Professor: Whelan (Chair)
Assistant Professors: Berger, Young
- Courses required for major: 8
- Capstone requirement: PHIL 440
- Minors: Philosophy, Philosophy and Law, Philosophy and Science, History of Philosophy, Ethics and Political Philosophy
Philosophy at Lycoming is an introduction to the questions that have been asked in the philosophical tradition for 2400 years. The Department teaches courses in Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary Philosophy.
In addition, Philosophy at Lycoming is a vantage point from which to think about questions that often occur to thoughtful students as they pursue majors other than philosophy. The Philosophy Department offers courses directly relevant to students majoring in Accounting, Archaeology, Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, Education, International Relations, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Religion.
The philosophy curriculum is flexible and, therefore, students at Lycoming can combine a major or minor in philosophy with a major in just about any other subject. Students who pursue philosophy as a minor or as a second major will deepen their liberal arts education while at the same time preparing themselves for a career.
The major in Philosophy requires eight courses, including PHIL 225, 440; any two of PHIL 201, 202, and 203; and at least three other PHIL courses numbered 300 or above. PHIL 340 may be counted toward the major more than once with departmental approval.
Students interested in teacher certification should refer to the Department of Education listing.
All majors must successfully complete PHIL 440.
Diversity and Writing Courses
The following course satisfies the Domestic Cultural Diversity Requirement: PHIL 318. The following courses satisfy the Global Cultural Diversity Requirement: PHIL 125, 201, 202, and 203. The following courses satisfy either the Domestic or Global Diversity Requirement: PHIL 227, 228, and 334. A list of courses that, when scheduled as W courses, count toward the Writing Requirement, can be found on the Registrar’s website and in the GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS section of the catalog.
The Philosophy Department offers five minors:
- Philosophy: any four Philosophy courses (except PHIL 105, 216, 217, 219, and 228) with at least two 300-level courses.
- Philosophy & Law: four courses from PHIL 225, 318, 334, 336, a departmentally-approved 340, or a departmentally-approved independent study.
- Philosophy & Science: PHIL 333 and three courses from PHIL 203, 225, 228, 330, a departmentally-approved 340, or a departmentally-approved independent study.
- History of Philosophy: PHIL 201, 202, 203, and either PHIL 225 or any 300-level course.
- Ethics & Political Philosophy: PHIL 318; 334; 336; and a departmentally-approved 340 or a departmentally-approved independent study.
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 or seniors except with consent of instructor.
INTRODUCTION TO MORAL PHILOSOPHY
An introduction to philosophy focusing on central problems and basic texts in moral philosophy. Problems may include the relation of reason and morality, proposed justifications for killing human beings and animals, the nature of the good life, and other general problems of moral philosophy. Texts may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, or Mill as well as writing by contemporary philosophers. Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor.
INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
An introduction to philosophy focusing on central problems and basic texts in political philosophy. Problems may include the obligation to obey the law and the right to enforce it, the nature and desirability of democracy, the nature and possibility of political rights. Texts may include writing by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, or Rousseau as well as writing by contemporary philosophers. Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.
INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Scientific ideas and inferences have a huge impact on our daily lives and the lives of practicing scientists. But what is science, how does it work, and what does it enable us to know? In this introductory course, we consider some traditional philosophical questions applied to the foundations and practice of natural science. Topics may include the history of philosophical approaches in science, the nature of scientific knowledge, changes in scientific knowledge over time, how science provides explanations of what we observe, the justification of false assumptions in science, the nature of scientific theories, and some questions about the ethics and values involved in scientific practice. Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor.
CENTRAL PROBLEMS IN PHILOSOPHY
An introduction to philosophy focusing on central problems and basic texts. The problems may include free will and determinism, the relationship between mind and body, the nature and limits of human knowledge, and arguments for the existence of God. Texts may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hume, and Kant as well as writing by contemporary philosophers. Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor. Credit may not be earned for both PHIL 140 and 145.
PHILOSOPHY THROUGH FILM
An introduction to philosophy using film and basic texts to focus on central problems. Those problems may include the value of philosophy, moral responsibility, arguments about the existence of God, the nature and limits of human knowledge, the relationship between mind and body, and the nature of art. Texts may include works by Plato, Descartes, Locke, Aquinas, Mill, Hume, Kant, and Russell as well as writing by contemporary philosophers. Not open to juniors or seniors except with consent of instructor. Credit may not be earned for both PHIL 140 and 145.
ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY
A critical examination of the ancient Greek philosophers, with particular emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. 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 non-theological questions (the role of the state, theories of knowledge and perception). Readings are drawn from Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.
A survey of seventeenth‑ and eighteenth-century European philosophy which examines 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. Fulfills Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.
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 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. Students who have taken or are taking MATH 234 may not receive credit for PHIL 225.
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. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. 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. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement.
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 criminal law. Fulfills Domestic Cultural Diversity Requirement.
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: One prior course in philosophy or 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: One prior course in philosophy or 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: One prior course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Fulfills either Domestic or Global Cultural Diversity Requirement. Alternate years.
CONTEMPORARY MORAL PHILOSOPHY
A close reading of four or five centrally important works of contemporary moral philosophy.
Prerequisite: One prior course in philosophy or 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: One prior course in philosophy or consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit when topics are different. May be counted toward a major more than once, with departmental approval.
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.
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