Course Descriptions

PHL 100 Introduction to Philosophy

 

This course examines those pivotal philosophies that have most significantly shaped the evolution of Western culture. Its aim is to critically reflect on the defining ideas of both tradition and the modern world, and to explore the specific challenges modernity poses to traditional thought. This course is a core requirement, and a for all other philosophy courses. It is also offered in the honors colloquia. Students who complete PHL 100 cannot take PHL 151: University Writing Seminar, nor may students who complete PHL 151 take PHL 100.

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

Fall and Spring

 

PHL 151 University Writing Seminar

 

This course introduces and develops skills and abilities fundamental to proficient academic writing. This course emphasizes the critical reading and the summary, synthesis and analysis of primary materials in the study of Western philosophic systems. Students who complete PHL 151 cannot take PHL 100: Introduction to Philosophy, nor may students who complete PHL 100 take PHL 151.

 

PHL 200 Ethical Theory

 

This course investigates the basic issues and problems encountered in the field of ethical theory. These issues include the prescriptive/descriptive distinction, the motivation for morality, virtue vs. rule-based ethics, deontological vs. consequentialist theories, moral psychology, and meta-ethical analysis. As a philosophical reflection upon our moral experience, special emphasis is placed upon rational justification for the stances we take in these issues.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

Fall and Spring

 

 

PHL 201 Law, Justice and Society

This course will focus on the main themes of the philosophy of law: the nature and limits of the law, the relation between legal and ethical reasoning, the notion of rights, the justifiability of punishment, and the law’s role in establishing and upholding justice, freedom, and equality. Special emphasis will be given to the acquisition of ethical reasoning skills.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 202 Environmental Philosophy

This course is a survey of the fundamental principles and traditions underlying what we call today “environmental philosophy.” Students will explore the roots of our contemporary ideas about nature and ecology, animal rights, whether or not nature has intrinsic or merely instrumental value, ecofeminism, “deep” ecology, non-western perspectives on the environment, population, hunger, global warming and the Gaia theory that the planet is a living organism.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 205 Medieval Philosophy

This course covers the philosophical discussions and debates that dominated the interchange between philosophical and theological discourse in the Latin West from the 11th to the 16th centuries. In the speculations of medieval philosophers, we find the constitutive elements of Western culture and philosophy.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 206 Logic

 

This course is intended to provide students with the skills needed to apply logical principles and techniques of critical thought and argumentation to the analysis of their own words and the words of others. Emphasis will be on assessing the legitimacy of arguments, detecting common fallacies, evaluating evidence and improving skills in formal reasoning. Previously offered as PHL 105: Introduction to Logic

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 210 Philosophy of Person

A dominantly phenomenological approach to analyzing the existential structures that constitute a person. Exploration of the possibilities for personal growth and evaluation of the various social forces that limit these possibilities.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 215 Wisdom Traditions

 

The course will critically examine the non-western philosophic traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism through a small sampling of primary and secondary texts. These systems will be examined on their own merits as well as in contrast to Western alternatives.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 220 Philosophy and Literature

 

 

The exploration of philosophical issues through the medium of literature, as distinct from the argumentative format common to straight forward philosophical discourse. Major emphasis is on tracing the changing conceptions of human nature and individual human action in the context of changing conceptions of nature, the human community, political legitimacy and morality.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 223 Social Ethics

An examination of the leading ethical theories in normative discourse, and their application to the most urgent social problems that address us. Topics such as poverty, war, animal rights, economic justice, and the morality of sex and reproduction are debated.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 230 Philosophies of History

 

This course will examine select conceptual issues that arise from philosophical engagements with history. Issues of consideration may include whether historical developments are contingent or necessary, whether history unfolds through a continuous and unified evolution or a series of discontinuous ruptures, or whether there is a single and total “History” or fractured and multiple histories. Topics of consideration may include the role truth, fiction, and interpretation play in historiography, the role history plays in shaping our sense of place and identity, or the potential uses and abuses to which history might be put in transforming our lives.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 231 Critical Social Theory

This course introduces students to the major themes and issues of critical social theory – a theoretical field comprised of interdisciplinary methods of analysis that aim to identify social ills born of the dominant socio-political structures of our time, to locate the mechanisms of domination, subjugation, and oppression to which they give rise, and to ameliorate those effects through a transformation of ourselves and society. Topics of analysis may include economic exploitation, classism, consumerism, race, gender, or sexuality. Methods of analysis may include Marxism, psychoanalysis, Critical Theory, feminism, deconstruction, post-structuralism, critical race theory, queer theory, or post-colonialism.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 232 Philosophies of Mass Culture

This course undertakes a philosophical and critical analysis of the unique historical phenomenon known as “mass culture,” which has been theorized as a socio-political and economic formation wherein the cultural productions that populate our aesthetic environment are predominantly organized by the logic of commodification. When and why did mass culture arise, what exactly is it, and how does it affect us? In pursuing answers to these questions, this course will examine various instances of contemporary art and may consider topics regarding the methods of cultural criticism, the formation of the masses, the commodification of aesthetics and the aestheticization of commodities, the differences between modern and postmodern cultures, the relationship between politics and aesthetics, or the effects of mass culture on our sense of individuality, our ability to think critically, and our capacity to conceive a new social imaginary.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 233 Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Culture

 

This course will examine aesthetic theory, with a possible emphasis on the theories of the late 18th-19th century when philosophers become increasingly interested in questions concerning art. The course will bring together the work of philosophers with some of the poets, artists, and musicians that influenced them in order to consider aesthetic issues such as beauty, genius, and the sublime as they arise in works of art and philosophy.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 234 American Philosophies

This course will examine select conceptual issues and movements in the broad category of American Philosophy. Topics of consideration may include the political thought of the founding fathers, the transcendentalism of Thoreau and Emerson and the Pragmatist movement centering in the work of Peirce, James, Dewey and Rorty. The goal of the course is to acquaint students with the distinctively American contribution to Western philosophy.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 235 Buddhist Philosophies

This course will examine select philosophic issues that arise in the wide range of Buddhist ideas and practices found in the Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Chan/Zen traditions. Topics of consideration may include Buddhist theories of causality, personal identity, substantiality, happiness, optimal human relationality and the effects of meditation practices on philosophic inquiry. Students will be encouraged to rexamine Western philosophic problems and solutions through the medium of Buddhist thought and practice.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 236 Philosophy of Gender

This course will examine the idea of gender, with the goals of understanding how gender operates in the context of other social, political, and economic structures in the past and present and reimagining its role in the future. Students will consider gender from a wide variety of feminist perspectives in order to develop a critical stance on gender and gender oppression. The tensions and intersections of various feminisms with other forms of anti-oppressive thought will also be investigated.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 237 Philosophies of Science

This course examines the relation between philosophy and science with an emphasis on the historical interplay between the two disciplines in western culture. Topics of consideration may include the gradual emergence of the sciences from the general field of philosophy, specific issues and episodes in the development of the philosophy of science, what constitutes a scientific as opposed to a philosophic explanation, the concept of scientific progress, and the nature and method of scientific confirmation.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 238 Philosophies of Injustice

Injustice and oppression are not mere sociological aberrations, but are driven by identifiable and rationally analyzable world views. This course examines the historical and philosophical foundations of social injustice in terms of the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical assumptions that give rise to and sustain it in its various forms. Students will examine the philosophical belief systems that inform sexism, heterosexism, racism, cissexism, colorism, ableism, nativism, colonialism, ageism, classism, and/or other oppressive ideologies.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 239 Marx and Marxisms

This course will examine selected theoretical works written by Karl Marx as well as some of the varied legacies of Marxism that followed in their wake with specific attention given to the links that connect philosophy, science, history, economics, politics, society, and culture. Topics of consideration may include historical materialism as a methodology, analyses of the structure of capitalism, origins of exploitation, the relation between human nature and alienation, causes of false consciousness, approaches to ideology critique, the relation between political theory and political practice, forms of revolution, human freedom, emancipatory politics, socialist democracy, democratic socialism, or communism.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 257 Philosophy of Religion

An inquiry into the nature of religion and the objects of thought and feeling associated with religion, such as the nature and existence of God, the nature of religious experience and symbolism, evil, creation, and immortality.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 270 Social and Political Philosophy

An examination of the key issues in the history of Western social and political philosophy. These include the nature and purpose of government, political legitimacy, the relationship between theories of human nature and political systems, and the evolution of rights.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 310 Medical Ethics

This course in applied ethics explores the ethical questions related to modern science and the health professions. Topics such as abortion, human experimentation, genetic engineering, patient-rights, and the delivery of health care are analyzed.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 315 Philosophy of Medicine

This course examines the philosophical foundations of various models of the practice of medicine, focusing on philosophical conceptions of human health and well-being. The emphasis of the course is on understanding medicine within a human and humane context. This approach is occasioned by the prevalence of what is known as the biomedical model, a model that sees the human being primarily as a biological manifestation, emphasizing cure over care and healing. This course examines the epistemological, metaphysical, social and ethical frameworks of this model as set against a variety of alternative humanistic models and their respective philosophical underpinnings, from the biopsychosocial model to the narrative model

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 320 Ancient Philosophy

An examination of the history of philosophy from the origins of scientific thought in Asia Minor through the synthesis of St. Augustine. Major emphasis is on Plato and Aristotle.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 330 Early Modern Philosophy

An examination of the history of philosophy from the Renaissance through the early 19th century. Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism are studied in relationship to Kant and his attempt to synthesize the two. Emphasis will be on the shift from an ancient/medieval world view, and how this shift sets the stage for contemporary issues.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 340 19th Century Philosophy

This course investigates the Enlightenment ideal of personhood, particularly as it is expressed in Kant’s critical project, and the various 19th century reactions to this ideal as formulated in the works of Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 350 20th Century Philosophy

This course examines the following dominant 20th century philosophical methodologies: pragmatism, phenomenology, logical positivism, linguistic analysis, and existentialism. Previously offered as PHL 430. Students may not receive credit for both PHL 430 and PHL 350.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 411 Figures in Philosophy

This advanced seminar will focus on the work of one philosopher. It will be a writing seminar in which students learn to do philosophical research in anticipation of the senior capstone.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 412 Issues in Philosophy

 

This advanced seminar will focus on one major issue in philosophy. It will be a writing seminar in which students learn to do philosophical research in anticipation of the senior capstone.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 413 Great Texts in Philosophy

This advanced seminar will focus on one important philosophical work. It will be a writing seminar in which students learn to do philosophical research in anticipation of the senior capstone.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

PHL 480 Independent Study

 

Special investigation of a selected topic.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

(On demand)

 

PHL 485 Special Topics

Topics may vary from semester to semester and will be announced with preregistration information.

 

Prerequisite(s): PHL 100 or PHL 151

(On demand)

 

PHL 490 Capstone

 

Students will complete an independent research project in philosophy.

Prerequisite(s): PHL 411 or PHL 412 or PHL 413

 

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