Philosophy

Holly Moore (department head)

Academic study of philosophy is a systematic inquiry into the basic assumptions of human life and experience. Philosophy courses are designed to deepen reflection about the nature of persons, the world, or the divine. Philosophy explores the meaning of value and the good, as well as the nature of knowledge and reason itself. Thus the study of philosophy has the possibility of enhancing and deepening study in every major, and the liberal arts generally; philosophy courses are designed with this goal in mind.

Philosophy minors receive a more comprehensive knowledge of philosophy alongside their major course of study. All students in philosophy move toward "the love of wisdom", which provides insight about the most important questions. Pursuit of the "examined life" provides students of philosophy the means to flourish both in and beyond academic pursuits.

Required for a minor: A minimum of five courses in philosophy, with at least three courses numbered 200 or above.

Students who lack the formal prerequisites for advanced philosophy courses but have appropriate academic experience and interest may obtain consent of instructor to enroll.

View program learning goals for an explanation of learning outcomes in Philosophy. 

Philosophy Courses

PHIL 100 Introduction to Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts

An introduction to basic questions in philosophy concerning God, the nature of reality, knowledge and truth, human nature, morality, and the individual in society, together with the range of arguments and answers that philosophers have developed in response to them.

PHIL 105 Reasons

  • 2 hours

An introduction to critical thinking, with attention to the structure of everyday arguments and common fallacies in areas including probabilistic, causal, and inductive reasoning.

PHIL 110 Logic

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Quantitative

A study of reasoning and argumentation, introducing formal symbol systems, including propositional and predicate logic, with attention to informal logic and fallacies.

PHIL 120 Ethics

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts

A topical introduction to moral philosophy, considering both historical and contemporary developments. Topics include human nature, standards of morality, obligation and rights, justice, responsibility and freedom, character and action.

PHIL 140 Environmental Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts

A study of the philosophical response to the environmental crisis. The course begins with a survey of environmental problems and a brief history of the environmental movement. It then examines various philosophical attempts to reevaluate human attitudes and responsibilities toward the nonhuman environment.

PHIL 150 Social and Political Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts

An introducation to major social and political theories with focus on such concepts as obligation, law, authority, freedom, rights, justice, individual, community, ideology, and oppression.

PHIL 200 Ancient Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Historical
  • Prerequisites: One course in philosophy

An examination of philosophy's development in the Greek world and beyond. Primary focus will be on the thought of Plato and Aristotle, their influences and legacy. Special attention is paid to comparing ancient and modern methods of formulating a history of the western intellectual tradition.

PHIL 220 Early Modern Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: one course in philosophy

An examination of the development of modern European philosophy. Primary focus will be on the formation of scientific philosophies in the 17th and 18th centuries and upon the synthesis of these views in Kant's philosophy.

PHIL 230 Philosophy of Science

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Natural World—Nonlab
  • Prerequisites: One course in philosophy or two courses in natural science

A study of the nature of scientific methodology, which has entitled the sciences (especially the natural sciences) to their authoritative status as reliable sources of knowledge and rational belief. This involves issues such as the relation between theory and evidence, the nature of confirmation, explanation, probability, and rational considerations in delivering and consuming scientific information. Offered alternate years.

PHIL 232 God, Self, and the Afterlife

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Religion, Human Expression—Primary Texts

This course introduces students to philosophy of religion. It attempts to bring rational justification and clarification to religious beliefts and practice. This course will explore the traditional approaches as developed in the Christian and Islamic traditions as well as the global critical approaches suggested by current scholarship. Topics may include: the existence and nature of ultimate reality, the existence and attributes of God, faith and reason, death and immortality, miracles and revelation, religious experience, the problem of evil, the purpose of religious practice and rituals, the difficulties of defining religion, the question of religious morality, and religious pluralism. (Same as Rel 232)

PHIL 270 Existentialism: On Life, Death and Freedom

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: PAID 111 and PAID 112 or one course in Philosophy (or consent of instructor)

In the wake of the devastation of Europe and the horrors of fascism during and following WWII, the existentialist movement took seriously the call to question the meaning of both life and death. In this course, we will immerse ourselves in the texts of existentialism (those of literature, drama, visual arts and film) and those they influenced in order to reflect on this movement's fundamental questions: What does it mean to live authentically? What is the meaning of death? Is genuine freedom possible? How is life shaped by the depths of human suffering? Are there grounds for morality?

PHIL 300 Critical Theories

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: One course in philosophy or 2 courses in art, art history, communication studies, english, identity studies, political science and sophomore standing.

A study of the intellectual history and theories that inform contemporary western social & cultural criticism. Attention will be paid to the way that contemporary movements in feminism, queer liberation, racial justice, and disability activism serve as critcal and practical responses to social, economic and cultural forces. Students will develop projects related to their major or other area of interest in order to apply critical theory within the context of their disciplinary background. (same as IDS 300)

PHIL 320 Topics in Value Theory

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy

Study of particular theories, movements, issues, major philosophers in value theory. Examples include major works in virtue ethics, utilitarian theory, deontological ethics. Offered alternate years.

PHIL 330 Minds, Brains, and Persons

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy, psychology or neuroscience

This course explores topics in the philosophy of mind, including historical and contemporary attempts to address a wide range of questions about the mind and mental phenomena, such as: Is the mind independent of the body/brain? Can consciousness be explained? Can machines think? How can we account for personal identity? Is free will an illusion? How do evolutionary theory and neuroscience relate to our understanding of the mind?

PHIL 380 Internship

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours

PHIL 400 Advanced Topics in Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: Three courses in philosophy

Designed for students with significant interest and experience in philosophy. Offered alternate years.

PHIL 485 Seminar

  • 4 hours
  • Prerequisites: Three courses in philosophy

In-depth study of specific topics or philosophers in seminar format, designed for students with significant experience in philosophy.