PhilosophyMarcelo Sabatés, Head
Professor Reagan; Associate Professors Exdell, Glymour, Hamilton, and Sabatés; Assistant Professors Foran, Patterson, and Wilson; Emeritus: Professors Scheer and Tilghman.
Philosophy is the study of the intellectual foundations of virtually every area of human thought and endeavor. Over the centuries philosophers have examined, for example, the nature and justification of moral values, religious and scientific explanations of the world, the rationality of social institutions, and the nature of reasoning and argument.
The program in philosophy gives students an understanding of traditional philosophical subjects such as these. It also helps students develop critical habits of thinking and skill in understanding complex issues. Consequently, philosophy is an appropriate subject around which to organize a general education for any purpose.
The Department of Philosophy offers a variety of options within the major program to provide flexibility in organizing a course of studies with philosophy at its center, and a minor.
36 hours in philosophy
This option is for students who are interested in a traditional liberal arts course of study or who desire to do graduate study in philosophy.
42 hours in philosophy
The option is for students who are mainly interested in doing graduate study in philosophy.
(B.A. or B.S.)
While no one major is given preference by law school admission committees, law schools recognize the value of philosophy for refining skills in expression, comprehension, and critical thinking. According to the Pre-Law Handbook, ``the free and spirited consideration of philosophical questions is almost the model for legal training.''
The Department of Philosophy offers two degree options for students planning to study law: a double-major option, intended as a complement to a second major in another department, and a single-major option, which does not require a second major.
Single major option
(B.A. or B.S.)
30 hours in philosophy
The pre-business option is for students who plan to do further work leading to a master's in business administration.
This is a nonsectarian program for students who are interested in the religious ministry as a profession. Students in this program will be advised on other courses outside philosophy recommended by most American schools of theology.
(B.A. or B.S.)
30 hours in philosophy plus second major
This option is for students who wish to combine a major in philosophy with a major in another discipline. Each student completing a degree under this option must have a faculty advisor in the Department of Philosophy who supervises the student's program. Philosophy courses other than the core curriculum must be approved by this advisor.
PHILO 100. Introduction to Philosophical Problems. (3) I, II, S. An introduction to some of the main problems of philosophy, such as the nature of morality, knowledge, mind and body, political authority, and the existence of God.
PHILO 105. Introduction to Critical Thinking. (3) I or II. A basic introduction to both deductive and inductive reasoning. Emphasis is placed on constructing, analyzing, and evaluating arguments.
PHILO 110. Introduction to Formal Logic. (3) I, II, S. Systematic study of deductive reasoning (and possibly inductive reasoning) using the techniques of modern logic. Examines different types of valid inference, the logical structure of English sentences, and the validity of arguments generally. Involves the development and use of a symbolic system which models logical relations among sentences.
PHILO 112. Causal and Statistical Reasoning. (3) On demand. This course introduces students to some ideas about causation, and also to some elementary tools for thinking both critically and constructively about causal claims. The treatment is broadly formal, and introduces ideas from statistics, computer science, and philosophy, but requires no mathematical background beyond high school algebra. Some sections are taught using web-based course-ware.
PHILO 115. Introduction to Philosophy of Religion. (3) I, II, S. Arguments pertaining to the existence of God, the nature of religious experience, the problem of evil, the proper relation between reason and faith, and religious diversity.
PHILO 120. Introduction to Philosophy of Art. (3) I. Philosophical problems concerning the concepts of art and aesthetic value, patterns of reasoning in art appreciation and criticism, and writing histories of art and artistic movements.
PHILO 125. Introduction to Philosophy of Science. (3) I, II, S. Examines the nature of science and how it differs from pseudo-sciences such as astrology, and raises questions about the nature of reality and social value of science.
PHILO 130. Introduction to Moral Philosophy. (3) I, II, S. Philosophical issues arising in and about morality, such as the nature of moral judgements, moral knowledge, moral justification, and the relation of morality to religion. Topics might be approached by a study of contemporary moral problems, by reading of classical texts, or by both methods.
PHILO 135. Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy. (3) I, II, S. Examines rival theories of justice and applies them to current debates about economic inequality, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Combines some influential historical texts with contemporary philosophical literature on current political issues.
PHILO 140. Introduction to Philosophy of Mind. (3) I, II. Philosophical problems concerning the nature of human beings, including the relation between mind and body, the existence of the soul, the nature of consciousness, the possibility of artificial intelligence, human freedom and personal identity.
PHILO 145. Historical Introduction to Philosophy. (3) I, II. Introduction to philosophy through the study of major thinkers in the history of philosophy, such as Plato, Descartes, Hume. Topics may include the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, skepticism, reasons for being moral.
PHILO 150. Introduction to Philosophy of Feminism. (3) I, II. Philosophical examination of issues such as femininity and masculinity, the social conditions of gender equality, multiculturalism and gender, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and welfare policy.
PHILO 160. Introduction to Philosophy of Law. (3) I, II. Examines fundamental issues concerning the nature and justification of legal institutions. Topics selected from: the nature of law and its relations to morality, criminal justice and punishment, responsibility and liberty, and legal interpretation.
PHILO 175. Philosophical Composition. (4) II. The purpose of this course is to provide students an introduction to philosophy while assisting them to further develop writing skills in preparation for Expository Writing II. Topics covered vary, but typically are related to understanding ourselves and our moral practices. Pr.: English 100 and open only to freshmen and sophomores.
PHILO 215. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. (3) I, II. Central problems of philosophy, such as skepticism and knowledge, the nature of human minds, freedom, the nature of morality, justice and the existence of God. For students in an honors program.
PHILO 230. Honors Introduction to Moral Philosophy. (3) I, II. Philosophical issues arising in and about morality. Topics selected from: the nature of moral judgements, moral knowledge, moral justification, and the relation of morality to religion. For students in an honors program.
PHILO 297. Honors Introduction to the Humanities I. (3) I. Study of selected major works of history, literature, and philosophy which have been of central importance in the Western cultural tradition. Considerable emphasis is placed on classroom discussion and writing interpretive essays. Limited to entering freshman students. Pr.: Consent of instructor. Same as ENGL 297, HIST 297, MLANG 297.
PHILO 300. History of Ancient Philosophy. (3) I. Ancient Greek Philosophy, particularly in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Pre-Socratic and/or Hellenistic philosophers may be represented as well. Pr.: One course in philosophy, major standing, or consent of instructor.
PHILO 301. History of Modern Philosophy. (3) II. Development of philosophical ideas from Descartes to Kant. Topics selected from: skepticism, mind-body dualism, the nature of causal reasoning, the existence of God. Pr.: One course in philosophy, or major standing, or consent of instructor.
PHILO 305. Philosophical Methods and Perspectives. (3) II. Special knowledge, methods and skills needed to do philosophical research. Conceptual analysis, argument strategy, definitional strategy, thought experiments, counter-examples, applied to the mechanics of paper writing in philosophy and philosophical discussion. Pr.: One course in philosophy, major standing, or consent of instructor.
PHILO 320. Symbolic Logic I. (3) I or II. First order logic, covering truth tables and truth functions, and derivations in both propositional and predicate logic.
PHILO 330. Ethical Theories. (3) I. Central issues in ethical theory, with emphasis on recent developments in moral philosophy or classical formulations of ethical theories. Pr.: One course in philosophy, major standing, or consent of instructor.
PHILO 340. Theories of Knowledge and Reality. (3) II. An introduction to some central problems about reality and our knowledge of it, and the answers offered major views such as realism, idealism, skepticism, nominalism, naturalism, foundationalism, and coherentism. Pr.: One philosophy course, major standing, or consent of instructor.
PHILO 360. Topics in Continental Philosophy. (3) On sufficient demand. A study of selected figures (such as Kierkegaard, Fichte, Marx, Nietzsche, Beauvoir, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Sartre, Heideggar, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Gadamer, Ricoeur, Foucault, Lacan), or movements (such as Transcendental Idealism, Existentialism, Marxism, Phenomenology, Post-Modernism), or issues in continental philosophy (such as humanity's relation to God, free will, the state, irrationalism, gender, philosophical methodology).
PHILO 365. Medical Ethics. (3) II. Selected moral issues which confront the medical professional, includ- ing experimentation on human subjects, informed consent, abortion, euthanasia, conflict of interest, and confidentiality.
PHILO 380. Philosophy and Race. (3) I. The concept of race and racial identity, and contemporary controversies about the nature of racism and social justice, examined through fiction, movies, and readings in biology, anthropology, history, and philosophy.
PHILO 385. Engineering Ethics. (3) I or II. An examination of the principles of ethics as applied to cases arising in the practice of the various branches of engineering.
PHILO 390. Business Ethics. (3) I or II. An examination of the principles of ethics as applied to situations and practices in modern American business.
PHILO 399. Honors Seminar in Philosophy. (3) I.
PHILO 492. Computers and Society. (1-2) II. A study of ethical issues raised by the impact of computers and associated technologies on society, including such topics as ethics of computer use, computer fraud, protection of privacy; legal, moral, and public policy-making responsibilities of computer professionals. Pr.: Junior standing plus conc. enrollment in CIS 492; CIS 520.
PHILO 499. Senior Honors Thesis. (2) I, II, S. Open only to students in the arts and sciences honors program.
PHILO 525. Social-Political Philosophy. (3) II. Examines influential works in social and political philosophy with a focus on both historical context and contemporary application. Students will read and evaluate primary texts in the main traditions of modern thought, e.g., liberalism, libertarianism, communitarianism, marxism, and contemporary feminism. Pr.: One course in philosophy (PHILO 330 recommended).
PHILO 535. Philosophy of Law. (3) I. Philosophical issues arising in the legal context, issues such as the nature of legal reasoning, the nature and scope of constitutional protections, the justification of punishment, affirmative action, and civil disobedience. Pr.: One course in philosophy (PHILO 330 recommended).
PHILO 550. Philosophy of Social Sciences. (3) I or II in alternate years. Epistemic methods and metaphysical presuppositions in the social sciences. Topics selected from: models, measurement, reduction, explanation, theories of function, theories of ideal types, and rational choice theory. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy, one of which must be PHILO 110 or 320.
PHILO 570. Aesthetics. (3) On sufficient demand. A study of selected topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Pr.: One course in philosophy.
PHILO 585. History of Ethics. (3) I or II in alternate years. Examines major traditions in the history of moral philosophy. Figures may include Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche. Pr.: One course in philosophy, (PHILO 330 recommended).
PHILO 590. Topics in Philosophy. (3) On sufficient demand. A study of selected topics in applied ethics, applied philosophy, or the continental tradition. Pr.: One course in philosophy.
PHILO 595. Environmental Ethics. (3) I or II in alternate years. Ethical issues that arise from the use and exploitation of the environment, such as the value of biodiversity, obligations to future generations, obligations to non-humans, and the ethics of environmental risk management. Pr.: One course in philosophy (PHILO 330 recommended).
PHILO 601. Advanced Issues in the History of Philosophy. (3) I or II in alternate years. Particular sets of issues in the history of philosophy or in-depth examination of the thought of a particular philosopher. Emphasis on issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy. Depending on topic, PHILO 300 or 301 required.
PHILO 615. Philosophy of Religion. (3) I or II in alternate years. Concepts of religion, including truth and faith, God and atheism, reason and revelation, morality and religion, evil, humanity, sin, salvation, eschatology. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy. PHILO 305, 320, or 340 recommended.
PHILO 620. The Development of Analytic Philosophy. (3) I or II in alternate years. The history of analytic philosophy from 1870 to 1960, examining the works of most of the following philosophers: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Moore, the logical positivists, and Quine. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy, one of which must be PHILO 110 or 320.
PHILO 625. Philosophy of Language. (3) I or II in alternate years. Philosophical problems concerning the nature of language and such concepts as meaning and truth. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy, one of which must be PHILO 110 or 320.
PHILO 635. Metaphysics. (3) I or II in alternate years. A critical examination of theories about things and their qualities, causality, space, and time. Both traditional and contemporary sources may be used, but emphasis will be placed on the latter. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy. PHILO 305, 320, or 340 recommended.
PHILO 640. Epistemology. (3) I or II in alternate years. Philosophical issues relating to human knowledge. Issues selected from: difference between knowledge and belief, whether knowledge is really attainable, whether we have epistemic duties and what they might be, what counts as justification for belief. Special topics might include self-knowledge, a priori knowledge, inductive knowledge, and naturalism. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy. PHILO 305, 320, or 340 recommended.
PHILO 645. Philosophy of Science. (3) I or II in alternate years. Philosophical problems concerning science and its methods. Topics selected from: qualitative and quantitative confirmation theories and the nature of scientific theories, laws, and explanation in the physical and biological sciences. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy, one of which must be PHILO 110 or 320.
PHILO 650. Rationality and Action. (3) I or II in alternate years. Philosophical issues connected with human action and reasons for action, such as the existence of objective reasons to act one way rather than another, the existence of reasons to act that do not stem from our desires, the difference between reasoning about how to act and reasoning about what is true, the nature of intention and desire and their specific roles in action. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy.
PHILO 655. Philosophy of Mind. (3) I or II in alternate years. A philosophical examination of major theories about the nature of the mind, mental causation, consciousness, intentionality, cognition and psychological explanation. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy. PHILO 305, 320, or 340 recommended.
PHILO 665. Philosophy of Economics. (3) I or II, in alternate years. Moral and conceptual foundations of modern economic systems. Topics selected from: the relations between "economic rationality" and the quality of life, the just distribution of wealth, the nature of property rights, and the value of technology in society. Pr.: Two courses in philosophy.
PHILO 670. Advanced Social-Political Philosophy. (3) I or II in alternate years. A study of a single topic in con- temporary philosophical literature, with application to current political issues. Topics will vary as determined by the instructor. Topics selected from: multiculturalism, minority rights, nationalism, justifications of democracy. Pr.: PHILO 525 and one other philosophy course.
PHILO 675. Advanced Philosophy of Law. (3) I or II in alternate years. A current issue in analytical jurisprudence (such as the nature of law, the relation between law and morality, the proper standards for constitutional interpretation) or normative jurisprudence (such as the basis for tort liability, whether and when strict criminal liability is justified, the rights of criminals). Pr.: PHILO 535 and one other philosophy course.
PHILO 680. Independent Studies in Philosophy. (Var.) I, II, S. Pr.: Consent of instructor.
PHILO 685. Current Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology. (3) I or II in alternate years. Selected philosophical issues of current interest in analytic metaphysics and epistemology. Pr.: PHILO 340 and two additional philosophy courses.
PHILO 690. Special Topics in Philosophy. (3) On sufficient demand. Selected topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, or philosophy of mind. Pr.: PHILO 320 and additional background courses required for topic.