Philosophy Department Courses
PHIL 120 H – Rationality and Faith, 4 credits. E. An investigation into the relations between religious faith and reason. Arguments for the existence of God will be examined, as will challenges to religious belief found in the writings of such thinkers as Hume, Clifford, Freud and Hick and in contemporary cognitive science of religion. The course will also investigate the nature of religious experiences and problems that religious diversity poses to the rationality of religious belief.
PHIL 230 – Patterns of Reasoning, 4 credits. E2. An introduction to the various types of reasoning found in the sciences and the humanities. Special attention will be paid to the construction and evaluation of arguments.
PHIL 240 – Problems of Philosophy, 4 credits. A1 (2012-2013). An introduction to selected epistemological and metaphysical problems, designed to show the fundamental nature of those problems and their interrelatedness. Such issues as free will/determinism, the extent of our knowledge of the external world, the mind-body identity thesis, and the problem of personal identity are typical topics for investigation. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor
PHIL 250 – Pre-May Seminar, 4 credits.
PHIL 300 – May Seminar, 4 credits. MS.
PHIL 311 H – Ancient Philosophy, 4 credits. E1. An investigation into the thought of the three dominant philosophers of the ancient Greek period – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Plato’s Meno, Phaedo and Republic, and Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics will be the primary focal points of the course, although the pre-Socratic and the post-Aristotelian periods will also be discussed. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor
PHIL 312 H – Modern Philosophy, 4 credits. E2. An investigation into the thought of the dominant philosophers of the modern European period. The course will focus on the Continental Rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz), the British Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume), as well as Kant. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor
PHIL 313 – American Philosophy, 4 credits. A1 (2012-2013). An investigation into the lines of thought known as American pragmatism. The course will begin with texts of Emerson and Thoreau; it will go on to the works of the classical pragmatists James, Pierce and Dewey; and it will finish with the contemporary pragmatists Richard Rorty and Cornell West.
PHIL 314 H, G – Asian Philosophy, 4 credits. A1 (2012-2013). An examination of the philosophical traditions of India, China and Japan. The course focuses on classic Hindu philosophy, especially as expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads, on Buddhist thought, and on the two main indigenous Chinese philosophical traditions, Confucianism and Taoism. The course will center on readings of primary texts, and will examine the visual arts of India, China and Japan as expressions of the beliefs and sensibilities of those cultures.
PHIL 315 H – Existentialism, 4 credits. A2 (2013-2014). A study of several existentialist thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Marcel. The materials of the course may include philosophical works, novels or short stories, and films.
PHIL 325 – Major Philosophers, 4 credits. D. An intensive examination of the thought of two major philosophers, usually from different eras or representing different approaches. The course emphasizes the interpretation and evaluation of their contributions and has, in the past, studied such philosophers as Wittgenstein, Hume, Plato, Aristotle, Russell and Whitehead.
PHIL 328, SCAN 338 R – Kierkegaard: Philosophy, Literature, Film, 4 credits. A1 (2013-2014). A critical examination of key texts from Kierkegaard’s authorship (“Either/Or,” “Fear and Trembling,” “Philosophical Fragments,” and “The Sickness Unto Death”) that emphasizes Kierkegaard’s use of literary art to convey philosophical and theological ideas. In keeping with Kierkegaard’s emphasis on artistic imagination as a resource for philosophical understanding, we will view one or more films in connection with each of Kierkegaard’s texts. The course closes with a reading of Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer,” a novel that transposes Kierkegaard’s characters and ideas into a 20th century American context.
PHIL 331 – Philosophy of Law, 4 credits. A1 (2011-2012). An examination of some of the key concepts employed in the law and an evaluation of their roles in legal decisions. Such concepts as legality, responsibility, liberty, rights, justice and punishment are analyzed, and such questions as “Who has the right to punish?” and “What is the source of legal authority?” are addressed. Both classical and contemporary sources are employed, as well as Supreme Court cases.
PHIL 332 – Philosophy of Science, 4 credits. A2 (2012-2013). An examination of the historical development and philosophical presuppositions of modern science. Such issues as the nature of scientific explanation and description, the role of reductionism in scientific theory, the character of scientific revolution, the scope and limits of scientific speculation, and the effect of the “scientific establishment” on innovation and initiative are discussed. Theorists such as Popper, Nagel, Feyerabend, Kuhn, Hempel and Carnap will be studied. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or one course in physical or biological science
PHIL 333 R – Philosophy of Art, 4 credits. E1. A philosophical inquiry into the arts, with examinations of such questions as: “What is the importance of the arts?”; “Do the arts reveal anything significant about the world and about ourselves?”; “What does it mean to be a responsible worker in the arts?”; and “What are the criteria of excellence in the arts?”
PHIL 334 – Philosophy of Language, 4 credits. D. An investigation of the workings of language and its philosophical presuppositions. Special attention will be paid to semantic relationships, ordinary language puzzles and the structure of metaphor. Such philosophers as Quine, Kripke, Russell and Frege will be studied.
PHIL 337 U – Philosophy of Feminism, 4 credits. D. An inquiry into feminist philosophies, especially as they apply and critique traditional philosophical positions in ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. Some theorists argue that the nature of philosophy itself, its procedures, methods and line of questioning, are skewed because of the patriarchal construction of the discipline. The political and theoretical landscape is transected by others who accuse popular feminism of sharing biases along lines of class and race. Authors studied may include Harriet Taylor, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Marilyn Frye, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, María Lugones and Audre Lorde. Students will be asked to evaluate these positions and to articulate a position of their own.
PHIL 340 – Philosophy and Film, 4 credits. D. A consideration of philosophical themes in both popular and art films. Some of the cultural issues that will be investigated are feminism, postmodernism, justice and individuality. The course will also consider such traditional philosophical issues as beauty, truth and goodness. There will be a required lab on Monday evenings for film screenings.
PHIL 380 – Special Topics, 4 credits. D. Courses covering various topics of interest in this particular discipline are offered regularly. Contact department or program chair for more information.
PHIL 407 – Seminar in Philosophy, 4 credits. E2. A research seminar designed to provide majors with a capstone experience.
PHIL 480 – Independent Study, 1 to 4 credits. D. This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct in-depth research of a particular topic under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Contact the department or program chair for more information.