Philosophy

  • Department Information

    Philosophy

    David Lefkowitz, Chair
    Professors Goddu, McCormick, McWhorter, Lefkowitz
    Associate Professors McDaniel, Platz, Schauber
    Assistant Professors Boxer, Reckner

    Note: All 200-level courses are open to first-year students. All 300-level courses presume some previous exposure to philosophy or a related area of study.

  • Major

    The Philosophy Major

    Note: The grade point average of the coursework in philosophy comprising the major must be 2.00 or above with no more than one grade below C- (1.7).

    10 units, including:

    PHIL 251 Elementary Symbolic Logic

    PHIL 271 Ancient Greek Philosophy

    PHIL 272 Modern European Philosophy

    PHIL 353 Philosophical Methods: Majors'/ Minors' Seminar

    Six units in electives as follows:

    One 300-level elective chosen from Category I courses

    One 300-level elective chosen from Category II courses

    Two additional 300-level electives

    One elective at the 200-level or above

    One elective at any level which may include FYS 100 taught in Philosophy

    Category I

    PHIL 314 Philosophy of Science

    PHIL 344 Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

    PHIL 351 Topics Seminar Historial I

    PHIL 362 Philosophy of Religion

    PHIL 365 Action, Responsibility and Free Will

    PHIL 370 Philosophy of Mind

    PHIL 373 Epistemology

    PHIL 381 Topics Seminar Issues I

    Category II

    PHIL 352 Topics Seminar Historial II

    PHIL 360 Ethics

    PHIL 363 Power and Politics

    PHIL 364 Philosophy of Law

    PHIL 375 Ethics and Practical Reasoning

    PHIL 382 Topics Seminar Issues II

  • Minor

    The Philosophy Minor

    Note: A grade of not less than C- (1.7) is required in each course comprising the minor.

    Five units, including:

    PHIL 271 Ancient Greek Philosophy

    PHIL 272 Modern European Philosophy

    Three units of electives in Philosophy

    2 units at the 300-level or above

    1 unit at any level, which may include FYS 100 taught by faculty from the Philosophy department

  • Honors

    Honors

    Highly qualified and motivated students may seek departmental honors. Successful applicants will be assigned to an advisor/tutor to guide their work and monitor their progress.

    Application for admission to the honors program is made in two stages. Initial Aapplications for admission to the philosophy honors program may be made by junior majors with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 on all their work work who have completed at least 12 three units nine hours in the philosophy department (above the introductory level) with distinction. Initial admission allows students to enroll in the Honors Seminar and take the required upper-level philosophy courses for honors credit.

    In their junior year, after the completion of (i) at least 18 units with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 and (ii) 3.5 units, excluding 101 and 120, in the philosophy department with distinction, students complete theirthe application to the honors program by proposing a thesis topic to the Philosophy Department. Advisors will be assigned to students who submit successful proposals.

    To receive honors in philosophy, an approved applicant must complete (as part of his or her major) all of the following program with distinction:

    1. 386 Honors Seminar, and 395 Honors Thesis, and
    2. Two additional upper-level philosophy courses or seminars designated for honors ccredit and involving special projects
    3. 395 Honors Thesis

    The program's keystone is researching and writing a Senior Honors Thesis on the basis of a proposal developed and approved in the student's junior year. In the fall of that year, an interested major should talk to his/her advisor about the deadlines and other specifics for both the proposal and the thesis.

Courses

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  • PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophical Problems and Arguments

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement FSLT

    Description

    Introduction to philosophy as a working discipline, with emphasis on analysis of problems and proposed solutions. Sample topics: Is there a thing that can be called the self? What is the meaning of life? What is the relationship between knowledge and opinion? Can individuals be held responsible for their actions?

  • PHIL 120 Contemporary Moral Issues

    Units: 1

    Description

    Philosophical introduction to the application of moral reasoning. Aims to clarify, organize, and sharpen our ideas about moral concerns of everyday life, and to examine and critique prominent moral theories. Topics may include abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, animal rights.

  • PHIL 239 Existentialism and Postmodernism

    Units: 1

    Description

    Survey of themes in 20th-century existentialist and postmodern philosophy. Issues to be addressed include freedom, selfhood, embodiment and historical situation, and knowledge in the absence of transcendence. Students will read works by such thinkers as Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, Fanon, Levinas, Foucault, and others.

  • PHIL 250 Topics Seminar: Historical

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged historically. Recent topics: Kant, critical theory, Freud, Bertrand Russell's Radical Essays. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

  • PHIL 251 Elementary Symbolic Logic

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSSR)

    Description

    Introduction to modern logic beginning with truth-functions and covering formal proofs (propositional and predicate) to the level of multiply-general and relational statements. No mathematical applications. Recommended for pre-law and pre-computer studies.

  • PHIL 260 Philosophical Problems in Law and Society

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examination of purpose and justification for legal limits on individual liberty, with special attention to problems of liability and punishment.

  • PHIL 265 Bioethics

    Units: 1

    Description

    A survey of prevalent topics in recent bioethics, the study of ethical discussions surrounding the sciences of biology and medicine. Works to improve ability to think critically and to argue from the standpoint of a certain moral theory in the ethical evaluation of problems concerning the human body, health care, doctor-patient relationship, life and death, food, and animals.

  • PHIL 269 Environmental Ethics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examines various ethical approaches to environmental problems. Topics may vary from year to year but typically will include such issues as treatment of nonhuman animals, resource depletion, environmental justice, genetic engineering, and climate change. (Same as Environmental Studies 269.)

  • PHIL 271 Ancient Greek Philosophy

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Introduction to ancient Western philosophy, with emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Discussion of both the development of philosophical thought and topics such as: What is knowledge? Why should I be moral? What is the good life? Readings drawn from primary texts.

  • PHIL 272 Modern European Philosophy

    Units: 1

    Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

    Description

    Study of development of modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant. Readings from Descartes, Hume, and Kant; some attention may be given to other modern philosophers such as Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, and Berkeley. Readings drawn from primary texts.

  • PHIL 280 Topics Seminar: Issues

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged by issues. Recent topics: the emotions; science, pseudoscience, and the paranormal; intermediate logic; ethics, human and nonhuman. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

  • PHIL 314 Philosophy of Science

    Units: 1

    Description

    General introduction to philosophy of science. Topics may include distinguishing science from nonscience; the structure of scientific theories and explanations; the nature of scientific activity; and the relationship(s) of science with values, culture and society.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 344 Contemporary Continental Philosophy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Critical examination of 20th-century topics and thinkers in the French and German traditions.

    Prerequisites

    Phil 272 or premission of instructor.

  • PHIL 351 Topics Seminar Historial I

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged historically. Recent topics: Kant, critical theory, Freud, Bertrand Russell's Radical Essays. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 352 Topics Seminar Historial II

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged historically. Recent topics: Kant, critical theory, Freud, Bertrand Russell's Radical Essays. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 353 Philosophical Methods

    Units: 1

    Description

    Development of skills related to critical reading, evaluation, writing and presentation of philosophical texts along with techniques of analysis and interpretation. Required for majors.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department.

  • PHIL 358 Topics in Feminist Philosophy

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examination of recent and contemporary feminist theory. (Same as Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies 379 and Political Science 379.)

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 360 Ethics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Critical examination of main types of ethical theory. Discussion of current topics and controversies, as well as fundamental questions about the object of morality and the objectivity and justification of moral evaluations.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor or PPEL 261 or PPEL 262.

  • PHIL 362 Philosophy of Religion

    Units: 1

    Description

    Is there such a thing as religious knowledge? Can a rational individual believe in God(s)? Alternative conceptions of use and meaning of theological language (description, ritual, belief formation, moral persuasion); Transcendence; Mysticism, and logic.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 363 Power and Politics

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examination and appraisal of classical liberal political philosophies--particularly their treatment of consent, rebellion, and political change--in light of 20th-century civil rights movements. Theorists studied include John Locke and various American revolutionaries such as James Madison. Movements studied are the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, the Birmingham desegregation movement of 1963, and the gay and lesbian movement of the 1990s. Studies will evaluate liberalism as both a descriptive and prescriptive theory. Lecture/discussion format. (Same as Political Science 379.)

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 364 Philosophy of Law

    Units: 1

    Description

    Critical examination of the nature of law and its relation to enforcement, authority, and morality; the ideal of government in accordance with the rule of law; models of legal interpretation; the legitimacy of judicial review; and topics in legal epistemology, such as the appropriate standard of proof in a criminal trial.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor or PPEL 261 or PPEL 262.

  • PHIL 365 Action, Responsibility and Free Will

    Units: 1

    Description

    Examination of a core philosophical puzzle--can responsible action be both free and determined?--in writings of classical and contemporary philosophers. Seminar format, with multiple written and oral critiques, term paper, midterm, and final exams.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 369 Economic Justice

    Units: 1

    Description

    Understanding and critical discussion of the main questions and theories of economic justice. What normative principles should guide the design of economic institutions? What is a just system of economic institutions?

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class.

  • PHIL 370 Philosophy of Mind

    Units: 1

    Description

    Critical examination of fundamental questions in the philosophy of mind such as: How can we tell if something has a mind or is capable of thinking? What is the mind? What is thought? Consciousness? Do machines or non human animals have minds? What is the relationship between the mental and the physical? Between thought and action?

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 373 Epistemology

    Units: 1

    Description

    Explores central issues in epistemology. These include the nature of knowledge, justification, and rationality. Historical and contemporary readings will expose students to a wide variety of different approaches and answers to questions concerning the nature and scope of knowledge.

    Prerequisites

    PHIL 271 or PHIL 272 or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 375 Ethics and Practical Reasoning

    Units: 1

    Description

    A survey of basic issues about the nature of practical reason. Also considers associated issues about intentional action; persons; the good, moral demands; and the normativity of ethics.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 381 Topics Seminar Issues I

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged by issues. Recent topics: the emotions; science, pseudoscience and the paranormal; intermediate logic; ethics, human and nonhuman. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 382 Topics Seminar Issues II

    Units: 1

    Description

    Selected topics in philosophy arranged by issues. Recent topics: the emotions; science, pseudoscience and the paranormal; intermediate logic; ethics, human and nonhuman. May be repeated for credit when topic differs.

    Prerequisites

    One previous philosophy class or permission of instructor.

  • PHIL 386 Honors Seminar

    Units: 1

    Description

    Seminar for honors students on topic selected mutually by instructor and those enrolled. Permission of department.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department.

  • PHIL 390 Independent Study

    Units: .5-1

    Description

    Faculty member directs student's reading and study.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department.

  • PHIL 395 Honors Thesis

    Units: 1

    Description

    Supervised completion of research thesis begun and approved in majors' seminar.

    Prerequisites

    Permission of department.

  • PHIL 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

    Units: 0

    Description

    Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.

    Prerequisites

    Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor