Philosophy

  • KEVIN DeLAPP, philosophy program coordinator

The study of philosophy involves conceptual analysis of the fundamental nature of reality, values, and knowledge. Students are challenged to reflect upon broad questions of human identity, meaning, and moral responsibility. Intercultural and historical perspectives are given particular attention, and student research is emphasized.

The program features courses in logic and critical thinking, ethics and other value-based inquiries as well as the exploration of different worldviews that have shaped societies throughout history and across the globe. Thus, studying philosophy is by nature interdisciplinary and complements the study of other areas in the humanities, arts, and sciences. For this reason, the program features many different courses that explore the theoretical underpinnings of other disciplines, such as the philosophy of art, the philosophy of math, the philosophy of education, and the philosophy of religion. 

The General Education Program listed below is a requirement for all degrees.

ENG 101 3 hours
Language and Culture 9 hours
MTH 108 or higher 3 hours
One course designated as Quantitative reasoning 3–4 hours
Health and Well-being Wellness 2 hours
Activity course 1–2 hours
Humanities 6 hours
Literature 3 hours
Fine Arts 6 hours
Natural Science 7–8 hours
Social Science 6 hours
Total 49–52 hours

Graduation requirements but not a separate course:

  • First Year Seminar
  • Writing Intensive course
  • Non-European/non-Anglophone course Capstone experience.

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

PHI 100 : INTRODUCTION TO LOGIC

A study of the fundamental principles of correct reasoning directed toward improving reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking. Students learn to recognize, analyze, evaluate, construct and refute arguments. Attention is given to both informal modes of reasoning as well as the basics of formal and symbolic systems. Quantitative GEP requirement.

Credits

3

PHI 125 : FIRST YEAR SEMINAR

The purpose of this course is to expose first-year students to a specific interdisciplinary theme or topic using the methods of philosophy, and within connection with related material in other fields. Specific emphasis is given to cultivating critical thinking, effective speaking and writing skills. Such a course is required for all first- year students, and may be taken with a corresponding Student Success Seminar. Past offerings have included courses on cross-cultural philosophy, philosophy and mythology, and the philosophy of monsters. This course qualifies as Interfaith Studies when taught as Cross-Cultural Philosophy.

Credits

3

PHI 150T : PHILOSOPHY STUDY TRAVEL

A study of selected topics in philosophy utilizing the unique opportunities of a study-travel experience. Past destinations have included Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic. May satisfy one of the history of philosophy requirements for the major depending on topic.

Credits

3 - 4

PHI 180 : PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY

This course introduces students to particular debates, issues, and methodologies in philosophy, such as the nature of knowledge, the relationship between the mind and the body, personal identity, free will human nature, or the principles of ethical responsibility and action.

Credits

3

PHI 199H : FRESHMAN HONORS SEMINAR

A study of a selected subject within the discipline which will vary from term to term. Recent course offerings have included philosophy as a way of life and the philosophy of truth and lying. The course is designed to encourage student participation in the intellectual processes through class discussion, research, writing, special projects, problem solving, and evaluation and defense of positions. When the subject matter duplicates that of another course, credit toward graduation will be granted for only one of the courses. Offered periodically in rotation with seminars in other disciplines.

Credits

3

PHI 200 : ETHICAL THEORY

This course involves the careful study of the major philosophical texts of various historical and contemporary normative frameworks, including virtue traditions, role-based ethics, utilitarian models, the ethics of duty, the nature of justice, the social contract, and the ethics of care.

Credits

3

PHI 201 : CONTEMPORARY MORAL ISSUES

This course explores the ethical dimensions of some of the more vital and vexing problems and issues encountered in modern society. These problems—faced by nearly everyone at one time or another (and in one form or another) in their lives—will be examined through the lens of philosophical reasoning and analysis.

 

Credits

3

PHI 205 : BIOMEDICAL ETHICS

In this course the student will become familiar with the ethical theories that philosophers, physicians, biomedical researchers, and other thinking people have used in coming to understand themselves and their world. Students will have the opportunity to apply these theories to some of the most important moral problems in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Emphasis on critical reasoning and analysis, with the goal of developing the ability to distinguish well-supported from poorly-supported positions. With exploration of the life and death issues of biomedicine, the student should begin to understand the complexity of our moral problems and the need for a careful, rigorous, and sensitive approach to these problems. Interfaith Studies.

Credits

3

PHI 210 : BUSINESS ETHICS

This course covers many of the ethical and legal issues facing business people today. Particular attention is given to the following topics: the relationship between the traditional property and profit concerns of business and one’s ethical rights and responsibilities; the relationship between ethics, business, and law; and the social purpose and justification of business, if any. Readings will look at traditional debates and current issues and will feature a variety of contemporary case studies.

Credits

3

PHI 212 : ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

This course examines issues pertaining to the animal and natural worlds, and how humans relate to them. Specific topics addressed may include the treatment of animals, conservation and preservation, the metaphysical status of ecologies and species, cross-cultural and indigenous perspectives on environmentalism, and philosophical questions pertaining to climate change, population, and future generations.

Credits

3

PHI 215 : ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY

A study of the very beginnings of Western philosophical thought. Emphasis on the relationship between philosophy and mythology, the birth of science, and the influence of classical systems of thought on later philosophical traditions. Readings will focus on Plato and Aristotle, but may also include Pre-Socratic and Hellenistic texts.

Credits

3

PHI 220 : EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY

This course examines key philosophical figures, texts and debates from the European Enlightenment. Specific figures may include Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Spinoza, Hume and Kant and special attention may be devoted to issues central to the period, such as the rise of mechanistic science and the relationship between reason and emotion.

Credits

3

PHI 230 : GERMAN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY

This interdisciplinary seminar (taught in English) investigates some of the key intellectual discussions surrounding critique, praxis and emancipation in the German-speaking world since the Enlightenment. Focusing on short theoretical texts from Kant to Habermas, the course explores prominent issues in aesthetics, philosophy, and politics as well as the narrative and rhetorical strategies of knowledge production. This course also provides a general outline of the major developments in German cultural history during this period as well as the continued relevance of these texts in the new millennium.

Credits

3

PHI 250 : EXISTENTIALISM AND THE HUMAN CONDITION

Using essays, short stories, novels, and plays from the existentialist tradition, this course explores the nature of freedom, the contours of the given, the creation and limitations of the self and individuality, the anxiety and absurdity of modern life, and the possibilities of authentic existence.

Credits

3

PHI 265 : CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

This course (taught in English) explores the intellectual texts and traditions of China in the classical period, with an emphasis on Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. Special attention may be devoted to comparing these Chinese traditions with dominant Western interpretations and alternative philosophies and religions. Supplemental material may explore artistic representations of classical Chinese thought as well as the continuing relevance of such traditions in contemporary Chinese society. Non-European/non-Anglophone GEP credit. Cross-listed with REL 265. Interfaith Studies.

Credits

3

PHI 299H : INTERDISCIPLINARY HONORS COURSE

This course is team taught by members in two departments and is open to Nisbet Honors Program participants and to others who meet Honors Program guidelines. Recent interdisciplinary offerings have included team-ups with the Religion program to examine issues related to spirituality and the meaning of life, and with the Mathematics program to explore the nature of numbers, infinity, and reality. All students registering for these courses must register not only through the Honors Program but also with their adviser and the Registrar’s Office.

Credits

3

PHI 300 : METAPHYSICS

Metaphysics refers to the study of the nature of existence and reality. Specific topics that may be addressed include, but are not limited to, the relationship between mind and body, the persistence of the self throughout time, the nature of change and causation, the existence of supernatural entities, the meaning of “truth”, and the distinction between facts and values.

Credits

3

PHI 305 : GENDER AND SEXUALITY

A study of philosophical views of gender and sexuality. Specific authors, texts, and topics will vary and may include historical as well as contemporary perspectives. Typical issues covered include the following: whether gender and sexual identities are naturally given versus socially constructed; the nature and causes of gender expectations; sexism and sexual inequalities; the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with other aspects of identity such as race, class, and culture; theories of love and sexual relationship; feminist analyses of traditional philosophical issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. GEP Writing Intensive. Counts toward Women’s Studies credit.

Credits

3

PHI 311 : METAETHICS

"Metaethics" refers to the philosophical investigation of the fundamental nature of morality. This course will explore questions concerning the the objectivity or subjectivity of values, the variation of moral codes across different societies, the dynamics of moral motivation and reasons to act morally, and the relationships between morality and science, religion, art, and culture.

Credits

3

PHI 315 : AESTHETICS

A philosophical study of the nature of beauty, art, and artistic experience. Special attention may also be devoted to the social, political, and economic contexts of art and aesthetic experience, various modes of interpreting the “meaning” of artworks, and the relationships between different artistic media. Writing Intensive.

Credits

3

PHI 320 : PHILOSOPHY AND LAW

This course will explore the philosophical underpinnings of law and cultivate an informed and critical attitude toward the theories and expressions of law. Readings from a variety of historical, philosophical, legal and literary sources will look at the nature of law, liberty, liability and responsibility, crime and punishment, insanity and excuse in the law, as well as attempts to use law to limit liberty and enforce morality.

Credits

3

PHI 333 : POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

This course will explore the philosophical underpinnings of political structures, identities, and actions. Readings from a variety of historical, philosophical, political, and economic sources will look at topics such as the nature of the liberal state, the public sphere, democracy, justice, multiculturalism, rights, liberty, and equality. The course may be retaken for credit if the content is substantially distinct, as determined by the philosophy program coordinator.

 

Credits

3

PHI 340 : SPECIAL TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY

An exploration of a particular, varying topic of philosophical interest. Recent topics offered have included: the philosophy of children; the philosophy of color; technologies of the self; mind, machines, and meaning; and crime and punishment. May be repeated for credit if the topic differs.

Credits

3

PHI 341 : ADVANCED ETHICS

Intensive study of a topic or an area in moral philosophy such as comparative ethics, virtue ethics, moral psychology, or metaethics. May be repeated for credit if topic changes.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

PHI 200 or permission of instructor.

PHI 342 : PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

A study of philosophical problems relevant to religious belief. Topics to be considered may include proofs for the existence of God, the problem of evil, miracles, the nature of religious belief, the relation of religion and morality, and the nature of God. Cross-listed with REL 342.

Credits

3

PHI 345 : PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE

This course examines some of the major philosophical debates and issues pertaining to language, including: questions about the definition, purpose, and origins of language; how language relates to thoughts, truth, and meaning; the performative, ritual, normative, or metaphorical uses of language; and the possibility of translation.

 

Credits

3

PHI 350 : PHILOSOPHY AND FILM

This course uses the medium of film to raise, explore, and challenge philosophical questions, positions, and assumptions. Particular philosophical topics and films may vary. The course may also include philosophical analysis of the nature and aesthetics of film as a genre.

Credits

3 - 4

PHI 360 : PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

This course surveys a range of classical and contemporary philosophers who have developed philosophical concepts for educational programs and practices. Particular topics may include the place of morality and values within education, differing theories of learning and development, the purpose of education, and cross-cultural conceptions of education.

Credits

3

PHI 390 : RECENT AND CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY

This course explores the major philosophical traditions that emerged from the European Continent during the twentieth century and which continue to exert broad influence in a number of disciples today, including: existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory, structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, deconstructionism, and transhumanism.

 

Credits

3

PHI 400 : SENIOR CAPSTONE

The purpose of this course is to develop an original research project that integrates the breadth of undergraduate curricula in philosophy and exposes students to the methodologies of graduate and professional work in philosophy. Students meet weekly to develop their research agendas, participate in peer review of drafts, and reflect on the connections among prior philosophy coursework. This course is a graduation requirement for all students majoring in philosophy and must be taken in the senior year. Capstone.

Credits

3

PHI 495 : INTERNSHIP IN PHILOSOPHY

To consist of either (1) exposure to duties and responsibilities of academic philosophers, or (2) work with an approved external organization (e.g. hospital, hospice, art gallery, religious institution, non-profit, etc.) for which a project of philosophical aspect is undertaken. Pass/fail grading.

Credits

3 - 4

Prerequisites

permission of department.

PHI 497 : HONORS IN PHILOSOPHY

This course is for qualified students pursuing honors in philosophy. (You do not have to be in the Nisbet Honors Program to pursue this.) Students perform independent research and write a thesis under the direction of a philosophy faculty supervisor.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

at least 15 hours of major coursework, senior class standing, and approval by the Philosophy program coordinator and instructor.