PHIL - Philosophy


2017-2018 UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES CATALOG

Effective 1 June 2017 through 31 May 2018

Please see the Undergraduate Catalog Archives for PDF versions of past catalogs.


Course Descriptions

PHIL 1000 Introduction to Philosophy (3)

Introduces a broad spectrum of topics in philosophy, such as knowledge, reality, freedom, morality, and art. The emphasis is not only on what is contained in these topics, but also on how to think critically about them. 

PHIL 1010 Introduction to Critical Thinking (3)

Emphasizes identifying the techniques of critical analysis and analyzing arguments in a variety of short essays, most of them not by professional philosophers. Gives special attention to educating students to distinguish between their own beliefs as to the truth or falsity of a claim and the validity of the arguments offered in support of that claim.

PHIL 1200 The Meaning of Life (3)

This course explores what makes life meaningful from several perspectives, including Western and Eastern philosophical perspectives, theistic and atheistic perspectives, and social and political perspectives from different cultures both inside and outside the United States. Commitment to cultural values creates differences that often cause hostilities. This course aims to help students understand cultural values other than their own in order to promote an appreciation of and tolerance for cultural differences.

PHIL 2000 Making Decisions (4)

There are significant tensions between how we ought to decide (or how decision theory tells us we ought to decide) and how we in fact decide. This course reviews ideal methods for decision making, ways that decision makers habitually fall short of the ideals, and how decision theory can be applied in ordinary life to make more rational decisions and achieve better outcomes. Topics include mental and social impediments to good decision making, probabilities, risk, games, and bargaining.

PHIL 2010 Informal Logic (3)

Introduces the study of reasoning, including the nature of argument, deductive and inductive inference, meaning and inference, validity, hypotheticals, syllogisms, and the identification of fallacies. Emphasizes reasoning in a natural language and arguments in practical contexts with minimum use of symbolic notation.

PHIL 2020 Formal Logic (3)

Studies techniques of deductive inference in a symbolic notation, including propositional calculus and some operations with quantifiers. Covers theory of logic, including such topics as axiomatization, rules of inference, the distinctions between use and mention and validity and truth, semantic interpretations, completeness, and consistency. Cross-listed with MATH 1580 and COSC 1580.

PHIL 2050 Philosophy and History of Education (3)

Analyzes the nature of education, especially as it has developed historically in the West, paying special attention to the philosophical aims and aspirations that have motivated (and ought to motivate) Western education.

PHIL 2080 Topics in Philosophy (3)

Study of text or topic in a special area of philosophy. Contents and methodology on an introductory level. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

PHIL 2110 Introduction to Ethics (3)

A topical introduction to ethics. Topics to be covered may include: the nature of ethical reasoning, duty, and obligation; excuses, mitigating circumstances, and personal responsibility; conflicts between obligations and between duty and self-interest; conflict between personal and community moral standards; and the objectivity or subjectivity of values. Replaces BUSN 2110.

PHIL 2200 Philosophy of Happiness (3)

This course is a philosophical exploration of concepts, values, experiences of -- and contexts for -- happiness and its pursuit. The course centers on the question of what happiness is as both an internal experience, as part of one's "inner world," and as an external, social and cultural, reality that includes but also extends beyond one's subjective inner world. We will draw on two different theoretical orientations: a descriptive orientation, which addresses the question what is the nature of happiness?; and a normative orientation, focused on the question what role does happiness play in a good life? To enrich our understanding, we will draw on a variety of readings in philosophy and the social sciences.

PHIL 2300 Social and Political Philosophy (3)

Introduces philosophical issues and concepts of political thought from antiquity to the present day through examination, from different perspectives, of democracy, sovereignty and authority, justice, liberty, and the relationship between the individual and the state. Cross-listed with POLT 1070.

PHIL 2310 Introduction to Scientific Understanding (3)

Offers an examination/analysis of scientific concepts in their historical, philosophical, and cultural contexts. The aim is to enable the students to gain insight into the development of scientific ideas in view of the interactions between science, technology, philosophy, and society.

PHIL 2320 Contemporary Moral Problems (3)

Examines the opposing positions typically taken in discussions of contemporary moral problems, such as euthanasia, the death penalty, pornography, animal rights, and world hunger. The focus is on developing and critically analyzing reasons used to support a moral position.

PHIL 2330 Philosophy and Technology (3)

Philosophical consideration of technology, including such issues as how technologies embody values, technological determinism, consequences of technological choices, and how technologies can be helpful or hurtful. Typically focuses on one or a related group of technologies.

PHIL 2340 Bioethics (3)

This course explores the ethical issues that arise with changes in medical technologies and health care policies. Students explore the philosophical concepts of autonomy, duty, justice, and care as they apply to patients and physicians. Topics covered may include stem cell research and cloning technologies, organ transplantation, experimentation on animals, prenatal diagnosis and abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, access to experimental treatments, and allocation of scarce resources. 

PHIL 2360 Environmental Ethics (3)

This course considers how one ought to live, given what we know (and are learning) about ourselves in the physical and natural world. Students explore the values, rights, responsibilities, and obligations relevant to environmental problems such as climate change, air pollution, waste disposal, land degradation, water depletion and pollution, threats to biodiversity, and population growth.

PHIL 2370 Feminist and Gender Theory (3)

Feminism. Few words provoke the amount of anger, excitement, fear, celebration and qualification that the "F" word does. In this course students learn several theories of feminism, critically analyze them, and apply them to concrete social and political problems.

PHIL 2390 Philosophy of Sex and Love (3)

An introductory study of sexual philosophy including historical traditions as well as a variety of alternative belief systems. Critical analysis of topics such as marriage and adultery, sex with and without love, perversion, and pornography.

PHIL 2400 Human Rights and Animal Rights (3)

Many advocates for human rights see humans as possessing a unique and special value which places them in a separate moral category from other animals. Some argue that 'rights' is a uniquely human concept which cannot be applied to other species. In this class, we will examine the concept of rights as it applies to human and other animals in an effort to determine who is entitled to rights and what rights they are entitled to.

PHIL 2510 The First Philosophers (3)

This class is an exploration of the very beginnings of Western philosophy, an invitation to hear the authentic voice of its creators. We will catch the tremendous energy and excitement of this new intellectual creation at the moment of its birth, as we study famous Ancient Greek thinkers such as Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as other, later thinkers from Hellenistic times and the Roman Empire. Our main theme is "the art of living." We will investigate the ways that the earliest thinkers considered philosophy to be "an existential choice of a way of life" (as Pierre Hadot says)-a choice about how to achieve human happiness and an intense joy in living, using Reason as our guide.

PHIL 2520 Philosophic Classics: Early Modern Europe (3)

Early modern Europe, an era of profound intellectual, scientific, religious, and philosophic change, produced philosophic works with enduring influence on Western culture. This course reviews selected classics, familiarizing students with famous thinkers, their thoughts, and their methods. Prerequisite: PHIL 2510 is recommended.

PHIL 2525 The Scientific Revolution and The Enlightenment (3)

An introductory survey of the main ideas of leading Western thinkers from the 17th to the 19th centuries-an era of profound
intellectual, scientific, religious, and philosophical change. This period offered discoveries that went smaller, larger, and farther than humans had ever experienced before. As a result, intellectuals confronted questions about the role of experience in knowledge, about what things are, about our place in things, and about the limits of what we might know or say. Emphasis on the historical development of philosophical positions, especially the articulation of views in reaction to the ideas of others, the interactions between "philosophy" and "science," the development and consequences of the mechanical philosophy, and the veil of perception.

PHIL 2540 American Philosophy (3)

Each civilization contributes a unique intellectual culture that characterizes the values and aspirations of its people. This course explores some intellectual impacts and influences of the unique contributions of American philosophers. An introductory study that combines the historical and cultural setting of inquiry into the nature of experience, truth, goodness, and society by nineteenth-and twentieth-century American philosophers, including Emerson, Thoreau, James, Peirce, and Dewey, and their influences on later philosophies in the United States.

PHIL 2550 Existentialism (3)

Combining art, film, and literature, this course on existential philosophy aims to show that philosophy is relevant for life. Students explore existentialism-one of the most important traditions of recent thought, which gives primacy to our "lived experience"through a consideration of such vital concepts as "being-in-the-world," "authenticity," "bad faith," and "radical freedom." We look closely at what gives meaning to life and how to be a free individual. We give special attention to the moral and political implications of existentialism, particularly its implications for understanding gender and race (i.e., the nature of identity).

PHIL 2580 African American Philosophy (3)

This course will explore the history of African American philosophy in the United States. It will focus on the continuity of African thought and how it carries through to today. We will discuss topics such as the history of racism, the prison industrial complex, education, the role of the Black church, slavery, and Black Feminism. We will read thinkers like Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Angela Davis, and many more.

PHIL 2610 Intermediate Reading (2-4)

Designed for students who have little background in philosophy but who have demonstrated an ability to do independent work and have an interest in exploring some philosophical or non-philosophical texts philosophically. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor and filing of official form.

PHIL 3000 Proseminar (1)

This course develops practical communication, problem solving, and organizational skills as well as professional and cognitive skills associated with reading and writing in the discipline of philosophy. Students in this Philosophy Practicum course plan and manage the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference. May be repeated for credit.

PHIL 3080 Current Topics in Philosophy (3)

Upper-level study of influential texts or topics in a special area of philosophy, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of science, philosophy of social sciences, political philosophy, or logic. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

PHIL 3100 Literature and Philosophy (3)

Philosophical treatments of selected stories, novels, poems, plays, or films. Emphasizes the discovery of philosophical commitments in such works and the critical examination of their intelligibility, defensibility, and truth value. The question of the ineluctability of form is also raised.

PHIL 3110 Philosophy and Film (3)

Philosophic problems will be approached through their presentation in selected films. Emphasizes the discovery of philosophic commitments and claims in the works studied, the defensibility of those commitments and claims, and film as a mode of presentation for philosophic ideas. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

PHIL 3120 Philosophy and Art (3)

Raises philosophical issues surrounding the activities of producing and appreciating works of art. Sample topics: the theory of art, the relationship between art and other human institutions, standards of judgment in art, how works of art are meaningful and true, and the relationship between judgments of value in art and judgments of moral worth.

PHIL 3200 Philosophy of Religion (3)

This course explores the philosophical dimensions of religious belief and practice. Topics include: the nature of religion and of religious and spiritual experience; the problem of religious diversity; the nature of the Religious Ultimate, and evidence of its existence; evil and religious belief; scientific rationality and religious belief; religious naturalism; faith and rationality; continental philosophy of religion (God as "the impossible"); and the interrelation between religious, spiritual, and moral values. The course draws on writers and texts located within or in relation to various world religious traditions, especially Buddhism, Hinduism, and Abrahamic Monotheism (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) and Humanism.

PHIL 3220 Transforming the Self (3)

This course explores a neglected dimension of the Western Philosophical Tradition -- philosophy as a transformative, spiritual practice. The goals of this transformational process can range from resolving personal and existential issues, such as the fear of death, to attaining liberation or freedom. The core of transformational philosophical practice is not the attainment of abstract, theoretical knowledge for its own sake, but rather the subordination of the pursuit of knowledge to the development of wisdom and the resolution of human problems. Students will focus on a variety of ways of doing transformative philosophy and construct their own philosophical handbook, containing helpful and liberating insights and instructions.

PHIL 3300 Theory of Knowledge (3)

An introduction to the study of knowledge, emphasizing more recent or contemporary work. Topics may include the nature of belief, perception, certainty, justification, and knowledge; naturalized, social, feminist, and contextual approaches; relativism. Prerequisite: 6 credit hours of history of philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 3310 Philosophy of Science (3)

An introduction to the main issues in philosophy of science such as: the role of scientific developments in shaping philosophy and philosophy of science; the influence of philosophy and philosophy of science on the development of science; noteworthy philosophical accounts of the scientific enterprise; and characterizations of confirmation, explanation, scientific realism, the nature of theories, and the growth of scientific knowledge.

PHIL 3320 Continental Philosophy (3)

European culture of the last one hundred years has produced philosophical works that have had a profound impact on the way we think and live today. This course reviews selected works from the period, familiarizing students with central thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Foucault, as well as some of the more important movements associated with these figures, including Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Post-structuralism.

PHIL 3340 Global Ethics (3)

This class examines a number of ethical issues that call for international analysis and global perspectives. Students will have the opportunity to explore pressing issues such as global poverty and distribution of wealth, consumption and environmental degradation, working conditions worldwide, and global health challenges. This course delves deeply into the work of influential ethical philosophers from diverse backgrounds, with particular attention paid to the voices of thinkers from underrepresented groups. Special emphasis is placed on the concepts of agency, power, privilege, oppression, coercion, and consent, and students use moral theories to develop their own positions on specific issues.

PHIL 3350 Philosophical Ethics (3)

First course in philosophical reflection on the moral life. Includes the analysis of moral terms, the techniques of moral reasoning, the origin and nature of human values, and the justification of moral judgments. Specific topics and texts vary from year to year. Prerequisite: PHIL 2110, PHIL 2300, PHIL 2320, PHIL 2380, or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 3360 Global Information Ethics (3)

A general introduction to ethical issues created, aggravated, or transformed by computing and information technology. Addresses such topics as: privacy, hacking and computer intrusion, piracy, state surveillance, freedom of expression, Internet filtering and censorship, hacktivism, encryption, responsibility and risks of relying on computers, just allocation of computing resources, and social implications of networked computing. Compares issues both across the virtual and physical divide, as well as in varying global contexts.

PHIL 3370 Feminist Philosophy (3)

Gives students an opportunity to consider what it means to engage in philosophical thinking from a position of "the other" in relation to the mainstream Western tradition. Students are introduced to influential texts in feminist philosophy and identify interlocking threads of connection between various oppressed groups, aiding analyses of sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, ableism and imperialism.

PHIL 3371 Feminist Philosophy and Technology (3)

Considers technological systems in feminist perspective to understand how a technology can oppress or limit one group of people and advantage others. Topics are likely to include household, sexual, reproductive, and medical technologies, the development of standards and classification systems, the organization of businesses and states, race, the environment, and the future of feminist philosophy and technoscience.

PHIL 3372 Feminist Philosophy: "The Second Sex:" The Philosophy and Literature of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir was one of the twentieth century's most important and interesting thinkers. In this class, we focus on her major work, The Second Sex. We read a good deal of this text, and we examine its relevance for contemporary life. We also examine Beauvoir's literary efforts, including She Came to Stay and All Men Are Mortal, in order to see how she illustrates her philosophy. We consider de Beauvoir's response to both existential and political concerns, including the nature of freedom, the struggle for recognition from the Other, the situation of women in the western world (both past and present), and how to confront one's own mortality.

PHIL 3380 Ethics in Social Research (3)

An examination of some moral issues that arise in social science research and its applications. Neither a review of recent work in the social sciences nor a "cookbook" for solving ethical problems. Rather, the course focuses on relationships between researchers and human subjects, among researchers as professionals, and between researchers and the broader public. Prerequisite: 6 credit hours of philosophy or social science or permission of instructor.

PHIL 3400 Human Rights and the Environment (3)

Examines the ideological and practical overlap between human rights frameworks and environmental sustainability. What does it mean to have a "right" and to whom or to what does that notion apply? Should human beings have a right to a sustainable environment? Could it make sense to say that non-human animals and other living beings, such as trees and rivers, have rights? Students analyze specific cases as well as the effects of racism, sexism, classism, and nationalism on people's physical health and the health of their environments.

PHIL 3420 Philosophy of Race and Ethnicity (3)

This course takes a philosophical approach to a variety of issues concerning race and ethnicity. Course topics might include Race and the Prison, Black Feminism, Black Nationalism, Native American philosophy, Latin American philosophy, or Critical Race Theory. The course may also focus on specific thinkers, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X.

PHIL 3590 Theories of Human Rights (3)

Examines the historical development of theories of human rights and their relation to civil liberties; international law; social organization; and different conceptions of community, individualism, and the state. Also examines the most significant human rights documents in their historical context. May focus on specific cases and questions of current concern. Prerequisite: POLT 1070, PHIL 2300, or GNST 1600. Cross-listed with POLT 3590.

PHIL 3650 Philosophy of Mind (3)

This course is an investigation of various philosophical questions concerning the nature of mind, consciousness and self. The course travels a winding path from the classical mind-body problem (How does mind relate to matter?) to issues concerning the relationship of consciousness to biological life, the environment and brain (Is consciousness in our heads?) and the relationship of technology and culture to the mind (Can technology "extend" our minds, in some sense?). In the last section of the course, we will think about questions concerning the self, hallucination and dreaming (Is the self real or an illusion, like a dream?). We'll address these issues through reading and discussing both theoretical-discursive readings in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of neuroscience, and various case studies from Oliver Sacks. We will also view two films that place mind, consciousness and self in surprising and puzzling dramatic,aesthetic and philosophic contexts.

PHIL 4050 Topics in the History of Philosophy (3)

Advanced undergraduate study of texts or topics from the history of philosophy. Specific topics are decided on in consultation between philosophy majors and faculty prior to offering the course. Prerequisite: 6 credit hours of philosophy or permission of the instructor. May be repeated for credit if content differs.

PHIL 4450 Internship (1-6)

Places students in a position in a business, school, or in a public policy, social service, or similar organization. Placement will be such as to stimulate philosophical and critical reflection. Work is supervised by the faculty advisor, and the work will be the topic of discussion in a philosophy seminar or tutorial designed to facilitate reflection on and learning from the practical experience. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

PHIL 4600 Capstone (3)

A critical examination of a significant text, issue, or sub-discipline in Philosophy. Students develop an original paper of approximately 25 pages to be shared with their student cohort and faculty. Prerequisite: Advanced standing and permission of the instructor.

PHIL 4610 Reading Course (1-5)

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor and filing of official form. May be repeated for credit if content differs.