Philosophy (PHIL)

Explanation of Course Numbers

  • Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
  • Those in the 2000–4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that can also be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work
  • Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
  • The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office

PHIL 1000. Dean's Seminar. 3 Credits.

PHIL 1051. Introduction to Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Readings from major philosophers and study of their positions on the most basic questions of human life. Topics include such issues as: What is justice? What is knowledge? What is reality? Does God exist? What is the mind? Do humans have free will?.

PHIL 1062. Philosophy and Film. 3 Credits.

Philosophical problems and theories of perception, meaning, personal identity, and moral agency and their illustration in the context of cinema. Cinema and its derivatives (TV, video) as prime routes to experience of the natural and social worlds in an age of communication. Readings in classical and contemporary philosophy and in film theory; screening of a series of films.

PHIL 1153. The Meaning of Mind. 3 Credits.

The nature of the human mind is one of the oldest questions of philosophy. Students with no background in philosophy or the sciences of the mind are introduced to the central questions, assumptions, and hypotheses about the human mind.   (Fall and spring).

PHIL 1193. Introduction to Existentialism. 3 Credits.

The philosophical themes of selfhood, mortality, authenticity, and ethical responsibility from an existentialist perspective, including the writings of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre. The place of existentialism in the history of philosophy.

PHIL 2045. Introduction to Logic. 3 Credits.

Introduction to informal logic, scientific argument, and formal logic. The informal logic component focuses on fallacies of reasoning and practical applications of logic. The formal logic component focuses on translation from English into propositional logic, truth tables, and proofs in propositional logic.

PHIL 2111. History of Ancient Philosophy. 3 Credits.

History of Western philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Stoics (6th century BCE to 1st century CE). Major emphasis on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Among themes to be covered: knowledge and reality, political and moral philosophy.

PHIL 2111W. History of Ancient Philosophy. 3 Credits.

History of Western philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Stoics (6th century BCE to 1st century CE). Major emphasis on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Among themes to be covered: knowledge and reality, political and moral philosophy.

PHIL 2112. History of Modern Philosophy. 3 Credits.

History of Western philosophy of the 16th through 18th centuries; Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism from the scientific revolution through the Enlightenment; major emphasis on Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 .

PHIL 2124. Philosophies of Disability. 3 Credits.

Disability presents an intense and interesting challenge to traditional philosophical presuppositions and principles. This course examines various philosophical approaches to disability—historical, individual, and medical paradigms as well as those that rely on frameworks of social or human rights.

PHIL 2124W. Philosophies of Disability. 3 Credits.

Disability presents an intense and interesting challenge to traditional philosophical presuppositions and principles. This course examines various philosophical approaches to disability—historical, individual, and medical paradigms as well as those that rely on frameworks of social or human rights.

PHIL 2125. Philosophy of Race and Gender. 3 Credits.

A theoretical examination of the bodily, social, discursive, and political effects of patriarchy, racism, and classism.    (Fall and spring).

PHIL 2125W. Philosophy of Race and Gender. 3 Credits.

A theoretical examination of the bodily, social, discursive, and political effects of patriarchy, racism, and classism.    (Fall and spring).

PHIL 2131. Ethics: Theory and Applications. 3 Credits.

Examination of leading ethical theories (e.g., utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics), and methodology in ethics. Engagement with contemporary problems. (Fall and spring).

PHIL 2132. Social and Political Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Philosophical theories about how economic, political, legal, and cultural institutions should be arranged. Topics include the meaning and significance of liberty, the legitimate functions of government, the nature of rights, the moral significance of social inequality, and the meaning of democracy.

PHIL 2132W. Social and Political Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Philosophical theories about how economic, political, legal, and cultural institutions should be arranged. Topics include the meaning and significance of liberty, the legitimate functions of government, the nature of rights, the moral significance of social inequality, and the meaning of democracy.

PHIL 2133. Philosophy and Nonviolence. 3 Credits.

Violence and nonviolence in the personal and social struggle for meaningful, just, and peaceful existence; philosophical foundations of pacifism and nonviolent resistance in the thought of Tolstoy, Gandhi, King, and others; philosophical inquiry into war, terrorism, genocide, and ethnic conflict, as well as human rights, humanitarian intervention, and just war theory.   (Spring).

PHIL 2134. Philosophy of Human Rights. 3 Credits.

Conceptual, ethical, and theoretical analyses of human rights with emphasis on the justification of human rights, the debate over cultural relativism, and the application of human rights norms in domestic and global contexts.   (Fall).

PHIL 2135. Ethics in Business and the Professions. 3 Credits.

Ethical theories and basic concepts for analysis of moral issues arising in business and in professional practice.    (Fall and spring).

PHIL 2136. Contemporary Issues in Ethics. 3 Credits.

The goal of this course is to introduce you to a range of debates in applied ethics, including both classic debates concerning topics such as the permissibility of abortion, animal treatment, and suicide, as well as more current debates concerning our interactions with the environment and our obligations to the poor in a global context.

PHIL 2281. Philosophy of the Environment. 3 Credits.

Three models of environmental sustainability: the current paradigm in economic and cultural thinking (neoclassical economics); redistribution of resources toward greater global equity (a macroeconomic perspective); and de-growth in the developed economies (ecological economics). The models offer different perspectives on what environmental sustainability means and how it can impact the cultural, religious, moral, metaphysical, and existential situation.

PHIL 3113. 19th-Century Philosophy. 3 Credits.

European philosophy of the 19th century, with major emphasis on Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 .

PHIL 3121. Symbolic Logic. 3 Credits.

Analysis and assessment of deductive arguments, using propositional, predicate, and other logics; philosophical basis and implications of logical analysis; metatheory of logic; modal and non-standard logics. Prerequisite: Phil 1045 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 3142. Philosophy of Law. 3 Credits.

Systematic examination of fundamental concepts of law and jurisprudence; special emphasis on the relationship between law and morality.    (Fall).

PHIL 3142W. Philosophy of Law. 3 Credits.

Systematic examination of fundamental concepts of law and jurisprudence; special emphasis on the relationship between law and morality.

PHIL 3151. Philosophy and Science. 3 Credits.

Analysis of the structure and meaning of science, including scientific progress and theory change, objectivity in science, the drive for a unified science, and ways science relates to everyday understandings of the world. Attention given to various sciences, including physics, biology, and neuroscience. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 or a 2000-level philosophy course.

PHIL 3151W. Philosophy and Science. 3 Credits.

Analysis of the structure and meaning of science, including scientific progress and theory change, objectivity in science, the drive for a unified science, and ways science relates to everyday understandings of the world. Attention given to various sciences, including physics, biology, and neuroscience. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 or two semesters of college-level science.

PHIL 3152. Theory of Knowledge. 3 Credits.

Inquiry into the basis and structure of knowledge, the problems of skepticism and justification, the relations between subjectivity and objectivity, and the contributions of reason, sense experience, and language. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 ; PHIL 2112 also recommended.

PHIL 3153. Mind, Brain, and Artificial Intelligence. 3 Credits.

Investigation of the nature of mind from a variety of perspectives, including neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence, as well as traditional philosophy of mind. Possible additional topics include consciousness, mental disorders, animal minds, and the nature and meaning of dreams. Prerequisites: PHIL 1051 or PHIL 1153 or PHIL 2112 or permission of the instructor.   (Spring).

PHIL 3161. Philosophy and Literature. 3 Credits.

Critical investigation of the sociopolitical commitments that inform the practices of reading and writing as discussed by Sartre, Barthes, Foucault, and others. Focus on the development of existentialist themes, including authenticity, freedom, temporality, and death in the work of Kafka, Tolstoy, Mann, Woolf, and others.    (Fall, alternate years).

PHIL 3162. Aesthetics. 3 Credits.

The problem of artistic representation and the nature of aesthetic experience as related to the creation, appreciation, and criticism of art. Special emphasis on nonrepresentational works of art and their interpretation. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 or PHIL 2111 or PHIL 2112 or PHIL 3113.

PHIL 3162W. Aesthetics. 3 Credits.

The problem of artistic representation and the nature of aesthetic experience as related to the creation, appreciation, and criticism of art. Special emphasis on nonrepresentational works of art and their interpretation. Prerequisite: PHIL 1051 or PHIL 2111 or PHIL 2112 or PHIL 3113.

PHIL 3172. American Philosophy. 3 Credits.

A survey of American philosophical thought, focusing on the late 19th through mid-20th centuries. Covers American Pragmatism (Peirce, James, Dewey) in depth; other authors may include Thoreau, Emerson, Royce, Santayana, Mead, Quine, and Rorty.

PHIL 3251. Philosophy of Biology. 3 Credits.

An introduction to conceptual and methodological issues raised by contemporary biology, including teleology, reductionism, units of selection, the structure of evolutionary theory, genetics, taxonomy, and the nature of scientific explanation. Other issues may include the nature–nurture debate, creationism/intelligent design, the evolution of altruism, and the relevance of evolutionary theory to ethical questions.

PHIL 4192. Analytical Philosophy. 3 Credits.

The dominant movements of 20th-century Anglo-American philosophy, including logical positivism, British ordinary language philosophy, and neopragmatism, as represented by Russell, G.E. Moore, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Quine, Kripke, et al. Prerequisite: one other upper-division philosophy course (PHIL 2112 and PHIL 3121 recommended).

PHIL 4193. Phenomenology and Hermeneutics. 3 Credits.

An intensive, systematic introduction to the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions in philosophy through some of their best-known representatives: Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Merleau-Ponty. Central topics of discussion include consciousness, anguish/anxiety, discourse, interpretation, the Other, death, and ambiguity. Prerequisite: PHIL 2112 or PHIL 3113.

PHIL 4195. Topics in Value Theory. 3 Credits.

Variable topics in ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and other subfields in normative philosophy. Prerequisite: one upper-division course on related subject matter or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 4195W. Topics in Value Theory. 3 Credits.

PHIL 4196. Topics in Theory of Knowledge. 3 Credits.

Variable topics in epistemology, philosophy of science and mathematics, philosophy of mind, and similar subfields. Prerequisite: one upper-division course on related subject matter or permission of the instructor.

PHIL 4198. Proseminar. 3 Credits.

Variable topics; preparation and presentation of a major research paper. Open only to philosophy majors in the junior and senior year as approved by major advisor. May be repeated for credit.

PHIL 4198W. Proseminar in Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Variable topics; preparation and presentation of a major research paper. Open only to philosophy majors in the junior and senior year as approved by major advisor. May be repeated for credit.

PHIL 4199. Readings and Research. 1-3 Credits.

(Fall and spring).

PHIL 6201. Readings and Research. 3 Credits.

Advanced readings and reports. Investigation of special problems.

PHIL 6202. Readings and Research. 3 Credits.

Advanced readings and reports. Investigation of special problems.

PHIL 6230. Ethical Issues in Policy Arguments. 3 Credits.

Critical analysis of ethical foundations of public policy arguments, e.g., about protection of the environment or health and safety, equality of opportunity. Case studies of appeals to “welfare improvements,” to norms of duty, to “the social contract,” and to rights–claims. Attention to historical contexts and biases. Open to undergraduates only with permission of instructor.    (Fall).

PHIL 6231. Seminar: Economic Justice. 3 Credits.

Ethical and economic analysis of equity and efficiency of current U.S. income distribution patterns. Theories of justice; economic theories of distribution; assessment of redistribution policies. Open to undergraduates only with permission of instructor.    (Spring).

PHIL 6238. Feminist Ethics and Policy Implications. 3 Credits.

Feminist critiques of traditional ethical reasoning; alternative feminist ethical frameworks examined and applied to contemporary social problems (e.g., respecting cultural differences, dependency, disability). Same as WSTU 6238. Prerequisite: PHIL 2125 or PHIL 2131 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 6242. Philosophy, Law, and Social Policy. 3 Credits.

Consideration of the relationship between legal interpretation and policy goals. Theories concerning the role of the judiciary in a constitutional democracy and methods of constitutional and statutory interpretation. Representative policy topics include capital punishment, pornography, affirmative action, welfare, property rights, racial gerrymandering, gun control.    (Spring).

PHIL 6245. Biomedical Ethics. 4 Credits.

PHIL 6250. Topics in Health Policy. 3 Credits.

Topics in health policy from the perspective of philosophical ethics, including human and animal research, the enhancement of human traits, justice and health care allocation.    (Spring).

PHIL 6253. Cognitive Science and Public Policy. 3 Credits.

PHIL 6262. Normative Issues in Foreign Policy. 3 Credits.

Selected issues on foreign policy from a normative perspective; emphasis on human rights, economic globalization, global poverty, sustainable development, and the ethics of military intervention.    (Fall).

PHIL 6281. Environmental Philosophy and Policy. 3 Credits.

Examination of philosophical frameworks for assessing policy approaches to environmental problems. Representative topics include duties to future generations, environmental justice, legal rights for natural objects, critiques of cost–benefit analysis, sustainability, risk measurement, the intrinsic value of nature.

PHIL 6290. Special Topics inPublic Policy. 3 Credits.

PHIL 6998. Thesis Research. 3 Credits.

PHIL 6999. Thesis Research. 3 Credits.