Philosophy Courses

Below you can find a full listing and description of the classes offered by the Philosophy Department.

100-Level Courses

102 Introduction to Symbolic Logic (FR)
Introduction to systems of formal logic and to the use of these systems to model and evaluate inferences made in practical reasoning and natural language. Propositional logic, first-order quantifier logic, and the metatheoretic properties of soundness, completeness will be covered. No prior coursework in mathematics, logic, or philosophy is presupposed. Offered annually.

103 Mind and World (IT)
Is everything composed of matter? What are minds? Does all knowledge come from experience? Studying, discussing, and writing about these metaphysical and epistemological questions--as posed, for example, by Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Russell--will introduce you to major themes of Western Philosophy. Offered annually.

105 Rights and Wrongs (AV)
A first course in ethics, and a critical examination of central moral concepts and arguments. What makes an action morally permissible or impermissible? Are there moral duties, and if so, what are they and where do they get their authority? Contemporary issues commonly discussed include abortion, euthanasia, punishment, and torture. Offered annually.

106 God and Science (IT)
Examination of issues in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of religion. Topics may include models of the relationship between religion and science, issues in physical cosmology, the debate over creationism, the nature of 'emergent' properties/laws in complexity theory, or psychological accounts of religious experience. Offered annually.

107 Introduction to the Philosophy of Natural Science (IT)
Analysis of the central methodology and conceptual schemes employed in scientific investigation. The course will examine accounts of scientific inferences and methods and may include criticisms offered by historians of science and feminist philosophers. Intended primarily for students with a minimum of one year's college-level work in the natural sciences. Offered as needed.

170 Special Topics
An examination, at the introductory level, of selected topics in philosophy not covered in regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit when different subjects are studied. See current Program of Classes to determine if this course fulfills general education requirements. Offered as needed.

200-Level Courses

204 Introduction to Ethical Theory (AV)
Examination of major moral theories such as those of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Mill. Questions to be examined include: What is the best life for a human being? What things are good? What is the foundation of the distinction between right and wrong? What motives do I have for acting morally? Offered as needed.

205 What is Law? (AV & W)
Examination of fundamental questions concerning the nature of law, including: What is law? What distinguishes the law from moral or social rules? What authority does law have, and where does that authority derive? What sort of normative standards does the law comprise - commands, rules, principles, exemplars? And how are these standards related? Offered in alternate years, spring.

209 Philosophy of Religion (IT)
Is there evidence that God exists? Should we believe in miracles? Should faith in God be enough? During our examination of these questions, we will consider the nature of God's attributes, arguments for God's existence, alternatives to the Judeo-Christian conception of God, and whether belief in God requires rational support. Offered in alternate years.

213 Business Ethics (AV)
A critical examination of ethical issues arising in business affairs with some attention to ethical theory. Offered annually.

214 Philosophy of Education (AV)
Examination of the nature and roles of education and teaching. What are the aims of education? Do different political systems imply different approaches to schooling? What role should the state play in delivering education? Who should be educated and why? Readings are from classical as well as contemporary writers. Offered annually.

224 Individual and State (AV)
Focusing on the justification of political structures, students will critically analyze, at an introductory level, a number of fundamental political issues: What makes a law a proper law? What makes a form of government legitimate? What may people be coerced to do and by whom? Readings include several major political philosophers. Offered annually.

225 Medical Ethics (AV)
A compressed introduction to ethical theory (first quarter of the course) and an examination of ethical problems arising in the context of medical and health care. Examination of such issues as paternalism, euthanasia, treatment of severely defective infants, reproductive rights, research on human subjects, and distribution of health care resources. Offered each spring.

230 Philosophy of Feminism (AV & U)
Investigation of how feminism and philosophy inform one another. What is the nature of gender inequality in our society? Are rationality and objectivity gendered concepts? Examination of the relations between gender and such topics as social policy, law, ethics, pluralism, objectivity, and science. Offered as needed.

235 Computerization & Controversy: Social Aspects of the Information Revolution (AV)
A philosophical examination of social, ethical, and political normative value issues raised by the computerization of our society, including: what should the right to privacy involve? Should there be controls over use of encryption? Should Internet resources be subject to laws governing intellectual property and copyright? Should there be regulation on Internet commerce? Offered as needed.

268 Hume's Philosophy of Religion (IT, W)
Introduction to the philosophy of religion of David Hume (1711-1776). Generally regarded as the greatest philosopher ever to write in English, Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, one of the most influential works in philosophy of religion, critically examine the idea of intelligent design. Offered annually.

270 Special Topics
An examination of selected topics not covered in regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit when different subjects are studied. See current Program of Classes to determine if this course fulfills general education requirements. Offered as needed.

280 History of Ancient Philosophy (IT)
Survey of the development of philosophy from Thales to the early Roman philosophers, with emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in Philosophy. Offered each fall.

281 History of Modern Philosophy (IT)
Survey of the development of philosophy from the rise of modern science through Kant, with emphasis on Descartes, the Classical Empiricists, and Kant. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in Philosophy. Offered each spring.

300- and 400-Level Courses

300 Biology and Ethics (AV, W)
A study of ethical and social issues arising out of the rapidly developing fields of reproductive biology and genetics. In the first quarter of the course, students will be introduced to different ethical theories; in the remainder of the semester, they will look at specific ethical issues. Issues examined may include those that arise in connection with RU-486, surrogacy, IVF, sex cell storage, cloning, and human stem cell research. Offered each fall.

302 Ethics and the Environment (AV)
An examination of different ethical theories to see which provide an adequate basis for an environmental ethics – a basis for deciding whether and how we ought morally to treat non-human entities, including non-human animals, and “nature.” We will consider the answers they provide to fundamental ethical questions concerning the environment. What kind of value do non-human entities have? Do we have obligations to non-human animals and to future generations (of people, animals, plants, nature)? Answers to these questions will frame our consideration of normative issues within environmental ethics, and philosophical attempts to address them. The specific normative issues we examine will vary from year to year but they will include issues such as factory farming, genetically engineered crops, air quality, and the preservation of endangered species. Offered alternate years, spring semester.

304 Ethical Theory (AV)
A critical examination at an advanced level of different kinds of ethical theories. Ethical theories to be considered may include those of Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Sidgwick, and Nietzsche. The course will focus on central ethical concepts and the way in which different ethical theorists organize them in a systematic way. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered alternate years, spring semester.

305 Philosophy of Law (AV)
Examination of philosophical and legal questions about judicial decision-making and the interpretation of law. Are there correct answers in controversial legal cases? What are a judge’s obligations in deciding such cases? Special attention will be paid to recent work in the intersection of philosophy of language and law. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

307 Philosophy of Natural Science (IT & W)
Analysis of central issues in the philosophy of natural science, such as the problem of induction, scientific realism, and scientific theory selection. The course will examine accounts of these issues and may include alternative views provided by historians of science and feminist philosophers. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least ne course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in as needed.

310 Social and Political Philosophy (IT & W)
A critical examination of questions such as: Why do we have to do what the state says? What is the basis of political obligation? What duties, if any, does the state have to its citizens? Is there a conflict between the ideals of equality and liberty? Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in philosophy, Political Science 315 (Classical Political Thought) or Political Science 316 (Modern Political Thought), or consent of instructor. Offered as needed.

311 Philosophy of Mind (IT & W)
The course examines issues raised by this question: 'Can mental phenomena be accounted for by a physicalist theory?' Topics such as the problem of other minds, artificial intelligence, mental causation, mental imagery, intentionality, and consciousness will be studied. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered annually.

340 Philosophy of Language (W)
What are the relationships between language, thought, and reality? How is the study of language important to philosophy? Through classic texts in the analytic tradition, we will investigate questions concerning meaning, truth, and the relationship between words and things 'in the world'. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

350 Epistemology (W)
Consideration of the nature of, and relations between, knowledge, belief, perception, truth, meaning, and evidence. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least one course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

351 Metaphysics (W)
Examination of central problems in metaphysics such as freedom and determinism, causality, existence, and identity.  Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

355 Major Philosophers or Philosophical Movements (IT & W)
A close study of a major philosopher (e.g., Aristotle, Hume, Kant); an imagined encounter between philosophers (e.g., Hume and Kant, Aristotle and Mill); or a survey of a major historical period, school, or philosophical movement (Rationalism, Empiricism, 19th Century Philosophy). May be repeated for credit when different subjects are studied. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered annually.

356 Contemporary Ethics (AV, W)
An advanced study of recent and contemporary work in ethical theory. Readings may include the work of Christine Korsgaard, Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, and Derek Parfit, among others. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

360 Advanced Symbolic Logic
An investigation of topics in formal logic beyond first-order logic. Topics may include model theory; proof theory; proofs of various metatheorems concerning classical first-order logic; and/or development of other systems of logic such as second-order logics, modal logics, or many-valued logics. Prerequisite: Prior completion of Philosophy 102 (Elementary Symbolic Logic) or Mathematics 200 (Techniques of Mathematical Proof), or consent of instructor. Offered every third semester.

370 Special Topics
An examination, at the advanced level, of selected topics in philosophy not covered in the regular course offerings. May be repeated for credit when different subjects are studied. See current Program of Classes to determine if this course fulfills general education requirements. Prerequisite: One course n Philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered as needed.

380/381 Independent Study in Philosophy
Topics to be arranged in consultation with individual members of the philosophy department. Normally topics may not duplicate regular departmental course offerings. Prerequisite: Prior completion of at least three courses in philosophy and consent of instructor. Offered on request.

397 Internship in Philosophy
Students in their junior or senior year may do an internship related to their philosophical interest on a credit/no-credit basis. Career Education 300 (Career/Internship Preparation), offered by the Career Center, prepares students for these experiences. To be arranged in consultation with members of the philosophy department. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing and consent of instructor. Offered on request.

403 Research Honors in Philosophy
Independent study leading to the defense of a research honors project. Intended primarily for senior philosophy majors, though philosophy minors and majors in other disciplines may qualify. Prerequisite: Senior standing in philosophy or consent of instructor. Offered on request.