Philosophy Courses

General Course Listings

Sub CRSE Title
PHI 102 Reason and Argument
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor 
McKeever

Introduction to reasoning with a focus on the nature and evaluation of arguments, the identification of fallacies, and the rules of rational discourse.

Satisfies the philosophy major requirement of either PHI 102 or PHI 200.

Satisfies the Liberal Studies distribution requirement.

Counts as an elective in the Public Communication/Rhetoric Track of the Communication Studies interdisciplinary minor.

PHI 105 Ancient Greek Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Studtmann

Introduction to the origins and development of philosophy in ancient Greece, with special emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. 

Counts towards the satisfaction of the Philosophy major requirement to take two courses from amoung PHI 105, PHI 106, and PHI 107.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.


Counts as a Western Europe area course in the International Studies Interdisciplinary Minor.
Counts towards the major in Classics.

PHI 106 Early Modern European Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Robb

Introduction to philosophy in the early modern period, i.e., the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Emphasis on metaphysical and epistemological issues in the work of philosophers selected from this list: Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant.
 

Counts towards the Philosophy major and minor requirement to take two courses in the history of philosophy from among PHI 105, PHI 106, and PHI 107.
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
Counts as a Western Europe area course in the International Studies Interdisciplinary Minor.

PHI 107 Medieval Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offerred in 2016-17)

Instructor
Griffith

Introduction to philosophers of the medieval period. We will study thinkers of the Christian, Islamic, and Jewish traditions, spanning from the fourth century C.E. up to the fourteenth century. Philosophers discussed may include: Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Peter Abelard, Avicenna, Algazali, Averroes, Saadia, Maimonides, Aquinas, and John Duns Scotus.

Counts towards the satisfaction of the Philosophy major and minor requirement to take two courses in the history of philosophy from among PHI 105, PHI 106, and PHI 107.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 110 Problems of Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall and Spring)

Instructor
Layman, Jankovic

Introduction to philosophy through a survey of selected philosophical problems. Topics vary, and have included questions such as: Does God exist? Do we have free will? Can we know anything? Is truth relative? Is morality objective?

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 120 Applied Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Layman

Introduction to the philosophical analysis of contemporary moral controversies. Topics vary, and have included abortion, euthanasia, feminism, world hunger, business ethics, nuclear war, and human rights.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 140 Environmental Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offerred in 2016-17)

Instructor
McKeever

Introduction to ethical analysis of environmental values and decision-making. Likely topics include (1) the value of different aspects of the environment including non-human animals, species, non-living natural objects, and ecosystems; (2) ethical analysis of different approaches to risk as this bears on environmental policy-making; (3) the moral merits and liabilities of ethical institutions, such as private property rights, as applied to the natural environment.
 

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies depth and breadth course requirement in the Humanities track of the Environmental Studies major or interdisciplinary minor.

PHI 150 Eastern and Western Conceptions of the Self
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offerred in 2016-17)

Instructor
Robb

In this course we compare and evaluate conceptions of the self in Eastern and Western philosophical traditions. Questions include: Does the self exist? If so, what sort of thing is it? Could I survive the death of my body? Do I extend beyond the boundaries of a particular mind or body? In what sense, if any, is the self a social construct? Readings come from a variety of sources: contemporary and classical, Eastern and Western.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

PHI 160 Great Philosophers
Prerequisites & Notes

This course can be repeated for credit given sufficiently distinct topics: check with the department chair. (Spring)

Instructor
Studtmann

Introduction to philosophy through intensive study of the work of one philosopher. The philosopher selected varies. This course: Sartre

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 170 God (= REL 246)
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offered 2016-17.)

Instructor
Studtmann/Ottati

This course focuses on what is said about God in Christian tradition and in philosophy.  It explores representations, symbols, inklings of the divine in biblical and religious texts, developed conceptions of God put forward by philosophers and theologians, and traditional arguments about God , as well as contemporary statements and debates.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major.

Satisfies the Philosophical and religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 200 Symbolic Logic
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Studtmann

Systematic study of formal reasoning. Focus on the representation and evaluation of arguments in propositional and predicate logic. Additional topics vary, and may include meta-logic, modal logic, and non-classical logics. 

Satisfires the Philosophy major requirement to take one course on reasoning (either PHI 102 or PHI 200).

Satisfies the Mathematical and Quantitative Thought distribution requirement.
 

PHI 210 Games and Decisions
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offerred in 2016-17)

Instructor
McKeever

Introduction to the formal analysis of games and rational decision-making. Decision under risk, ignorance, and certainty as applied in morals, politics, and religion.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.

Counts as an elective in the Social Science Track of the Applied Mathematics interdisciplinary minor.

PHI 211 Theory of Knowledge
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Jankovic

The central questions of epistemology are: What is knowledge? Do we have any? If so, how did we get it? This course accordingly looks at the nature, scope, and sources of knowledge.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 212 Metaphysics
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Griffith

Philosophical study of the most fundamental features of the world and our place in it. Topics vary, and have included abstract and concrete entities, God, causation, space and time, necessity, freedom and determinism, the identity of objects and persons over time.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 213 Philosophy of Science
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Robb

This course is about the nature of science, with a focus on Thomas Kuhn's pioneering and widely influential text, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  Topics include the difference between science and pseudo-science, the rationality of scientific change, the aim of science, the role of values in science, and the objectivity of scientific facts.
 

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor. 
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 215 Ethics
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Layman

Introduction to the philosophical evaluation of ethical decision-making and moral life. Discussion of such questions as: What grounds the difference between right and wrong action? How is happiness related to morlaity? Do moral questions admit of objective answers, and if so how can moral disagreements be resolved? What is the virtue of justice? Does morality require (or benefit from) a religious foundation?  A variety of philosophical approaches will be considered with a view to which best helps us understand this vital dimension of human life.

Satisfies the philosophy major requirement for Philosophy 215.
 

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 216 Philosophy of Language
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Jankovic

Discussion of theories of communication, linguistic meaning, and truth. Other topics vary, and have included metaphor, naming and describing, reference, vagueness, and universals. 

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 217 Philosophy of Mind
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Jankovic

Introduction to the mind-body problem: What is the relation between the mind and the body, or more generally, between mental and physical phenomena? Answers explored include dualism, behaviorism, the mind-brain identity theory, and functionalism. Other topics vary, and have included consciousness, mental representation, artificial intelligence, and neurophilosophy.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Counts as an elective in the Neuroscience interdisciplinary minor.

PHI 220 Political Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)


 

Instructor
Layman

Introduction to the philosophical evaluation of political power and the social and economic institutions through which it is exercised. Discussion of such questions as: What justification is there for government? What moral duties do citizens have? Are there moral limits to government authority? Analysis of such concepts as freedom, rights, justice, and equality.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 225 Philosophy of Religion
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Griffith

Introduction to philosophical issues in classical and contemporary religious thought. Topics vary, and have included the justification of religious claims, the relation of faith to knowledge, arguments for the existence of God, divine attributes, life after death, the problem of evil, the status of religious language, the relation of religion to morality, and alternatives to theism.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 235 Existentialism
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Griffith

Analysis of the existential conditions of human life, such as death, the fragility and finiteness of life, freedom, commitment, the need for God, and the quest for meaning, worth, and dignity. Readings are from both philosophy and literature.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.
 

PHI 250 Buddhism as Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Robb

Buddhism is one of the world's major religions, but it is at the same time a philosophical system, one that has something to say about many of philosophy's central problems. These include questions about the existence and nature of the self, the fundamental structure of reality, the possibility of knowledge, and the moral life. In this course, we examine the Buddhist philosophical system, noting where there is debate within the Buddhist tradition, and at times pausing to compare Buddhist views with Western counterparts. Readings come from a variety of sources: contemporary and classical, Eastern and Western.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor. 
Satisfies an interdisciplinary minor requirement in South Asian Studies.
Satisfies Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.

PHI 325 Philosophy of Law
Prerequisites & Notes

(Not offerred in 2016-17)

Instructor
McKeever

Analysis of the nature and function of law. Various theories of law, relation of law to morality, economic analysis of law. An assessment of the principles of legal reasoning and jurisprudence, emphasis on discussion of decided cases.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.
 

PHI 350 Seminar in Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

This course can be repeated for credit given sufficiently distinct topics: check with the department chair. (Fall, Spring)

Spring 2017

Instructor: Studtmann

Topic: 20th Century Political Structure

The debate between those who advocate for an anarchist political structure and those who advocate for a Statist political structure is one of the most fundamental debates in all political philosophy. In this course, we examine two of the most prominent anarchist thinkers in the 20th century - Murray Rothbard and David Friedman - as well as the greatest political philosopher in the 20th century and a proponent of Statistm - John Rawls. The course concludes with an examination of mathematical models of both types of political structure that provide mathematically precise answers to some of the main questions that both Anarchists and Statists have discussed.

 

Fall 2016

Instructor: Griffith

Topic: Free Will

The problem of free will is often cited as one of philosophy's most difficult problems to resolve. As human beings, it seems that we are subject to laws of nature and to chains of cause and effect. But as personal agents, we feel strongly that we are autonomous beings whose choices and actions are not dictated by external factors. Can we reconcile these two notions? Why do we care?

In this course, we will study the nature of free will and the problems associated with it. We will focus mostly on the debate as it has been developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will look at the following questions (among others): is free will compatible with determinism? What about indeterminism? If our actions aren't determined, are they random or arbitrary? How does free will relate to moral responsibility? Do moral responsibility and/or free will require that we are able do otherwise? If so, what does it mean to be able to do otherwise? Can contemporary science tell us anything about whether we have free will?  Do we need free will/moral responsibility in order to have meaningful lives? Do we at least need to believe that we have free will?

 

Satisfies the Philosophy major seminar requirement.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy minor.

PHI 365 Philosophy of Mathematics
Prerequisites & Notes

(Fall)

Instructor
Studtmann

Analysis of the philosophical foundations of mathematics. Topics vary, and have included the nature of mathematical truth, pure versus applied mathematics, the reality of mathematical entities, infinity, paradoxes, axiomatic systems, formal number theory, Godel's Theorem.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor.

PHI 399 Independent Research in Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

This course can be repeated for credit given sufficiently distinct topics: check with the department chair. (Fall and Spring)

Instructor
Staff

Independent research under the direction of a faculty member who approves the topic(s) and determines the means of evaluation. Permission of the instructor and the department chair is required.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major and minor

PHI 451 Senior Colloquium in Philosophy
Prerequisites & Notes

(Spring)

Instructor
Layman

Capstone course required of all senior Philosophy majors. The seminar is organized around the work of four or five philosophers who visit the campus during the semester to discuss their work with students. Topics vary.

PHI 495 Senior Thesis
Prerequisites & Notes

Enrollment requires departmental approval: interested majors should contact the department chair in the Fall semester. (Spring)

Instructor
Staff

Open only to Philosophy majors. Includes the writing of a thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Majors pursuing Honors must defend the thesis before the Philosophy faculty.

Counts as an elective for the Philosophy major.

REL 246 God (=PHI 170)
Prerequisites & Notes

Instructor
Ottati/Studtmann 

This course focuses on what is said about God in Christian tradition and in philosophy.  It explores representations, symbols, and inklings of the divine in biblical and religious texts, developed conceptions of God put forward by philosophers and theologians, and traditional arguments about God, as well as contemporary statements and debates.

Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives distribution requirement.