mind and body, freedom, and morality. Course credit exclusions: GL/ PHIL 2620 6.0

2609 3.00 Modern philosophy: Empiricism

This course considers central texts in early modern empiricist philosophy: Locke, Berkeley and Hume. A key question is the source of knowledge, but other topics will include God, substance, mind and body, free will, and morality. Course credit exclusions: GL/ PHIL 2620 6.0

2614 3.00 Animal and Environmental Ethics

This course examines our responsibilities toward non-human animals, plants, and entire ecosystems. Do non-human animals have rights? Do rivers and forests matter morally? What duties do we have to prevent climate change and biodiversity reduction in a highly unequal world?

2615 3.00 Moral Questions and Social Policies

Issues to be discussed: The use of race as a criterion in social policy; justice and gender; assessing women’s quality of life; individual liberty and mental illness; the right to use coercion to treat mentally ill individuals against their will.

2617 3.00 The Quest for Meaning

Questions and topics to be discussed in this course: Can life have meaning? Whose criteria count in assessing the meaningfulness of a human life? Is human life absurd? Self-realization, satisfaction and happiness, the inevitability of death and the significance of suffering.

2620 6.00 Reason and Feeling in Modern Philosophy

Is there a conflict between reason and feeling? What role does each play in belief and knowledge? Is morality based on an appeal to reason or on subjective feeling? This course will examine such questions in the context of modern philosophy. Course credit exclusions: GL/HUMA 2620 6.00, GL/PHIL 2650 6.00 (prior to Fall 2010), GL/HUMA 2650 6.00, AP/PHIL 2020 3.00, AP/PHIL 2025 3.00.

2630 6.00 Éthique et politique : les origines

Ce cours est une introduction à la philosophie ancienne, qui souligne la pensée de Platon et d’Aristote sous le rapport des questions politiques et morales. La lecture de ces philosophes permettra aussi d’explorer leurs théories épistémologiques et métaphysiques. Cours incompatible : AP/PHIL 2015 3.00.

2632 3.00 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy

This course introduces topics that were first discussed by Ancient Greek philosophy. We explore ways of thinking about the world, the question of what it means to know, the question of justice, and others. Course credit exclusions: GL/PHIL 2645 6.00

2633 3.00 Ancient Ethical and Political Theory

What led the Greek philosophers to carve out the world in such a way that the two topics of Ethics and Politics could be discussed on their own in a meaningful way? This, and associated questions, animate this course. Course credit exclusions: GL/PHIL 2645 6.00

2640 6.00 Logic

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts and techniques of modern logic. No previous course in logic or philosophy is required. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 2100 3.00.

2645 6.00 Ancient Philosophy and Political Theory

The development of inquiry about the order of nature and society is traced. Special attention is given to the ethical and political theories of Plato and Aristotle. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 2015 3.00 and GL/PHIL 2630 6.00.

2652 3.00 Introduction to Bioethics

This course offers an introduction to contemporary bioethics. It will start from a discussion of the philosophical principles that inform reasoning in bioethics and examine topics such as physician assisted death, abortion, patient autonomy, commodification, and genetic enhancement.

2690 3.00 Logique symbolique

Ce cours vise à munir l’étudiant des moyens puissants d’analyse et de critique du raisonnement que met à sa disposition la logique moderne dite “symbolique”. Le cours portera sur la déduction “naturelle”, les quantificateurs, ainsi que les relations. Cours incompatible : AP/PHIL 2100 3.00.

2695 3.00 Introduction à la philosophie ancienne

Vue d’ensemble de la pensée philosophique de l’Antiquité par l’étude d’œuvres marquantes des deux grands représentants de cette époque : Platon et Aristote, dont les œuvres portent sur des questions de morale et de politique mais aussi de science naturelle.  Cours incompatible : GL/PHIL 1690 6.0.

2696 3.00 Introduction à la philosophie moderne

Ce cours se penche sur les débuts au 17e siècle de la pensée philosophique moderne, que marque, notamment, le renversement de la conception aristotélicienne des sciences naturelles pour lui substituer celle — demeurée la nôtre — d’une science que structurent les mathématiques. Cours incompatible : GL/PHIL 1690 6.0.

2923 3.00 Introduction au droit et à la pensée sociale         

Ce cours porte sur les rapports entre le droit et les institutions juridiques d’un côté, et la société, la famille et l’individu de l’autre. On y examinera quelques questions propres au droit et à la société canadiens, et relatives au processus judiciaire et pénal, aux droits civils et politiques, ainsi qu’aux rapports entre culture politique et culture juridique. Cours incompatible : AP/PHIL 2060 3.00.

2923 3.00 Introduction to Law and Social Thought

This course will focus on the role of law and legal institutions in their relation to society, family and the individual. It will examine specific issues within Canadian society and law involving the judicial and criminal processes, civil and political rights, and the relationship between legal and political culture. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 2060 3.00.

2925 3.00 Law, Justice and Equality

This course explores questions concerning the nature of a just legal and political system, and the connection between justice and equality. What makes laws just or unjust? Should we aim for equality as a matter of justice? If so, what kind of equality? Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 2050 6.00.

2925 3.00 Droit, justice et égalité

Ce cours explore des enjeux concernant la nature d’un système légal et politique juste, et le lien entre la justice et l’égalité. Qu’est-ce qui rend une loi juste ou injuste ? Est-ce que l’égalité est une exigence de la justice ? Si oui, quel type d’égalité ? AP/PHIL 2050 6.00.

3220 3.00 An Introduction to Existentialism

This course examines some of the central thinkers and themes in existentialist thought. The themes include the nature of the self, authenticity, the basis for morality, radical freedom, atheism, the limitations of reason and the relationship between reason and faith. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 2120 3.00.

3237 3.00 Moral Philosophy

This course analyzes central questions in ethical theory. Topics are drawn from: consequentialism, Kantian ethics, contractualism, partiality and impartiality, choice and responsibility, and practical reasoning. Course credit exclusion: GL/PHIL 3643 3.00.

3248 3.00 Philosophical Issues in Artificial Intelligence

The course treats philosophical issues raised by the development of Artificial Intelligence. Topics may include: AI and consciousness; the nature of “intelligence” (artificial and “natural”); and the ethical, legal and political implications of technologies integrating AI.

3450 3.00 Philosophy of Time

This course treats from an analytic perspective, a range of philosophical problems arising from reflection on the nature of time. Possible topics include time’s reality, identity through time, the direction of time, knowledge of the future, and time travel.

3611 3.00 Political Philosophy I

This course analyzes central questions in political philosophy. Topics are drawn from: liberalism and its critics, theories of justice, coercion and its justification, liberty, and equality. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 3110 3.00 and GL/PHIL 3235 3.00.

3631 3.00 Philosophy of Race

This course examines the notion of racism – what exactly it is – and what role, if any, race should play in our political arrangements and in our personal lives.

3633 3.00 Responsibility, Crime and Punishment

This course considers how questions of moral responsibility feature in the justification of criminal punishment. Is the idea of moral responsibility coherent? Does the justification of criminal punishment depend on such an idea? What are the limits of criminal responsibility? Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 3195 3.00.

3633 3.00 Responsabilité, crime et châtiment

Ce cours étudie le rôle que joue la notion de responsabilité dans la justification du châtiment criminel. L’idée de responsabilité morale est-elle cohérente ? La justification du châtiment en dépend-elle ? Quelles sont les limites de la responsabilité criminelle ? Cours incompatible : AP/PHIL 3195 3.00.

3634 3.00 International Justice

This course examines some of the most important philosophical work on questions of international justice within the liberal tradition. Authors studied will include among others Walzer, Rawls, Beitz, Pogge, Kant and Habermas.

3638 3.00 Sex, Love, and the Family: Issues in Ethics, Law and Social Thought

This course explores key normative issues concerning the sphere of human intimacy and close relationships. Social norms, laws, and policies regulating sex, romance, friendship, and familial relationships will be critically examined from a philosophical perspective.

3639 3.00 Climate Change: Ethical and Political Issues

This course investigates ethical and political issues raised by climate change, from a normative philosophical perspective. Students explore fundamental and applied questions concerning the nature of our individual and collective obligations to mitigate and adapt to climate change and how to meet those obligations.

3642 3.00 Business Ethics

This course examines some contemporary issues in business ethics such as the ethical justification of the free market, corporate responsibility, deceptive advertising, business and the environment, preferential hiring practices and whistleblowing. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 3050 3.00.

3653 3.00 Law and Justice

The focus of this course is the use of the Law to achieve social justice. Contemporary cases and issues will be discussed. These include aboriginal rights, civil disobedience and conflicts between democracy and the rule of law.

3654 3.00 The Moral Limits of the Criminal Law

This course considers what types of conduct the state may legitimately criminalize, and what justification it must have for doing so. Are paternalistic or moralistic laws ever justifiable? What is the place of the criminal law in a free society?

3654 3.00 Les limites morales du droit criminel

Ce cours considère quels types de conduite l’État peut criminaliser, et le type de justification requis pour ce faire. Le paternalisme ou le moralisme légal sont-ils justifiables ? Quelle est la place du droit criminel dans une société libre ?

3657 3.00 Philosophy of Mind

This course will acquaint the student with the central topics in contemporary philosophy of mind. Sample topics to be discussed include: mind and body, thinking, intention, emotions, desires, motives, memory, the unconscious and the concept of a person. Course credit exclusions: AP/PHIL 3265 3.00.

3675 3.00 Enjeux contemporains de justice économique et sociale

Ce cours offre une introduction aux théories de la justice distributive en philosophie politique contemporaine et à une gamme d'enjeux actuels en éthique économique et sociale, tels que l'allocation universelle inconditionnelle et la justice intergénérationnelle. Coinscrit avec: GL/POLS 3675 3.00, GL/HUMA 3675 3.00

3675 3.00 Contemporary Issues in Economic and Social Justice

This course offers an introduction to contemporary theories of distributive justice and explores a range of current issues in economic and social ethics, such as unconditional basic income and intergenerational justice. Crosslisted to: GL/POLS 3675 3.00, GL/HUMA 3675 3.00

3905 3.00 Descartes and the Reform of the Sciences

This course focuses on Descartes’s greatest achievement: the overhaul of the sciences and of their philosophical and metaphysical foundations. The course examines both the (Aristotelian) antecedents that Descartes overturns and the new philosophical/scientfic principles which he proposes instead.

3910 3.00 Philosophy of Language

This course introduces students to such topics as the nature of reference, the role of intention and convention in determining meaning, the distinctions between syntax, semantics and pragmatics, the theory of speech acts and the nature of metaphor and other figurative language. Prerequisite: six credits in PHIL or in MODR (the 17xx series), or permission of the Department. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 3200 3.00.

3915 3.00 The Analytic Tradition

This course will examine the origins of the analytic tradition which now prevails in much of the western world. The early writings of Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein will be studied, as well as the work of the Vienna Circle. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 3140 3.00.

3934 3.00 Belief, Truth and Knowledge

This course is an examination of the nature and structure of human knowledge. Topics include the relationship between truth, belief and knowledge, the structure of justified belief and knowledge, contextualism, and naturalistic epistemology.

3985 3.00 Metaphysics

This course is held in the style of a seminar, and provides a survey of contemporary metaphysics in the analytic tradition, covering such topics as the nature of time and change, necessity, causation, and the nature of properties. Prerequisite: six credits in philosophy or modes of reasoning (17xx), or instructor’s consent.

4100 3.00 Individual Studies

These courses are conducted on a tutorial basis. Topics are arranged individually by consultation between the student and the instructor. Admission to each course is by departmental recommendation only.

4215 3.00 Topics in the History of Philosophy: Rhetoric

This course will study Plato’s Gorgias and the Apology. These texts provide the Platonic teaching about Rhetoric: the Gorgias states the principles; the Apology is a case study. Their teaching is at the foundation of Rhetoric as a liberal art. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy or permission of the Department.

4217 3.00 The Possibility of Knowledge

Examines some of the central issues in contemporary theory of knowledge: the possibility of knowledge, how it might be acquired, and whether it can be extended by deductive reasoning. Prerequisite: six credits in PHIL Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 4230 3.00.

4235 3.00 Political Philosophy II

This course proposes an advanced study of some central questions in political philosophy. Topics are drawn from: political liberalism, coercion and its justification, international justice, liberty, equality, democracy, and rights. Prerequisite: 6 credits in Philosophy. Course credit exclusions: GL/PHIL 4626 3.00, AP/PHIL 4180 3.00.

4237 3.00 Topics in Moral Philosophy

This course proposes an advanced study of some central questions in ethical theory. Topics are drawn from: Kantian ethics, contractualism, practical reasoning, choice and responsibility, theories of agency, and the limits of ethical theory. Prerequisite: six credits in PHIL. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 4070 3.00.

4305 3.00 Kant

This course is dedicated to a careful reading of Kant’s monumental opus the Critique of Pure Reason, supplemented with some of Kant’s other writings in theoretical philosophy as well as a sampling of the secondary literature. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy.

4312 3.00 Topics in Aesthetics

This course examines fundamental questions in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Themes may include the concept of beauty, the roles of representation and expression in art, theories of aesthetic experience, and the relation of aesthetics to morality and politics. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy.

4315 3.00 Topics in Metaphysics

This course examines some central issues in contemporary metaphysics: the problem of universals, concrete particulars and their persistence through time. It also deals with differing conceptions of modality, with particular attention to the existence of propositions and possible worlds. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy.

4603 3.00 The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

This course uses Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil to present the core of Nietzsche’s thought, which sets the agenda for Continental Philosophy: the critique of truth; hermeneutics; time and metaphysics; time and history in understanding the human condition. Course credit exclusion: GL/PHIL 3603 3.00.

4612 3.00 Contemporary Moral Philosophy

This course proposes an advanced study of central questions in contemporary moral philosophy. Topics may include the different ethical theories (such as Kantianism, consequentialism, and contractualism) or specific moral problems (such as moral responsibility, demandingness, and duties to non-human animals). Prerequisite: 12 credits in PHIL or permission of the instructor. Course credit exclusion: GL/PHIL/SOSC 3643 3.00.

4615 3.00 Introduction to Wittgenstein

This course introduces students to the influential work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, focusing on his “Tractatus logico-philosophicus” and “Philosophical investigations”. Some of his other writings as well as some secondary literature are also considered. Prerequisite: 12 credits in PHIL or permission of the Department.

4618 3.00 Logic and its Philosophy

This course invites students to reason about, and not merely with, the tools of first-order logic. We then study alternative systems, eg. modal systems, many-valued logics, etc. We also step back and reflect on their philosophical applications and implications. Prerequisite: GL/PHIL 2640 6.00 or permission of the department. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 4460 3.00.

4625 3.00 Philosophical Paradoxes

A study of rationality in belief and action approached through the paradoxes which each presents. We are also interested in the sort of reasoning which generates paradoxes, and what is required to resolve them. Topics include: The Prediction Paradox, Newcomb’s Problem and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy or permission of the Department.

4626 3.00 Contemporary Political Philosophy

This course addresses some of the central themes of contemporary political philosophy. Since the publication of John Rawl’s A Theory of Justice in 1971, the field of political philosophy has grown more quickly than any other branch of philosophy. This course covers central topics and authors of this provocative area of philosophy. Prerequisite: 12 credits in PHIL or permission of the Department. Course credit exclusion: AP/PHIL 4180 3.00.

4645 3.00 Topics in the Philosophy of Descartes

A variety of topics in Descartes’ philosophy is examined in this course. Descartes’ philosophy is studied in historical context. Emphasis is placed on Descartes’ participation in the scientific revolution and his assessment of its philosophical implications, particularly those concerning human nature and the possibility of knowledge (including self-knowledge) and human freedom. Topics may change from year to year. Integrated with GS/PHIL 5150 3.00. Prerequisite: 12 credits in Philosophy or permission of the Department.

4647 3.00 Topics in the Philosophy of Language: Truth

This course examines the concept of truth from several perspectives: its relation to meaning, assertion and other concepts in philosophy of language; its formal characterization; and its broader philosophical significance. The correspondence theory and minimalism, among other approaches, are discussed. Prerequisite: 12 credits in PHIL and/or LIN.

4810 3.00 Writing and mentorship seminar in philosophy, law and social thought

In this course, advanced students of moral, political or legal philosophy hone their research and writing skills by developing a high-quality writing sample suitable for graduate school applications, thereby cultivating the skills necessary for success in graduate or law school. Prerequisite: 12 credits in PHIL.

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Degree Types & Program Requirements

The Philosophy program offers the following degree types and certificates:  

The Philosophy program is also available as a bilingual or trilingual international Bachelor of Arts.

This program is also available as a Glendon BA, with flexible language requirements.

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Certificate in Law & Social Thought

Prepare for a change-making career as you immerse yourself in law and the most controversial aspects of our social lives — the limits of basic rights and liberties, discrimination, oppression and criminalization.

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Student Awards

We want to recognize your academic success and commitment to excellence in the Philosophy program. Not just a financial boost, awards and scholarships are a great way to show your hard work on your resumé and university transcript.



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Meet Our Alumni

Discover the careers some of our alumni have excelled in and find out how their experience at Glendon gave them an advantage in the job market. Some of our graduates include legal advisor Marc-André Lacombe, mathematics professor Mikhaël Missakabo and Alex Limion, an investment analyst with Sprucegrove Investment Management.

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