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Philosophy Course Offerings

A listing of offered courses follows with prerequisites.   The credit value of each course is represented by the number in brackets.

Area One: Technical
Area Two: Systematic
Area Three: Historical
Independent Study

Introduction


PHI 110 is offered every semester. All other courses are offered on a regular cycle.

PHI 110 Introduction to Philosophy [3]

An introduction to philosophical inquiry into the questions that have perennially engaged philosophical thought, through discussion and the writings of philosophers whose thinking illuminates those questions, such as the nature of reality; the limits of human knowledge; and the significance of social, moral, aesthetic, and religious experience.


Area One: Technical


The courses in this area provide the student with technical skills generally appropriate to critical inquiry, and necessary for the disciplined practice of philosophy.

PHI 120 Practical Reasoning [3]

An introduction to the logical use and analysis of inductive and deductive arguments in English: identifying arguments, discovering their patterns, evaluating their cogency, and detecting fallacious reasoning.

PHI 220 Introduction to Symbolic Logic [3]

An introduction to logic as a symbolic structure, distinct from natural languages like English, designed to extract from arguments expressed in a natural language only those features relevant to assessing their validity.

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Area Two: Systematic


The courses in this area enable the student to develop a philosophical engagement with the many dimensions of human experience, an engagement aiming at humanistic understanding and the intensified practice of philosophy.

PHI 210 Individual and Society [3]

Discussion of the relationship between the individual and society. Issues to be treated: ancient and modern conceptions of the self and of its relation to society; the need for a revision of our present concept of selfhood; the degree of our responsibility toward our fellow citizens, including future generations; the question of communitarianism and its relation to liberalism; and the relation of the political, the moral, and the personal. Prerequisite: PHI 110 or permission of instructor.

PHI 230W Ethical Problems [3]

Ethical inquiry through the discussion of actual ethical problems, such as abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia, and the arguments that are used to resolve or clarify them; and through the investigation of general categories, such as person, choice, agency, presupposed in ethical principles from which the arguments derive. Prerequisite: One PHI course. (Writing-intensive course)

PHI 232/PHB 232 Biomedical Ethics [3]

A philosophical discussion of ethical considerations arising from aspects of biological and medical research and medical practice. The course will examine issues of relevance to both the researcher and the medical professional, such as euthanasia, animal experimentation, abortion, and patients’ rights. Prerequisite: PHI 110 or equivalent; or special admission on the basis of high-level professional experience in health or relevant research sciences (such admission to be approved by the instructor).

PHI 233 Organizational Ethics [3]

Introduction to ethical theory as applied to organizations like businesses, governmental units, educational and service organizations. Discussion of what-ever special characteristics of organizations may be ethically relevant. Consideration of the relations of organizations to society in general, to those they are intended to serve, to their individual components, and to other organizations, as well as the relationships of individuals to one another within an organization.

PHI 240/REL 251 God and Reason [3]

A critical inquiry into classical and recent philosophical arguments concerning the existence of God, man’s rational knowledge of God, monotheism, the nature of miracles, and similar questions. Among the writings to be considered are those of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Marx, James, Russell, Wittgenstein, Tillich, and Hartshorne. Prerequisite: One PHI course.

PHI 250/GS 250 Philosophy of Love and Sexuality [3]

This course offers a critical analysis of the concept of sex and love, particularly as it has developed in the Western philosophic tradition. It explores sex and love as a defining element of human life, even in that “all too human” desire to step beyond ourselves. The role of sex and love is explored through various themes, like the acquisition of knowledge (as an ideal of truth), its place within religious life, and its stakes in ethical and political community. Students gain an understanding of determinate theoretical methods, like phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and critical social theory. Prerequisite: PHI 110 or GS 100.

PHI 265 Studies in Native American Philosophy [3]

An intensive inquiry into Native American values, epistemologies, concepts of identity and community, responsibility, and the environment. Content varies from semester to semester. This structure allows us to offer a number of particular courses, focusing on the worldviews of Native people. Students can study the Lakota/Dakota, Pueblo, Hopi, Navaho, Apache, Iroquois, or Pequot worldviews. Since Native cultures are intimately connected with place, every appropriate attempt is made to have a travel component for these courses. Reservation visits are arranged for students to meet tribal elders and learn oral histories. Readings by Native American thinkers are required. These courses approach Native cultures on their terms and as they would like to have their worldviews understood. All courses are designed and executed in consultation with Native scholars or tribal elders.

PHI 260W Language and Form [3]

A study of classical and recent philosophical positions concerning language, art, and other forms of symbolic expression, including such issues as creativity, linguistic relativity or universality, and the common as well as distinct features of forms of symbolic expression. Prerequisite: One PHI course. (Writing-intensive course)

PHI 270W Mind and Nature [3]

A study of classical and recent philosophical discussions of mind and nature, embracing such questions as the roles of perception and imagination in the human experience of nature, space, and time, the relation between human and animal, natural and artificial intelligence, and between human purposes and environment. Prerequisite: One PHI course. (Writing-intensive course)

PHI 271 Introduction to Philosophy of Science [3]

This course surveys issues in the philosophy of science. We will examine the nature of scientific method and the role of inductive reasoning in developing scientific hypotheses, theories, and laws. The course will also explore the notion of explanation in the natural sciences and the social sciences. Prerequisite: PHI 110 or permission of instructor.

PHI 340/REL 352 Philosophy of Religion [3]

A philosophical examination of the phenomenon of religious experience and practices, addressing such issues as the nature of the sacred; the roles of reason, experience, and faith as modes of religious response; and the significance of religious rituals, language, and symbols as means of religious expression. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course.

PHI 350/GS 350 Ethics of Gender and Sexuality [3]

Consideration of the presuppositions we bring to thinking about ethics and morality, and of the ways in which culturally constructed gender differences affect ethical theory and moral practice. We examine a series of important themes and issues in contemporary discussions of feminist ethics, e.g., sexuality, motherhood, community, cultural difference, human rights, and moral responsibility as it exceeds the framework of rights. Prerequisite: GS 100 or PHI 110, or permission of instructor.

PHI 361/PTW 361 Philosophy of Language and Theory of Meaning [3]

A philosophical investigation of different theories of language and meaning, addressing such issues as the conveyance of cognitive, emotive, and evaluative meaning by linguistic and nonlinguistic means, the manner of formation and means of analysis proper to each type of meaning, and the efficacy of meaning within the context of originator and interpreter. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course.

PHI 383W/GS 383W Gender, Knowledge, and Values [3]

Philosophy is an ongoing process both of criticism and of construction. In this course we critically examine how the different branches of philosophy—ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and others—have been inadvertently impoverished by being grounded largely in male experience. We study a rich variety of constructive moves toward a philosophy more engaged with the experience of all human beings. These moves toward gender inclusiveness in philosophy have been made by feminist philosophers and others who have recognized the influence of gender on philosophical criticism and (re)construction. Prerequisites: GS 100 or PHI 110, and junior or senior standing; or permission of instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

PHI 450 Problems in Philosophy [3]

Intensive study of major works, classical and recent, addressing one or more basic philosophical problems of contemporary and abiding interest, such as freedom, justice, evil, and the like. Topics and works selected will reflect the varied departmental specialties. Prerequisite: One third-level PHI course, or B+ or higher earned in one second-level PHI course.

PHI 491W/ART 491W Seminar: Art Theory and Methodology [3]

Critical and comparative study of selected writing in art criticism, art history, and aesthetics. Historically significant theories concerning the evaluation, the function, and the interpretation of the visual arts are examined. Prerequisites: 15 credits in art history, or PHI 260, or PHI 361, or PHI 380; or permission of instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

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Area Three: Historical


The courses in this area enable the student to develop a critical appreciation of the integrity and richness of the philosophical tradition, spanning more than 2,500 years, an appreciation indispensable to a liberal education and necessary for the sustained practice of philosophy.

PHI 265 Studies in Native American Philosophy [3]

An intensive inquiry into Native American values, epistemologies, concepts of identity and community, responsibility, and the environment. Content varies from semester to semester. This structure allows us to offer a number of particular courses, focusing on the worldviews of Native people. Students can study the Lakota/Dakota, Pueblo, Hopi, Navaho, Apache, Iroquois, or Pequot worldviews. Since Native cultures are intimately connected with place, every appropriate attempt is made to have a travel component for these courses. Reservation visits are arranged for students to meet tribal elders and learn oral histories. Readings by Native American thinkers are required. These courses approach Native cultures on their terms and as they would like to have their worldviews understood. All courses are designed and executed in consultation with Native scholars or tribal elders.

PHI 280/REL 280 Introduction to Asian Philosophy [3]

A survey of major religious traditions from Asia. Includes Indian thought (Hindu, Buddhist, and Vedantan); East Asian thought (Confucian, Taoist, their roots and offshoots); and West Asian thought (Sufi thought). The historical development of Asian thought is only one emphasis. Influences of Asian thought in contemporary thought and practice (e.g., Gandhi, Kyoto School) will also be emphasized, as will similarities and interactions between Asian and Western philosophy. Prerequisite: PHI 110 or instructor’s permission.

PHI 282 Classical Philosophy: Greece and Rome [3]

Reading and discussion of philosophical texts from the traditional beginning of Western philosophy in 585 B.C. to the death of Plotinus in A.D. 270. Emphasis on selected works of Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, and Plotinus. Prerequisite: PHI 110.

PHI 283 Rationalists and Empiricists [3]

History of Western philosophy from Francis Bacon (1605) to Immanuel Kant (1804). The rise of the new science and the rationalism of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. The empirical and skeptical thought of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Kant’s response to the two schools. Prerequisite: PHI 110.

PHI 318/HIS 318/JS 318/REL 318 Maimonides in Historical Context [3]

This course introduces the student to the writing, life, and historical context of Moses Maimonides. After a survey of the history of Rabbinic Judaism and Islamic culture, the life and times of Maimonides will be treated. The science, metaphysics, and philosophy shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims will be examined using Maimonides’ life and his philosophical, legal, and medical works as implements of analysis. Prerequisite: HIS 101 or permission of instructor.

PHI 372 The Postmodern Impulse [3]

Explores the history of postmodernism, after a brief review of modernism and modernity. Examines distinct but overlapping varieties of postmodernism, some from fine arts; others from philosophy, history, or social science. Themes cutting across the diverse strands of postmodernism include the ideas of representation, image, and sign, as well as ideas of power, multiplicity, and corporeality. Questions addressed range from how we are to read John Cage’s music, or Disneyland, to how we ought to situate ourselves in relation to world capitalism, identity politics, and cyberspace. Other movements severely critical of modernism are noted (e.g., pragmatism and critical theory). Readings include modern authors (Marx, Baudelaire, Le Corbusier, Nietzsche) as well as postmodern thinkers, such as Venturi, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Irigaray, Baudrillard, Deleuze, and others. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course; or permission of instructor.

PHI 380 Nineteenth-Century Continental Philosophy [3]

The European philosophical scene after Kant: romantic idealism, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and the Marxist reaction. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course, or permission of instructor.

PHI 381 Classic American Philosophy [3]

The classic period of American philosophy from the Civil War to World War I, with emphasis on the works of Charles S. Peirce, William James, Josiah Royce, and John Dewey. Discussion of the earlier American philosophers and the survival of the classic viewpoints in later 20th-century philosophy. Relation of the distinctive features of American philosophy to the American experience. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course.

PHI 382 Twentieth-Century Philosophy [3]

Major movements in 20th-century philosophical thought: Process Philosophy, American Pragmatism, Analytic Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, and Phenomenology. Discussion of the historical roots of contemporary thought and of its possible future development. Prerequisite: One second-level PHI course other than 220, or B+ or higher earned in one first-level PHI course.

PHI 384/REL 384 Islamic Philosophy [3]

A survey including major figures in Islamic philosophy, from al Kindi to al Ghazzali and Ibn ’Arabi, and the issues unique to Islamic thought and their attempted solutions. The time span will reflect the influence of Greek philosophy, particularly Hellenistic Neoplatonism as well as Asian philosophy. Efforts to reconcile philosophy with Islam will be considered, as will the problem of religious diversity and the influences of Islamic philosophy upon European Medieval philosophy and religion. Prerequisite: At least one 200-level philosophy course or permission of the instructor. (PHI 280 Introduction to Asian Philosophy and/or PHI 282 Greek and Roman Philosophy are recommended.)

PHI 190, 290, 390, 490 Special Topics in Philosophy [all 3]

Selected topics in philosophy, varying from year to year in accordance with the needs of the curriculum and the availability of specialists in such topics.

PHI 480, 481 Special Problems in Philosophy [3, 3]

Designed to provide for occasional coverage of special areas of philosophical thought that have not been intensively inquired into in the broad program. Topics are determined by the department depending on favorable conjuncture, availability of scholars, and timeliness of problems and trends. Prerequisite: One third-level PHI course, or B+ or higher earned in one second-level PHI course other than 220.

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Independent Study


The courses in this section provide the student, especially but not exclusively one who majors or minors in philosophy, with opportunities to pursue the study of philosophy independently, testing himself/herself as a scholar and philosopher against the standards of the discipline. Consent of instructor must be secured prior to registration.

PHI 460, 461 Honors Thesis [3, 3]

Independent study of an individual, movement or problem in philosophy, under the direction of a departmental advisor, and culminating in the submission of a senior thesis to a departmental Honors Committee. Prerequisites: Senior standing, 21 credits in philosophy (including PHI 220, 282, 283, and at least 6 credits earned in upper-level courses), GPA in philosophy no lower than 3.5, and permission of the department.

PHI 470, 471, 472 Independent Study in Philosophy [1–3]

Independent study of an individual, movement, or problem in philosophy under the direction of a member of the department. Arrangements should be made with the chair, but approval of the course depends on the availability of faculty. Prerequisites: 12 credits in philosophy, GPA in philosophy no lower than 3.0, and permission of the instructor, secured prior to registration.