Courses in Philosophy

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PHIL 1000 Introduction to Philosophy (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to the classic problems and methods of philosophy, including topics such as logic, critical thinking, the existence of God, the basis of knowledge, human nature, the mind/body problem, free will, ethics, the meaning of life, and some applied moral problems. Offered every year.

PHIL 1010 Critical Thinking (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to basic reasoning and critical skills focusing on learning how to determine whether to accept, reject, or suspend judgment on a claim depending on how much evidence and valid argumentation supports it. The course includes learning how to detect arguments, how to detect non-argumentative psychological persuasion, how to detect faulty reasoning, how to judge statistical claims, how to judge polls and surveys, how to judge the quality of an experimental scientific study, how to analyze everyday forms of persuasion (in journalism, advertising, politics, and personal conversations), how to apply the specific standards of aesthetic, legal, and moral reasoning, and how to write clear, coherent, well-argued and well-supported essays and reports. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2000 Ways of Knowing (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to theories of knowledge from a variety of philosophical traditions, including topics such as mysticism, empiricism, rationalism, skepticism, pragmatism, and feminism. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2010 Social and Political Philosophy (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to theories and problems of social and political organization, with special emphasis on the concepts of government, justice, punishment, family, property, work, and peace. This course is the same as PLSC 2800. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2100 Contemporary Moral Issues (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to moral philosophy, including topics such as metaethics (the definition of good and evil, the source of morality, morality’s relationship to religion and biology, the proper goals of human life), ethical theory (the importance of consequences versus duties, virtue versus right and wrong, the ethical theories of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, Kant, Nietzsche, feminists, evolutionists), and applied ethics (abortion, euthanasia, death penalty, privacy rights, biotechnology, gay rights, animal rights, racism, sexism, multiculturalism, military policy, and others). Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2110 Biomedical Ethics (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to conceptual and ethical issues concerning medicine and biotechnology, including topics such as the definition of death and disease, the definition of personhood, abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, reproductive technology, patients’ rights, human and animal research, organ transplants, cloning, biotechnological enhancement, and health care rights. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2120 Environmental Ethics (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to conceptual and ethical issues concerning the environment, including topics such as the definition of “nature” and “technology,” major types of environmentalism, green politics, wilderness preservation and restoration, deforestation, animal rights, transgenic crops, pesticides, population control, pollution, and sustainable practices. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2130 Business Ethics (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to conceptual and ethical issues concerning business, including topics such as the responsibilities of businesses, obligations to employees, customers, community, environment, and shareholders, issues of fair wages, outsourcing, international employment, product safety, corporate culture, mission statements and ethics codes, whistle-blowing, marketing and truth in advertising, intellectual property rights, information technology and privacy, unions and workers’ rights, litigation and legal liability discrimination and affirmative action, accounting and fraud, ethical investing, corporate takeovers, and general ethical issues of capitalism, socialism, and commercialism. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2210 Aesthetics (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to the nature of art and specific art forms, aesthetic experience and judgment, and relations between the aesthetic values and other kinds of values (moral, political, religious, etc.). Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2220 Philosophy and Literature (4 sem. hours).

A study of various works of literature with an eye to issues such as the nature and function of language, perception and reality, self and the spoken word, theories of meaning, and texts and subtexts. Authors considered include Beckett, Borges, Pinter, Gass, O’Connor, DeLillo, Robbe-Grillet, Abish, Woolf, and others. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2230 Philosophy of Happiness (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to the conceptual, ethical, and psychological issues of happiness, including topics such as the proper role of happiness in life, the issue of happiness as an ultimate goal, the definition of happiness, the best ways to achieve happiness, the question of whether happiness is possible, the relationship between happiness and morality, scientific studies of happiness, the rise of positive psychology, mood-altering drugs, conceptual issues of mental health, and criticisms of happiness including issues of the value of misery, suffering, and depression. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2240 Philosophy of Violence (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to the conceptual, ethical, and psychological issues of violence, including topics such as violence that has traditionally been hard for people to pay attention to because of its horrific nature, the politics and physiology of torture, the machines and structures of war, the inflammatory writings of sexual deviant Sade, and the forgotten history of what is today called “trauma.” Two populations that emerge for our studies are male survivors with combat trauma and female survivors of rape and domestic abuse. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2250 Philosophy of Film (4 sem. hours).

A study of issues in the formation of personal and social experience through the mediation of film, using historically important films and film theories along with philosophers as primary sources. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 2400 Work, Ethics, and Society (4 sem. hours).

Students in this course will have the opportunity to use the instructor’s interdisciplinary approach as an entry into the exploration of work within the context of wider societies and cultures. This course includes a substantial ethics component. This is the gateway course for students minoring in Vocation, Ethics, and Society. It is crosslisted with RLST 2400 and VESO 2000. Offered every year in the fall semester.

PHIL 2750–2753 Special Topics (1–4 sem. hours).

A lower-level course on special issues not regularly covered by the curriculum. Special topics courses offered in recent years include: Existentialism, Pragmatism, Gender and Technology, Sexual Ethics, Philosophy of Time, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Personal Identity, Philosophy of Mental Illness, The Concept of God, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Ethical Theory & Metaethics. Offered occasionally. The course may be repeatable when a different topic.

PHIL 2900 Logic (4 sem. hours).

An introduction to propositional logic and quantification, and to a lesser extent syllogistic logic. Attention will be given to scientific method and induction and to informal analysis of arguments in language. Offered every year.

PHIL 3010 History of Philosophy I (4 sem. hours).

A survey of Western philosophy from the ancient through the medieval period. Philosophy 3010 is the same as Classics 3340. Offered every year.

PHIL 3020 History of Philosophy II (4 sem. hours).

A survey of Western philosophy from the Renaissance through the 20th century. Students are strongly advised to take PHIL 3010 before taking this course. Offered every year.

PHIL 3120 Philosophy of Mind (4 sem. hours).

An examination of the nature of mind, including topics such as mental versus physical explanations of minds, perception, optical and cognitive illusions, the limits of human knowledge, personal identity, artificial intelligence, evolutionary explanations of moral and religious beliefs, and thought experiments about zombies, brains in vats, brain implants, and robot civil rights. Offered occasionally.

PHIL 3140 Philosophy of Religion (4 sem. hours).

An examination of issues arising from religious experience and beliefs, including topics such as the arguments for and against the existence of God, the nature of the divine, the problem of evil, and human destiny. Crosslisted with RLST 3310. Offered in alternate years.

PHIL 3300 Moral Psychology and Neuroscience (4 sem. hours).

An examination of the evolutionary, cognitive, and neurological mechanisms of human moral psychology. Topics covered include ethical theories and the intuitive conflicts that arise in classic moral dilemmas, the problem of persistent inconsistent moral judgments, moral decision making, moral development theory, the nature and classification of moral emotions (shame, pride, disgust, etc.), attributions of blame and responsibility, moral judgment and causation, trust and loyalty, moral luck, and cognitive moral pathologies such as psychopathy. The course will cover the history of moral psychology but will focus predominantly on recent empirical studies of moral cognition using neuroimaging and neuro-pharmacological manipulations. This course is the same as PSYC 3300. Offered every other year.

PHIL 3500–3503 Applied Philosophy: Methods and Research (1–4 sem. hours).

A survey of philosophical methods of analysis and applying those methods to a specific research question identified by the student and the instructor. Applied philosophy takes a particular problem or phenomenon, and employs a set of methods to analyze and make recommendations for solving the problem or explaining the phenomenon. Those methods include conceptual analysis, definitional clarification, problem identification, assumption identification, possibility gridding, logical analysis, field observation, and experimental research. Students interested in this course should contact the instructor to discuss their particular interest. While the Philosophy department has significant resources for projects in biomedical ethics and medicine, students may wish to propose projects in law, public policy, religion, or science. Offered every year in fall and spring semesters.

PHIL 3750–3753 Special Topics (1–4 sem. hours).

An upper-level course on special issues not regularly covered by the curriculum. Special topics courses offered in recent years include: Existentialism, Pragmatism, Gender and Technology, Sexual Ethics, Philosophy of Time, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Personal Identity, Philosophy of Mental Illness, The Concept of God, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Ethical Theory & Metaethics. Offered occasionally. This course is repeatable under a different topic.

PHIL 3850–3853 Internship (1–4 sem. Hours).

Applied analysis, practical experience, and training with selected research, educational, governmental, legal, medical, religious, artistic, or business institutions. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Offered every semester.

PHIL 4750–4753 Special Topics (1–4 sem. hours).

A senior-level course on special issues not regularly covered by the curriculum. Special topics courses offered in recent years include: Existentialism, Pragmatism, Gender and Technology, Sexual Ethics, Philosophy of Time, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Personal Identity, Philosophy of Mental Illness, The Concept of God, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Ethical Theory & Metaethics. Offered occasionally. This course is repeatable under a different topic.

PHIL 4800–4803 Directed Study (1–4 sem. hours).

Intensive individual study on a topic of the student’s and professor’s choosing. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Offered every semester.

PHIL 4902 Senior Seminar I (2 sem. hours).

Seminar I is offered in the fall semester. Intensive reading in selected issues, schools, and thinkers and the completion of the comprehensive exam essay. Since the comprehensive exam is administered through the Senior Seminar, this course is open only to those completing the philosophy major. Prerequisite recommended: PHIL 3010 and PHIL 3020.Offered every year.

PHIL 4912 Senior Seminar II (2 sem. hours).

Seminar II is offered in the spring semester. Prerequisite: PHIL 4902.

PHIL HI–HII Honors Project 1 and 2 (1–4 sem. hours).