Philosophy studies the basic beliefs that support all of our thinking and living. These beliefs are about the nature and existence of the universe, God, persons, free will, space/time, and causality; about evidence, theory-testing, and rational judgement; and about justice, the good person, and moral education. The curriculum emphasizes the history of philosophy as well as recent philosophical work concerning religion, science, business activity, and environmental protection.
Philosophy students will develop skills to evaluate critically what they read, to examine and to write clearly about what they believe, and (through response group and class discussion) to think in a cooperative way. These skills are useful in most careers and in graduate and advanced professional study. Majors often select an area of philosophy for independent study. All majors take advanced courses in other disciplines related to their philosophical interests; many double major in another academic field. The Department offers innovative tutorial courses to prepare students for study at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.
Philosophy graduates will demonstrate:
- a basic understanding of the history of western philosophy from the ancient world through the modern period;
- a basic understanding of formal symbolic logic and its application to arguments in ordinary language;
- a basic understanding of one or more areas of philosophy related to the student’s interests;
- successful application in a major independent project of fundamental research skills related to philosophy, including synthesis and critical evaluation of arguments, clarification and critical evaluation of one’s own beliefs, and values, logical argumentation, organized written and oral presentation of ideas, and critical analysis of cultural trends.
(B.A. degree) Thirty semester hours required, including PHI 152, 201, 203, at least one upper-division history of philosophy course (315, 412, or 435) and either 440 or 450.
Eighteen semester hours required, including PHI 152, 201, and 203.
150. Basic Philosophy. (3 hours) Introduction to typical methods and problems of philosophic thought, with emphasis on forming and evaluating a personal world view. Fall and Spring
151. Ethics. (3 hours) Introduction to the nature and grounds of moral obligation, virtue and the good life from both ancient and modern ethical perspectives.
Fall and Spring
152. Logic. (3 hours) Introduction to principles of sound reasoning with emphasis on formal and informal techniques for evaluating arguments. Fall and Spring
195. Discovering Vocation. (3 hours) This course introduces the idea of vocation through reading, discussion, writing and research. “Vocation” is a term of art referring to the integration of practice and intellect with moral and spiritual calling. The interdisciplinary readings in this course will acquaint the student with representative and historical models of reflection on vocation. This course will be offered only as a Foundations 112 course. Spring
201. History of Philosophy I. (3 hours) Survey of the development of Western philosophical thought within its cultural contexts from ancient Greece through the Middle Ages. Exploration of foundational approaches to questions of reality, virtue, knowledge, God, faith, and reason. Fall and Spring
203. History of Philosophy II. (3 hours) Survey of the development of Western philosophical thought within its cultural contexts from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century. Exploration of issues foundational to contemporary philosophy, theology, and the sciences. Fall and Spring
315. Existentialism and Idealism. (3 hours) A study of the emergence of existentialist philosophy and literature in the nineteenth century as a response to idealist philosophy. Major figures to be covered are Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Kafka. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Odd Falls
325. Business Ethics. (3 hours) Introduction to both the moral issues involved in business management and the ethical concepts and analytical skills relevant to resolving those issues. Fall and Spring
335. Theories of Economic Justice. (3 hours) Introduction to the moral and political issues raised by the facts of absolute poverty and economic inequality in both international and domestic contexts. Contemporary theories of beneficence and distributive justice will be explored. Even Springs
345. Environmental Philosophy and Ethics. (3 hours) Philosophical exploration of the concept of the natural environment, including a survey of ethical positions that guide human habitation in nature. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Even Falls
355. Philosophy of Religion. (3 hours) Philosophical exploration of the classical issues of theistic religious thought, such as the reality of God, the problem of evil, religious language, life after death, and the pluralism of religious traditions. Prerequisites: one course in Philosophy; one from REL 231, 233, 235, 237. Odd Falls
365. Social/Political Philosophy. (3 hours) An examination of the major political philosophies of our time, with same attention to the historical precedents. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy. Odd Falls
370. Topics in Philosophy. (3 hours) The study of a special topic in philosophy, announced at advanced registration. Recent offerings include Postmodernism, Feminist Philosophies, and Friendship and Love. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Fall and Spring
375. Tutorial Topics. (3 hours) The study of a special topic in philosophy using a one-on-one tutorial method of instruction adapted from humanities courses at Oxford University and Cambridge University. Please check with department for a list of current offerings. Prerequisites: one course in philosophy and permission of the instructor. Fall and Spring
385. Medical Ethics. (3 hours) Philosophical exploration of the moral issues involved in the practice and management of medicine, including a basic introduction to the moral concepts and analytical skills relevant to resolving these issues. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Odd Springs
395. Seminar on Vocation. (3 hours) This course introduces the idea of vocation through readings and discussions. The readings include scripture, biography, theology, and philosophical texts. The purpose of the course is to develop the student’s understanding of vocation as a reflective theme and to have access to rich sources for exploring the idea of vocation. Spring
412. American Philosophy. (3 hours) Survey of the most influential American philosophies from the colonial period to the present: Puritanism, Deism, transcendentalism, pragmatism, and process philosophy. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Odd Springs
435. Contemporary Philosophy. (3 hours) A survey of leading 20th century philosophers. Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Husserl, Moore, Davidson, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida represent some of the figures to be considered. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy. Even Springs
440. Independent Study. (3 hours) With the approval and permission of a member of the Philosophy faculty and the chair of the Philosophy Department, students may undertake independent reading and research on a philosophical topic of their own choosing. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. Fall and Spring
450. Seminar. (3 hours) Class presentation of research on a philosophical topic, announced at advanced registration, with the guidance of a member of the Philosophy Faculty. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy. As needed