McMaster University

McMaster University

Department of Philosophy

Welcome to the Department of Philosophy at McMaster University, a vibrant, research-oriented department offering courses of study leading to the B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. We embrace a variety of approaches to philosophical study and consider the breadth of our faculty expertise to be one of the advantages of our degree programs. Our research and teaching strengths include both continental and analytical perspectives, legal and political philosophy and ethics as well as epistemology and metaphysics, and strength in the history of philosophy from ancient through modern to twentieth-century thought. Browse our site to find out more about the department and please contact us with any questions you may have.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to both our new and returning students. A letter from our chair, Elisabeth Gedge, can be found here.

Announcing the launch of the McMaster Undergraduate Journal of Law and Politics

Call for Papers

Philosophy Speakers Series 2014-15 schedule TBA


Kant and the History of Analytical Philosophy. Strong applicants planning to pursue research in the area of analytical philosophy and its history are eligible to be considered for an entrance scholarship of up to $5000. Succesful applicants will be expected to collaborate with faculty on a number of projects and activities relating to the project 'Bolzano, Kant and the Kantian logicians' led by Dr Sandra Lapointe. McMaster is home to the Bertrand Russell Research Centre and the Russell Archives and is ranked amongst the best departments to pursue the study of the history of analytical philosophy.

Graduate Diploma Programs:

  • Water Without Borders: Available through McMaster University and the United Nations University, this diploma program focuses on water issues related to the physical environment and human health. It is open to MA or PhD students in our department and involves three courses, which students undertake concurrently with their other degree requirements. Students interested in applying to the United Nations University Diploma Program should apply simultaneously to Philosophy and WWB.
  • Gender Studies and Feminist Research: Students applying to the Philosophy PhD Program may be eligible for admission to the GSFR Program. This diploma Program is taken in addition to fulfilling the requirements of the doctoral program in Philosophy, and offers intensive interdisciplinary scholarship and mentoring in feminist/gender studies. A brochure can be found here.

Combined Honours Programs:

  • Honours Philosophy and Biology: This combination equips students with a solid grounding in biology while enabling them to develop a philosophically informed perspective on issues arising in their study.
  • Honours Philosophy and Mathematics: This combination equips students with a solid grounding in mathematics while enabling them to develop a philosophically informed perspective on issues arising in their study.

Congratulations to our graduate students: external fellowships and awards for 2013-2014 include 2 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships, 2 SSHRC CGS Master's Scholarships, and 6 OGS awards. Well Done!

Humanities Seat Request Form

If you would like to request a seat in a Philosophy Course please fill out a Request Form

Affiliate Links:

Recent News

  • In Memoriam – Samuel Ajzenstat

    Samuel Ajzenstat The Department of Philosophy, McMaster University and the community of Hamilton have lost a beloved teacher, scholar and friend. Professor Samuel Ajzenstat passed away at Shalom Village on September 26, 2013.

    Sam’s contributions to the intellectual life of the University were wide ranging, and his engagement with students was profound. Beginning as an instructor in 1964, Sam taught courses in the history of philosophy, social and political philosophy, and human rights, supervised over twenty theses, and served on numerous graduate committees. His intellectual interests intertwined philosophy, religion and the arts. Students were drawn to Sam for his warmth, his intellectual intensity, and his breadth of knowledge. In 2002, the year of his official retirement, he was uniquely and twice honoured as the recipient of the McMaster Students’ Union Lifetime Achievement Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. His speech on receipt of the awards is movingly recalled by a student in the following passage.

    At Sam's funeral and during the following week, while the family sat shiva, there were many tender remembrances of Sam's life, contributions and relationships. Here is what his friend, Louis Greenspan, read at the funeral.

    An excerpt from the valedictory address by Marko Geslani, delivered at the McMaster University 2005 Humanities and Arts & Science convocation:

    “In my first year, I attended the MSU teaching awards ceremony. There, accepting a lifetime achievement award, Philosophy Professor Sam Ajzenstat—a man whom I’d never met and never saw again—said something that affected me: “Whenever you love something, be it a person, or an idea, no matter how you look at it, however you turn it, there is always something new about it you hadn’t seen before.” He stood there like this: cradling the empty space in his palm as though it was a delicate fragment of light. Many of us are struggling with the problem of how we can “change the world,” and Gandhi of course said that we must “Be the change we want to see in the world.” In that moment Prof Ajzenstat, to me, was a change in the world, for he embodied a possibility—the possibility of loving something that is always changing, always defying our expectations. This is the relationship that we as thinking beings must have with the changing world, for it requires not only an open mind but an open heart.”

  • Congratulations to Ben Hamby, who has two forthcoming papers! His review of Diane Halpern's Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, 5th Edition will be published in Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines (Fall 2014) and "Willingness to Inquire: The Cardinal Critical Thinking Virtue" is forthcoming in Critical Thinking in Higher Education (Palgrave MacMillan, Fall 2014).
  • Congratulations to Marco Maestrello, whose paper "An Argument for a Quasi-Dretskian Approach to Causal Explanation" has been accepted for publication in The Croatian Journal of Philosophy.
  • We are happy to report that Russell Anderson and Maggie O'Brien have each won an external scholarship for the current year. Russell's is a SSHRC and Maggie's is an OGS. Congratulations!
  • Tano Posteraro's "Organismic Spatiality: Membranic Affectivity and the Composition of Space" has been accepted for publication in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Congratulations!
  • The Philosophy of Medicine & Bioethics Reading Group discusses a wide variety of philosophical and ethical issues surrounding the field of medicine and the cultural aspects of health and illness. It furthermore attempts to foster a wide variety of theoretical approaches by including interdisciplinary, feminist and continental works. This semester the group will be discussing Onora O'Neill's "Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics" (2002). The group meets every other week from 4:30–6pm. If you are interested and would like to take part, please contact Marco Maestrello.
  • Tano Posteraro's "Organismic Temporality: Deleuze's Larval Subject and the Question of Bodily Time," has been accepted for publication in Symposium: The Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy. Congratulations!
  • The Ancient Greek Reading Group meets on Tuesdays at 7:30pm. They are currently reading Plotinus' Enneads. If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Stefan Rodde.
  • Marla Sharp
    We are proud to announce that Honours student Marla Sharp has been awarded an Undergraduate Student Research Award (2013) for her project "Complexity of Consent: An Investigation of Physician-Assisted Suicide". Her research will be supervised by Violetta Igneski. Congratulations!
  • OSSA Success
    McMaster Graduate Students had great success at The 10th conference of the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation (2013). Andrew Pineau won the J. Anthony Blair prize for his paper "The abuses of argument: Understanding fallacies on Toulmin's layout of argument".
    Katharina von Razdiewsky and Ben Hamby received honourable mentions for their respective papers, "The virtuous arguer: one person, four characters" and "Willingness to inquire: the cardinal critical thinking virtue". Congratulations to you all!
    A full notice can be found here.
  • Ben Hamby...
    has 2 forthcoming publications! "Libri ad Nauseam: The Critical Thinking Textbook Glut" is forthcoming in Paideusis (Summer 2013) and his review of Think Critically 2nd Ed. by Facione and Gittens (Pearson Education) is forthcoming in Inquiry Vol. 28, No. 2 (Summer 2013). Congratulations!
  • Dr. Sandra Lapointe...
    We are delighted to announce that Dr. Sandra Lapointe was successful in the Fall 2012 SSHRC Insight Grant competition, winning a grant worth $160,251 over the next 5 years.
  • David Rondel...
    who received his PhD in philosophy at McMaster in 2009, will be taking up a tenure-track position at the University of Nevada at Reno in the fall of 2013. Currently holding a contractually limited appointment at Ryerson University with the rank of assistant professor, David has held limited-term appointments at Trent University as well as Ryerson since receiving his doctorate.
  • More...