Course Offerings - Catalog 2012-13

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Division of Humanities

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 100-level 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.


Eva Cadavid (chair), David Hall, Daniel Kirchner, Andrew Roche


Lauren Mashburn, Luke Wetton

Requirements for the Major

One of PHI 110, 130, 140, 160 or 170;
PHI 210, 220 and 230;
One of PHI 330, 370 or 380;
PHI 500;
Four additional 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.

Philosophy Courses

PHI 110 Introduction to Philosophy
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
An introduction to informal logic. This course focuses on correct reasoning, including the evaluation and construction of arguments in everyday life. Topics include: fallacies, definitions, and syllogistic logic.
PHI 140 An Introduction to Ethical Thinking
An introduction into how to develop ethical thinking into a properly philosophical and theoretical enterprise. By taking up such controversial topics as circumcision, cannibalism, vegetarianism, animal and human experimentation, abortion, the right to die, environmental ethics, genocide, and others, students will seek deeper understanding of the challenges of ethical problems and the ways in which philosophers try to solve them through the major ethical theories. Along with an understanding of the primary ethical theories, students will gain an appreciation for the every day practicality of philosophy.

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 Aristotle. 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 230 Symbolic Logic
An introduction to deductive logic.  The course begins with sentential logic, which is the study of implication relations among sentences where sentences are taken as the basic units of examination.  It proceeds to predicate logic, which takes into account certain syntactical components of sentences, including quantifiers (“every,” “some,” etc.), names and definite descriptions (“Gracie,” “the mountain,” etc.), and predicates, both monadic (“… is blue”) and polyadic ( “… loves …,” etc.).

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 science course.

PHI 302 Applied Ethics
A critical investigation into the specific problems and solutions produced in a field of applied ethics, such as biomedical ethics, environmental ethics, or business ethics. Students will first gain theoretical knowledge of the central ethical theories, i.e. virtue ethics, deontological ethics, and consequentialist ethics, so that they can then learn how to generate ethical principles and use them to solve difficult ethical problems that arise in real-world contexts. The course will include readings in the history of philosophy, contemporary articles in ethics, and case studies of ethical problems.

PHI 305 “Eat Your Values”: The Ethics of Food
Eating is our most basic and common ethical action. But the ethics of food has yet to be the central feature of recent discussions of the social, political, environmental and international implications of industrial food production. This course investigates the ethical implications of our choices about what to eat and drink, and advances a theory that claims that we ought to make these decisions consistently and according to the values we have. Such an imperative requires each individual to alter their choices and in turn effect a change in our production and consumption of food. No prerequisites.

  PHI 315 Ethical Theories
A critical examination of the major ethical theories in philosophy (eudaimonism, virtue ethics, deontological, consequentialist, emotivist, existentialist). Students will critically engage readings from the history of philosophy, including, but not limited to, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Epicureans, Stoics, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Sartre, Williams, MacIntyre and others, to see whether and how the theories answer questions about the self, agency, source of moral obligations, and connection to the community.

PHI 316 Feminism and Philosophy
This course focuses on the intersection of feminist theory and philosophy. We will discuss issues in feminism and their import to areas of philosophy such as ethics, social philosophy, and theory of knowledge. Some of the questions we will ask are: What is sexism? What is gender? Is value gendered? Is knowledge gendered?

PHI 320 Philosophical Psychology
A critical survey of issues in the philosophy of mind.  Topics may include:  the mind-body problem, mental representation, consciousness, perception, and self-knowledge.

PHI 327 Philosophy and Literature
This course explores the close connection between philosophy and literature through the philosophical investigation of phenomena taken from common experience but “discovered” and made visible in literary works. The course also explores the idea that the integration of philosophy and literature can lead to profound new phenomenological insights. Readings include both philosophical theory and works of literature.

PHI 328  Kant
Kant is often billed as synthesizing the best of previous opposed philosophical traditions (rationalism and empiricism in epistemology, rationalism and sentimentalism in moral philosophy) and challenging their shared assumptions. This course is an examination of Kant’s project. Topics considered include: the synthetic a prior, the ideality of space and time, Kant’s response to Leibniz’s conception of substance and Hume’s skepticism about causality, his “refutation” of Cartesian skepticism, his explanation of the possibility of freedom, his defese of the “categorical imperative” as the fundamental principle of morality, and his defense of morality itself.  Prerequisities: PHI 220 or consent of the instructor.

PHI 330 19th-Century Philosophy
An examination of leading figures and movements in the philosophy of this century, such as Schiller, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, the Romantics, 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 351 Theological Existentialism
Focusing on thinkers like Soren Kierkegaard, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Gabriel Marcel, this course addresses theological currents within philosophical existentialism. These philosophers and theologians follow the principal existentialist thinkers—Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus—in asserting that existence precedes essence, but argue that this assertion does not rule out the possibility of the existence of God. Prerequisite: One introductory course in religion or philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHI 352 Hellenistic Philosophy
A survey of the philosophical schools in Ancient Greece from the late 4th to the 1st century B.C.E.   The course considers the views of the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Skeptics focusing on knowledge, reality, and how best to lead one’s life.  

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.

PHI 451 Philosophy of Knowledge 
A critical survey of the current literature and issues on the nature of knowledge and rational belief.  Topics may include: skepticism, justification of beliefs, a priori knowledge, perceptual knowledge, and naturalism.
PHI 454 Topics in Analytical Philosophy
What is reality? Is the material world all that exists? Are properties such as being red different from things? What does it mean to say that something is the same thing at different times? What, if anything, persists through change? These are some of the questions addressed in this course. Students critically engage contemporary analytical readings from three topics in theories of reality: time, causation properties, and persistence through time. Prerequisite: one PHI course.

PHI 500 Senior Seminar