AP/PHIL4040 3.0 M: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy

Offered by: PHIL


Winter 2020






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 C. Verheggen


Office Location: S436 Ross Building

Phone Number: 416-736-2100 Ext. 77553

Office Hours: Tuesday 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

    Expanded Course Description

The focus of the course will be on the philosophy of Donald Davidson as well as that of John McDowell, who is at once one of the main defenders and one of the main critics of Davidson.

Davidson thinks that answering the question, what is it for words to mean what they do, is the best way for philosophers to approach questions, not only about meaning, but also about truth, knowledge, and reality.  We will thus start by studying his views in philosophy of language and mind, focusing on his argument for the claim that only someone who has interacted with another person could have a language and thoughts.  We will then examine the consequences this claim has for our knowledge of the external world and for our understanding of the relation between thought and reality.  We’ll end by considering McDowell’s criticisms of Davidson’s views as well as the views he is proposing in their stead.

    Required Course Text / Readings

(available at the York bookstore):

Davidson, D., Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation

Davidson, D., Subjective, Intersubjective, Objective

McDowell, J., Mind and World

Myers, R. and C. Verheggen, Donald Davidson’s Triangulation Argument: A Philosophical Inquiry

    Weighting of Course
  1. Class attendance and participation: 10% of final grade
  2. Mid-term examination: 20%
  3. Paper topic and annotated bibliography: 10%
  4. Class presentation: 10%
  5. Term Paper: 50%
    Organization of the Course

Weekly Class (3 hours); 5 components to class assessment.

    Course Learning Objectives
  1. Students will be able to engage major debates concerning specific issues in contemporary philosophy, as well as the arguments and theories underlying various positions in those debates.
  2. Students will be able to think critically about philosophical concepts and theories that are currently at the foreground of philosophical debates.
  3. Students will develop advanced analytic and communicative skills in philosophy; namely, the ability to articulate and defend a coherent thesis within an essay, as well as the ability to absorb, synthesize and reflect upon complex information gained from reading assignments or in a classroom setting.
    Relevant Links / Resources