Professor: Whelan (Chairperson)
Assistant Professors: Mayer, Young
Part-time Instructor: Jacques
The study of philosophy develops a critical understanding of the basic concepts and presuppositions around which we organize our thought in morality, law, religion, science, education, the arts, and other human endeavors.
A major in philosophy, together with other appropriate courses, can provide an excellent preparation for policy-making positions of many kinds, for graduate study in several fields, and for careers in education, law, and the ministry.
The major in Philosophy requires eight courses, including PHIL 225, 440, any two of PHIL 301, 302, and 303, and at least three other PHIL courses numbered 300 or above. PHIL 340 may be counted toward the major only once except with departmental approval.
The following courses, when scheduled as W courses, count toward the writing intensive requirement: PHIL 216, 217, 218, 219, 301, 302, 333, 334, 336, 340, 440.
Students interested in teacher certification should refer to the Department of Education listing.
The Philosophy Department offers five minors:
(1) Philosophy: any four Philosophy courses numbered 225 or above, or any five Philosophy
courses that include three numbered 225 or above.
(2) Philosophy & Law: four courses from PHIL 225, 334, 336, a departmentally approved 340,
or a departmentally-approved independent study.
(3) Philosophy & Science: PHIL 225, 228, 330, and 333.
(4) History of Philosophy: PHIL 301, 302, 303, and any other Philosophy course numbered 225
(5) Ethics & Political Philosophy: any one of PHIL 216, 217, 218, or 219 along with PHIL 334,
336, and one other course numbered 300 or above.
PRINCIPLES OF CRITICAL THINKING
An introduction to the elements of critical thinking centered on developing the skills necessary to recognize, describe, and evaluate arguments. Not open to juniors and seniors except with consent of instructor.
PHILOSOPHY AND PERSONAL CHOICE
An introductory philosophical examination of a number of contemporary moral issues which call for personal decision. Topics often investigated include: the “good” life, obligation to others, sexual ethics, abortion, suicide and death, violence and pacifism, obedience to the law, the relevance of personal beliefs to morality. Discussion centers on some of the suggestions philosophers have made about how to make such decisions. Not open to juniors and seniors except with consent of instructor.
PHILOSOPHY AND PUBLIC POLICY
An introductory philosophical examination of the moral and conceptual dimensions of various contemporary public issues, such as the relation of ethics to politics and the law, the enforcement of morals, the problems of fair distribution of goods and opportunities, the legitimacy of restricting the use of natural resources, and the application of ethics to business practice. Discussion centers on some of the suggestions philosophers have made about how to deal with these issues. Not open to juniors and seniors except with consent of instructor.
CENTRAL PROBLEMS IN PHILOSOPHY
A study of several central philosophical problems, such as the problem of free will and determinism, the relationship between mind and body, the nature and limits of human knowledge, arguments about the existence of God, and the problem of personal identity. Not
open to juniors and seniors except with consent of instructor. Credit may not be earned for both PHIL 140 and 145.
Philosophy through Film
This course is intended to provide a broad introduction to philosophy. Film is used as a philosophical “text” to confront questions of enduring importance. Among those questions are the following: What is philosophy and what can it accomplish? What kind of person should I try to be? Does God exist? Why do good people suffer? Can human beings act freely? What can we know? Is there a difference between the mind and the brain? Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor. Credit may not be earned for both PHIL 140 and 145.
A systematic and philosophically informed consideration of some typical moral problems faced by individuals in a business setting, and a philosophical examination of some common moral criticisms of the American business system.
PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN EDUCATION
An examination of the basic concepts involved in thought about education, and a consideration of the various methods for justifying educational proposals. Typical of the issues discussed are: Are education and indoctrination different? What is a liberal education? Are education and schooling compatible? What do we need to learn? Alternate years.
PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE
A philosophical examination of some important controversies which arise in connection with the American criminal justice system. Typically included are controversies about the nature and purpose of punishment, the proper basis for sentencing, the correct understanding of criminal responsibility, and the rationale and extent of our basic human rights with respect to the criminal law.
PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN HEALTH CARE
An investigation of some of the philosophical issues which arise in therapy and in health research and planning. Topics typically include euthanasia, confidentiality, informed consent, behavior control, experimentation on humans and animals, abortion, genetic engineering, population control, and distribution of health care resources.
A study of modern symbolic logic and its application to the analysis of arguments. Included are truth-functional relations, the logic of propositional functions, and deductive systems. Attention is also given to various topics in the philosophy of logic. Alternate years.
RELIGION & REASON
This course examines philosophical questions about the idea of God found in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious traditions. What attributes must God have? Must God be a perfect being? Is the concept of a perfect being coherent? Is the existence of a perfect God compatible with the presence of evil in the world and the existence of human freedom? Does human morality depend in any important way on the will of God? Can the existence of God be proven? Can it be disproven? Is it rational to believe in God? The course approaches these questions via readings from classic and contemporary philosophical texts. Alternate years.
PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
A reexamination of views about nature and the relation of human beings to it. Many intellectual, spiritual, ethical and aesthetic traditions have taken a stance on this issue. This course examines some of the most influential of these traditions philosophically and considers how these views influence thoughts about the environment. Topics might include the following: how sentient, non-human animals factor in human moral reasoning, the status of the wilderness, the preservation of diverse ecosystems, the human relationship to the greater biotic community, moral questions pertaining to the transformation of the natural world into economic commodities, and the relationship between conceptions of beauty and the natural world.
ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY
A critical examination of the ancient Greek philosophers, with particular emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
A survey of the philosophical developments that took place primarily in Western Europe in the period from about 400 to about 1400 CE, roughly between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance. Philosophers from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish philosophical traditions are studied. The course is devoted to questions concerning philosophical theology (proofs for God's existence, the problem of evil, God's foreknowledge, the possibility of free action and the immortality of the soul) and to questions that aren't theological (the role of the state, theories of knowledge and perception). Readings are drawn from Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Williamof Ockham. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
A survey of seventeenth‑ and eighteenth-century European philosophy which examine important philosophical texts from some of the following: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. The course considers these texts in their historical context and also tries to see how the views of these philosophers have influenced ours on a variety of issues, particularly those concerning mind and matter, science and knowledge, and the nature of a morally acceptable government. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY
This course explores two broad areas of philosophical inquiry: metaphysics, which is concerned with general questions about the ultimate nature of the universe (reality), and epistemology, which is concerned with general questions about what we know or have reason to believe (knowledge). Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
PHILOSOPHY OF NATURAL SCIENCE
A consideration of philosophically important conceptual problems arising from reflection about natural science, including such topics as the nature of scientific laws and theories, the character of explanation, the importance of prediction, the existence of “non-observable” theoretical entities such as electrons and genes, the problem of justifying induction, and various puzzles associated with probability. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
A close reading of four or five defining works of contemporary political philosophy, beginning with the work of John Rawls. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
CONTEMPORARY MORAL PHILOSOPHY
A close reading of four or five centrally important works of contemporary moral philosophy.
Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. Alternate years.
Study of selected philosophical problems, texts, writers, or movements. Recent topics include ethical obligations to animals, lying and lawbreaking, artificial intelligence, intelligent design, and homicide. Prerequisite: Students who have not completed at least one prior course in philosophy must have consent of instructor. When topics differ, this course may be repeated for credit; however, except with departmental approval, it may be counted only once toward a major in philosophy.
PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH AND WRITING
In-depth instruction in both the independent and the cooperative aspects of philosophical
research and writing. Each student undertakes an approved research project and produces a substantial philosophical paper. Open only to, and required of, senior philosophy majors.
INTERNSHIP (See index)
INDEPENDENT STUDY (See index)
Recent independent studies in philosophy include Nietzsche, moral education, Rawls’ theory of justice, existentialism, euthanasia, Plato’s ethics, and philosophical aesthetics.
INDEPENDENT STUDY FOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS (See index)