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A major in philosophy involves a rigorous study of basic questions about human life and action, knowledge, truth, and values, it is recognized as providing a sound base for those who plan to continue their education in one of the professional specialties such as law, medicine, or the ministry. More recently, liberal arts degrees in fields which “make you think” have become increasingly valued in business and government. Majoring in philosophy also prepares a student for graduate work in any of the humanities (most notably philosophy); in most cases the graduate will pursue a doctoral degree to teach at the college level. Students majoring in other fields who find themselves seriously interested in the theoretical aspects of their disciplines — e.g. ethical implications of practice, the functions of knowledge in the field, the legitimacy of methods — may want to consider a special concentration, minor, or second major in philosophy to explore that interest. The emphasis of such studies could be philosophy of science and technology, ethics in the professions (engineering, medicine), or aesthetics in literature or fine arts, to name a few examples.
The MAJOR in philosophy requires 36 credit hours, including:
6 hours from required courses:
PHIL 101/Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 110/Introduction to Logic
3 hours from Applied Philosophy: (PHIL 120, 130, 221, 250, 251, 252, 253)
6 hours from History of Philosophy: (PHIL 300, 301, 302, 303)
6 hours from Major Topics in Philosophy: (PHIL 312, 321, 331, 342, 355, 360, 383)
3 hours from Philosophical Topics: (PHIL 400, 410, 415, 420, 425, 441, 442, 443, 450, 451, 460)
9 credit hours of philosophy electives
PHIL 480 Public Philosophy (capstone)
Reading proficiency in the philosophical literature of any foreign language is strongly recommended. Majors in philosophy should be aware that proficiency in symbolic logic is expected in most graduate schools and in some substitutes for proficiency in a foreign language.
The MINOR in philosophy requires 21 credit hours in Philosophy.
(All courses are 3 credits unless noted otherwise.)
101. Introduction to Philosophy. 3 credits. An introductory survey of the discipline of philosophy. Students will join the thoughtful search, in which philosophers have engaged through reading and discussion since ancient days, into the problems of reality (metaphysics), of truth and meaning (logic and philosophy of language), of moral standards (ethics), of knowledge (epistemology), of beauty (aesthetics), and other fundamental questions. F, S
110. Introduction to Logic. 3 credits. A theoretical and practical introduction to the principles of reasoning—formal and informal, deductive and inductive. Students will study language and patterns of reasoning as vehicles for and obstacles to critical thinking. The central characteristics of deduction and validity; the role of hypotheses, inductive reasoning, probability estimates in scientific and quasi-scientific investigations and other models of critical thinking and their limits will be covered. F, S
120. Introduction to Ethics. 3 credits. This course investigates the nature of the Good Life, of moral principles, and the application of moral systems to contemporary debate. These may include questions about the morality of war, capital punishment, sexual behavior, welfare, and so forth. F,S
130. Introduction to Political Philosophy. 3 credits. An exploration of the central themes in political theory. Students will study topics such as justification of the state, liberty, justice, equality, rights, democratic participation. The course will include readings from classic and contemporary philosophers, emphasizing the connection between the theoretical issues addressed and contemporary political debates. On demand.
221. Symbolic Logic. 3 credits. The modern deductive logic of propositions and functions (including relations); logistic systems. Students majoring in mathematics or computer science will be especially welcome in this course. F/3
250. Ethics in Engineering and Science. 3 credits. This course centers on the ethical issues of particular concern to both citizens and professionals involved in engineering and related technical/scientific fields. We review ethical history and ethical theory in all class discussions. The major focus of the course, however, is on ethical dilemmas, case studies, and codes relevant to contemporary engineering and scientific practice. Issues surveyed include: ethical responsibility of theorists and of applied scientists, risk and negligence in technological enterprises, the limits of knowledge/safety/quality, an update of the two cultures debate. F, S
251. Ethics in Health Care. 3 credits. Some ethical problems and ethical guidelines are of particular concern to citizens and to professionals interested in health care fields. Examples are informed consent, abortion, euthanasia, organ transplant policies, professional standards versus patient rights, assisted suicide, ethics of testing/screening, health care policy and reform. Class members will explore such issues through case studies in a context of relevant ethical history and theory. S
252. Ethics in Business and Public Administration. 3 credits. Ethical issues occurring in business and public administration. Basic values promoted or inhibited by people and institutions in these areas will be investigated. Case studies will also be used within a context of ethical theory and history, to explore more defined problems such as unsafe products, employee rights, the relation between business life and personal life, and many more. F/2
253. Environmental Ethics. 3 credits. The course centers on the way that ethics helps us to understand environmental issues. We examine a broad cross-section of environmental issues from a variety of traditional and contemporary ethical frameworks. Issues include sustainability, animal rights, energy consumption, habitat loss, biodiversity, land conservation, and pollution. Class members will explore such issues through case studies in a context of relevant ethical history and theory. F/3
300. Ancient Philosophy. 3 credits. The ancient Greeks and Romans laid the foundations for even the most contemporary philosophy, and their ideas have had a continuing influence on all Western thought from their time to our own. This course attempts to examine those ideas and the reasons for their persistent relevance. F/2
301. Medieval Philosophy. 3 credits. Philosophy in Western Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the early 15th Century as reflected in the writings of such thinkers as Boethius, Augustine, Abelard, Aquinas and Ockham. S/2
302. Renaissance and Enlightenment. 3 credits. Philosophy from the time of Petrarch (c. 1350) to that of the American Revolution as seen in the writings of such philosophers as Bruno, Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza and Hume. This is the period that sees the origins of modern thought. The implications of the work of the philosophers had an important role in shaping contemporary society, including the arts, literature, science, politics, and economics. F/2
303. Kant and the Nineteenth Century. 3 credits. Philosophy from the “Age of Reason” through the Industrial Revolution as reflected in the writings of Kant and other philosophers such as Hegel, Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche. S/2
312. American Philosophy. 3 credits. A survey of major figures and movements in American philosophy. F/3
321. Analytic Philosophy. 3 credits. Contemporary developments in Philosophy since the beginning of the 20th century. S/2
331. Continental Philosophy. 3 credits. This course will investigate philosophical trends in Continental Philosophy, such as: Phenomenology, Existentialism, Critical Theory, Feminism, Hermeneutics, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Postmodernism, Deconstructionism, Postcolonialism, and Psychoanalysis. Students will study primary works of philosophy by such thinkers as: Adorno, Agamben, Arendt, Baudrillard, Butler, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Habermas, Kristeva, Levinas, Marion, Nancy, Ricoeur, and Zizek. F/3
342. Ethical Theory. 3 credits. This course examines the theoretical foundation of a variety of ethical systems. It expands the core traditional ethical theories by considering contemporary elaborations on Virtue Ethics, Deontological Ethics (Kantianism), utilitarianism and other dominant theories. Students are strongly advised to have taken PHIL 120 before enrolling in this course. S
355. Social and Political Philosophy. 3 credits. This course examines core issues in society and governance: the nature of justice, the limits of freedom, the role of religion, family and pluralism in the modern community, are a few examples of possible topics. Students in the course may examine both classical and contemporary theories of political society. F/3
360. Feminist Philosophy. 3 credits. This course will investigate theories and major ideas of feminist philosophers, past and present. The course may be approached as an historical examination of the different “waves” of feminism, or it may be approached topically, for example: women and the body, the feminine and the spirit, feminist art, feminist responses to violence, etc. Central figures in feminist philosophy who may be studied include: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Bordo, Catharine MacKinnon, Luce Irigaray, bell hooks, and Chandra Talpade Mohanty. F/3
383. Asian Philosophy. 3 credits. Study of major philosophical systems of India, China and/or Japan. On demand.
399. Philosophic Themes. 1-3 credits. This course provides an opportunity for detailed examination of important philosophic themes. Topics will vary depending on faculty and student interests. Investigations into philosophy of religion, foundations of logic, African American philosophic schools, political correctness, and many others are possible. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. On Demand.
400. Philosophy of Language. 3 credits. An examination of the nature of language concerning issues of meaning, reference, language use, linguistic structure, and difference from other symbol systems. S/3
410. Metaphysics: What is Real? 3 credits. A study of the basic categories by which things are understood. Topics include such issues as appearance and reality, substance, particular and general, space and time, and personal identity. S/3
415. Philosophy of Mind. 3 credits. A consideration of philosophical problems arising from the methodology of the behavioral sciences. Of special relevance to students majoring in Psychology, Political Science, Economics, Anthropology or Sociology. F/3
420. Epistemology: What is Knowledge? 3 credits. Inquiry into the nature and limits of knowledge as distinguished from belief; types of knowledge; the role of reason and sense experience in empirical knowledge. F/3
425. Metaethics: Is Ethics Possible? 3 credits. A study of traditional problems in ethical theory including the foundations of ethical philosophy, the nature of the good, ethical relativity, free will versus determinism. Although case studies and contemporary examples will appear in discussions, the central focus of the course will be historical and theoretical. F/3
430. Philosophy of Science and Technology. 3 credits. A study of the philosophic aspects of science and technology. Problems include, what makes a theory scientific?, is there a scientific “method?”, can one believe in science and religion at the same time?, how can we tell whether a technological enterprise is a reasonable risk or a negligent gamble?, how should a technological advance be controlled. S/3
441. Existentialism. 3 credits. An examination of the nature of human existence and its relationship to freedom. This course investigates the consequences of one’s choices and their effects on identity, ethics, and on other people. By examining the works of such philosophers as Kierkegaard, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, and others, students will investigate the ways in which human beings construct their own identities and develop their own ethical and political standards. S/3
442. Phenomenology. 3 credits. This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of phenomenology. Founded by the 20th century German thinker, Edmund Husserl, phenomenology is a method that attempts to describe lived human experiences. Students will therefore do phenomenology as part of their study of the subject by undertaking exercises in the method of phenomenological description. Central figures in phenomenology who may be studied include: Franz Brentano, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Paul Ricoeur. The course may also take a topical approach, investigating the experiences of gratitude, forgiveness, fear, desire or hospitality, for example. F/3
443. Aesthetics. 3 credits. This course will investigate the philosophical foundations of art (understood in its widest sense, including, for example, music and writing). It will ask whether definitions of art or beauty are possible, what the relationship between form and substance is in art, whether or not art should be valued as a product or process, as well as other such questions. The course will rely upon classical and modern texts, as well as a variety of examples from the history of the arts. S/3
450. Philosophy, Economics and Politics. 3 credits. This course provides an introduction to the discipline sometimes called “political economy” and illustrates its connection to political philosophy in general. It focuses on the relationship between political and economic structures, with a special emphasis on the nature and problems of liberal capitalist democracies. Students will read classic and contemporary thinkers, and primary and secondary sources. S/3
451. Citizenship and Political Participation. 3 credits. This course provides an in-depth study of the nature of citizenship, with special emphasis on how citizens deliberate collectively and individually. It focuses on questions of rationality, political activism, political education, and cosmopolitanism. Students will read classic and contemporary thinkers, and primary and secondary sources. S/3
460. Philosophy of Law. 3 credits. An investigation of the nature of both law and legal reasoning. Study of the nature of law focuses on theories of natural law, legal positivism, and legal realism. Legal reasoning concerns justified interpretation of precedent and statute within the common law tradition. Additional topics dealt with as time allows, encompass such issues as the justification of punishment and enforcement of morality. F
480. Public Philosophy. 3 credits. Prerequisite: 75 total credit hours. Public philosophy is the process of engaging in philosophical reflection with non-philosophers. This course provides the opportunity for students to take existing work in academic philosophy and “translate” it into more accessible media. Students will write magazine articles, blog entries, opinion pieces suitable for newspapers, and engage in other activities that help philosophy expand past its home at the university. F
491. Seminar in Philosophy. 3-6 credits. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and consent of the instructor. A consideration of selected philosophical problems or classic texts of mutual interest to departmental faculty and more advanced students. Previous work in philosophy or related disciplines is recommended. On Demand.
494. Independent Study in Philosophy. 1-3 credits. May be repeated to 8 credits. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Supervised tutorial on an individual basis. Typically, a student will work independently to a considerable extent. In other cases, the course may take the form of regularly scheduled meetings.
497 - Projects in Philosophy. 3 credits. Projects in Philosophy is a course that allows students to engage in non-traditional, non-classroom based projects in philosophy. Projects may include internships, practicums, research or teaching assistantships, community engagement activities, or other projects that may differ from semester to semester. Students may enroll in this course with permission of instructor, but some projects (e.g. , internships) may be selective and subject to an application process. Repeatable up to 12 credits.