Philosophy (PHIL)

The Department of Philosophy offers both a major and minor.  Any course in Philosophy may be used to satisfy the general education requirement.  In addition, it participates in a number of interdisciplinary majors, minors, and programs in coordination with other departments.

Honors Courses and In-Course Honors

The Department of Philosophy encourages its students to undertake honors work. For further information, the student is referred to the sections on Honors Courses and In-Course Honors in the Catalog.

Chair

Stephen A. Michelman

Professors

James T. Bednar
Christine S. Dinkins
Jeremy E. Henkel
Charles D. Kay
Nancy M. Williams

Requirements for the Major in Philosophy

The major requires ten courses with  at least six courses at the 300- level or above as follows:

PHIL 206Reasoning & Critical Thinking3
or PHIL 321 Symbolic Logic
PHIL 311Principles of Ethics3
or PHIL 312 Language, Truth & Ethics
PHIL 347Epistemology3
or PHIL 348 Metaphysics
Three courses in History of Philosophy chosen from the following:9
Chinese Philosophy
Ancient Western Philosophy
Early Modern European Philosophy
19th Century European Philosophy
Existentialism
Phenomenology
American Pragmatism
The Analytic Tradition
Ancient Cosmology & Worldview
PHIL 450Senior Directed Study3
or PHIL 500 Honors Course
Select three additional Philosophy (PHIL) courses.9
Total Hours30

Requirements for the Minor in Philosophy

The minor requires six courses, at least four of which must be at the 300-level or above.

PHIL 201. World Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An exploration of philosophical issues as they have been dealt with from a variety of non-Western philosophical traditions. Readings may include important texts from the Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist (South Asian and East Asian), Muslim, and Indian Brahmanical philosophical traditions, as well as the traditions of indigenous African and American peoples. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement.


PHIL 203. Problems of Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An exploration of philosophy through analysis and discussion of selected philosophical texts and problems. Sample topics include the relation of mind and body, free will and determinism, moral relativism and moral truth, and the nature of knowledge and belief. Emphasis is placed on oral and written communication skills. Open only to freshmen and sophomores during the regular semesters; open to all students in the summer sessions.


PHIL 205. Philosophy of Food. 3 Hours.

An exploration of how food relates to major areas of philosophical inquiry, including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and political theory. Topics include the nature of food, food as art, biotechnology, the ethics of eating animals, human rights and food safety, cultural identity, and the politics of global food distribution and production.


PHIL 206. Reasoning & Critical Thinking. 3 Hours.

A course aimed at developing the student's ability to evaluate arguments and other informative prose and to construct arguments with greater cogency and effectiveness. The course employs only a minimal amount of formal logic.


PHIL 210. Bio-Medical Ethics. 3 Hours.

An introduction to ethics through a study of its applications in the area of health care. The course includes a survey of the major ethical theories and focuses on a selection of important problem areas such as euthanasia, reproductive technologies, human experimentation, and the justice of health care distribution.


PHIL 213. Ethics and Business. 3 Hours.

An introduction to ethics through discussion and analysis of major ethical systems, theories of social and economic justice, and specific case studies in the area of business.


PHIL 215. Environmental Ethics. 3 Hours.

An exploration of the challenges presented by the ethical analysis of environmental issues. The course explores both the theoretical and practical aspects of these issues.


PHIL 216. Social & Political Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An introduction to some of the most influential theories of Western social and political thought. Topics include the nature and legitimacy of political authority and democracy, the role of morality in society, the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and the challenges of diversity and inclusion. Multicultural and feminist perspectives are components of the course.


PHIL 218. Computers, Ethics, and Society. 3 Hours.

An introduction to ethics in relation to computers, cyberspace, and the digital era. Through the detailed analysis of selected case studies, the course will explore the questions raised by computer technologies and their impact on business, scientific research, and society. This course may count toward the Computer Science major.


PHIL 220. Philosophy & Film. 3 Hours.

A study of the language and aesthetics of film including the ways in which film may be used to investigate significant philosophical questions-especially in comparison to more traditional media.


PHIL 222. Human Nature. 3 Hours.

An examination of selected classical and modern conceptions of the human being. Aristotle, Darwin, sociobiology, and our relation to other animals are among topics explored.


PHIL 223. Philosophy of Science. 3 Hours.

An examination of the methods, aims, and limits of scientific inquiry, with special attention to the evaluation and construction of arguments. The course will explore the logic of scientific explanation and the nature of scientific laws, theories, and change.


PHIL 225. Science and Religion. 3 Hours.

An examination of the nature of science and religion and their historical and contemporary relationships. The course will explore a selection of traditional problem areas such as evolution, cosmology, ethics, and education. This course may count toward requirements for the Religion major.


PHIL 280. Selected Topics in Philosophy. 1 to 4 Hours.

Selected topics in Philosophy at the introductory or intermediate level.


PHIL 301. Philosophy of Law. 3 Hours.

An introduction to basic issues in the philosophy of law, such as methods of legal reasoning, the relation between legal norms and moral values, and the scope and foundations of rights. Seminal concepts of concern to law are discussed, including liberty, justice and punishment. Readings include classical and contemporary essays in jurisprudence, studies of specific US and international cases, and selected Supreme Court decisions.


PHIL 303. Feminist Philosophy. 3 Hours.

A study of contemporary feminist thought with an emphasis on the variety of responses to women's lived experiences. Topics may include gender socialization, the nature of (gender) oppression, sexuality and sexual violence against women, popular culture and self-image, abortion, and pornography. This course may count toward the theory requirement of the Gender Studies Program.


PHIL 304. Philosophy through Literature. 3 Hours.

A discussion and analysis of classical and contemporary philosophical issues as they are presented in selected works of literature, with attention to the question of how philosophical ideas are conveyed through this alternative medium. Topics include: political philosophy; responsibility, free will, and determinism; the nature and purpose of humanity; and the meaning of life.


PHIL 310. Philosophy of Art. 3 Hours.

An examination of philosophical issues concerning the creation and appreciation of works of art. Examples for study will be drawn from painting, sculpture, music and other visual, literary and dramatic arts. Topics may include art and morality, the definition of the concept of art, the nature of artistic value, the expression of emotion in art, and the relation between art and truth.


PHIL 311. Principles of Ethics. 3 Hours.

A study of the major systems of ethical thought, both ancient and modern, and their development. Emphasis is on the critical examination and reevaluation of those systems in light of contemporary social developments and non-Western thought.


PHIL 312. Language, Truth & Ethics. 3 Hours.

An in-depth study of the issues surrounding the ethical norms associated with interpersonal communication. The course will explore the views of philosophers from different times and traditions on such topics as truth and truthfulness; lying, misleading, and other forms of deception; secrecy, trust, and promise-keeping. The overall aim of the course will be to articulate an account of the ethics of speaking and communication that is adequate to the complexity of the matter.


PHIL 315. Philosophy of Love, Sex, and Friendship. 3 Hours.

A seminar on the nature and morality of love, sex, and friendship and their social meanings. Topics to be discussed may include, but are not limited to, familial love, marriage, homosexuality, prostitution, pornography, erotic love, sexual objectification, and the different forms of friendship. Emphasis is on the study of how gender norms inform our understanding of the controversies surrounding these topics.


PHIL 321. Symbolic Logic. 3 Hours.

An introduction to the techniques of modern symbolic logic with an emphasis on ordinary language applications. Topics include categorical logic, statement logic, and predicate logic. Additional topics vary and may include modal, deontic, and non-classical logics.


PHIL 331. African Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An introduction to traditions of African philosophical thought focusing on problems of definition, sources, function, and methodology. The course compares the scope and application of African thought on basic philosophical questions of human existence with thought from recent developments in Western philosophy on the same questions. This course may count toward the requirements for program in African, African-American Studies. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.


PHIL 333. Chinese Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An in-depth study of the notions of personhood, human nature, moral responsibility, and social justice as they are developed in the major traditions of classical Chinese thought. Readings may include texts from the Confucian, Daoist, Neo-Confucian, and Buddhist traditions. Knowledge of Chinese language is not required for this course. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirements for graduation.


PHIL 335. Buddhist Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An introduction to key concepts in Buddhism's view of persons, the world, and salvation. The course examines these concepts as they were expressed in early Buddhism and in recent Zen Buddhism. This course may count toward the requirements for the major in Chinese. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.


PHIL 340. Philosophy of Medicine. 3 Hours.

This course will provide a study of the practice of medicine through an examination of its fundamental concepts and values, such as the nature of health and disease, the phenomenology of illness, the goals of medical practice, and the roles of individual autonomy and communal interest.


PHIL 342. Philosophy of Religion. 3 Hours.

An examination of the meaning of religious beliefs and of arguments about their truth or falsity. The course focuses on religious beliefs about God and includes some discussion of different ideas of God within the Western tradition. This course may count toward requirements for the major in Religion.


PHIL 345. Philosophy of Language. 3 Hours.

An exploration of major themes in the philosophy of language, especially as they have developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Topics may include the nature of language; meaning and reference; metaphor and other non-literal uses of language; and the philosophical implications of contemporary research in linguistics and cognitive psychology.


PHIL 347. Epistemology. 3 Hours.

An introduction to central topics in epistemology including the nature, sources, and structure of scientific, moral, and religious belief, justification, and knowledge as well as skeptical challenges to their legitimacy.


PHIL 348. Metaphysics. 3 Hours.

An introduction to concepts and issues in metaphysics, such as the mind-body problem and the nature of the basic entities that constitute the universe. The course includes a consideration of differing positions on these issues and gives students the opportunity to develop, articulate, and defend their own positions.


PHIL 351. Ancient Western Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An exploration of ancient Western philosophical thought. Topics include the nature, purpose, and best life of persons; justice; the nature and order of the physical world; and the nature of truth. Emphasis is on discussion of primary texts drawn from pre-Socratic fragments and from the works of Plato, Aristotle, and select Hellenistic and Roman philosophers.


PHIL 352. Early Modern European Philosophy. 3 Hours.

A historical survey of the rise of modern European philosophy in its cultural setting during the 17th and 18th centuries. Emphasis is on the study of selected primary texts, from Descartes to Hume, in relation to the philosophical, religious, and scientific thought of their day.


PHIL 353. 19th Century European Philosophy. 3 Hours.

A survey of the development of 19th-century philosophy beginning with Immanuel Kant. The course examines Kant's legacy in subsequent thinkers such as G.W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Soren Kierkegaard, and John Stuart Mill. Issues for discussion include the role of human cognition in constituting reality, the rational basis of faith, the nature of individual liberty, and socio-economic determinants of belief.


PHIL 354. Existentialism. 3 Hours.

A survey of ideas and authors in the existentialist tradition. The course examines core ideas of existential philosophy such as freedom, authenticity, anxiety, absurdity, and awareness of death as developed by thinkers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Marcel, Heidegger, Sartre, and Beauvoir. Selected films and literary works may supplement written texts.


PHIL 355. Phenomenology. 3 Hours.

An exploration of the phenomenological movement in philosophy focused on thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Merleau-Ponty, and Gadamer. The course examines core ideas of phenomenology such as intentionality, embodiment, the life-world, the critique of the theoretical knowing, and the subjectivity of consciousness. Selected poetry and short films may be used to supplement written texts.


PHIL 356. American Pragmatism. 3 Hours.

A survey of American Pragmatism from the 19th Century to the Present, with readings by Pragmatism's founders, Peirce, James, and Dewey, as well as by neopragmatists such as Quine, Goodman, and Rorty. Topics include Pragmatist contributions to debates about truth, meaning, experience, freedom, and democracy.


PHIL 357. The Analytic Tradition. 3 Hours.

A study of landmark works in analytic philosophy from the late 19th century to the present, focusing on figures such as Bertrand Russell, A. J. Ayer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The course explores the extent to which a critical understanding of language illuminates philosophical issues in metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology.


PHIL 358. Ancient Cosmology & Worldview. 3 Hours.

An examination of the cosmologies and worldviews of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East, especially as precursors to modern science. Special attention will be paid to the problems of working with texts conceived within the framework of different conceptions of the world and cultures historically linked to, but significantly distinct from, our own.


PHIL 380. Selected Topics in Philosophy. 1 to 3 Hours.

Seminars on selected topics in Philosophy offered on an occasional basis.


PHIL 450. Senior Directed Study. 3 Hours.

A course of individualized directed study in which the student prepares a written paper (typically a revised and expanded version of earlier work) and makes an oral presentation on the paper topic. Required of all students majoring in philosophy. Normally to be completed in the fall of the senior year.


PHIL 470. Independent Study in Philosophy. 1 to 3 Hours.

A course in which the student pursues independently, under the guidance of a member of the department, a specific philosophical topic of interest.


PHIL 480. Advanced Topics in Philosophy. 1 to 4 Hours.

Selected topics in Philosophy at the advanced level.


PHIL 500. Honors Course. 3 Hours.

At the discretion of the faculty, students may undertake a six-hour independent course of study in the senior year in order to broaden their educational experience within their major area of study. Students must meet specific GPA standards and arrange a faculty sponsor. The honors course criteria are outlined in the Academic Honors portion of the catalog.