An important objective of the M.A. in Philosophy is to equip students with a solid background for entering the best Ph.D. programs in philosophy. Our placement record is a good indicator of the successes of our MA program graduates in this regard. In Québec, an M.A. in philosophy allows you to teach philosophy at a C.E.G.E.P. At the same time, we believe that the skills learned during the master's degree are very important for nonphilosophical careers. Clarity of thought and careful reasoning as well as familiarity with the history of ideas are invaluable skills to develop, regardless of one's career path. Our faculty's philosophical interests are pluralist, spanning both Anglo-American and Continental European traditions, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. In a collegial environment with an excellent student-faculty ratio, the program offers courses in the history of philosophy, ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, contemporary epistemology, and feminist theory.
Master of Arts in Philosophy
1. Credits. A fully-qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 45 credits.
2. Residence. The minimum residence requirement is one year (3 terms) of full-time study, or the equivalent in part-time study. The usual maximum is four years.
3. Options. Students may enter one of the two options, A or B, outlined below.
4. Cross-registration. Graduate students in philosophy at Concordia University may take for credit the equivalent of 6 credits at the Université de Montréal, McGill University, or the Université du Québec à Montréal. Courses taken elsewhere may be accepted as credit for one graduate-level course in the Department of Philosophy. Permission for such a substitution must be granted by the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Philosophy, and approval from the other university or department involved must be obtained.
Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Research Paper (Option A)
Candidates are required to take the following:
Courses. 18 course credits, with the following distribution requirements: (a) at least three credits in history of philosophy; (b) at least three credits in aesthetics, moral philosophy, or social and political philosophy; (c) at least three credits in metaphysics, epistemology or philosophy of science.
Research Paper. Students write one major research paper (PHIL 693, 27 credits) on a topic to be determined in Consultation with a faculty member, who serves as the supervisor. The student's proposal for the research paper is vetted by the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee, and should be submitted before May 1 of the first year of full-time study, or the second year in case of part-time study. A research paper is expected to consider all of the relevant scholarship pertaining to its argument and to make an original contribution to knowledge. An oral defence of the research paper is required before an examining committee consisting of the supervisor and one other professor chosen by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the supervisor. The Research Paper is graded Accepted or Rejected.
We encourage students who plan to continue their graduate studies at the doctoral level to choose Option A and write a Research Paper. A research paper at a high level of scholarship will supply them with a strong writing sample to submit with their application to Ph.D. programs, and, in addition perhaps, to submit for graduate and professional conferences or journals.
Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Thesis (Option B)
Candidates are required to take the following:
Courses. 18 course credits, with the following distribution requirement: (a) at least three credits in history of philosophy; (b) at least three credits in aesthetics, moral philosophy, or social and political philosophy; (c) at least three credits in metaphysics, epistemology or philosophy of science.
Thesis. Students write a thesis (PHIL 696, 27 credits) on a topic to be determined in consultation with a faculty member. The thesis is written under the guidance of a member of the Department. The student's research proposal is vetted by the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee, and should be submitted before May 1 of the first year of full-time study, or the second year in the case of part-time study. A master's thesis in philosophy is expected to make an original contribution to knowledge. An oral defence of the thesis is required before an examining committee consisting of the supervisor and two other professor chosen by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the thesis supervisor. The Thesis is graded Accepted or Rejected.
PHIL 607/2: Kant 1st Critique
An intensive seminar course. Its main objective is to engage the student in a critical and detailed analysis of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason so as to gain a firm understanding of both the overall structure and the central theses of one of the most important works in the history of philosophy. Also the role of the First Critique in the wider context of Kant's philosophy as well as its importance for the further development of philosophy will be discussed.
PHIL 609B/ 2: Matter and Alchemy
PHIL 623/ 2: Advanced Ethics
In this course we will examine several themes associated with the recent revival of interest in Aristotle's theory of virtue: virtues and vices as states of character subject to cultivation, the idea of a 'second nature', the role of emotion in moral life, and the analysis of akrasia (weakness of will). Making use of writings of several authors we will review these themes from different perspectives, building up a complex picture of the virtuous mind at work as we proceed to work through each reading. The aim of the course is to delineate a complex picture of moral motivation that transcends the traditional dichotomy between reason and emotion and avoids the reduction of moral understanding to the idea that it consists in universal principles that can be articulated clearly once and for all.
PHIL 625/: Philosophy of Art
On hermeneutical procedures and methods of translating and interpreting texts from the 19th-20th centuries. We'd begin with classical literary theory (mimetic theory in Plato's Republic 3, 10 and Aristotle's Poetics) and the German's reception of antiquity in shaping aesthetic ideals and principles. Authors and works will include, Schleiermacher's "Two Methods of Translation," Nietzsche's "Wir Philologen," Winkelmann, Hölderlin, Schiller, Schlegel and some of the Romantics, Heidegger on poetry and language, Gadamer's hermeneutics, Adorno's Notzen zu Literatur, and others.We'll proceed through a close examination of two main topics. In the first part of the course, we'll focus on the reception of antiquity by German philosophers: for example, the role that Greek aesthetic ideals played in shaping German aesthetic theory, noting similarities and departures; issues about hermeneutical procedures and methods of translating classical literary texts; and finally, how German thinkers responded to the particular arts, e.g., painting, poetry, sculpture, and tragedy.
In the second part, we'll investigate the relation of art to morality as the theme was treated by late eighteenth and nineteenth-century thinkers, such as Kant, Schiller, and Schopenhauer. We'll address questions, such as: Should artworks play a role in educating our moral constitutions? Should art be a purveyor of moral truths? Should art reconcile individuals to their society? Should art evoke emotions with a socially useful, moral dimension? Our historical approach will not preclude us from noting the relevance of these issues to contemporary debates.
PHIL 640/2: Honours Metaphysics
PHIL 650/2: Biotechnology
How are we to understand the ethical and social implications of biotechnology and the daunting prospect that it holds for reshaping life itself? We’ll explore this question by investigating the deep conceptual and empirical issues that frame and inform 21st Century biotechnology’s understanding of nature, life and technology. We will begin with a brief historical survey of shifting concepts of the organism and nature (by studying excerpts from figures such as Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, and Darwin), and then look at some observations by Heidegger and other recent figures, to think about technology and its relation to nature. We will then turn to recent controversies in biology and philosophy of biology, focusing on genetics and embryology. We will take these up in relation to recent ethical problems concerning various technological interventions in embryos. A central question will be the extent to which we can think of biotechnology as controlling and shaping organisms and embryos through genetics and other means, if our science and philosophy suggest that organisms and perhaps nature itself are to be conceived as self-organizing or self-regulating dynamic systems. The course will be driven in part by seminars from biology and philosophy graduate students, who will draw on their areas of expertise to present material to our interdisciplinary class. (NB the focus on embryology is tentative and may be subject to revision over the summer.)
PHIL 609A/4: Hegel
Introduction to the mature thought of Hegel. Part I of the course will be devoted to a close reading of the core sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit. We'll begin with some background about the fundamental principles guiding the work's intention and construction, the official methodology of the work, the role of history, the nature of dialectical method, and its relation to principles from the Logic. These general principles will inform our readings of particular sections. Part II of the course will be devoted to Hegel's theory of the will and moral self-determination as developed in Philosophy of Right.We'll begin with some preliminary background concerning the structure of the Will in the introductions which will inform our reading of the particular sections about the will. Some of the main topics we will examine will include: Freedom of the will, criticisms of Kantian dualisms, refinement of subjectivity, self-determining activity, and practical freedom.
PHIL 626/4: Political Philosophy
This course is an introduction to contemporary normative political philosophy. The theme we will consider is that of justice. What is a just society? What kinds of distribution of property, wealth, income, and positions would secure economic justice? What kinds of institutional mechanisms of decision making would secure political justice? What is the proper way of understanding the relative standing of different gender and cultural groups so as to guarantee gender and multicultural justice? Do obligations of justice extend beyond borders, and if so what kinds of rights and duties can be said to constitute an acceptable account of global justice? We will read and discuss some of the most important contributions in contemporary political philosophy presenting alternative answers to these questions. There are two basic objectives of the course: (a) to review some fundamental theories and contributions in contemporary normative political philosophy; and (b) to develop critical and original assessments of them. The format of the class, combining lectures and discussion, is geared to satisfying these two objectives.
PHIL 634/3: Honours Epistemology
Intensive study of major contemporary issues in the theory of knowledge.
PHIL 651/4: Philosophy of Language
PHIL 668/4: Phenomenology
This course introduces the method and results of phenomenology through close study of some key texts and themes in phenomenology. At present the plan is to focus on the theme of time and temporality, and phenomenology’s related critique of the prejudice of presence (roughly, that things and being are given all at once as present). We will begin by reading some of Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations, to get an understanding of the project and methodology of phenomenology, and key Husserlian concepts such as “horizon” and “intentionality.” We will then study substantive portions of Husserl’s On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, and Heidegger’s The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, focusing on the discussions of temporality in the latter.
PHIL 678/4 Continental Philosophy