Philosophy

The 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant once suggested three questions for philosophy, “What can I know?” “What must I do?” and “What may I hope?” Philosophers argue over many things, among them what questions we ought to pose, and that suggests a further question, “What should we ask?” The ancient Athenian philosopher Socrates lived by asking questions, so he exemplified this questioning spirit. Socrates told the Athenians that the unexamined life was not worth living, suggesting that we should examine life and ourselves, not just the world before us. And philosophers after him have often thought that a desire to know, a desire for answers to our questions, was tied to the development of character.

The Philosophy Department engages students in their own pursuit of such questions. They read historical and contemporary philosophy to see the questions asked by others and to help them to develop and ponder their own questions in preparation for a life of critical reflection and thoughtfulness. Such a life can be led along many career paths. Philosophy majors have gone on to law school and other professional schools, have gone into business and public service, and have gone on to graduate school in philosophy.

There are few prerequisites on our courses, but initial digits will suggest something about their level. All courses in the 100s are appropriate introductions to philosophy. Students with interests in a particular area (e.g., the philosophy of race, the philosophy of law, the philosophy of science, philosophy and literature) might begin with a 200-level course in that area. Most students in 300-level courses will have had previous courses in philosophy. The senior seminar is required of majors but open to others.

Requirements for the Major

PHI-240Ancient Philosophy1
PHI-242Foundations of Modern Philosophy1
PHI-270Elementary Symbolic Logic1
Select at least one credit from the following work in ethics, social, or political philosophy:1
Philosophical Ethics
Philosophy of Law
Philosophy of Race
Philosophy of Commerce
Topics Ethics & Social Philosophy
Seminar in Ethics & Social Phil
Adv Topics in Political Theory
History of Pol Thought: Ancient & Mediev
History Pol Thought
American Political Thought
Contemporary Political Theory
PHI-345Continental Philosophy1
Select one from the following:1
Philosophy of Science
Topics in Metaphys and Epistemology
Seminar in Metaphysics & Epistemology
Topics Logic & Philosophy of Science
Seminar in Logic & Philosophy of Science
Analytic Philosophy
PHI-449Senior Seminar1
PHI-490Senior Reading0.5
Philosophy Electives1.5
Total Credits9

Comprehensive Examinations

Students write for two days, three hours each day. The department has usually invited majors to submit a list of six books from a number of periods in the history of philosophy to serve as the basis for the questions on the first day. Second day questions usually explore broad philosophical issues, with students free to draw on any material in answering them. The department’s goal is to give students the chance to tie their major together, reflect on this part of their education, and demonstrate their strengths in the field.

Requirements for the Minor

PHI-240Ancient Philosophy1
PHI-242Foundations of Modern Philosophy1
Select at least one credit from the following:1
Philosophical Ethics
Philosophy of Law
Philosophy of Race
Philosophy of Commerce
Topics Ethics & Social Philosophy
Seminar in Ethics & Social Phil
Adv Topics in Political Theory
History of Pol Thought: Ancient & Mediev
History Pol Thought
American Political Thought
Contemporary Political Theory
At least one credit from courses in philosophy with a number of 300 or above1
Philosophy Elective1
Total Credits5

 Philosophy (PHI)

PHI-109 Perspectives on Philosophy

A course in some selected philosophical topic or range of topics designed to provide an example of philosophical reflection and inquiry. Not open to junior or senior majors without permission of the instructor.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-110 Philosophical Ethics

Thought about what is good, what is right, and what ought to be done pervades our lives. Philosophy can contribute to this thought by providing ways of organizing it and reflecting on it critically-which is done in this course using both historical and contemporary sources. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-124 Philosophy and Film

This course uses film to investigate a variety of philosophical issues-issues in such areas as ethics, the theory of knowledge, or existentialism, specific issues such as free will, human responsibility, or human subjectivity, or issues concerning such topics as dystopian futures. The course may also explore philosophical questions about film. Students will typically be expected to watch one film that will be the focus of the class discussion each week and additional films on their own that are related to the theme of the week. The final project may be a paper or perhaps a student-produced film that uses film to investigate a philosophical issue.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion, Literature/Fine Arts,

PHI-144 Intro to Existentialism

An introduction to some of the primary texts in philosophy of human existence of the 19th and 20th centuries, including works of fiction, philosophy, and psychology from such writers as Kierkegaard, Dostoyevski, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Jaspers.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-187 Independent Study

Enrollment through Instructor and Department Chair approval.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-188 Independent Study

Enrollment through Instructor and Department Chair approval.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-213 Philosophy of Law

An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the analysis of legal concepts and the moral justification of the law. Typical issues include the nature of law and its relation to morality, issues of moral justification arising in specific branches of the law (e.g., criminal, tort, or contract law), and the nature and justification of international law.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-217 Philosophy of Race

This course covers the history of the development of the concept of race, the metaphysical framework for thinking about the "reality" of race, the various ways to consider the meaning of race, and the relation between the meaning of race and the experience of racism. Questions about how difference and equality function in the law and the application of the law, concepts of white privilege and community investment in racial distinctions, intersectional analyses that think race together with gender, class and sexuality and the concept of race in colonial and post-colonial settings are likely topics
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-218 Philosophy of Commerce

This course will consider broadly how concerns for the oikos, the household, the root of our word economics, serve, support and potentially undermine our efforts to live well. The concepts of property, markets, labor, corporations, collective and individual responsibility, economic vs. political freedom, wealth, debt, and value will be subjected to philosophical scrutiny. Philosophical investigation of these ideas will be joined to broad philosophical questions, including but not limited to: their treatment in the history of philosophy, the role of these concerns in the good life, the development of markets in the context of the emergence of modern subjectivity, the relation of desire and its production to the need for markets, and the account of what it means to be human that these concepts assume or encourage. The goal of this course is for students to have a robust understanding of the historical and contemporary arguments, assumptions and views these economic concepts presuppose about what it means to be human. Application of these considerations to contemporary debates in public life will be encouraged.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-219 Topics Ethics & Social Philosophy

Seminar discussion of a topic or area in ethical theory, applied ethics, or social and political philosophy.Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for Topics and Descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-220 Aesthetics

A survey of work in the philosophy of art both prior to and during the 20th century. Topics considered include the concept of art and a work of art, the relation between art and truth, the objectivity of aesthetic evaluation, the nature of representation, and issues concerning meaning and interpretation.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-240 Ancient Philosophy

This course surveys the Ancient Greek philosophy, including Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle; Hellenistic philosophy may also be included. This course focuses on acquiring and improving abilities in philosophical reading, thinking, and expression. In class, the norm is close textual analysis through lectures and discussion. Topics include the nature of the physical and human world, and questions about knowledge and ultimate being. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion, Literature/Fine Arts
Equated Courses: CLA-140

PHI-242 Foundations of Modern Philosophy

Readings and discussion of the classical modern philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on questions such as scientific method and the possibility of knowledge, the nature of reality, ethics and the relation of the individual to society, and the existence of God. Readings from among Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Rousseau. This course is offered in the spring semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-249 Topics in the History of Philosophy

Seminar discussion of a historical period, figure or topic.Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for Topics and Descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-269 Topics in Metaphys and Epistemology

Seminar discussion of a topic or area in metaphysics or the theory of knowledge.Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for Topics and Descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-270 Elementary Symbolic Logic

An introduction to the principles of deductive logic for connectives ("and," "not," "or," "if") and quantifiers ("all," "some"). Attention is given to the logical structure of English sentences and its representation in symbolic notation and to formal proofs establishing the logical properties and relations of sentences.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion, Quantitative Skills

PHI-272 Philosophy of Science

An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the logical structure and historical development of natural science. Among the general issues considered will be the relations among theory, observation, and experiment; the reality of theoretical entities; and the significance of scientific revolutions. Some attention is usually given also to philosophical issues regarding specific sciences, principally biology and physics.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-279 Topics Logic & Philosophy of Science

Additional topics in formal or informal logic or the philosophical study of science and its historical development.Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for Topics and Descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-287 Independent Study

Independent Studies at a more advanced level will be numbered 387 or 388.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-288 Independent Study

Independent Studies at a more advanced level will be numbered 387 or 388.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-299 Special Topics in Philosophy

A course in some selected philosophical topic.Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for Topics and Descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-319 Seminar in Ethics & Social Phil

Seminar discussion at a more advanced level of a topic or area in ethical theory, applied ethics, or social and political philosophy.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-345 Continental Philosophy

Seminar discussion of major themes or figures in the Continental tradition from the 19th century to the present, which may include work in phenomenology and existentialism, Marxism and critical theory, poststructuralism, and feminism. Readings may be drawn from Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Habermas, Sartre, Beauvoir, Foucault, Derrida, or others. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: PHI-140, 242
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-346 Analytic Philosophy

Seminar discussion of major themes or figures in the Analytic tradition.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-349 Seminar in the History of Philosophy

Seminar discussion at a more advanced level of a historical period, figure, or topic.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-369 Seminar in Metaphysics & Epistemology

Seminar discussion at a more advanced level of a topic or area in metaphysics or the theory of knowledge.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-379 Seminar in Logic & Philosophy of Science

Additional topics in formal or informal logic or the philosophical study of science and its historical development offered at a more advanced level.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-387 Independent Study

Independent studies at a less advanced level will be numbered 287 or 288.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-388 Independent Study

Independent studies at a less advanced level will be numbered 287 or 288.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-399 Proseminar

An advanced course in some selected philosophical topic.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-449 Senior Seminar

A detailed study of a major philosopher or philosophical topic. Required of majors and open to other students. Normally taken in the senior year. This course is offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-487 Independent Study

Enrollment through Instructor and Department Chair approval.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-488 Independent Study

Enrollment through Instructor and Department Chair approval.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-490 Senior Reading

Seminar discussion of selected work in recent philosophy. Normally taken in the spring semester of the senior year.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

PHI-IND Independent Study

Students may enroll in independent study courses for 0.5 or 1 course credit(s), with the approval of a supervising faculty member, the appropriate department/program chair, and the student's advisor. Registration forms for independent study are available in the Registrar's Office.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

Matthew Carlson

Jeffrey Dwight Gower

Cheryl L Hughes (chair)

Adriel Trott