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Philosophy Course Descriptions

  • PHIL 100: Introduction to Philosophy

    Encourages critical thinking about fundamental problems that concern existence, knowledge, and value. As a means to this end, several philosophical works are read, discussed, and evaluated.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 108: Critical Thinking

    An attempt to employ critical reasoning in a variety of everyday contexts. Standards will be developed to help distinguish fallacies from argumentation, prejudice from evidence, and poppycock from science. The course will have a practical orientation. Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 111: R/Introduction to Logic

    An introduction to deductive logic, including propositional and predicate logic, Aristotelian logic, problems of definition, informal fallacies, and the elements of linguistic analysis.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 130: Ethics

    An introductory course aimed at the improvement of moral reasoning. Analysis and assessment of contemporary examples are stressed.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 136: Medicine & Morality

    A non-technical, introductory-level course which explores basic moral issues in the related fields of medicine and psychology. Issues to be discussed include (1) Should we have socialized medicine? (2) Do we have an unlimited right to reproduce? (3) Should we engage in genetic control? (4) Is abortion moral? (5) Is euthanasia moral? (6) Should we experiment on human beings? (7) Is the notion of mental illness a myth? (8) Can behavior control be justified? (9) Are we free or determined? These questions are approached from various moral perspectives (e.g., egoism, relativism, utilitarianism, existentialism, intuitionism, and Kantianism). Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 188: Experimental:

    Credits: 0-6

  • PHIL 199: Directed Study

    Credits: 1-6

  • PHIL 201: Environmental Ethics

    An inquiry concerning which entities, if any, have rights, whether non-human entities can have rights, and how one could justify claims about non-human rights. The outcome of the inquiry depends on an adequate account of good-in-itself. The course includes a survey of the environmental problems facing this planet. Offered when demand is sufficient
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 202: M/World Religions &Contemp Iss

    The insights and teachings of major living religions will be analyzed by a study of their basic texts and teachers: Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Comparison of how their teachings apply to such contemporary issues as war and peace, the environment, gender, race, sexual orientation, and economic justice.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 203: Computer Ethics

    Computers have done more to change the world we live in than any other single development in recent times. These changes have created new moral issues which we must face. By looking both at considered ethical foundations of the past and the new challenges of the present and the future, this course attempts to provide a critical basis for meeting these new issues, which include invasion of privacy, computer crime, professional ethics and responsibility, ownership and stealing of computer technology, the political implications of computer power, and the impact of the use and misuse of computer technology. Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 204: Feminist Philosophy

    This course provides an introduction to contemporary work in feminist philosophy and will apply philosophical methods of reasoning to a variety of topics of feminist concern. Throughout the course we will stress the diversity of feminist theories and approaches. We will also emphasize the ways in which feminist work has intervened in various subfields of philosophy as well as taking up and evaluating feminist criticism and transformation of philosophy as a discipline.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 205: Ancient Philosophy

    An examination of the fundamental ideas of Western civilization against the Greek background that produced them. Original texts in translation are read. Selections from the works of such philosophers as Parmenides, Heraclitus, Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle are read, discussed, and evaluated. Offered every fall
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 207: Modern Philosophy

    An examination of some of the fundamental ideas of philosophy in the modern period. Original texts in translation are read. Selections from the works of such philosophers as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant are read, discussed, and evaluated. Offered every spring
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 208: Philosophy of Race

    This course offers an overview of recent philosophical discussions of race. More specifically, we will take up philosophical methods and concepts in order to investigate the nature of race and to evaluate contrasting approaches to racial justice. Themes will span issues of value theory as well as epistemological and metaphysical concerns. Specific topics are likely to include questions such as: What is the nature of race-is it a biological category or a social construction? How does race as a categorization relate to racial identity? Can one change one's race? How is race related to knowledge production? What is the nature of ongoing racial oppression in the U.S. and how can it best be overcome?
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 209: Phenomenology & Existentialism

    An examination of some of the leading motifs of phenomenology and existentialism. Thinkers and topics to include: Kierkegaard: Impossibility of an existential system; Faith and subjective truth; Teleological suspension of the ethical. Nietzsche: Death of God; Master morality, slave morality, and traditional morality; Will to power and the superman; Overcoming nihilism. Husserl: Critique of psychologism and historicism; Consciousness as intentionality; Grounding of knowledge and action on transcendental subjectivity; Life-world and the sciences. Heidegger: Meaning of Being and human existence; Authentic and inauthentic being-towards-death; Human existence, temporality, and history. Sartre: Being, consciousness, and nothingness; Existence precedes essence; Freedom, bad faith, and authenticity; Possibility of an ethics. Offered every other year
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 214: M/Chinese Philosophy

    This course will provide a chronological survey of Chinese philosophy. Chinese philosophy has often been characterized as 'humanism.' But this humanism has its cosmological roots. This course will begin with the basic cosmological view of the ancient Chinese, and then investigate how different humanistic approaches under the same cosmological view could emerge. Three main schools of thought to be covered are: Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism. The course will conclude with some contemporary articles on Chinese philosophy, and investigate how Chinese philosophy can develop from this stage on. This course has no prerequisites and assumes no background in philosophy or in Chinese language and culture. Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 215: M/Eastern Philosophy

    An introduction to some of the central texts and viewpoints of the Eastern philosophical tradition. The views explored will be Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian. The approach will be primarily philosophical, not historical. The goal will be to understand and critically evaluate the main metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical ideas lying at the center of each tradition. The issues explored will include the status and nature of the self, the possibility of some ultimate indefinable immanent reality, the metaphysical status of space-time-matter-causality, the relation between opposites such as good and evil, and the nature of the good life.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 216: Reasoning & the Law

    An introduction to critical reasoning skills that is narrowly focused on the specific needs of undergraduate prelaw students, and an analysis of original material in the legal field. Topics covered include basics of recognizing arguments, informal methods and techniques for evaluating arguments, techniques for writing argumentatively, the nature of the law and fundamentals of the legal context, the distinction between descriptive and normative legal reasoning, how lawyers reason, how judges reason, and detailed analysis of several important cases. Offered every fall
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 217: Problem in Philosophy of Law

    A systematic exploration of the foundations of law. Major topics include the nature of law and the criteria for a legal system, competing legal theories, the relation between legality and morality, competing theories concerning criminal justice and the justification of punishment. Offered once a year
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 218: Philosophy of Religion

    An examination of selected problems in the philosophy of religion. Topics include classical and contemporary arguments for and against the existence of God, existentialist approaches to religion, science and religion, the meaningfulness of theological language, miracles, freedom, death, and immortality.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 219: Social & Political Philosophy

    This course will consider some of the foundational issues we face in our search for the best group-living arrangements. Such issues will include, but not be limited to, the conflict between individual liberty and social equality, the criteria for just distribution of wealth, and the proper role and form of government. We will consider how questions about these issues have been addressed historically by philosophers since Plato and Aristotle. We will also explore how contemporary political works by Rawls, Nozick, and others might help us understand and try to solve our own political and social problems. Offered every year
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 222: Phil&Rel-Ancient Mediterranean

    A survey of the religious culture and the philosophical tradition of the ancient Mediterranean. Restrictions: Part of the summer Mediterranean Roots Program in Greece and Italy and is to be given together with the Humanities I course. It could be given during a regular semester, if demand is sufficient.
    Credits: 2

  • PHIL 225: Philosophy of the Arts

    An inquiry into the concepts of art and good art. Could soundless music," "Don Giovanni," "Brillo Boxes," the Sistine ceiling, Rambo III, and Macbeth possibly fall under one concept? Who is to say that the Beatles are better than Bach, or that Warhol is worse than Watteau ... or have we asked the wrong question? " Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 226: Philosophy & Literature

    This course will begin by looking at Plato’s reasons for finding an “ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry” and Aristotle’s response. This will lead to a discussion of what is, or should be, the effect of imaginative literature. More specifically—and this will be the course’s central focus—we will consider whether literature can make a contribution to our ethical knowledge in a way that philosophy does not. Inevitably this will bring up questions about the cognitive and evaluative nature of emotion. We will look, too, at two plays by Sartre to see what, if anything, they add to his purely philosophical writings. Finally, we will consider briefly whether it is possible for a work of literature to be aesthetically excellent yet morally suspect. Offered every other spring
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 235: Philosophy of Biology

    This course will examine philosophical problems raised by evolutionary theory, genetics and taxonomy. Questions to be addressed include: (a) Is biological theory reducible to chemistry and physics? (b) What is a species? Is there a single, correct way to classify organisms? (c) At what level does selection operate: individual organisms, groups, or "selfish genes"? (d) Does altruism exist in nature? (e) Can the evolutionary model usefully be applied outside of biology? In particular, is sociobiology a promising field of research, or merely an excuse for injustice? (f) Can there be such a thing as "scientific creationism"? Prerequisites: One course in biology or in philosophy, or permission of the instructor. Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 236: Medicine & Morality

    This is a non-technical, introductory course in bioethics which explores questions of value with regard to medicine, the provision of healthcare, the very notion of health, and bio-technology aimed at improving our lives. We will consider the role of values within medicine and healthcare fields, the methods by which we can make (bio)ethical evaluations and the major values/principles underlying contemporary bioethics as a field. The bulk of the course will involve focus on specific moral controversies in medicine and biotechnology. These controversies might include: the value of patient autonomy, the ethics of cosmetic surgery, medicine and sexuality, reproductive technology, and ethical issues in death and dying.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 237: Ethical Issues in Business

    This course will introduce students to the central role of ethics in the conduct of business organizations and the people who administer them. Students will learn to identify ethical issues in business and to analyze them from the perspective of several philosophical moral traditions. We will consider ethical issues concerning both the overall economic system and the specific business areas of management, accounting, finance, and marketing. Students will be required to perform analyses of both philosophical readings and recent case-studies from the business world.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 240: Philosophy of Science

    This course will examine the nature of science. What makes the difference between scientific theories and nonscientific ones? Is there a special kind of reasoning for science, or just a special subject matter? Does science have a greater claim to knowledge? What are the limits of science? Can religion and morality be turned into sciences, or is there a fundamental gap of some sort between these different realms? We will consider these questions both naively and in terms of a set of philosophical theories of science that have been developed over the past century. We will also examine a variety of long-standing conceptual problems in particular sciences, including mathematics. Finally, we will look at the important consequences of science in today's society, in particular the pressing issue of "junk science." Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 288: Experimental:

    Credits: 0-6

  • PHIL 299: Directed Study

    Credits: 1-6

  • PHIL 300: Ancient Philosophy

    An examination of the fundamental ideas of Western civilization against the Greek background that produced them. Original texts in translation are read. Selections from the works of such philosophers as Parmenides, Heraclitus, Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle are read, discussed, and evaluated.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 301: Modern Philosophy

    An examination of some of the fundamental ideas of philosophy in the modern period, with an emphasis on contributions to epistemology and metaphysics. Original texts in translation are read. Selections from the works of such philosophers as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant are read, discussed, and evaluated.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 305: Philosophy of Education

    This course will familiarize students with past and present theories and issues in the philosophy of education. Students will consider why humans educate themselves and their children; what they think constitutes reality; what knowledge is worth having and how humans beings acquire it; what constitutes the good life and how human beings organize society to promote it; and how education can encourage people to reflect on what it means to live ethically. The course will allow philosophy students to apply their knowledge of the discipline to an important realm of practical problems and provide education students an opportunity to think both critically and creatively about educational practice.(Cross listed with EDUC 305.) Prerequisites: PHIL 100 or INTD 203 or permission of instructor. Not offered on a regular basis
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 311: Philosophical Logic

    Philosophical logic is the effort to represent aspects of valid reasoning with formal systems that can be applied to a variety of questions in philosophy. A comprehensive logic would account for all forms of rational inference in a single, manageable package, but instead, we have a variety of partial and competing systems aimed at various specific topics, including necessity and possibility, vagueness, degree, comparison, time, value, and knowledge, as well as non-standard alternatives to the classical logic of subjects and predicates. In this course, we will discuss the project of philosophical logic, survey (to varying depths) a broad range of theories in the field with applications, and look for general conclusions. Prerequisite: PHIL 111. Offered every other fall
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 315: M/Chinese Philosophy

    This course will provide a chronological survey of Chinese philosophy. Chinese philosophy has often been characterized as 'humanism'. But this humanism has its cosmological roots. This course will begin with the basic cosmological view of the ancient Chinese, and then investigate how different humanistic approaches under the same cosmological view could emerge. Three main schools of thought to be covered are: Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism. The course will conclude with some contemporary articles on Chinese philosophy, and investigate how Chinese philosophy can develop from this stage on. This course has no prerequisites and assumes no background in philosophy or in Chinese language and culture.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 317: Philosophy of Mind

    An examination of schema for viewing human nature. Topics include the mind-body controversy, minds as machines, behaviorism, materialist explanations of mind, personal identity, perception, dreaming, and the problem of choice. Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of instructor. Offered every three semesters
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 330: Ethical Theory

    An examination of classical and contemporary philosophical works addressed to the problems of intrinsic value, right conduct, good character, free will and responsibility, and moral knowledge. Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of instructor. Offered every spring
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 340: Theory of Knowledge

    An examination of fundamental epistemological concepts, including those of knowledge, necessary truth, universals, rational belief, and perception. Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. Offered every spring
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 350: Phenomenology & Existentialism

    An examination of some of the leading motifs of phenomenology and existentialism. Thinkers and topics to include: Kierkegaard: Impossibility of an existential system; Faith and subjective truth; Teleological suspension of the ethical. Nietzsche: Death of God; Master morality, slave morality, and traditional morality; Will to power and the superman; Overcoming nihilism. Husserl: Critique of psychologism and historicism; Consciousness as intentionality; Grounding of knowledge and action on transcendental subjectivity; Life-world and the sciences. Heidegger: Meaning of Being and human existence; Authentic and inauthentic being towards-death; Human existence, temporality, and history. Sartre: Being, consciousness, and nothingness; Existence precedes essence; Freedom, bad faith, and authenticity; Possibility of an ethics.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 355: Metaphysics

    An analysis of major metaphysical concepts, including those of infinite extent, continuity and infinite divisibility, space, time, substance, property, relation, universals, identity and individuation, change, necessity, and independence. Prerequisites: PHIL 111 and one other course in philosophy, or permission of instructor. Offered every fall
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 357: Philosophy of Mind

    We will examine a range of issues concerning the nature of mind, consciousness, and self. What is a mind? What is the relationship between mind and body? What is consciousness? Can conscious events ever be completely analyzed in objective terms, or are they irreducibly subjective? What is the relationship between a self or person and a mind or consciousness? Can a person stay the same over time while the contents of his mind change radically? What makes a mind or person one thing rather than many? Is it possible for one mind or person to overlap with another, or are we essentially separate from one another? Is there any reasonable concept of personal survival after death?
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 359: Social & Political Philosophy

    This course will consider some of the foundational issues we face in our search for the best group-living arrangements. Such issues will include, but not be limited to, the conflict between individual liberty and social equality, the criteria for just distribution of wealth, and the proper role and form of government. We will consider how questions about these issues have been addressed historically by philosophers since Plato and Aristotle. We will also explore how contemporary political works by Rawls, Nozick, and others might help us understand and try to solve our own political and social problems.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 361: Philosophical Logic

    Philosophical logic is the effort to represent aspects of valid reasoning with formal systems that can be applied to a variety of questions in philosophy. A comprehensive logic would account for all forms of rational inference in a single, manageable package, but instead, we have a variety of partial and competing systems aimed at various specific topics, including necessity and possibility, vagueness, degree, comparison, time, value, and knowledge, as well as non-standard alternatives to the classical logic of subjects and predicates. In this course, we will discuss the project of philosophical logic, survey (to varying depths) a broad range of theories in the field with applications, and look for general conclusions.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 362: Philosophy of Science

    This course will examine the nature of science. What makes the difference between scientific theories and nonscientific ones? Is there a special kind of reasoning for science, or just a special subject matter? Does science have a greater claim to knowledge? What are the limits of science? Can religion and morality be turned into sciences, or is there a fundamental gap of some sort between these different realms? We will consider these questions both naively and in terms of a set of philosophical theories of science that have been developed over the past century. We will also examine a variety of long-standing conceptual problems in particular sciences, including mathematics. Finally, we will look at the important consequences of science in today's society, in particular the pressing issue of "junk science".
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 375: Philosophy of Language

    An examination of contemporary and recent views concerning the nature of language and the ways in which language is conceived as bearing on philosophical problems. Topics covered include theories of reference and meaning, truth, analyticity, opacity, proper names, definite descriptions, demonstratives, the possibility of translation, semantic representation, the nature of propositions. Offered: every three semesters Prerequisites: PHIL 111 and one other course in philosophy.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 377: Philosophy of Law

    A systematic exploration of the foundations of law. Major topics include the nature of law and the criteria for a legal system, competing legal theories, the relation between legality and morality, competing theories concerning criminal justice and the justification of punishment.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 388: Experimental:

    Credits: 1-12

  • PHIL 393: Honors Thesis

    Students with a serious interest in pursuing philosophy are advised to write a thesis: a lengthy, original essay on a special philosophical issue. To receive Philosophy Honors recognition at graduation, the student must complete the thesis with a grade of at least A-. Prerequisites: 18 hours of philosophy with 3.5 gpa in philosophy courses. Offered by individual arrangement
    Credits: 3-6

  • PHIL 395: Internship:

    Credits: 1-15

  • PHIL 397: Seminar Major Problems: (sub)

    For advanced students. Focuses on a single philosophical problem, or a pair of problems (e.g., infinity, freedom and determinism, analyticity, induction). Topic varies from term to term, and student presentations comprise a significant portion of the course.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 398: Seminar:Major Philosophers

    For advanced students. Focuses on a single philosopher, or a pair of philosophers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Locke and Leibniz, Hume, Wittgenstein). Philosopher studied varies from term to term, and student presentations comprise a significant part of the course. Students can repeat multiple times. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Offered alternately with PHIL 397; one seminar will be offered each semester
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 399: Directed Study

    Intensive reading in a philosopher or philosophical problem, under the supervision of a member of the staff. (Available at all levels.) Offered by individual arrangement
    Credits: 1-6

  • PHIL 420: Applied Ethics: (subtitle)

    This is a slot course that focuses on some area(s) of applied ethics at an advanced level. Each section will take up applied moral, social, and/or political issues from a philosophical perspective, drawing on contemporary philosophical work on the topic.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 430: Ethical Theory

    An examination of classical and contemporary philosophical works addressed to the problems of intrinsic value, right conduct, good character, free will and responsibility, and moral knowledge.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 440: Theory of Knowledge

    An examination of fundamental epistemological concepts, and especially of contemporary analytic philosophical approaches to them. Topics include the analysis of empirical knowledge, the nature and structure of justification, the internalism/externalism debate, the role of testimony in knowledge, and skepticism about the external world. We will also consider several meta-epistemological issues.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 445: Metaphysics

    An analysis of major metaphysical concepts, and especially of contemporary analytic approaches to them. Topics include identity, necessity, essentialism, possible-world semantics, events, objects and space-time, realism, and the ontology of abstract objects.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 493: Philosophy Thesis

    Students with a serious interest in pursuing philosophy are advised to write a thesis: a lengthy, original essay on a special philosophical issue. Completion of the thesis will involve an oral defense. Permission of instructor required.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL 497: Seminar: (subtitle)

    For advanced students. Focuses on a single philosophical problem or philosopher, or a pair of problems or philosophers. Topic varies from term to term, and student presentations comprise a significant portion of the course.
    Credits: 3

  • PHIL TRE: Philosophy Elective

    Credits: 0-6