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Course Descriptions

Course Planning Guide

PHL 201 Introduction to Philosophy (4)
General introduction to philosophy; its practice and major areas of study.

PHL 210 Philosophy of Religion (4)
Examination of philosophical questions involved in the study of religion, e.g., the meaning of "God," or "gods;" the traditional arguments for the existence of a God; the meaning of faith and the question of its connection to reason; the problem of evil. Note: this is not a class in comparative religion or the history of religion.

PHL 212 Philosophy in Literature (4)
An introduction to traditional philosophical issues as they appear in literature, especially in fiction. The specific philosophical problems and the literary works will vary from term to term and from instructor to instructor.

PHL 300 Philosophical Methods and Concepts (4)
A survey of the major strategies of proof and disproof central to philosophical reasoning, and of the fundamental concepts and distinctions employed in current philosophical discourse. Not recommended as a first course in philosophy.

PHL 301 Ancient Philosophy (4)
Study of Ancient Greek philosophy with a primary focus on the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Key topics include form, matter, substance, and causation.

PHL 302 Medieval Philosophy (4)
Study of philosophy during the Medieval period. Topics include developments in logic, role of faith and reason in knowledge, and use of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy. Course readings include Christian, Jewish, and Islamic authors.

PHL 303 Early Modern Philosophy (4)
History of Western philosophy during the Early Modern period (17th and 18th centuries) from Descartes to Kant. Topics include nature of knowledge and reality; theories of human nature.

PHL 304 Nineteenth Century Philosophy (4)
Study of continental European philosophy from Hegel to Nietzsche. Topics include post-Kantian idealism, the "social turn" in epistemology, communitarian ethics, reactions to the crisis in Christianity, and the radical critiques of modern social and political institutions.

PHL 305 Analytic Philosophy (4)
Examination of the analytic philosophical tradition from Frege and Russell through early Wittgenstein and the Logical Positivists to Quine. Major topics include theories of meaning and the interrelationships among language, logic, and knowledge.

PHL 306 Science and Pseudoscience (4)
An examination of basic issues in philosophy of science through an analysis of creation science, faith healing, UFO abduction stories, and other pseudosciences. Some of the questions addressed: What distinguishes science from pseudoscience? How are theories tested? When is evidence reliable? Must we invoke the supernatural to explain certain aspects of reality?

PHL 307 Science and Society (4)
Introduction to the philosophy of social science including social epistemology. Topics include the nature of explanation in social science, the role of normative and hermeneutical principles in it, and the influence of social processes on scientific knowledge.

PHL 308 Elementary Ethics (4)
General introduction to ethical theories and topics such as whether there are objective moral distinctions, what makes right acts right and wrong acts wrong, and how we know (if we do) that actions are right or wrong, and how we know (if we do) that actions are right or wrong. (relativism, egoism, utilitarianism, and Kantianism).

PHL 309 Business Ethics (4)
Study of the ethical aspects of practices and organizational structures in the business world. The bulk of the course is devoted to specific  contemporary topics, for example: the moral status of corporations; the concept of work place rights; responsibility in advertising; environmental constraints on business; affirmative action in hiring; the social roles of profit and private property; role of work in the life of the individual.

PHL 310 Environmental Ethics (4)
Study of our moral responsibilities with respect to the environment (e.g., treatment of non-human animals, rights of animals, trees, rivers and possibly our planet) in light of some of the central environmental problems (e.g., population growth, global warming, and endangered species).

PHL 311 The Morality of Punishment (4)
Nature and proper aims of punishment; moral considerations that bear on the justice and wisdom of punishment. Consideration will be given to the main theories of punishment: retributionism, utilitarianism, paternalism, and the view that punishment should be replaced by therapy.

PHL 312 Feminist Philosophy (4)
Critical examination of classical philosophical schools of thought and methodologies from a feminist perspective which emphasizes the importance of external context in all intellectual pursuits and underscores the interconnections between theory and practice including values.

PHL 313 Life and Death Issues (4)
Study of moral problems dealing with life and death issues including abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, starvation, and war.

PHL 314 Computer Ethics (4)
Examines the moral principles and judgments relevant for computer-related practices. Topics include: ethical aspects of new information technologies; are technologies value- laden; freedom, privacy and control; security, reliability, and professional responsibilities; piracy and ownership; ethics of hacking; ethics of virtual environment; and international aspects of new technologies.

PHL 315 Existentialism (4)
Introduction to a number of philosophers and literary figures gathered together under the name "existentialism." Authors include Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kafka, Ortega y Gasset, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. Topics include consciousness, (in)authenticity, alienation, death, anxiety, freedom, time, nihilism, historical meaning and religion.

PHL 316 Social and Political Philosophy (4)
Survey of main theories of social and political justice (utilitarian, liberal, equalitarian, communitarian, and libertarian) through classic and modern representatives.

PHL 317 Philosophy of Art (4)
Philosophical issues concerning the creation, interpretation, and consumption of art. Includes an overview of the major philosophical theories about the nature of art, an examination of the relationship between art and ethics, art and psychology, art and pornography, and relativism of aesthetic value judgments.

PHL 318 Philosophy of Medicine (4)
Examination of central philosophical issues that arise within the theory and practice of medicine such as: the relationship of medicine to basic sciences, the roles played in medicine by normative concepts such as health and illness, the nature of causal reasoning in medicine, and the nature of diagnostic categories in medicine and psychiatry.

PHL 319 Introduction to Asian Philosophy (4)
A study of different systems of Asian philosophy through the main classical texts drawn from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Topics include: the nature of reality, the self, causality, language, knowledge, and ethics.

PHL 320 Critical Thinking (4)
Designed to improve reasoning and skills of critical assessment of information. Focuses on practical methods that are applied to case studies from public media such as editorials, essays, propaganda, advertisements, and newspaper reports of scientific studies.

PHL 321 Practical Epistemology (4)
Study of criteria for knowledge-claims based on sources such as: memory, perception, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, and medical and scientific experts.

PHL 322 Minds & Machines (4)
Study of philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence including its functionalist ontology. Topics include the nature of computation, learning, and intelligence and the role of consciousness in thinking and behavior.

PHL 324 Introduction to Formal Logic I (4)
A course in basic formal logic. Major topics include the method of deduction for showing propositional arguments valid and the method of counter-example for showing such arguments invalid. Truth table methods, tests for consistency, and syllogistic arguments are optional topics.

PHL 325 Intro to Formal Logic II: Predicate Logic (4)
Continuation of PHL 324 Introduction to Formal Logic I. Primary emphasis will be on formal methods for dealing with arguments involving the terms "all" and "some." Major topics include the method of deduction for showing predicate logic arguments valid, and the method of counter-example for showing such arguments invalid. Recommended prerequisite: PHL 324

PHL 327 Introduction to Quantitative Literacy (4)
The goal is to learn to think intelligently and critically about important uses of quantitative data by means of discussion of the following topics: samples, measures, scales, relationships, risks, predictions, graphs, averages, percentages, distributions, random effects, and estimates. Intended for students who do not normally take classes that involve quantitative matters; its mathematical content is kept at an absolute minimum.

PHL 330 Language, Representation and Reality (4)
An introduction to theories of meaning and their central topics: nature of representation and the referential capacity of language, role of use in meaning, and the role of language in thought and experience.

PHL 331 Philosophy of Education (4)
Exploration of the nature, aims, and value of education by situating it in its historical and contemporary philosophical context and perspectives.

PHL 332 Intentionality, Phenomonology, and Existentialism (4)
Examination of the Kantian roots of "intentionality" (i.e., that our conscious acts are directed toward objects), and subsequent theories and philosophical use of intentionality. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 333 Philosophy of Law (4)
Examines the nature of law, legal obligation and legal interpretation. Is law a part of morality, or nothing more than an expression of social power?  When are we permitted or required to disobey the law? What is the proper methodology for interpreting laws and deciding cases? Do judges discover or create law? Readings include classics of jurisprudence (e.g., Austen, Hart, Dworkin) as well as judicial opinions in a selected topic. Recommended prerequisites: PHL 308, 311, or 316

PHL 344 Military Ethics (4)
Examination of the central conceptual, ethical, and existential issues concerning war and the military as an institution and a culture. Topics include theories of war, military values, and the ethics of technology (UAVs, WMDs), insurgency, and terrorism.

PHL 350 International Ethics (4)
Examination of moral principles and judgments relevant for appraising the key tools of foreign policy. Included are issues of military, humanitarian, and covert intervention, economic sanctions, development assistance, human rights, democracy, and transitional justice. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 355 Morality and Health Care (4)
Examination of issues in health care such as euthanasia, abortion, allocation of transplantable organs, rationing health care, treatment of impaired newborns. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 360 American Philosophy (4)
Study of American pragmatism through some its major representatives (e.g., Dewey, Peirce, James, and Mead), its intellectual and cultural context, and its influence on contemporary American philosophers.

PHL 365 Atheism (4)
Examination of atheist philosophy including secularism in ethics and politics, naturalism in epistemology and metaphysics, and contemporary naturalistic accounts of religion and faith-based beliefs.

PHL 367 Philosophy of Sport (4)
An examination of the central conceptual, ethical, and existential issues concerning sports. Topics include the nature and role of sports in human flourishing, theories of embodiment, and the morality of sports as an institution and culture including competition and violence.

PHL 369 Philosophy of Sex & Love (4)
An examination of some of the central philosophical issues emerging from a reflection of sex and love. Topics include: conceptual or ontological ones such as the possible essence of heterosexuality, homosexuality, and asexuality; ethical ones such as the morality or immorality of different expressions of sex and love such as sadomasochism, polygamy, and philandering; existential ones such as the role of sexuality and romantic love in our self-conception and a good life; epistemological ones such as the nature of our experiences of sexuality and love and the possible influence that conceptual sources have on them.

PHL 370 Philosophy of Work and Leisure (4)
Role and nature of work and leisure in theories of the good life and central social and political practices.

PHL 371 Philosophy and the City (4)
Explores the role and nature of the city in the history of philosophy and especially social and political theory and the philosophical bases of contemporary urban theory including political, civic, sustainable, and aesthetic ideas of the city.

PHL 375 Food Ethics (4)
An introduction to ethical issues surrounding food choices including the fairness of food markets, the moral status of animals, and our obligations to the hungry. 

PHL 399 Special Studies (Credit to be arranged)

PHL 401/501 Research (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of Instructor.

PHL 403/503 Honors Thesis (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of Instructor.

PHL 404/504 Cooperative Education/Internship (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of Instructor.

PHL 405/505 Reading and Conference (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of instructor.

PHL 407/507 Seminar (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of instructor.

PHL 410/510 Selected Topics (Credit to be arranged)
Consent of instructor.

PHL 414/514 Plato (4)
Study of selected dialogues of Plato and topics such as theory of forms, moral philosophy, political philosophy, being and the nature of philosophy. Recommended prerequisite: PHL 301

PHL 415/515 Aristotle (4)
Study of some of the works of Aristotle, and topics such as substance, essence, categories, cause, and practical reason. Recommended prerequisite: PHL 301

PHL 416/516 The Rationalists (4)
Study of selected works of 17-18th century philosophers who maintained that knowledge is primarily based in reason (e.g., Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza). Recommended prerequisite: PHL 303

PHL 417/517 The Empiricists (4)
Study of selected works of 17-18th century philosophers who maintained that knowledge is primarily based in sense experience (e.g., Locke, Berkeley, and Hume). Recommended prerequisite: Phl 303

PHL 419/519 Kant (4)
Study of Kant's philosophy and topics such as necessary connection, the analytic-synthetic distinction, conceptions of science and metaphysics, relation between metaphysics and morality. Recommended prerequisite: PHL 303

PHL 420/520 Wittgenstein (4)
Study of the major works of Wittgenstein and topics such as philosophical method, meaning, intention, understanding, necessity, and the nature of humans as language users. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 423/523 Metaphysics (4)
Study of major systems of ontology (e.g., idealism, materialism) and traditional metaphysical issues (e.g., determinism, freedom, properties) including debates over the feasibility of the discipline of metaphysics itself (e.g., positivism and scientific realism).

PHL 424/524 Epistemology (4)
Philosophical examination of some of the main issues in the theory of knowledge (such as our knowledge of the external world, minds, and logical and mathematical truths, etc.). Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 432/532 Philosophy of Mind (4)
Study of the debates over the nature of mental states and our knowledge of them.  Main topics are dualism and various forms of materialism, behaviorism, mind-body identity theories, and functionalism and eliminativism. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 433/533 Philosophy of Language (4)
A study of the nature of language and of problems of meaning, reference, and truth. Prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 445/545 Advanced Ethics (4)
A course in moral epistemology or "meta-ethics" dealing with topics such as: the distinction and connections between fact and value, "is" and "ought", and description and evaluation.

PHL 446/546 Topics in Ethics (4)
Topics in contemporary and moral philosophy, including (but not limited to) the relation between applied and theoretical ethics, the foundations of moral responsibility, virtues, and the role of outcomes in moral evaluation.  Courses may be repeated for credit with departmental approval, to apply toward major requirements. Recommended prerequisites: PHL 308 or 445

PHL 447/547 Topics in Social and Political Philosophy (4)
An in depth study of an important current issue (such as global justice, multiculturalism, or power) or figure (such as John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, or Michel Foucault) in social and political philosophy.

PHL 451/551 Classical Figures (4)
Intensive study of some classical figure such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, Hegel. Course may be repeated for credit towards majors requirements. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 460/560 Contemporary European Philosophy (4)
In-depth study of a current theme (such as phenomenology, post-modernism, or post-structuralism) or topical figure (such as Habermas, Derrida, or Benjamin) of European, “Continental” Philosophy.

PHL 470/570 Philosophy of Science (4)
History and philosophy of the scientific method. Topics include an overview of the major models of the scientific method (inductivism, falsificationism, Kuhnian paradigms, etc.) and issues pertaining to their rationality such as theory-ladenness of observation, testing-holism, and the incommensurability of theory change. Recommended prerequisites: 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 471/571 Topics in Philosophy of Science (4)
An in-depth analysis of some specific metaphysical issue pertaining to scientific epistemology such as (but not limited to) explanation, causation, realism, natural kinds, and relativism. Course may be repeated for credit towards major requirements. Recommended prerequisites: PHL 470 or 8 credits in philosophy

PHL 474/574 Philosophy of Logic (4)
Topics: validity, sentence-proposition, connectives, quantifiers, truth, paradoxes, logical necessity and possibility. Optional topics: metalogic, the construction of formal systems of logic and formal proofs of certain of their properties, e.g., consistency and completeness. Recommended prerequisite: PHL 325

PHL 481/581, 482/582, 483/583, Biomedical Ethics (4)(4)(4)
A three-term sequence that provides a practical bioethics education in clinical health care, biomedical and behavioral research, and public policy. PHL 481/581: introduction to the concepts, methods, and literature of health care and biomedical research ethics, designed to familiarize participants with the basic definitions and arguments in the major topics of clinical and research ethics. PHL 482/582 and PHL 483/583: concepts and skills developed in PHL 481/581 will be intensively examined; students take responsibility for several aspects of teaching. Courses should be taken in sequence. Recommended prerequisite: an acquaintance with health care services is recommended

PHL 485 Honors Seminar (4)
Students conduct research and produce substantial written material on a topic, to be shared and critiqued. Recommended particularly for students considering graduate work in philosophy.