Undergraduate Courses Offered

Undergraduate Courses

PHI 2010. Introduction to Philosophy (3). An introduction to some of the central problems in philosophy. Students will also learn how to construct and criticize arguments and develop their own philosophical positions.

PHI 2016. Philosophy Through Film (3). This course is an introduction to a broad range of philosophical topics using film as a vehicle for discussion. Philosophical topics may include issues in Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, and/or Political Philosophy. A variety of films are used to raise important philosophical questions and to help in understanding primary philosophical texts that seek to answer these questions.

PHI 2100. Reasoning and Critical Thinking (3). An introductory logic course intended to provide students with an understanding of and practice in using reasoning to support conclusions and decisions. The course emphasizes acquisition of the skills necessary to draft clear, persuasive arguments and is particularly useful for those planning to further studies in fields such as law or business.

PHI 2620. Environmental Ethics (3). An examination of environmental issues past and present, and how they have made an impact upon contemporary society. Also analyzes the historical development of environmental perspectives and the ethical theories that have been generated by these approaches.

PHI 2630. Ethical Issues and Life Choices (3). A course that will draw on ethical theories to explore the major ethical issues that one faces as one makes decisions about the kinds of activities to engage in and the kind of life to lead. Issues such as those involving life and death (e.g., abortion, euthanasia, animal rights) and social justice (e.g., discrimination, responsibility to future generations) will be examined.

PHI 2635. Bioethics (3). This course is an examination of the philosophical foundations of bioethical theory and an exploration of the trenchant issues in contemporary bioethics with a concentration on discussions of race, gender, and vulnerable populations (e.g. the poor, immigrants). We will employ tools of ethical theory, philosophical analysis, and analytic writing to examine a number of moral issues arising in health care including justice in health care, experimentation and research on human subjects, reproductive technology, aging, organ donation, and euthanasia. Throughout the course we will examine assumptions about rights, persons, and ethical principles at work in medical decisions.

PHI 3130. Introduction to Symbolic Logic (3). This course examines the fundamentals of modern symbolic logic (propositional and predicate calculi), with special attention to the evaluation of symbolized arguments using the techniques of natural deduction. Topics include validity, soundness, proof, symbolization, truth-tables, truth-trees, and truth-functional and quantificational inference.

PHI 3162. Logic and the Law (3). This course is an in depth examination of the application of logic in a legal context, with special emphasis on methods of inductive reasoning, such as analogical and causal reasoning. The course focuses on the construction and the presentation of written arguments, and the evaluation of arguments from both historical and contemporary legal decisions.

PHI 3220. Introduction to Philosophy of Language (3). An exploration of major philosophical contributions to the understanding of language and its functions in communication. Discussion of the concepts of meaning, truth, reference, understanding, and interpretation. Readings include classics of 20th century philosophy.

PHI 3300. Knowledge and Belief (3). A critical analysis of contemporary theories about the fundamentals of human knowledge: what ought to count as knowledge; how we get it; the roles of certainty, doubt, and skepticism; and the means by which we might maximize it.

PHI 3320. Philosophy of Mind (3). Analysis of central issues in the philosophy of mind. Topics may include: the mind-body problem, the unity of the mind, the nature of consciousness, artificial intelligence, and free will.

PHI 3330. Free Will (3). Free will is important to us for many different reasons. For instance, we might care about free will because we want to have control over our actions. We might also care about free will because we believe that people are not morally responsible for their actions unless they have free will. Without free will, we might think, no one deserves praise, blame, reward or punishment for anything they have done. This course will cover a number of different philosophical positions on free will and moral responsibility, and some of the arguments for and against these positions.

PHI 3331. Philosophy of Action (3). The philosophy of action lies at the intersection of the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. Questions examined in this course include the following: How are intentional human actions to be explained? What is t to do something intentionally? How should we analyze or understand such concepts as intention, desire, and reason for action and related concepts featured in ordinary explanations of intentional actions? What is motivation, and how are actions motivated? What is it to act freely, or of one’s own free will? Under what conditions are we morally responsible for what we do?

PHI 3400. History and Philosophy of Science (3). A close look at some of the crucial philosophical problems of the sciences as they have developed throughout history, from Aristotle through Galileo, Pasteur, and Einstein, including what methods count as scientific, along with a consideration of how science has changed the world and the role of values.

PHI 3452. Philosophy of Biology (3). This course introduces the major debates in philosophy of biology, including those surrounding the extended evolutionary synthesis, laws of evolution, units of selection, adaptationism, specification, etc. This course brings together the biological sciences and the tools of analytic philosophy to better understand some of the theoretical problems in biology.

PHI 3641. Business Ethics (3). An identification and a discussion of defensible solutions for moral and ethical problems as they arise in the conduct of business and economic transactions. International business settings and the ethical problems arising from the need to design products and services that appeal to diverse national and world populations are considered.

PHI 3670. Ethical Theory (3). A study of the nature of morality and moral reasoning through critical analyses of the writings of classical and contemporary ethical theorists directed to answering the questions, "What is good?" and "What ought I do?"

PHI 3700. Philosophy of Religion (3). Analysis of major issues in philosophy of religion. Topics may include the rationality of religious belief, faith, religious experience, religious language, evil, and the relation between religion and morality. Also offered by the Department of Religion.

PHI 3800. Philosophy of the Arts (3). An introduction to central issues in philosophy of the arts and aesthetics. Topics may include the nature of beauty, the nature of art, realism in painting, interpretation in literature, the nature of dance, and expressiveness in music. Readings include both historical and contemporary sources.

PHI 3881. Philosophy of Music (3). An introduction to the contemporary literature regarding the philosophy of music. Questions posed include: What is music? Does music express emotions? How is music to be evaluated? How does one "understand" music? Why can cross-cultural understanding of music be difficult? What constitutes an authentic performance?

PHI 3882. Philosophy in Literature (3). An exploration of how metaphysical and moral ideas function within the structure of selected novels and plays.

PHI 3930r. Selected Topics (1-3). May be repeated to a maximum of three semester hours.

PHI 4083. Research in Philosophy (3). Prerequisites: Philosophy major status, completion of at least two upper division philosophy courses, and instructor permission. This course provides students with the opportunity for an in-depth research experience. Students choose the topic and reading list for the research in consultation with the instructor.

PHI 4134. Modern Logic I (3). Prerequisite: IDS 3358 or equivalent or instructor permission. An intermediate course in modern symbolic logic, with special attention to the semantic evaluation of symbolized arguments. Topics include schemata and interpretation, models, satisfiability, normal forms, expressive completeness, proof procedures, metalogical laws, and soundness and completeness theorems.

PHI 4137. Modern Logic II (3). Prerequisite: PHI 4134. An advanced course in modern symbolic logic. Topics discusses include the compactness theorem, the logic of identity, names and descriptions, second-order logic, type theory, the ancestral, the Frege-Russell definition of natural number, and Gödel's incompleteness results.

PHI 4500. Metaphysics (3). Critical consideration of recent philosophical work from a variety of points of view on the question of what exists; for example, matter, mind, time, space, universal properties, causes, and essences.

PHI 4905r. Directed Individual Study (1-3). May be repeated to a maximum of six semester hours.

PHI 4912r. Honors Work (3). May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.

PHI 4930r. Philosophical Problems (3). An examination of selected philosophical problems from an advanced point of view. May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours.

PHI 4938r. Seminar for Majors (3). Variable-content seminar for majors to do in-depth work in selected philosophical topics/areas and to practice writing a substantive philosophical paper. May be repeated once with instructor permission to a maximum of six semester hours.

PHI 4999r. Tutorial in Philosophy (1-3). Critical readings and discussions of important classical and contemporary philosophical texts. Variable content. Variable credit: one to two semester hours for a reading course; two to three semester hours for a reading course with substantial writing. Repeatable with instructor permission to a maximum of twelve semester hours.

History of Philosophy

PHH 3061. Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (3). A survey of Western philosophy from the third to the 16th century, beginning with the work of Christian, Jewish, and Arabic philosophers, and then turning to the rise of humanism, individualism, and science.

PHH 3130. Plato and His Predecessors (3). Ancient Greek philosophy from its beginnings to the work of one of its greatest practitioners. Questions posed include: What is there? What can I know about it? What should I do?

PHH 3140. Aristotle to Augustine (3). Philosophy from the "Master of Those Who Knew" (Aristotle) through to the end of the ancient world and the dominance of Christianity. Topics include: the structure of the world order, God, man's place.

PHH 3400. Modern Philosophy (3). A critical study of the theories of 17th-and 18th-century Western philosophers through a careful examination of representative texts from both the empiricist and rationalist traditions.

PHH 3500. 19th-Century Philosophy (3). An exploration of the diverse styles, ideas, and systems of such philosophers as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Marx, Mill, Bradley, and Nietzsche.

PHH 3700r. American Philosophy (3). An examination of major trends in American philosophy from Jonathan Edwards through 19th- and 20th-century American idealism and the pragmatic movement with emphasis on Peirce, James, and Dewey. May be repeated once with the permission of the instructor to a maximum of six semester hours.

PHH 4600r. Contemporary Philosophy (3). The main recent philosophical movements are surveyed through selected central representatives. Those considered may include Frege and his background, Russell and Moore, early Wittgenstein, logical positivists and their successors, Husserl and his phenomenology, Heidegger, Sartre, later Wittgenstein and his successors. May be repeated with instructor permission to a maximum of nine semester hours.

Social and Political Philosophy

PHM 2121. Philosophy of Race, Class and Gender (3). Concentration on contemporary philosophical discussions of race, class, and gender. Topics include the analysis of key institutions (e.g., work, the economy, family, education) and social issues (e.g., identity, sexuality, violence, and social change).

PHM 2300. Introduction to Political Philosophy (3). An introduction to the main issues in political philosophy: the justification of political authority, role of law, political obligation, neocolonialism, disobedience, revolution, rights, the appropriate ends of government, patterns of distribution and justice.

PHM 3020. Philosophy of Sex (3). This course is an examination of the contemporary philosophical debates about sex and sexual relationships. Topics include, but are not limited to how to define sex, the distinction between 'normal' and 'abnormal' sex, sexual exploitation and objectification, sexual consent, the relationship between sex and the meaning of life, and the nature of romantic love.

PHM 3123. Philosophy of Feminism (3). A comprehensive survey of the most important schools of thought and issues in feminist philosophy, with emphasis of feminist politics and ethics. Liberal, socialist, Marxist, and radical feminism and their differing views about equality and subjection are discussed. Criticisms of now traditional theories from women of color and of "difference" theorists are analyzed. Also considered are problems of particular concern to feminists: the family, sexuality, occupational freedom, harassment, rape, pornography, and domestic violence.

PHM 3331r. Modern Political Thought (3). Major political ideas of the modern world emphasized through a study of selected political theorists such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Burke, Hegel, Marx, Engels, Bentham, Mill, Jefferson, Madison, Lenin, and Mussolini. May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours. Also offered by the Department of Political Science.

PHM 3351. Philosophy of Human Rights (3). This course is a survey of philosophical discussion of human rights and the moral and political questions arising from their violations. We examine the philosophical foundations for human rights claims, as well as women's human rights, political evil and mass atrocities. We analyze questions of justice and forgiveness in the context of social healing and democratization.

PHM 3400. Philosophy of Law (3). A comprehensive survey of the most important schools of thought, traditional problems, and current issues in Anglo-American philosophy of law. Chief theories discussed are natural law, positivism, realism (including the law and economics movement), and critical legal studies (including race and gender theory). Also explored are different views about the interpretation of law and the role of the judiciary in American politics. Includes analysis of legal cases and consideration of issues such as justice, equality, liberty, privacy, and punishment.

PHM 4340r. Contemporary Political Thought (3). An exploration of a set of issues, a trend, or a school of thought in contemporary political philosophy. May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours. Also offered by the Department of Political Science.

Philosophers and Schools

PHP 3510. Introduction to Marxist Philosophy (3). A critical overview of the premises and theses of Marxism concerning the understanding of history, economic realities, political struggles, and ideologies as found in the principle works of its founders.

PHI 3786r. Existentialism (3). An introduction to existential philosophy through detailed and critical analysis of selected major works in the field with special attention to Heidegger and/or Sartre. May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours.

PHP 4930r. Studies in Major Philosophers (3). A detailed study of a major philosopher (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Kant, etc.) or school of philosophy (e.g., the Stoics, the Marxists). May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours.

Interdisciplinary Studies

IDS 2113 Know Thyself: A Philosophical Investigation of Self-Knowledge (3). This is a course about self-knowledge -- specifically, what does it mean to "know oneself", and what makes the knowledge of oneself different from knowledge of other sorts. We will read a range of philosophical and literary works that explore these questions, and students will write papers and prepare a creative work to showcase their own thinking about them.

IDS 2316 World Without God? (3). This course examines three main questions: (1) Can we explain the existence of our earth, and the universe as a whole, without recourse to God? (2) Can there be an objective moral code that we all have good reason to follow even if there is no God? (3) Can we have a spiritual or religious attitude to the world in the absence of belief in God? Until recently, most people thought that the answer to each of these questions was, No. But these answers are open to challenge. Scientists have claimed that we can have a complete and satisfying explanation of the existence and nature of everything without appealing to intelligent design. Moral philosophers have claimed that right and wrong are wholly independent of God's will. Indeed, some have thought that religion has retarded ethical development and understanding. Finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, many thinkers now suggest that agnostics and atheists can have a religious attitude of awe and reverence to the universe, and find life fully meaningful, without any belief in supernatural beings.

IDS 2454. Fantasy Girls: Philosophical Examinations of Women and Girls in Science Fiction and Fantasy (3). "One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman." Simone de Beauvoir The representations of women and girls in popular culture shape the common view of femininity, girlhood, beauty, and sexuality. Throughout the semester, we will make use of traditional philosophical texts as well as non-traditional materials, such as film, literature, television, and comics, to examine questions of women’s nature, girlhood, beauty, violence, oppression, and sexual agency.

IDS 2456. Who is Human? Culture, Gender, and Human Rights (3). The language of human rights has shaped international political discourse since the end of World War II. Yet who counts as human? In 1979 the international community first adopted the Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is informally considered the international bill of women's rights. In 1995 the Beijing Declaration specifically recognized women's rights as human rights and gender equality as a matter of grave international concern to be treated as in everybody's interest. The target of many international documents then and since, as well as of analyses of global gender inequality, has been primarily arguments from custom and tradition as key sources shaping the theory and practice of the gendered lives of women everywhere. Not all appeals to custom and tradition are in themselves problematic. Yet some are both problematic and the subject of contestation by universalist and cultural relativists about human rights. In this course we will examine the assumptions underlying these arguments and evaluate appeals to "culture" on their merits. In particular, we will discuss appeals to custom and tradition, including religious traditions, often used to insulate groups of women and girls from domestic and international human rights protection. We will address the global systematic phenomenon of violence against women in times of peace and war, the global system of traffic of women and girls, and such "cultural" practices as genital mutilation and child marriage among others. Finally, we will discuss issues that differentially affect the lives of women for the worse, as in the case of refugee women, or for the better, as in paths to freedom through personal and economic development.

IDS 2462. Human Nature: Modern and Contemporary Perspectives (3). What shape does a properly led life take? That is the fundamental question we all face. Socrates pursued a particular approach to this question, and philosophers have been pursuing it ever since: To know how we are to live we need to know what we are. Knowing what we are will tells us what sort of life is fit for us. This course explores and evaluates accounts of human nature that key, historically influential philosophers have given to this question and the ways in which their answers are reflected in contemporary debates about what we are.

IDS 2611. Classical Philosophy of India (3). This course engages with the Classical Period in Indian Philosophy through discussion and evaluation of the main claims and arguments of philosophical activity in India to see what students find plausible and what they do not, and to argue for their own responses.

IDS 2675. Philosophy and Film (3). This seminar is based on some fifteen great films of the 20th century, using them as a vehicle to explore important philosophical questions about the nature of reality, the meaning of life, the right moral course of action, the roots of great art, and much more. Each week we will look at one film, followed by discussion, and then every student will write a short (500 word) essay on the film and its philosophical implications and importance. Essays will be graded promptly and feedback given to students. A tentative list includes "Shane," "Some Like it Hot," "Triumph of the Will," "The Searchers," "District 9," "Ballad of a Soldier," "The Seventh Seal," "The Passion of Joan of Arc," "Bell de Jour," "Four Hundred Blows," "The Grand Illusion," and others. There is no text and no final exam. Grades will be based on classroom performance and written work.

IDS 3179. Ethics Through Art (3). This course is a philosophical investigation into the relationship between ethics and art. We will focus on the following questions: Can art contain ethical content in a way that furthers the philosophical investigation of ethics? Can some works of art help us develop ethical awareness? Does all art by its nature have ethical content, or can art be amoral?

IDS 3320. Human Nature: The War Within (3). This course explores questions about what it means to be human from an interdisciplinary and historical perspective.

IDS 3358. Making the Argument: Symbolic Logic and the Forms of Good Reasoning (3). An examination of the fundamentals of modern symbolic logic (propositional and predicate calculi), with special attention to the evaluation of symbolized arguments using the techniques of natural deduction. Topics include validity, soundness, proof, symbolization, truth-tables, truth-trees, and truth-functional and quantificational inference.

IDS 3364. Yesses and Noes: The Ethics of Consent (3). This course provides a critical philosophical examination of consent and the role of consent in everyday life. In the first half of the course, students examine theoretical perspectives on the nature and moral force of consent. In the second half of the course, students examine issues of consent in a broad range of applied contexts.

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