Why Philosophy?

Philosophy Course Descriptions

100-Level Courses

101 Critical Thinking (4) Fall, Spring

Critical thinking is the best defense against intellectual trickery and self-delusion. It provides specific techniques and tools whereby we can avoid basic fallacies in our own thinking and detect them in the thought of others. Reasoning is a highly complicated human activity and cannot be satisfactorily studied in an intellectual vacuum. Hence, in this course, critical and uncritical thought are contrasted in the context of the world of human interests and activities - social, political and scientific. All of the basic "tricks" for persuading people to accept false premises and conclusions as true are systematically laid out and their detection practiced. Satisfies GE, category A3 (Critical Thinking).

102 Introduction to Logic (4) Fall, Spring

An introduction to the nature of contemporary systems of logic and their application. Students will learn how to abbreviate arguments in ordinary language, to deduce conclusions, and to locate fallacies. Recommended for students of the sciences, computer programming, or mathematics, and the general student interested in the structure of arguments. Satisfies GE, category A3 (Critical Thinking). CAN PHIL 6.

120 Introduction to Philosophy (4) Fall, Spring

This course provides an introduction to some of the enduring questions of thinking: What is the nature of knowledge, of morality, of justice, of the self, of religion, of the search for wisdom, of reality? Topics and approaches may vary from section to section. Consult the department office for current information. Satisfies GE, category C3 (Philosophy and Values).

200 Level Courses

202 Proseminar (4) Fall

This course is designed to help students acquire the skills required to successfully major or minor in philosophy, skills such as making effective oral presentations or critically evaluating demanding philosophical texts. The course will be based on an investigation of important contemporary or historical problems, and attention will be paid to both analytic and continental approaches to these problems. Possible topics of discussion are: postmodern critiques of science; moral relativism; arguments for the existence of God; the good life; the nature of emotions; the nature of beauty. Topics will vary from year to year depending on the interests of faculty. Prerequisites: current philosophy major or minor, or permission of instructor.

204 Applied Ethics (4) Spring

Applied ethics deals with ethical problems in different areas of human life in an interdisciplinary way. It includes, for instance, social and political ethics, computer ethics, medical ethics, bioethics, environmental ethics, business ethics, and it also relates to different forms of professional ethics. In a course in applied ethics a student can expect to explore the social and ethical impact of human behavior in specific areas of human endeavor, and can expect to learn how humans might apply normative rules in practical contexts.

205 Forum in Law, Ethics, and Society

A series of events focused on current issues in law, ethics, and justice.  The events will include visiting lectures, debates, film screenings, and workshops.  Satisfies GE, area C2.  These events will cover a wide-ranging and evolving range of topics, such as racial identity, climate change, technology and war, human trafficking, gender and sexuality law, distributive justice, privacy, and more.

207 Philosophical Movements (4) Spring

This course will explore philosophical movements and figures in an intersubdisciplinary fashion, which includes metaphysical, epistemological and axiological questions. Topics will vary but may include: Historical frameworks of philosophical thought, a focused survey of a particular philosophical figure, an examination of a particular school of thought, or the impact of philosophical thought on global history or culture. This class will be comparative in nature and class will be held in the lecture/seminar format.

273 Critical and Creative Readings of Philosophical Literature

This course explores a variety of key philosophical concepts such as truth, justice, equality, fairness, the good and beauty within the historical, socio-cultural and political contexts from out of which they developed and continue to do so.  Students will gain a deeper understanding of these ideas while learning how to read and write about them in a variety of different contexts.Satisfies GE Area C2.  Only one course numbered 273 in the Arts & Humanities will be considered for credit. Prerequisite: ENGL 101.

275 Race, Racism, Law, and Society

This course covers theoretical, practical, and legal issues surrounding race and racism.  Topics may include: what counts as `racist'; when discrimination is allowable; racial profiling; tolerating cultural differences; whether race-thinking makes sense; and the nature of racial identities like white or Latino.  This course fulfills GE category C3 and Ethnic Studies.

300-Level Courses

301 Philosophy of Science and Technology (4) Fall

Our lives are fundamentally shaped by Science and Technology, this fact has concerned some of the best minds in philosophy. Recently the scope and speed of scientific discovery and technological change has noticeably accelerated with the advent of information technology. Fantastic claims have been made in regards to our potential to understand through science and control through technology nearly every aspect of the natural world, including our own bodies and minds. This fundamental alteration of humanity must not go unexamined. In this class we will explore the great impacts science and technology has on our ability to know about the world, to understand our origins, and our efforts to promote or challenge our social values and the rise of technoethics. We will look at science and technology as a human practice that inherently fosters certain social values at the expense of others.

302 Ethics and Value Theory (4) Fall and Spring

An introduction to the philosophical analysis of ethics, morality and values, and a survey of the various systems of moral philosophy. The course covers such issues as: What is the good life? What considerations are relevant to making moral decisions? Are moral principles universal, or relative to a given society? How, if at all, can moral judgments be justified or moral disagreements resolved? Satisfies GE, category C3 (Philosophy and Values). Consult Schedule of Classes for topic to be studied. May be repeated (with a different focus) for credit.

303 Social and Political Philosophy (4) Fall

A philosophical examination of the Western tradition of social and political thought. The course will discuss topics such as justice and the ideal society; the question of justified revolution; the role of private property; freedom, individual rights and social welfare; different forms of government; and the role of values in political deliberation.

306 Contemporary Topics (4) Spring

This course introduces students to themes, thinkers, and debates within contemporary philosophy. While the specific emphasis may vary, the course engages with the open-ended problems and concerns that currently animate philosophical research. Students will be encouraged to think self- reflexively about the nature of philosophical thinking and the ways in which philosophy participates in public debates today. Topics may include globalization and financial crisis, democracy and violence, post-colonialism, neo-liberalism, and market-critique, religious pluralism, media and pop culture, law and social movements.

307 Philosophical Figures (4) Fall

Selected each semester will be an important figure or grouping of figures, such as a school, movement, or noted debate, from the philosophical canon or outside the canon. The figure or figures’ work will be introduced in such a way to historically contextualize their significance and place within the tradition.

375 Philosophy of Law (4)

This course will expose students to classical and contemporary issues in Philosophy of Law.  Topics may include the following: When can the government use the law to infringe on our liberty?  Is it legitimate for the law to force us to act in our own best interests, say by prohibiting drugs or prostitution?  When can the law interfere with freedom of expression?  In particular, can it prohibit offensive speech, such as racist or sexist speech, or pornography?  Should we abolish punishment, so that criminal offenders are never punished for their crimes?  This course will also address classical analytic jurisprudence.

399 Student-Instructed Course (1-4)

An introductory or advanced course designed by a senior or graduate student and taught under the supervision of faculty sponsor(s).

400-Level Courses

Advanced Courses 400 Senior Seminar (4)

A seminar for students in their senior year. Topics vary from semester to semester. May be repeated for credit.

450, 452 Senior Thesis

Writing of a paper deemed acceptable by a faculty director and reader. Superior papers nominated for distinction will be defended before the philosophy faculty. Students wishing to be candidates for graduation "with distinction" are urged to write a thesis. Prerequisite to PHIL 452: PHIL 450. Prerequisites: advanced standing and instructor consent.

462 Research Assistant in Philosophy (1-6)

Intended to give selected students experience in participating in the construction of a professor's research project. Prerequsites: advanced standing and a faculty invitation.

470 Teaching Assistant in Philosophy (1-4)

Intended to give students experience in assisting the instructor in a philosophy course by doing research and tutoring students in the class. Prerequisites: advanced standing and consent of the instructor. May be repeated for credit.

495 Special Studies (1-4)

Advanced individualized instruction and research with one or more members of the philosophy faculty. The course is designed to provide advanced students with an opportunity to do specialized research and study under strict faculty supervision. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor.

499 Internship (1-4)

Supervised training and experience in applied philosophy for advanced students in community organizations. Internship contracts are required. Cr/NC only. Prerequisite: consent of the instructor.
Graduate Courses

500-Level Courses

The Philosophy Department does not offer a master's program. However, a number of students have received graduate credit for work in philosophy under the auspices of the interdisciplinary M.A. Interested students should consult the chair of the Philosophy Department and the special major advisor.

595 Special Studies in Philosophy (1-6)

Advanced research and writing. Students work under close supervision of faculty members. Subject matter variable. May be repeated for credit.