||Course Offerings | Philosophy
Division of Humanities
Jennifer McMahon (chair),
Brian Cooney, Steve Csaki, Milton Scarborough; students: Brittany Perrin,
The goal of the Philosophy Program is to teach students to think, write, and speak clearly and logically, and be able to analyze and compare values. These skills are invaluable in everyday life as well as in any occupation that demands leadership and administrative ability. The philosophy major or minor is therefore a very useful preparation for a wide variety of careers. Because philosophy deals with so many questions that overlap with other disciplines, the major or minor in philosophy also works very well when taken jointly with majors or minors in other programs.
Philosophy students read and debate the writings of great philosophers in the past as well as those of contemporary thinkers. Some typical philosophical questions are: What is the difference between believing something to be true and knowing it to be true? Are we free moral agents, or are all our actions necessitated or predetermined? What is the relation between consciousness or thought and the kinds of things that go on in a brain or computer? What makes an argument valid or a decision rational? Courses in philosophy commonly involve a good deal of class discussion and numerous small writing assignments in which students develop their ability to analyze texts, argue for a position, and write clearly.
A common sequence for a philosophy major to follow includes taking one freshman course in the first year, PHI 210 and 220 in the sophomore year, and three courses numbered 300 or above in both the junior and senior year. However, the order in which these courses can be taken is quite flexible.
Students intending to do graduate studies in philosophy are encouraged to take one or more courses beyond the basic skills level in a foreign language and in mathematics.
Requirements for the Major
One of PHI 110, 130, 140, 160 or 170;
PHI 210 and 220 and six PHI courses numbered 300 or higher, including PHI 310 and 500.
Note: Students may substitute PHI 130 for 310 but must still have a total of six PHI courses numbered 300 or higher.
Requirements for the Minor
One of PHI 110, 130, 140, 160 or 170;
PHI 210 and 220 and three PHI courses numbered 300 or higher.
PHI 110 Introduction
A course designed to acquaint students with the kinds of questions
dealt with in various areas of philosophy and with the methods of philosophical
reasoning. Topics include several of the following: free will and determinism,
arguments for the existence of God, the justification of moral judgments,
social justice, the relationship between the mental and the physical,
and the grounds of human knowledge.
PHI 130 Practical Logic
A study of the basic principles of deductive and inductive logic.
Common fallacies are analyzed and illustrated with examples from classical
and modern sources. This is not a course in formal, mathematical logic.
PHI 140 Happiness and Justice: An Introduction to Ethical Thinking
Discussion of a variety of problems central to the pursuit of individual
happiness and social justice. Topics include the relation between pleasure
and happiness, abortion, sexual equality, and fairness in the distribution
of economic goods.
PHI 160 Philosophy of Art
An examination of philosophical problems arising in the description,
interpretation, and evaluation of works of art. Topics include the nature
of the art object and of aesthetic experience, the possibility of objective
criticism in the arts, and the relation of aesthetic to moral values.
Readings from classical and contemporary sources, with emphasis on case
materials. Prerequisite: HUM 110 or 111.
PHI 170 Philosophy of Religion
A critical examination of traditional and recent theories concerning
such issues in the philosophy of religion as the existence of God, the
nature of ultimate reality, the nature and destiny of human beings, and
the validity of claims to religious knowledge. (Also listed as REL 140.)
PHI 210 Ancient Philosophy
A survey of ancient Western philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the
beginning of the Christian era. This course concentrates on the origin
and development of basic concepts and problems which have become permanent
ingredients of our philosophical tradition. Some of these are reality
and appearance, permanence and change, form and matter, causality, knowledge
and belief, and the good.
PHI 220 17th- and 18th-Century Philosophy
A survey and critical examination of philosophers from Descartes to
Kant. Of special importance in this period is the impact of the scientific
revolution on accounts of the origin and limits of human knowledge, the
mind-body relation, and the role of God in the universe.
PHI 300 The Philosophy of Science
An examination of a variety of issues in the philosophy of science,
such as the nature of scientific facts, the relation of theories to reality,
the criteria for the evaluation of theories, the role of the imagination
in theory formation, the logic of verification, and the importance of
the scientific community. Some attention is also given to the history
of science. Prerequisite: PHI 210 or 220 or 310, or a sophomore-level
PHI 310 Symbolic Logic
An introduction to modern formal deductive logic. A system of first-order
logic is presented and proved to be complete. Nonclassical logics and
other subjects are studied as the interests of the instructor and students
PHI 320 Philosophical Psychology
A critical survey of various approaches to the mind-body or mind-brain
problem, including dualism, epiphenomenalism, behaviorism, physicalism,
PHI 330 19th-Century Philosophy
An examination of leading figures and movements in the philosophy
of this century, such as post-Kantian idealism, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche,
Marx, Utilitarianism, and Pragmatism. Prerequisite: PHI 220.
PHI 340 Phenomenology
An examination of phenomenology, the most influential movement in
20th-century Continental philosophy, and of the phenomenological method
on which it is based in the writings of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty,
and others. Prerequisite: PHI 220 or permission of the instructor.
PHI 350 Existentialism
Existentialism embraces a wide range of thinkersfrom the desperately
religious to the vehemently atheistic. This course reflects upon writers
from both of these traditions, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger,
and Sartre, and tries to examine the effects existentialism has had upon
art and literature. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission
of the instructor.
PHI 360 Buddhist Thought
A critical examination of the major schools of thought in the development
of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Some attention is given to meditation
and to the application of Zen to the arts. (Also listed as REL 338.)
PHI 370 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy
A study of major philosophers and/or topics in the British and American
analytic tradition of the 20th century. Prerequisite: PHI 220.
PHI 380 20th-Century Continental Philosophy
A study of major philosophers and/or topics of continental Europe
in the 20th century.
Prerequisite: PHI 220.
Special Topics Offered 2001-2002:
PHI 420 Thought Experiments
Philosophers perform thought experiments to consider non-actual possible
worlds. The aim is to gain clarity in an understanding of problematic
notions, such as person, free will, morality, and the like. This course
critically examines the use of thought experiments in contemporary philosophy.
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
PHI 500 Senior Seminar