Philosophy & Ethics
Both philosophy and ethics are concerned with the fundamental human questions, as well as the traditions to which they are attached. Areas of investigation include but are not limited to questions regarding the meaning of life, the ability to live ethically, and the human quest for the sacred. These concerns form the core of liberal arts education.
Learn more about the Philosophy and Pre-Law Concentrations, requirements, costs and aid, and how to apply.
Accelerated Undergraduate and Graduate Degree
Complete a B.A. in philosophy and get a J.D. in just six years.
We offer a wide range of courses for every level of student, ranging from ethics to film classes, to a graduate seminar on data and artificial intelligence. None of these courses require prerequisites and our capstone course can be used for many different majors, not just ours. All of our courses have first-time philosophy students in them and our professors teach to every student in the room.
PHIL 221: SYMBOLIC LOGIC
M/W/F 1:25-2:15 pm
This course aims to introduce students to the basic concepts and achievements of modern logic. Symbolic logic is the application of formal, mathematical methods in the study of reasoning. Beyond its central role as a tool in philosophical inquiry, deductive logic is also important in the foundations of mathematics and computer science, and in linguistics and psychology. The material covered in this course will include such topics as the nature and general features of deductive arguments, logical form, argument validity and soundness, symbolization, truth functional logical connectives, and using truth-tables to check argument validity. The bulk of the course will be devoted to the development of two artificial formal languages (that of sentential logic and that of quantificational logic) that capture certain formal aspects of our talk and thought. We will study the techniques for constructing formal deductive proofs in these languages and for evaluating such proofs as valid or invalid.
PHIL 300: "HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY - ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY"
M/W 4:00-5:15 pm
Ancient Greek philosophy arose as a direct response to an immediate social-politicalmedical crisis. Plagued by constant war, political corruption, widespread disease, and other seemingly inescapable conditions of human life, ancient Greek thinkers began to question the efficacy of religious thinking and other longstanding institutions of power. Rather than having blind faith in traditions and authority, they sought to apply the human capacity to reason in the service of answering life’s questions and arriving at better ways of living. Thus, the philosophers distinguished themselves from the Sophists—who advanced the art of persuasive speech in order to obtain power and wealth—by pursuing truth, wisdom, ethics, more effective means of communication, logic, education, and establishing a polity in which citizens could pursue ‘the good life.’ Special emphasis will be given to the influential philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. NB: This course is repeatable for up to 6 credit hours. Thus, students who have previously taken PHIL 300 on a theme different than the one being offered this semester Ancient Philosophy—can enroll and earn full credit for this course. Essential Studies: Humanities.
PHIL 342: "ADVANCED ETHICS - MORAL PURITY AND TOXICITY"
M/W 2:30-3:45 pm
Many people who are interested in living ethically often find themselves seeking a kind of moral purity—a life without blemish, stain, or compromised principle. This course will examine the quest for purity and the associated fear of toxicity/moral contamination, but it will also raise questions about the implications of yearning for ethical purity, especially in an interconnected, capitaldriven, contemporary global context in which we are often unavoidably complicit in the suffering of others. In this discussion-based class, we will explore our impulse for ethical purity and classification, especially in the context of issues like: colonialism; cancel culture; ethical consumerism; environmental toxicity; species-interdependency; mindful eating and entangled suffering; and gender/disability/identity instabilities. Essential Studies: Humanities.
PHIL 480: PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY
THR 12:30p - 1:45p
Did you ever want to write philosophy for a blog, magazine, on Twitter or Reddit, or make a philosophical comment on a Twitch stream? Do you want to make philosophy content for social networks like Instagram and TikTok? If so, this course is what you are looking for. It provides you the opportunity to take philosophy out of the classroom and into the world around you. It focuses on writing blog entries, social network posts, and evaluating existing public philosophy books and articles. First and foremost, it is a writing course that will help you refine your composition skills to better communicate ideas and “translate” them into more accessible media, including video for those who want to. Best of all, YOU get to choose what you write about, not the professor. No subject is off limits. This is the Philosophy department’s capstone course but is open to all students with at least 75 credit hours. It fulfills ES capstone requirements for many majors beside philosophy’s. Essential Studies: Advanced Communications
PHIL 575: DATA SCIENCE ETHICS
We are not human beings; we are data. At least, this is what researchers, marketers,
and Artificial Intelligence think of us. Yet, despite what they will have us believe,
there is no neutral way of evaluating this data. Everyone
has an agenda. Everyone has a point of view. And lots of people are bigots, even if they don’t know it. In this course, we will look at the history of data misuse and the ways it is currently abused, to develop an ethical theory that applies to new technology and research methods. We will engage with both the theory and practice of data ethics, to see if the great ethical theories still apply. This is a graduate seminar open to advanced undergraduates. It is not a technical course. No experience with computers science or data software is required. All the reading is accessible and intended for philosophical readers, not just data scientists.
Undergraudates for are interested in this course should enroll via PHIL 494.
We don't offer every class every semester. This chart will let you know what we're planning on teaching over the next few years, so you can plan ahead and be strategic about your courses.
What is Philosophy?
Both philosophy and ethics are concerned with fundamental human questions, as well as the traditions to which they are attached. The Department of Philosophy and Ethics is committed to creating an environment of dialogical inquiry both in and outside the disciplinary context. Areas of investigation include but are not limited to questions regarding the meaning of life, the ability to live ethically, and the human quest for the sacred. These concerns form the core of liberal arts education. The department maintains a major (with two concentrations in either Philosophy or Pre-Law) and two minors (Philosophy and Ethics), but also offers a wide range of courses in the disciplines of philosophy and ethics accessible to students of many interests.