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Philosophy

Students in the Department of Philosophy’s major and specialist programs are expected to develop the capacity to present a sustained and original philosophical argument that draws on the appropriate primary sources and secondary literature. These goals will be achieved over four years as follows:

Participating in WIT since 2009
  1. PHL 100Y: Students learn to recognize and present a critical summary of philosophical arguments, and begin constructing arguments of their own based on those summaries.
  2. Second-year core courses: Students develop the capacity to present interpretations of philosophical arguments from different historical periods (ancient, medieval, early modern), using different philosophical methodologies (analytic, continental), and in different areas in the discipline (ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of mind). Students put this capacity to use in writing at least one adjudicatory essay on a primary text, in which they defend or challenge a philosophical position, and begin to consider objections to their own arguments. 
  3. Third-year courses: Students learn to present original lines of philosophical thought and argument, and to relate their views to other positions that they find for themselves by a reading of the secondary literature.  Students should have the option of rewriting at least one essay in light of informed criticism so that they come to understand the role that the revision of written work plays in philosophical research. 
  4. Fourth-year seminars: Students learn to develop sustained and original lines of philosophical thought, and to relate their views to what they have identified as the significant alternatives in the secondary literature.  Students should be required to revise and resubmit work as part of their independent research.

 WIT has enabled the following successful teaching practices in philosophy:

  1. Staged or ‘scaffolded’ assignments that build from basic skills (exposition, summary, critical assessment) to full-blown philosophy papers over the span of a course. 
  2. Assignments directed at developing students’ critical reading and writing skills, especially concerning the special demands of philosophical argumentation.
  3. TA-run tutorials to discuss the particular demands of philosophical argumentation as a form of writing.
  4. Training and benchmarking sessions for TAs to clarify assignment expectations and ensure that constructive feedback is given to students.
  5. Grading time for extra or revised assignments, where appropriate.
  6. One-on-one or small group writing consultations with students.

PHL Courses that have participated in WIT:

  • PHL201H
  • PHL235H
  • PHL273H
  • PHL285H
  • PHL210Y

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