The academic catalog is currently being updated for the 2019-20 year. View the Catalog Archive to access the 2018-19 catalog as well as catalogs from previous years.
Jon Jensen (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.
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.
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.
An introduction to critical thinking, with attention to the structure of everyday arguments and common fallacies in areas including probabilistic, causal, and inductive reasoning.
A study of reasoning and argumentation, introducing formal symbol systems, including propositional and predicate logic, with attention to informal logic and fallacies.
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.
This course introduces students to philosophy of religion. It attempts to bring rational justification and clarification to religious beliefs 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 230)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A study of the nature of art, what it is, what it can do, and how it relates to human culture and values. Attention is given to both classic and contemporary interpretations as well as various forms and traditions of artistic practice. Offered alternate years.
A study of contemporary feminist political thought, concentrating on the ways social categories such as race, class, gender, and sexuality interact with each other. Attention will be paid to the way power structures contribute to limiting or expanding human freedom and to feminist methodologies. Fulfills theory requirement in WGST. Offered alternative years. (Same as WGST 260)
A study of philosophical movements which developed in response to German idealism, including existentialism, phenomenology, pragmatism, analytic and post-modern philosophy. Offered alternate years.
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.
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.
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?
Designed for students with significant interest and experience in philosophy. Offered alternate years.
In-depth study of specific topics or philosophers in seminar format, designed for students with significant experience in philosophy.