AP/PHIL4040 3.0 A: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy

Offered by: PHIL


Summer 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

An intensive examination of problems and contemporary issues in philosophy. Topics vary from year to year. Prerequisite: At least nine credits in AP/PHIL courses.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Professor Jagdish Hattiangadi,


Office Location:  S437 Ross Building

Phone Number:  416-736-2100 Ext. 77524

Office hours: Mondays 1:30  p.m. to 2:20 p.m.; by appointment

    Expanded Course Description

This course is an advanced undergraduate course in contemporary epistemological theory, with a focus on the ongoing evaluation of relativism, or the social construction of reality. The two texts being recommended are opposed to one another in some key theses. A stringent critique of relativism is countered by a defense of a very recent moderated version of relativism. Our task will be to evaluate the arguments in the text and important arguments on which they depend from earlier texts. The recommended readings throw light on what some current discussion has contribute to our discussion. Familiarity with this material and similar material in the Library would be useful to obtain better grades. Each week, we will take up topics from the text assigned, and each participant will be asked to report on material and comment on its arguments in advance of the seminar on Moodle. The topic will thereafter be discussed in class, Because the course is very short in duration, it tends to be intense. Little material in the course will be entirely new to participants, being very general in nature. The readings are chosen to form a common background for seminar discussions.

    Required Course Text / Readings

Required Course Text / Readings:  Monographs:

Fear of Knowledge 2010, by Paul Boghossian,

and Why Democracies Need Science 2017, by Harry Collins’.

Short pieces:

Steve Fuller, Dec. 2016:  Social Studies of Science,  Sergio Sismondo, Feb. 2017, Harry Collins and Robert Evans, August 2017 Sergio Sismondo, August 2017, Michael Lynch, August 2017.Harry Collins, Social Epistemology, 2018.

    Weighting of Course

30% Moodle discussion, and class participation, eligible for a grade only when the Moodle comment is posted 24 hours prior to the planned discussions in class.

30%.Midterm short paper on the first textbook assigned. Upload by May 21 to Moodle Turnitin and also hand in paper to the drop box in the department.

40% Final paper due at noon on June 10 by posting on Moodle Turnitin and also handing in a printed copy to the drop box at the department.  Please note that the paper must be submitted in both formats before it counts as submitted.

    Organization of the Course

Two Three Hour Seminars each week from April 29 until the 10th of June.

    Course Learning Objectives


  1. An advanced seminar course such as this has as its primary learning objective the ability to follow difficult but intriguing issues in abstract philosophical theory.
  2. As a final year undergraduate course in the epistemology of relativism. it will also prepare the student for graduate work in related areas.
  3. Abstracting intricate arguments, weighing the merits of opposed but seemingly well argued positions and making high level judgments based on merits of arguments are key skills needed in many professions and vocations. Learning them in this setting will help anyone who will take up other intellectually challenging work after graduation, even if this does not involve continuing study on this or a related topic.
  4. Writing essays clearly and making relevant arguments and points in electronic and in face to face discussion are also valuable skills to develop for those who seek a wide variety of challenging job opportunities after graduation.
    Additional Information / Notes



Up until May 20 we will discuss topics from the text by Collins. Thereafter we will discuss text by Boghossian. For detailed breakdown of the topics for each seminar, please consult the Moodle site for the course.

    Relevant Links / Resources