Philosophy Course Descriptions
Introduces students to some of the key writers and concepts in philosophy, with a special emphasis on Western Philosophy (i.e. European and American). Topics could include human freedom, personal identity, the nature and existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature of knowledge, theories of truth, and approaches to values.
Examines formal and informal techniques for evaluating arguments in order to improve critical thinking skills. Topics include informal fallacies of reasoning, uses and abuses of language, arguments in context, symbolic logic, and validity.
Critically examines ethical theories of the criteria used to make justified and responsible ethical decisions. Considers difficult moral problems connected to topics such as killing, lying, fairness, sexual morality, environmental concerns, and professional ethics.
Explores moral issues relating to medicine and biology. Examples of issues considered include euthanasia, genetic engineering, disabilities, and allocation of healthcare resources. Students explore arguments about these issues using the concepts and principles of ethical theory.
Investigates Greek and Roman philosophy, with the possibility of including early Christian philosophy, in order to help students understand the origins of Western Philosophy. Includes figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, as well as movements such as Stoicism and Epicureanism, with a focus on the role of rational inquiry in the quest for human flourishing.
Examines philosophies from 1600-1800 such as rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza), empiricism (Locke, Hume, Berkeley) and Kant’s critical philosophy. Focuses on this period’s response to scientific and political revolutions.
Explores the nature and basis of our ethical obligations regarding the natural environment. Considers views of these obligations ranging from the human-centered (anthropocentrism), to the moral considerability of animals (animal liberation), to the notion that we have direct obligations to all living things or whole ecosystems (ecocentrism). Provides the opportunity to use these ethical perspectives to evaluate environmental policies, laws, or agendas.
Deals with the different forms of religious belief around the world—especially Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Islam. Cross listed as RELG 342.
Considers theories of the nature and legitimacy of the state and its laws. Also deals with topics such as the rights and responsibilities of citizens, ethics in political decision-making, economic justice, punishment, race and gender oppression, political and cultural identity, and the value and meaning of democracy. Cross listed as POLS 343, SOCI 335.
Examines philosophies from the late 1700s through the 1800s. Studies figures, such as Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Peirce, Comte, and Bradley. Focuses on themes, such as the historical and transcendental conditions of human knowledge, the possibility of progress, nihilism, and alienation.
Studies American philosophical movements such as Transcendentalism, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Positivism. Some attention is given to the relation of philosophy to characteristic themes of American cultural and intellectual life. Examples include religion in the age of science, Darwinism in social theory, the value and nature of education, social and political reform movements, changing conceptions of democracy, and cultural pluralism.
Presents a survey of the philosophical developments in 20th century continental philosophy, such as phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, and critical theory. Focus is on themes of being and consciousness, language and truth, history and culture, and theory and practice. Possible figures of study are Heidegger, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Habermas, and Irigaray.
Allows students to explore special areas of philosophical study in more depth than regular course offerings can provide.
Provides students the opportunity for advanced study of moral philosophy. Topics range from theoretical questions about the status of morality to practical questions about specific moral problems. Descriptions of the course topic for a given semester are available in the course schedule bulletin and on the religion and philosophy department website.
Gives the student an opportunity to do intensive readings in areas of philosophy selected in consultation with the department.
Involves research necessary for the completion of the senior seminar. Such preliminary research includes extensive reading, compilation of a bibliography, composition of a thesis statement, and the creation of an initial outline. Students are asked to demonstrate their progress in regular meetings with the instructor and/or department
Involves writing an extensive research paper on a focused topic. Students are asked to demonstrate their progress in regular meetings with the instructor and/or department. This course culminates in an oral defense of the project. Prerequisite: PHIL 495