Philosophy Program Sample Course Offerings

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Philosophy Courses

The following list of course offerings in the Philosophy Program provide an insight into the range of philosophical explorations students can pursue. The list is not intended to be comprehensive. Additional courses may be offered. In addition, students are always free to take an independent studies course with an individual faculty member on a topic of specific interest but which is not offered as part of the regular course offerings. Students may not take an independent studies course until they have completed their two-course core curriculum requirement.

Introduction to Philosophy (Phil 113) must be completed before students can take additional philosophy courses.

Course Offerings

PHIL 113 Introduction to Philosophy (3)

An introduction to the broad range of thinkers and issues that constitute philosophy. Students will examine critically the accumulated wisdom about God, nature, and humanity in order to evaluate their own life positions and choices and to make ethical decisions in an interdependent world.

PHIL 213 Theory of Knowledge (3)

Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge, examines how we come to know what we know. This course covers historical and contemporary approaches to the question of what knowledge is, what makes a belief true, and how beliefs are justified.

PHIL 215 Critical Thinking (3)

An introduction to the skills necessary for analyzing, evaluating, and constructing arguments, this course will provide students with the skills necessary for thinking critically about themselves and their world. Topics covered in this course may include, but not be limited to, argument construction, fallacious reasoning, information literacy, decision making, and critical/analytical writing.

PHIL 225 The Meaning of Life (3)

This course is devoted to exploring a number of fundamental philosophical questions that make their way into everyday life: What is the meaning of (my) life? Is there any meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by my death? What is happiness, and how can I achieve it? What is it to be wise, and is wisdom a good thing to have? What is death, and what does it mean to me? Is the unexamined life really not worth living (as Socrates maintained)? In exploring these questions, we will read selections drawn from both historical and contemporary sources.

PHIL 300 Metaphysics (3)

Metaphysics is the study of the general features of existence or reality. This course focuses on the fundamental concepts of being as developed in several major philosophers from the Greeks to the present. Discussion will focus on such topics as God, time, space, substance, essence, existence, process, causality, possibility, necessity, chance, and value.

PHIL 302 Greek and Medieval Philosophy (3)

This course examines the origin and development of Western philosophy in ancient Greece, concentrating on the central ideas of the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and goes on to show how these ideas influenced philosophers of the Medieval period, from Augustine to Aquinas.

PHIL 303 Modern Philosophy (3)

This course examines the history of modern philosophy, particularly from Descartes through Kant. We will concentrate on the development of modern thought, examining the concepts of mind, body, and causation among others.

PHIL 304 Symbolic Logic (3)

Logic is the study of arguments. This course will examine the meaning of such logical notions as the validity of arguments, the equivalence of statements, and the inconsistency of sets of statements. We will study the symbolization of the logically relevant features of statements and testing of arguments for validity, sets for inconsistency, etc.

PHIL 312 Philosophy of Religion (3)

A philosophical examination of selected primary sources in relation to: religious experience; God's existence; the problem of evil, death, and human destiny; religion and life; faith and reason, and religious language.

PHIL 315 Ethics (3)

An introduction to major schools of ethical theory such as utilitarian ethics, deontological ethics, virtue ethics, and the ethics of care. Specific problems from metaethics and applied ethics may also be treated. Some of the questions that may be examined are these: What are the grounds for moral obligations such as keeping promises or obeying the law? How do we reason about what to do? Can reason determine how we ought to live? What are moral judgments? Is there an ultimate moral principle? What constitutes a morally worthwhile life? Can morality itself be challenged?

PHIL 316 Philosophy, Society, and Law (3)

An inquiry into the relationships between law and society, focusing on issues such as free speech, civil rights, and freedom of the press.

PHIL 325 Philosophy of Art (3)

A critical study of theories on the nature of art, beauty, the aesthetic experience, problems of interpretation, and criticism in the fine arts. In addition, the course may also deal with wider questions about the social function and value of the arts. Topics may include: what is the "aesthetic," and who is the best judge of it? Is good art beautiful? Should art be viewed disinterestedly? Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? What is it to get at the meaning of a work of art?

PHIL 326 Political Philosophy (3)

This class will engage in an examination of the assumptions underlying the world's major political systems as well as an examination of various theories of justice. Issues that may be covered include: the source of obligation to obey the state, natural rights, the limits of governmental authority, and the justification of various forms of government. Readings may be drawn from classical and contemporary sources.

PHIL 328 Environmental Ethics (3)

An examination of issues in environmental ethics, including the ethical treatment of animals, with attention given to dilemmas and decisions at both the personal and global levels. Readings may be drawn from historically important moral theories as well as from contemporary philosophical writings in the area of environmental ethics. Philosophical questions addressed may include: What things are intrinsically valuable? What are rights? Do entities other than humans have moral standing (for instance, non-human animals, ecosystems, etc.)? What responsibilities do we have to future generations?

PHIL 332 Eastern Philosophy (3)

A survey of Eastern philosophical thought from the metaphysics and naturalism of the ancient Indus River valley through Western Buddhist movements and beyond. Topics covered may include but not be limited to pre-Hindu Indian philosophy, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.

PHIL 335 Philosophy of Music (3)

A critical examination of philosophical theories concerning the nature and meaning of music. Questions to be addressed may include: What is music? How can music affect emotions? Can music represent the world?

PHIL 340 Animal Ethics (3)

This class will examine a broad range of animal welfare issues, and will examine these issues through the lens of contemporary theories of animal ethics, including, but not limited to, works by Singer, Regan, and DeGrazia.

PHIL 350 Philosophy Of Mind (3)

In this course we will examine classic and contemporary theories about the nature of the mind. Questions to be addressed may include: Is mind distinct from matter? Could there be minds without bodies? Are there other minds in the universe? Can a computer be conscious? Is the mind nothing more than an elaborate computer, or is mentality the exclusive possession of biological organisms?

PHIL 404 Bioethics (3)

A study of concepts, principles, and human values bearing on ethical issues and problems raised by contemporary science, especially the biological sciences.

PHIL 410 Philosophy Of Emotions (3)

This course explores current philosophical thinking on emotion through the reading of both philosophical and empirical works. We will ask such questions as what is the nature, value, and justifiability of emotion? How do emotions relate to other types of mental states? To what extent are emotions dependent on social influences? Are emotions in the brain or are they forms of behavior? Are emotions guided by reason or are they beyond the control of reason? Readings will be selected from a diverse group of writers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Darwin, James, Dewey, Freud, Ekman, Frijda, Damasio, and Nussbaum.

PHIL 415 Climate Justice (3)

This class will examine the problem of climate change from a philosophical perspective. As such, we will discuss the issues of uncertainty, distributive justice, rectificatory justice, and intergenerational justice as they arise in the context of climate change.

PHIL 416 Feminist Philosophy (3)

Analysis of the nature, meaning, and role of women in society, including such issues as rights, equality, and leadership.

PHIL 427 Business Ethics (3)

Major contemporary moral issues facing the business community analyzed through the use of cases drawn from a variety of business activities.

PHIL 431 Global Justice (3)

This course will familiarize students with some of the systematic approaches that moral and political philosophers have developed for addressing some of the difficult and practically urgent questions of international ethics and global justice. Such questions may include the following: Are the high levels of poverty and extreme inequalities that characterize our world ethically defensible? If they are not defensible, then who is obliged to do something about them? Should universal environmental standards bind all countries? If so, then who is responsible for ensuring that all countries can meet them at reasonable cost? Are sovereign states outdated artifacts, or should they remain an important mode of political organization?