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Philosophy Course Descriptions

PHIL 1000: PHILOSOPHY AND HUMAN LIFE (4 credits)

In this course, you are introduced to issues of philosophy as they apply to everyday life. Ways of establishing beliefs about the world and the moral life and the nature and task of philosophic questioning will be explored. This course can serve as your only study in philosophy, satisfying the liberal arts core requirement, or it can be the basis for further study toward a minor or major in philosophy. Offered annually in the day and weekend/evening/online program and in summer session.

PHIL 2100: CRITICAL THINKING (4 credits)

This course involves understanding patterns of reasoning as they occur in ordinary language contexts, developing the practical skills of identifying and critically evaluating arguments. Topics include distinguishing arguments from rhetoric and other forms of persuasion; how to construct an argument; how claims are supported by reasons; distinguishing good arguments from bad ones; how poor arguments can manage to be persuasive. The course is offered alternate years in the day program. This course can serve as the second philosophy course for students seeking a B.A. degree.

PHIL 2150: LOGIC (4 credits)

This course focuses on techniques and applications of contemporary formal logic. Topics include the structures and forms of arguments; identifying arguments and translating them from ordinary language contexts to symbolic forms; validity, invalidity and soundness; deductive techniques for testing arguments; logical consistency; inductive logic and its applications. It is offered alternate years. This course can serve as the second philosophy course for students seeking a B.A. degree.

PHIL 2200: ETHICS (4 credits)

This course involves the examination and evaluation of the major ethical theories of Western philosophical tradition. Contemporary ethical issues will be discussed in light of theories such as virtue ethics, natural law, deontological theory, utilitarianism and feminist ethics. The course is offered every semester. Also offered in Weekend College and in summer session.

PHIL 2300: SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)

This course covers fundamental concepts and controversies in the philosophic understanding of human social and political life. Discussions will involve concepts such as justice, power, liberty, equality and nationalism; social contract theory and its alternatives; contemporary debates about national sovereignty, universal human rights, attempts to limit warfare. The course is offered annually. Also offered in Weekend College.

PHIL 2400: PHILOSOPHY AND WOMEN (4 credits)

This course offers an examination of the portrayal of women in Western philosophic tradition and the influence of views on the nature, status and role of women. Readings from women who contributed to the development of philosophic ideas will be included. Representative contemporary issues might include the debate about pornography, violence against women and censorship. The course is offered alternate years. Also offered as WOST. Also offered in Weekend College.

PHIL 2450: PHILOSOPHY AND FILM (4 credits)

This course covers issues of knowledge and reality as they arise in film, such as what it means to know, what counts as certainty, what sort of being a human being is, and what it means to know another person. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 2600: PHILOSOPHIC THEMES IN LITERATURE (4 credits)

This course offers an examination of philosophic issues, such as the meaning of life, suffering, the relationship between language and reality, and the question of human freedom, as they arise in literary texts. It involves discussion of the connections between literature and philosophy and the kinds of truth offered by each. Offered in alternate years. Also offered in Weekend College. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 2700: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (4 credits)

Current problems in the philosophy of science are discussed, along with with their historical backgrounds. Emphasis is on the development of the scientific method and its application in the natural and social sciences. Criteria of evidence of theory building and of theory evaluation as applied in different kinds of research are involved. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering..

PHIL 2800: PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY (4 credits)

Examination of attempts to explain our psychological states and capacities focuses on cognition, sensation, perception, emotion and memory. Philosophical theories of psychology such as mentalism, behaviorism and functionalism are discussed. Course also looks at the philosophical significance of recent work in psychology and computer science: computer simulation of cognitive processes, artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology. Same as PSYC 2800. Offered annually. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 2900: PHILOSOPHY OF THE ARTS (4 credits)

This course involves questions of the definition of artworks, the functions of art, aesthetic experience, aesthetic value, forgery and the original work of art, realistic representation and photography; and current controversies about public art, such as offensiveness, censorship and public funding. Offered annually. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 2994: TOPICS (4 credits)

The subject matter is announced in the annual schedule of classes. Content varies from year to year but does not duplicate existing courses.

PHIL 3000: PHILOSOPHY OF LAW (4 credits)

This course involves the fundamental questions of law and legal systems. Issues discussed include the nature of law, the relationship of law to morality, what counts as a valid law, civil disobedience, the limits of law, punishment and forms of dispute resolution. Recent developments in legal theory such as feminist jurisprudence will be discussed. Offered in alternate years. Also offered in Weekend College. Prerequisites: Recommended: PHIL 2200. Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3100: ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS (4 credits)

This course is an examination of the relationship of humans to the natural environment. Topics include an overview of philosophic ethics, definitions of nature, comparison of anthropocentric, biocentric and land ethics, ecofeminism and deep ecology, the rights of animals and other living things, and our responsibilities to future generations. Offered in alternate years. Also offered in Weekend College. Prerequisites: Recommended: PHIL 2200. Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3200: BUSINESS ETHICS (4 credits)

This is a survey of major ethical theories and concepts and how they can be applied to case studies in business today. Case studies on topics will include corporate responsibility, consumer and employee safety, discrimination and sexual harassment, marketing, environmental issues, whistle-blowing and international business. Offered in alternate years. Also offered in Weekend College. Prerequisites: Recommended: PHIL 2200. Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3300: ETHICS IN COMMUNICATION (4 credits)

This course involves basic principles of ethical decision making and application to ethical problems that arise in verbal and nonverbal communication. Issues discussed include deception and withholding information, persuasion and advertising, freedom of speech and the press, confidentiality and privacy. Offered annually in the evening. Also offered in Weekend College. Also offered as CRST. Prerequisites: Recommended: PHIL 2200. Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3400: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS (4 credits)

This course is an overview of normative ethical theory. It has application to topics in biomedicine, such as the concept of health, the provider-patient relationship, informed consent and refusal of treatment, truth-telling and confidentiality, research involving human subjects, life-sustaining treatment and physician-assisted death, reproductive decisions and technologies, genetic screening and interventions, allocation of scarce resources. Offered every semester. Also offered in Weekend College and in the summer. Also offered as CRST. Prerequisites: Recommended: PHIL 2200. Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3450: PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION (4 credits)

This course involves examination and evaluation of traditional philosophic arguments for and against the existence of God. It includes discussion of the foundations and implications of claims regarding the possible immortality of the human person, the problem innocent suffering poses to any claim for the benevolence of the universe and the question of miracles. Offered alternate years. Prerequisites: Open to students with no prior work in philosophy, but such students should consult with the instructor or department chair before registering.

PHIL 3500: CLASSICAL GREEK PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)

This course covers the foundations of Western thinking about reality, knowledge, ethics, and politics as developed in ancient Greece. Pre-Socratic philosophers through Aristotle will be discussed, with emphasis on the writings of Plato. Also offered as CLAS. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

PHIL 3600: MODERN PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)

This course covers the period from Descartes to Kant, emphasizing issues in theories of knowledge and reality in their historical context. Development of scientific method and contrast between rationalist and empiricist approaches to knowledge will be discussed, as well as issues of philosophic method, materialism and dualism, the mind/body problem and limits to human reason. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor.

PHIL 3700: ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)

This is a survey of some of the major philosophic movements of the 20th century in their historical context. Areas discussed may include philosophical analysis, pragmatism, phenomenology, and feminist philosophy. The course includes discussion of the contribution of philosophy to the important moral, social and intellectual debates of the time. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. PHIL 3600 recommended.

PHIL 3750: EXISTENTIALISM (4 credits)

This course is an examination of the foundations and implications of existentialist thought in the 19th and 20th centuries, including theistic and atheistic existentialism. The freedom of the individual, the existence of God and the meaning of life will be examined through discussion of such thinkers as Kierkegaard, Sartre, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, de Beauvoir and Marcel. The course also covers the influence of existentialism on the philosophic and literary traditions of the present day. Prerequisites: One prior philosophy course or permission of instructor.

PHIL 3800: CONTEMPORARY ETHICAL THEORY (4 credits)

This course involves analysis and critique of philosophic ethics in the Western tradition. Issues to be discussed will be selected from among the following topics: 20th century metaethics: the debate on the status of values and moral norms; current issues in normative ethics: Rawls and his influence; critiques of the Enlightenment ethical tradition by MacIntyre, proponents of virtue ethics and feminist philosophers; communitarianism and feminist ethics as alternatives to rationalism and individualism in ethical theory. Offered annually. Prerequisites: PHIL 2200 or permission of the instructor. PHIL 3600 recommended.

PHIL 3900: FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)

This course involves the exploration of feminist contributions in the traditional philosophical inquiries of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, as well as questions unique to feminist thought. We will explore the social conception of the self, social constructions of knowledge, the objectivity and subjectivity debates, standpoint epistemologies, and the philosophic implications of multiple differences, including race, class, sexuality. Also offered as CRST and WOST. Prerequisites: One prior philosophy course or permission of instructor.

PHIL 4550: TUTORIAL: PHILOSOPHICAL TOOLS AND METHODS (4 credits)

This course addresses skills and concepts needed by students wishing to develop effective reading, writing and analytical abilities required for higher levels of study in philosophy. Using primary texts from a variety of central figures in the history of philosophy, you will learn to recognize philosophical subjects and questions; identify, analyze, and evaluate persuasiveness of several types of argument; and produce philosophical writings with awareness of the standards and criteria by which such work is evaluated.

PHIL 4684: DIRECTED STUDY (4 credits)

Directed study is provided for students whose unusual circumstances prohibit taking a regularly scheduled course but who need the material of that course to satisfy a requirement. Availability of this faculty-directed learning experience depends on faculty time and may be limited in any given term and restricted to certain courses. Prerequisites: Faculty, department chair and dean approval.

PHIL 4850: SEMINAR (4 credits)

Philosophy majors work on their senior theses in conjunction with this seminar, which covers research methodology, textual analysis, applied and theoretical philosophic standpoints, construction of philosophic arguments and meeting objections, and the practice of philosophy in the contemporary world. Your specific project is developed in detail through group discussion and individual guidance. The senior thesis consists of critical analysis of a central philosophic problem related to the theme of the course. During the class you will prepare a critical paper, demonstrating your ability to make use of primary and secondary sources to explain and critique philosophic positions. A summary of the paper is presented orally and discussed in a colloquium with department faculty and student colleagues at the end of the seminar. Offered annually for both the day program and Weekend College. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

PHIL 4952 or 4954: INDEPENDENT STUDY (2 or 4 credits)

Independent study may be arranged with a faculty member. Also offered in Weekend College. Prerequisites: Instructor and department chair permission.

PHIL 4994: TOPICS (4 credits)

The subject matter of the course is announced in the annual schedule of classes. Content varies from year to year but does not duplicate existing courses.