Philosophy Equity-Based Syllabi

The following are excerpts from the Department of Philosophy's syllabi statements, along with a course description which outlines EDI objectives:

Sample Statements

Equity Statement 

“We shall neither condone nor tolerate behaviour that undermines the dignity or self-esteem of any individual or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. It is our collective responsibility to create a space that is inclusive and welcomes discussion. Any form of discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. Hate speech rooted in, but not limited to, anti-Muslim, anti- Semitic, racist, classist, ableist, homophobic, sexist, or transphobic sentiments and/or remarks will also not be tolerated. We all have an obligation to ensure that an open and inclusive space, free of hate is established. Any behaviour that does not demonstrate an understanding of these principles and/or creates an unsafe atmosphere will not be tolerated.” 

Acknowledgement of Land 

"We can never work to end systematic and institutional violence if we do not centre the narratives of Indigenous folks in our collective decision making for social justice and equity. As settlers in Turtle Island, we directly benefit from the colonization and genocide of the Indigenous people of this land. In order to engage in resistance and solidarity against the injustices inflicted on the Indigenous people of this land it is imperative we constantly engage in acts of decolonization. Therefore, I (we) would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands of the ‘Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation’ peoples, the traditional caretakers of this land. I would also like to pay my respects to their elders past and present, and to any who may be here with us today — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually."

Course Description

The following course description aims to increase awareness of the contributions of women to the curriculum:

"Research over the past few decades has unearthed a treasure trove of wrongly neglected philosophical writings by women during the early modern period. This course will explore two interconnected lines of thought relating to their works. One line of thought is continuous with well-known early modern discussions of the material-immaterial divide. Descartes is well-known for having proposed his mind-body dualism, and most early modern thinkers held that the human soul or mind is immaterial. One motive was the Christian belief in the afterlife.

But in addition, early modern thinkers often held that it is not possible to explain all natural phenomena in terms of matter.  Beginning with Descartes’s interlocutor the princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, difficult problems were raised for Cartesian dualism.  Margaret Cavendish and Anne Conway questioned both Cartesian dualism and Hobbesian mechanistic materialism, proposing a type of “vitalist monism”. At the same time, early modern women such as Mary Astell and later, Mary Wollstonecraft, questioned traditional approaches to the education of women. These questions are connected by way of the issue of the ontological status of human beings in general, and of women in particular. Thus, if women have an immaterial soul and rationality as men do, they should be educated accordingly. So interesting questions arise about the connections between the ontology of human beings and the rights of women.

We will begin with Descartes’s dualism by way of background. We will consider Elisabeth’s worries about mind-body interaction, and then turn to objections to dualism and materialism offered by Conway and Cavendish, and to their versions of vitalist monism. We will then turn to Mary Astell’s dualistic proto-feminism and her defence of a proper education for women."

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