Prerequisites for Courses in Philosophy
For courses numbered 100-210: none.
For courses numbered 211 through 299: six credits in philosophy (not including credits earned in Argument and Inquiry seminars) or permission of the instructor.
For courses numbered 300 through 400: twelve credits in philosophy (not including credits earned in Argument and inquiry seminars) or permission of the instructor.
Requirements for a Major
Sixty-nine credits in philosophy, including:
1. Core Courses (24 credits)
PHIL 210 Logic
PHIL 213 Ethics
PHIL 270 Ancient Greek Philosophy: Virtue, Reality and Explanation
PHIL 270 Ancient Greek Philosophy: Knowledge and Skepticism (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 272 Modern Philosophy: Knowledge, God and Free Will
PHIL 272 Modern Philosophy: Reason and Reality (not offered in 2012-2013)
2. Theoretical Philosophy Area Requirement (6 credits) Theoretical philosophy courses include, but are not limited to, courses that predominantly cover themes from metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, logic, or the philosophy of mind.
One course at or above 200-level in theoretical philosophy (6 credits)
PHIL 211 Being, Time and Identity (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 212 Epistemology
PHIL 223 Philosophy of Language (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 225 Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 250 Philosophy of Physics (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 274 Existentialism
PHIL 395 Controversy and Consensus
PHIL 395 Metaphysical Themes in Aristotle
3. Practical Philosophy/Value Theory Area Requirement (6 credits). Practical Philosophy/Value Theory courses include, but are not limited to, courses that predominantly cover themes from ethics, political philosophy, social philosophy, or aesthetics.
One course at or above 200-level in practical philosophy/value theory (6 credits)
PHIL 221 Philosophy of Law (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 222 Topics in Medical Ethics (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 224 Philosophy of Literature (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 229 Philosophy of Film and Emotion
PHIL 232 Social and Political Philosophy: Justice and Politics
PHIL 234 Aesthetics (not offered in 2012-2013)
PHIL 243 Animal Ethics: The Moral Status of Animals
PHIL 395 Controversy and Consensus
PHIL 395 Metaphysical Themes in Aristotle
4. Advanced Courses and Integrative Exercise (21 credits)
PHIL 395 Advanced Seminar (two sections must be taken, 12 credits)
PHIL 395 Controversy and Consensus
PHIL 395 Metaphysical Themes in Aristotle
PHIL 399 Senior Thesis (6 credits)
PHIL 400 Integrative Exercise (3 credits)
Courses cannot be double counted to meet more than one of the above requirements. That is, if a student takes a 395 Advanced Seminar in the philosophy of mind, it cannot count as both a theoretical philosophy distribution requirement (#2 above) and an advanced seminar.
No more than six credits at the 100-level counts toward the major.
Depending on each student's individual educational goals, up to one course from another department can count toward the major. This is done in consultation with the chair of Philosophy.
PHIL 100. Science, Faith, and Rationality This seminar will introduce the student to the study of philosophy through a consideration of various epistemic and metaphysical issues surrounding science and religion. What distinguishes scientific inquiry from other areas of inquiry: Its subject matter, its method of inquiry, or perhaps both? How does scientific belief differ from religious belief, in particular? Is the scientist committed to substantive metaphysical assumptions? If so, what role do these assumptions play in scientific investigation and how do they differ from religious dogma (if they do)? Our exploration of these questions will involve the consideration of both classic and contemporary philosophical texts 6 cr., AI, WR1, FallJ. Decker
PHIL 110. Appearance and Reality Nothing is what it seems. This claim has been one of the staples of philosophy. Naturally, theories of the reality that lies behind the appearances have been many and diverse. For Platonists, there are only immaterial forms and the intellectual souls that grasp them. For Eliminative materialists there are only physical things and the laws that govern them. To the modern reader, this second theory seems unproblematic, but it too, means that most of what we assume to be obviously true is mistaken. In this course, we shall examine these, and other, accounts of the reality behind the appearances. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, WinterD. Vlahovic
PHIL 111. Arguing about Politics This course introduces students to several classic texts in the history of political thought and provides them with an opportunity to interpret these texts critically by concentrating on argument analysis. Students will also learn to construct and effectively communicate their own arguments about foundational issues in politics. We will discuss justifications of democracy, the challenge of diverse citizenship, the role of deliberation in politics and related questions. We will read works by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, de Tocqueville, Mill as well as some contemporary political theorists. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 112. Mind, Matter, Consciousness According to a common view of the mind, mental states are nothing more than states of the brain. There are certain features of human intellection, subjective experience, and action which have prompted some philosophers to argue that human mental activity is not reducible to brain activity. Some have gone on to argue that the human mind is immaterial and capable of surviving the death of the body. We will examine variants of these views as well as objections to them, reading selections from such historical figures as Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes, and such contemporary philosophers as Churchland, Nagel, and Searle. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, FallA. Moltchanova
PHIL 113. Killing Although we tend not to think about it very often, killing is very much a part of our lives. We confront it whenever we eat an animal, talk about the wisdom of intervention in foreign conflicts, consider federal funding of abortion or ask whether people have the right to terminate their own lives. This course will explore killing in its various guises, with special focus on war, our relationship with animals, abortion and euthanasia. Students will be asked to consider various views on these matters while developing the skills to clearly state and defend, via philosophical argument, their own views. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 114. Personal Identity This course is an introduction to philosophy through the topic of personal identity. What is a person? What is it that makes possible our continued existence through time? Is it a soul? Our bodies? Or is it a stream of memories connecting us to past events? We also examine the place of race in determining personal identity. Readings will be drawn from historical as well as contemporary sources. 6 cr., HU, WR, RAD; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 117. Philosophical Problems This is an introduction to perennial philosophical questions, as well as the goals and methods of philosophy. We will cover selections from both historical and contemporary philosophers on the following five topics: (i) the nature and possibility of knowledge, (ii) the relationship between the mental and the material, (iii) the nature of the self, (iv) the nature and possibility of free will, and (v) the nature of morality. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Fall,WinterS. Jansen
PHIL 118. Freedom, Determinism, Responsibility If everything we do is determined by desires, instincts, and physical events in the brain, how can we be held responsible for any of our actions? The notions of freedom and responsibility are fundamental to our understanding of ourselves, yet there seems to be little room left for them by the way in which science explains of our behavior. In this course we will inquire whether there is any room left for self-determination, agency, and responsibility given the causes of human action. Our discussion will be guided by readings from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and many other philosophers, dead and alive. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, SpringD. Vlahovic
PHIL 210. Logic The study of formal logic has obvious and direct applicability to a wide variety of disciplines (including mathematics, computer science, linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, and many others). Indeed, the study of formal logic helps us to develop the tools and know-how to think more clearly about arguments and logical relationships in general; and arguments and logical relationships form the backbone of any rational inquiry. In this course we will focus on propositional logic and predicate logic, and look at the relationship that these have to ordinary language and thought. 6 cr., ND; FSR, FallJ. Decker
PHIL 211. Being, Time and Identity The aim of metaphysics has traditionally been to identify the nature and structure of reality. The topics of this course are the topology of time, identity of things and individuals, causality, free will, and the referents of general terms. We will read a variety of classic and contemporary texts, which are organized topically. Prerequisite: one 100 level course in Philosophy. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 212. Epistemology Do you know that you're not just a brain, floating in a vat, receiving stimulations through electrodes? Or perhaps an immaterial soul being conned by a malicious demon? In this course, we will use these skeptical worries as a launching point for thinking about epistemological issues: What exactly is knowledge? Do we ever have it? If so, when, and how? We will approach these questions through an examination of theories of epistemic justification, including foundationalism, coherentism, internalism, externalism, and virtue epistemology. We will then consider some critiques of traditional epistemology, including feminist epistemology and naturalized epistemology. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Offered in alternate years. WinterJ. Decker
PHIL 213. Ethics How should we live? What makes certain actions right and others wrong? And why should I care about morality? These questions are at the heart of the study of ethics. We begin by looking at particular ethical issues (abortion, poverty, killing in war) with special emphasis on what is involved in making a philosophical "argument" for our convictions on these matters. We then turn to foundational issues in ethics concerning which principle(s) determine(s) govern right and wrong action, before turning to the question of whether everyone has reason to be moral. Readings are drawn from a combination of contemporary and historical sources. Prerequisite: One 100 level course in philosophy. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, SpringD. Vlahovic
PHIL 221. Philosophy of Law This course provides students with an opportunity to engage actively in a discussion of theoretical questions about law. We will consider the nature of law as it is presented by natural law theory, legal positivism and legal realism. Then we will deal with responsibility and punishment, and challenges to the idea of the primacy of individual rights from legal paternalism and moralism. We will next inquire into the explanations of why individuals should obey the law, and conditions under which civil disobedience is justified. Finally, we will discuss issues raised by feminist legal theory and some theories of minority rights. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 222. Topics in Medical Ethics Over the past forty years, the idea that competent patients have the right to make decisions about their own care has become paramount in medical ethics and medical practice. But the primacy of patient autonomy as a value raises a host of interesting questions: What can (or should) clinicians do when patients make poor decisions? What does it mean for a patient to be competent? Who should make decisions in those cases where the patient is deemed incompetent? And when, if ever, can clinicians refuse to offer treatment on moral grounds? We will explore these issues through a combination of philosophical readings and case studies. Prerequisite: Any other course in philosophy or permission of instructor. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 223. Philosophy of Language In this course we will look at how philosophers have tried to understand language and its connection with human thought and communication. The course will be split into two parts: Semantics and Pragmatics. In the first part, we'll look at general features of linguistic expressions like meaning and reference. In the second part, we'll look at the various ways in which speakers use language. Topics to be considered in the second part include speech acts, implicature, and presupposition. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 224. Philosophy of Literature This class investigates some intriguing questions that philosophers have considered about literature. Why should a writer who is interested in philosophical issues write a work of literature rather than a philosophical treatise? What is the function or point of literature: to convey the truth, engage in make believe, or present a model for ways to live one’s life? In addition we investigate the difference between fiction and non-fiction, interpretation, metaphor, the imagination, and the definition and ontology of literature. Readings will be drawn from philosophy as well as some case materials, including a novel and several films. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 225. Philosophy of Mind What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Are they identical? Or is there mental "stuff" in addition to physical stuff? Or perhaps some physical stuff has irreducibly mental properties? These, and related questions, are explored by philosophers under the heading of "the mind-body problem." In this course, we will start with these questions, looking at classical and contemporary defenses of both materialism and dualism. This investigation will lead us to other important questions such as: What is the nature of mental representation, what is consciousness, and could a robot have conscious states and mental representations? 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Offered in alternate years. SpringJ. Decker
PHIL 229. Philosophy of Film and Emotion As moviegoers we have all had that wondrous experience of gasping, laughing or sniffling in response to fictional scenarios. This phenomenon raises several philosophical questions, to be explored in this class: (1) How do fictional situations arouse our emotions, and why do we care about the lives of fictional film characters? (2) Why do we enjoy films which evoke unpleasant emotions, like fear or sadness? (3) Why do we feel suspense even when we know a film's ending? (4) What is the difference between the emotions we experience in real life and the emotions we experience in the movie theater? Prerequisite: One 100 level course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, SpringS. Jansen
PHIL 232. Social and Political Philosophy: Justice and Politics What distinguishes just states from unjust states? Are some states so unjust that we are not obliged to comply with their laws? We will examine answers to these and related questions proposed by liberal, socialist, libertarian, communitarian, feminist and post-modern theories of political and social justice. The following are some of the authors we will read: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Marx, Berlin, Lyotard, Nozick, Rawls, Habermas, Sandel, Seyla Benhabib, Jean Hampton, Charles Taylor, and Amy Gutmann. 6 cr., HU; SI, WinterA. Moltchanova
PHIL 234. Aesthetics Various issues in aesthetics: the definition of art, the nature of the aesthetic, the description, interpretation, and evaluation of aesthetic objects. Readings will be drawn primarily from the works of philosophers and from case materials. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 243. Animal Ethics: The Moral Status of Animals Do non-human animals have moral status, or are our moral obligations confined to human animals? Are our practices regarding animals morally justified? We shall explore these questions through an examination of different ethical theories. Utilitarians argue that the interests of non-human animals should be part of our moral calculus, because non-human animals can suffer pain. Deontologists extend moral rights to non-human animals, on the grounds that non-human animals are subjects of life and are therefore inherently valuable. In contrast, virtue ethicists emphasize that we share a common form of life with animals and that treating them compassionately constitutes human virtue. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, FallS. Jansen
PHIL 245. Cosmology and Ethics: Philosophical Visions An overview of several prominent Western views, from Plato to the late 20th century, on the fabric of the universe and the place of human agents within it. We will start with Plato's views on the body and the soul reflecting the structure of the cosmos. We will then consider the ideas of causation and human freedom as well as the problem of evil. We will discuss the notion of perspective, broadly construed, as the foundation of one's relationship with the world. This course emphasizes visualization, and several assignments will require either producing images or thinking and writing about images. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, SpringA Moltchanova
PHIL 250. Philosophy of Physics A study of the implications that our best current physical theories have for our understanding of the world, as well as the implications that our best philosophical theories have for our understanding of physical theory. We will focus primarily on relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Possible topics include: the nature of causality, the relativity of simultaneity, the twin paradox, hidden variables, the measurement problem, nonlocality, the relationship between quantum theory and relativity theory, and the very idea of scientific truth. 6 cr., HU; HI, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 270. Ancient Greek Philosophy: Knowledge and Skepticism Is it possible to know anything for certain? A skeptic denies that we are ever justified in claiming to know something. This class examines the debates in ancient Greek philosophy regarding the nature and justification of knowledge. Is knowledge relative to the perceiver? Is it possible that knowledge can be found in a transcendental realm of abstract forms? Or should knowledge be acquired by induction based on sense perception? Should we withhold our assent from everything that is less than certain? Readings from Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 270. Ancient Greek Philosophy: Virtue, Reality and Explanation This limited survey of ancient Greek philosophy will center around its three most prominent figures (i.e. - Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) and their positions on the following topics: (1) virtue: What is virtue? Why be virtuous? Is/How is virtue taught? (Ethics segment) (2) reality: What are the basic constituents of reality? What is being? (Metaphysics segment) (3) explanation: What are the principles of change? What are the principles of the universe? (Physics and Cosmology segment). When appropriate, we shall also consider how these thinkers' positions compare and contrast to the views of their contemporaries and predecessors. Prerequisite: One 100 level course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, SpringS. Jansen
PHIL 272. Modern Philosophy: Knowledge, God and Free Will Is there any such thing as innate knowledge, or does all knowledge derive from the senses? Does God exist? If so, can we prove God's existence? Do human beings have free will? Philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries tackled these perennial questions, providing a new understanding of our world, our place in it and our knowledge of it. We address these questions through examining and evaluating the views of such philosophers, including Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume and Kant. Prerequisite: 100 level course in Philosophy or permission by the instructor. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, WinterS. Jansen
PHIL 272. Modern Philosophy: Reason and Reality What is the nature of reality and the self? And what role does reason play in helping us answer this question? We engage these questions through a careful look at some of the central texts of Modern philosophy (the seventeenth and eighteenth century). We will read Descartes (who declares "I think, therefore I am" as a part of a broader project to secure knowledge), Berkeley (who maintains that reality consists of nothing more than bundles of ideas), Hume (who claims that our knowledge of the world is based on "custom") and Kant (whose views are not amenable to summary in a parenthesis!). Prerequisite: Any other course in philosophy or permission of the instructor. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, Not offered in 2012-2013.
PHIL 274. Existentialism We will consider the emergence and development of major themes of existentialism in the works of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, as well as "classical" existentialists such as Heidegger, Sartre and De Beauvoir. We will discuss key issues put forward by the existentialist movement, such as "the question of being" and human historicity, freedom and responsibility and look at how different authors analyzed the nature and ambitions of the Self and diverse aspects of subjectivity. 6 cr., HU; HI, FallA. Moltchanova
PHIL 395. Controversy and Consensus Controversy can be found in every corner of our intellectual lives. What are the epistemic and metaphysical implications of all this disagreement? How, if at all, should we revise our beliefs in light of our disagreements with others? If we refuse to revise, are we being irrational, or just intellectually bold? Does our failure to arrive at consensus opinions in a domain (perhaps even ideally) have any metaphysical implications (e.g., does it suggest metaphysical anti-realism in the domain)? These are some of the questions that we will explore (and likely disagree about) in this seminar. Prerequisite: Two previous courses in philosophy. 6 cr., HU; HI, WinterJ. Decker
PHIL 395. Metaphysical Themes in Aristotle An examination of Aristotle's views on metaphysical problems about categories, substance, change, causation, place, time, the nature of being, the constitution of concrete particulars, and the existence and nature of God by way of a close reading of critical texts from the Categories, the Physics, and the Metaphysics. 6 cr., HU, WR; HI, WR2, FallM. Loux
PHIL 399. Senior Thesis The planning, preparation, and completion of a philosophical paper under the direction of a member of the department and as part of a seminar group. 6 cr., ND; NE, WinterA. Moltchanova