Philosophy

Storm Bailey (department head)

Philosophy means the love of wisdom. More specifically, philosophy is the systematic, rational inquiry into the most profound questions about nature and human life. The philosophy program is designed to help students think about these issues in a thorough and rigorous way, by acquainting them with historical and contemporary work in philosophy and by developing their skills in critical analysis and expository writing. The program offers a number of gateway courses that are open to all students, as well as more advanced and intensive courses for students interested in deepening their knowledge of philosophy and building their skills in analysis and writing. The major and minor in philosophy offer a sequence of historical and topical courses that allow students to engage deeply with an array of philosophical problems and approaches. Because of the breadth and depth of these offerings, as well as the analytical rigor that they require, a major or minor in philosophy is excellent preparation for all kinds of graduate study and public service. Many of our majors go on to graduate school in philosophy, theology, and law.

Required for a major: A minimum of nine courses (not including the senior project) in philosophy, including PHIL 110, 120 or PHIL 320, 200, 220, 485, and at least two additional courses numbered 300 or above. Writing requirement completed with PHIL 485.

Required for a minor: A minimum of five courses in philosophy, including PHIL 200, 220, 485, and at least one additional course numbered 200 or above.

Courses in the Scholar's program may count as prerequisites for advanced philosophy offerings. In addition, consent of instructor to enroll can be obtained with advisor's assistance by students lacking formal prerequisites, given appropriate academic experience and interest.

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 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 130 Philosophy of Religion

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts

A study of attempts to bring rational justification and clarification to religious beliefs and practice, focusing primarily on the concepts of Christian theology. Topics may include: the existence and attributes of God, faith and reason, death and immortality, miracles and revelation, the problem of evil, and religious pluralism. (Same as REL 230)

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
  • Prerequisites: one course in philosophy.

An examination of the development of philosophy among the Greek speaking peoples and the civilizations they influenced. Primary focus will be on the thought of Plato and Aristotle as the major founders of western philosophical thought, with a brief review of subsequent developments in Hellenistic and Roman philosophy.

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: Natural World—Nonlab, Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • 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 240 Philosophy of Art

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: one course in philosophy or two courses in fine arts

A study of the nature of art and its relationship to the human condition. Issues covered include definitions of art, the relationship between art and the community, the nature of aesthetic experience, and standards of taste. Offered alternate years.

PHIL 260 Feminist Philosophy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: One course in PHIL or two courses in WGST

Examination of feminist philosophies, including issues in epistemology, ethics, social philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of religion and historical interpretation. Focus on the challenges which feminist theory presents to traditional philosophical assumptions in the Western tradition. Offered alternate years. (Same as WGST 260)

PHIL 300 19th and 20th Century Philosophy

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

A study of philosophical movements which developed in response to German idealism, including existentialism, phenomenology, pragmatism, analytic and post-modern philosophy. Offered alternate years.

PHIL 310 Metaphysics and Epistemology

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

A comparative and critical study of major theories about being and knowing. Metaphysical issues focus on the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, time, space, causation, change, modality, and identity. Epistemological topics concern the possibility, origins, nature, and extent of human knowledge. The course includes classical as well as contemporary readings, covering a wide range of philosophical theories and their interaction. Offered alternate years.

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 Philosophy of Mind

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts
  • Prerequisites: take two courses in philosophy, or at least one course inpsychology numbered 300 and above.

An investigation of historical and contemporary attempts to address a wide range of questions concerning 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? Is evolutinary theory relevant to our understanding of the mind? Offered alternate years.

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.

PHIL 490 Senior Project

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours