Courses

Philosophy (“love of wisdom”) is the enterprise of thinking as clearly and rigorously as possible about the largest, most complex questions ever raised by human beings: What is the nature of reality? How can we acquire knowledge? How ought we to live? What is the meaning of life? Students explore these and similarly profound and enduring questions through courses in the major systematic areas of philosophy -- logic metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics -- as well as courses in the history of philosophy. Students emerge from these courses better equipped to think deeply, argue rigorously, write clearly, and speak effectively.

Courses

PHI-101 INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS (4)
How ought we to live? What makes an act right, or a person virtuous? Is morality relative to culture? These are some of the questions we will confront in our critical examination of some major moral theories. Introductory level.

PHI-103 LOGIC (4)
An introduction both to the rudiments of critical thinking, with emphasis on analysis of ordinary discourse into formal symbolism, and to the properties of formal systems.

PHI-106 BIOETHICS (4)
Recent moral issues in medicine, such as euthanasia, abortion, experimentation on human and other animal subjects, justice in providing health care and in the allocation of scarce resources.

PHI-109 ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS (4)
An exploration of moral issues arising from relations among human beings, non-human animals, and the environment. Specific topics may include the value and moral standing of individuals, species, and ecosystems; biodiversity, development, and sustainability; and environmental justice and environmental racism.

PHI-111 PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY (4)
An examination of a selection of central philosophical problems, such as the existence of God, free will, personal identity, morality, mind and body and the possibility of knowledge.

PHI-112 CONTEMPORARY MORAL PROBLEMS (4)
An introduction to applied ethics through a variety of issues. Topics may include ethical treatment of animals, abortion, poverty, euthanasia or the death penalty. Ethical theories will also be introduced.

PHI-145 PHILOSOPHY OF RACE (4)
What is race? An examination of the evolution of the concept of race in the United States (focusing particularly on science and law) and contemporary philosophical treatments of race as a social construction with moral and political implications. Topics include: ethnicity vs. race; the intersection of race with gender, class, sexuality, disability and nationality; white privilege; and a current policy issue such as affirmative action.
(Cross-listed with AS-145)

PHI-155 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION  (4)
This course is an introduction to some of the philosophical problems of religion, including the apparent universality and the origins of religion, religious pluralism and relativism, religious experience, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, religion and ethics, faith and reason. (Cross-listed with REL-199)

PHI-195 TOPICS IN APPLIED ETHICS (4)
This entry-level course will introduce students to one area of applied ethics. The area of focus may be sexual ethics, bioethics or something else. Students will also learn how to read, analyze and write philosophy.

PHI-206 ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY (4)
The thought of major figures in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratic era to the Hellenistic age.

PHI-208 MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY (4)
The major philosophical issues and figures of the medieval period. Particular attention to St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas and William of Occam.

PHI-209 MODERN PHILOSOPHY (4)
Metaphysics and epistemology of the central philosophers of the modern period: Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locks, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.

PHI-210 EPISTEMOLOGY (4)
Study of major issues in contemporary theories of knowledge.

PHI-212 MORAL PHILOSOPHY (4)
An introduction to some of the West’s most significant and influential ethical theories through original texts. Works of Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, and Mill will be discussed.

PHI-217 MIND, SELF AND PERSONAL IDENTITY (4)
The mind-body problem and basic metaphysical issues related to whether human persons can survive bodily death.

PHI-225 METAPHYSICS (4)
Study of philosophical theories about the fundamental nature of reality.

PHI-230 PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (4)
An introduction to basic issues in the philosophy of science: induction, lawlikeness, realism and instrumentalism, confirmation and explanation.

PHI-233 EXISTENTIALISM  (4) 
An examination of various existential challenges and alternatives to traditional philosophical views in metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Readings from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and other existentialist philosophers and novelists.

PHI-241 PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE (4)
It's hard to overestimate the importance of language to human beings. And yet, it was not until the 20th century that philosophers turned directly and en mass to the study of language. Indeed, contemporary philosophy has become so preoccupied with the study of language that one can scarcely understand the current philosophical landscape without some grounding in the philosophy of language. Hence, we have this course; it will be our task in this course to figure out what a philosophical understanding of language would be, as well as to determine what we might gain from such an exercise. Among the central questions we shall endeavor to answer are: What does it mean for an object, expression, etc. to signify something 'beyond' itself or to have meaning? Is language best thought of in terms of an abstract system of symbols or as a set of social practices and interactions? What is the relationship between the meaning of words and their use? How does language 'mediate' our thinking about things in the world? How should we characterize our understanding of words and sentences? In treating these questions, we shall cover seminal topics in 20th century philosophy including: Frege's distinction between sense and reference, Russell's theory of descriptions, descriptive and causal theories of reference, the analytic/synthetic distinction, the indeterminacy of translation, truth-conditional semantics, the normativity of meaning and ensuing skeptical worries, as well as speech acts and intention-based accounts of meaning.

PHI-295 TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY (4)
This course explores alternative approaches to the traditional problems of epistemology (e.g. ethno-epistemology, social epistemology, virtue epistemology, conspiracy theories, eth.).

PHI-297 TOPICS IN EPISTEMOLOGY (4)
This course will offer a rotating selection of topics in philosophy at the intermediate-level. Topics may include happiness, justice, aesthetics and social and political philosophy, or something else.

PHI-304 TOPICS IN ETHICS (4)
A semester-long exploration of the work of a particular philosopher (such as Kant) a particular approach to ethics (such as contemporary virtue theory), or a theoretical problem or debate (such as criticism of morality or moral theory).

PHI-306 ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY (4)
Advanced study of the major figures in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratic era to the Hellenistic age.

PHI 308 MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY (4)
Advanced study of the major philosophical issues and figures of the medieval period. Particular attention to St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas and William of Occam.

PHI 309 MODERN PHILOSOPHY (4)
Advanced study of the metaphysics and epistemology of the central philosophers of the modern period: Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locks, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.

PHI-310 EPISTEMOLOGY (4)
Advanced study of major issues in contemporary theories of knowledge
Prerequisite: PHI-209 or PHI-310

PHI-318 ETHICS (4)
A contemporary philosophical exploration of major issues in and approached to ethics – including metaethics (which concerns the nature of morality and moral discourse) and normative ethical theory (which concerns how we ought to live).
Prerequisite: one philosophy course

PHI-321 PLATO AND ARISTOTLE (4)
Advanced study of selected topics in Plato and Aristotle
Prerequisite: PHI-206

PHI-325 METAPHYSICS (4)
Advanced study of philosophical theories about the fundamental nature of reality.
Prerequisite: PHI-209

PHI-333 EXISTENTIALISM (4)
An examination of various existential challenges and alternatives to traditional philosophical views in metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Readings from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and other existentialist philosophers and novelists.
Prerequisite: PHI-206, PHI-209 (or permission of instructor)

PHI-340 CONTEMPORARY FEMINIST THEORY (4)
A cross-disciplinary study of feminist theorists representing a variety of approaches
Prerequisite: WS-100 or any philosophy course
(Cross-listed with WS-340)

PHI-395 TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY (4)
This course will offer a rotating selection of topics in philosophy at the advanced-level. Seminar format. Topics may include philosophy of language, Ancient Scepticism, Kant, freedom and determinism, or something else.
Prerequisites: will depend on topic

PHI-397 TOPICS IN EPISTEMOLOGY (4)
This course explores alternative approaches to the traditional problems of epistemology (e.g. ethno-epistemology, social epistemology, virtue epistemology, conspiracy theories, eth.) at the advanced level.

PHI-410 DIRECTED READING (1-4)
Directed reading courses are open to qualified juniors and seniors to pursue reading outside a program's listed courses. Please see the Special Curricular Opportunities section for more information.

PHI-440 DIRECTED RESEARCH (1-4)
Directed research courses are open to junior and senior majors to work with a faculty member on a project related to particular field of intellectual or artistic interest. Please see the Special Curricular Opportunities section for more information.

PHI-450 INTERNSHIP (1-4)
Please see the Special Curricular Opportunities section for more information.

PHI-490 SENIOR THESIS (4)
A senior thesis gives superior students the opportunity to write a thesis about a project related to particular field of intellectual or artistic interest. Please see the Special Curricular Opportunities section for more information.