Philosophy Courses

PHL 100 INTRODUCTION TO PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY
A beginning study of a selected number of problems in philosophy such as the nature of reality, freedom versus determination, the nature of matter, the nature of mind, the mind-body problem, the nature of space and time, the question of how we can know and by what means, the question of the existence of God, the problem of death and the possibility of immortality.  

PHL 111 VALID REASONING I
An introduction to formal techniques for determining the validity of deductive arguments.  These techniques are adequate for dealing with complex arguments involving multiple quantification.

PHL 205 ETHICS I: INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL ETHICS
How should human beings lead their lives? How does Right differ from Wrong? Good from Bad? What is Virtue? In this course we introduce and critically evaluate the attempts of several major Western philosophers to answer these and related questions. The goal is to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of their views in order to help the student to understand better the nature of morality, and to develop the skills and background necessary for independent thought on these matters.

PHL 220 THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
This course consists of an introductory critical study of the nature and the possibility of knowledge. During the course we will examine differing philosophical views about issues such as: the relationship between opinion, belief and knowledge; the difference between objectivity and subjectivity; and alternative answers to questions such as "Can we know anything and, if so, how can we know it?"

PHL 235 HISTORY OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
This course is designed to provide a student with broad familiarity with the most important figures in Ancient Western Philosophy. Some themes which are found throughout the course are: What is the nature of Reality?  What is the nature of Human Beings and how do they fit unto the larger scheme of Things? What Things are of genuine value?  How should one live?  Concentration is greatest on Plato and Aristotle. Some attention is also given to the philosophers before Socrates, to the Neo-Platonists, and Roman Stoics and some early Medieval thinkers.

PHL 236 HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY
This course covers major developments in European philosophy from the end of the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. Attention is given to problems concerning the nature of Knowledge and Reality which had emerged near the end of the Middle Ages, were sharpened by the birth of modern science and the Protestant Reformation, and which posed major challenges to long-standing traditional views. Responses to these challenges were made by such major thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Kant. These responses are studied in this course.

PHL 295 HISTORY OF WESTERN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A study of the central developments in Western science from the earliest written traditions to Copernicus' theoretical innovations together with an examination of the mutual influence of theory and technology.

PHL 296 HISTORY OF WESTERN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY II
A study of the central transitions in Western Science from the disintegration of the Medieval world view to the present theoretical systems, together with an examination of the role of instrumentation and technology in those transitions.

PHL 305 ETHICS II
This course investigates selected topics in ethics of special interest to contemporary philosophers. For example: How are we to evaluate the morality of abortion, war, reverse discrimination, technological advancement, and our treatment of the environment and future generations? Is moral responsibility possible in a deterministic world? Is universal truth about right and wrong consistent with the observed personal and social relativity of moral belief? How can we improve on the classical accounts of right, wrong and Justice? What, precisely, do "right", "wrong", "good", "bad", and other moral terms mean?  Topics will vary.
(Prerequiste: PHL 205 or instructor permission.)

PHL 306 BUSINESS ETHICS
This course investigates moral dilemmas which arise for business persons, and critically evaluates attempts to resolve these dilemmas. The responsibilities of business and persons in business vis a vis such things as: employee health and welfare, profitability, company loyalty, product safety and reliability, marketing techniques, the environment, and self-regulation will be illustrated and investigated through the examination of real cases which have arisen in business contexts. More general ethics issues relevant to the resolution of these dilemmas will also be investigated, for example, the nature of right, wrong and justice, and the moral foundations of capitalism.
(Prerequisite: PHL 205 or instructor permission.)

PHL 307 PHILOSOPHY, PUBLIC POLICY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
This course is devoted to a critical examination of issues and assumptions that are pertinent to the understanding of decision making in the case of public policy and affairs. Among the questions that form the foci of the course are questions such as: How should decisions about public policy or affairs be made? Could public policy be rational but unethical? Could ruthlessness be ethical if it is displayed by a public official? Must one blow the whistle on wrong doing? What is a public interest or a public good? To what degree are citizens responsible for the decisions of public officials?
(Prerequisite: Three hours of philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 308 MEDICAL ETHICS
In this course, we will discuss some of the philosophical questions encountered with respect to medicine and medical technology. We will examine arguments concerning the ethical dimensions of some of the following issues: (e.g.) reproductive technology, abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide, genetic engineering and the use of generic information, HIV, AIDS, and the physician-patient relationship, research on human subjects, allocation of medical resources, and medical errors.
(Prerequisite: PHL 205 or instructor permission)

PHL 309 LOGIC, LANGUAGE, AND THOUGHT
This class explores the limits of reason, and what these limits mean for a range of human endeavors.  The class brings together material from the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind, focusing upon the historical quest to formally understand the nature of reason.  To achieve this goal, the class explores: The dream of a logically perfect language, the nature of infinity, paradoxes, the limits of computation, and the difference between determination and predictability.  Once some of the limits of reason have been identified and clarified, students explore a range of practical problems where such limits may have significant real-world implications. The course should be of interest to majors in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, or to anyone curious about the nature and limits of knowledge.
(Prerequisite: PHL 111 or MAT 215 or CSC 221 or CSC 212 or COG 166 or instructor permission)

PHL 310 VALID REASONING II
Some arguments in natural language have structural properties beyond those studied in Valid Reasoning I. Here, we investigate those structures and modify the techniques learned in Valid Reasoning I. We also present certain derivational techniques for showing step-by-step how the conclusions of valid arguments are drawn from their premises.
(Prerequisite: PHL 111 or instructor permission.)

PHL 313 PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE
In this course we investigate the nature of natural language and some of its basic concepts. We shall consider questions such as: What is the relation between language and the world it describes? How did that relationship emerge? How is language related to the way we perceive the world? Are humans the only creatures on this planet with language? What criteria could be used to answer these questions?
(Prerequisite: Three hours in philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 314 EXISTENTIALISM
This course pursues the idea that the existential account of authentic existence may provide the clues needed for an entirely new, individually centered, existential way of rethinking traditional philosophical problems such as of personal knowledge, ethics and value, the body, feeling, the senses and human sexuality, as well as the theory of ultimate reality.
(Prerequisite: PHL 220 or 236 or instructor permission.)

PHL 317 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
An introductory, philosophical examination of the nature of religion and religious belief and such problems as those of religious knowledge, faith versus reason, God, immortality and evil .
(Prerequisite:  Three hours of philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 321 PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
In a scientifically and technologically based culture can one afford to be ignorant of the structure of science?  Do the last three centuries of scientific work suggest that science has a unique grip on the way to gain knowledge?  What is the rationality of science?  This course addresses the need to understand the claims to knowlege that scientists make and examines the structure and function of scientific laws and theories and the way they are related to experiments.
(Prerequisite: PHL 111 or 220 or 236 or 296 or instructor permission.)

PHL 322 PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
This course offers a specialized critical study of the concepts, theories, and methodologies of the social sciences.  Among the issues to be addressed in the course are the very possibility of a scientific study of human ation and the existence of a model of science to which the social sciences have to conform.
(Prerequisite: PHL 111 or 220 or 236 or instructor permission.)

PHL 337 HISTORY OF RECENT PHILOSOPHY 
A critical study of Western philosophical thinkers from the mid-nineteenth century to the first half of the twentieth.  Including movements such as Post-Kantian Idealism, Positivism, Pragmatism, Marxism, Existentialism, Phenomenology, Neorealism, Process Philosophy, and Analytic Philosophy.   
(Prerequisite: PHL 236 or instructor permission.)

PHL 348 PHILOSOPHY AND FEMINISM
In this course the philosophical underpinnings of feminist theorizing, specifically as they are revealed in feminist critiques of philosophical positions, issues, concepts and theories or their absence, will be critically examined.(Prerequisite: PHL 100 or 205 or WST 200 or instructor permission.)

PHL 360 PHILOSOPHY OF THE MIDDLE AGES
Exposition, analysis and criticism of the principal philosophical writings of the middle ages including such figures as Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Avicenna, Maimonides, Scotus and Ockham.
(Prerequisite: PHL 235 or instructor permission)

PHL 364 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY
A study of the ideas and movements in American philosophical thought as exemplified in Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, Dewey and Whitehead.
(Prerequisite:  PHL 220 or 236)

PHL 370 METAPHYSICS
This course investigates the nature and being of the Self, the Universe and Ultimate Reality.  This course will focus on such questions as: What constitutes personal identity? What is the nature of space and time? Is there anything permanent? 
(Prerequisites: PHL 111 and one of the following: PHL 220, 235 or 236.)

PHL 442 SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY
Some conception of society is presupposed by every political philosophy and ethical theory.  In this course alternative conceptions of society and their relations to political philosophy and ethical theory will be critically examined.  Special attention will be given to the ideas and theoretical placement of individuality, community, work and family.
(Prerequisites: Six hours in philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 443 PHILOSOPHY OF LAW
This course is a critical philosophical examination of the nature and function of law, legal practices and institutions, and legal reasoning. Some of the following questions will be addressed in the course: What is law? What is its proper function? How are our own legal practices and institutions related to this function? Are there better alternatives? How is legality related to morality? Special attention will be given to the conceptual and moral foundations of alternative accounts of the nature, justification, interpretation, and limits of law.
(Prerequisite: Three hours in philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 450 CURRENT TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY SEMINAR:
An advanced study of a selected topic in contemporary philosophy.  Topics will vary from year to year.
(Prerequisite: Six hours in philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 460 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY SEMINAR
An advanced study of the writings of one of the major philosophers or philosophical schools in Western philosophy, such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, Rationalism or Empiricism.
(Prerequisite: PHL 236 or instructor permission.)

PHL 471 PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
Without thinking much about it, we rely on making some sort of contrast between physical things and mental things. What is the basis of this contrast? Are mental things like believing, hoping, perceiving and feeling just various sorts of physical things? Or is the contrast so strong that mental things are entirely different in nature from any kinds of physical things or physical events? Or is our habit of relying on a contrast between them simply based on confusion or on worn-out indefensible assumptions? We address these questions and others in this course.
(Prerequisite: PHL 220 or 236 or instructor permission.)

PHL 496 JOINT SEMINAR IN PHILOSOPHY-PSYCHOLOGY 
Conceptual and epistemological problems associated with the nature of psychology, such as the following: The scientific stauts of certain psychological theories, e.g., the Freudian theory of personality; the issue of mind versus brain; the reduction of psychological concepts to those of physics; parapsychology. 
(Prerequisite: Twelve hours of philosophy or instructor permission.)

PHL 497 CAPSTONE SEMINAR IN PHILOSOPHY
The capstone is a culminating experience for philosophy majors.  One of the seminar's main components is the completion of a student learning portfolio.  The examples of written work in the portfolio will be used as one source of evidence for assessing learning outcomes in the philosophy major.  It will provide important indicators of students' progress toward mastering the main concepts and skills of philosophy.
(Prerequisite:  Eighteen hours of philosophy or instructor permission)

PHL 499 INDEPENDENT STUDY
Advanced study of selected topics.
(Prerequisite:  Three hours of philosophy or instructor permission.)