Philosophy Major

Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

Department Faculty

The Philosophy Program

The discipline of philosophy has been shaped by an intellectual and historical tradition that began some 2500 years ago in Greek culture. “Philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom.” It is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more.

The problems and materials of philosophy are drawn from every aspect of our lives and experience, and its deliberations extend to every subject admitting of disciplined reflection. Students majoring in philosophy will develop knowledge of the history and current state of Western philosophy, critical areas of Asian philosophy, a grasp of representative philosophical issues and ways of dealing with them, a capacity to apply philosophical methods to intellectual problems, and a sense of how philosophy bears on other disciplines and on human life more generally. A philosophy major, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies, develops a critical mind, a balance of analytic and interpretive abilities, and a capacity for the imaginative development of abstract formulations and their concrete applications. These virtues make philosophy especially good preparation for responsible citizenship and positions of leadership.

Requirements for the Philosophy Major

Students wishing to major in Philosophy may choose from two concentrations: the Philosophy major, or the Pre-Law Concentration in Philosophy, which offers special preparation for students considering a career in law or related fields.

1. Requirements for the Philosophy major:

Ten courses (30 credits) including PHIL 151, 201, 202; one of PHIL 301, 302, 303; one course from the Continental Philosophy set (PHIL 260, 342, 343, 450); one course from the Social and Political Philosophy set (PHIL 100, 210, 220, 320, 325, 350) or the Ethics set (PHIL 160, 225, 226, 330, 335); one course from the non-Western set (PHIL 283, 284, 440); PHIL 485 (Research in Philosophy); two additional courses in Philosophy, at least one of which must be at the 300- or 400-level. With the approval of the major advisor, one of the following may be allowed: CPRD 299, CPRD 331, LATN 432, RELG 306, RELG 314, RELG 317, RELG 331, RELG 341.

2. Requirements for the Pre-Law Concentration in Philosophy

Eleven courses (33 credits) in Philosophy, including PHIL 151, 201, 202, 320, 325; one of PHIL 301, 302, 303; one course from the Ethics set (PHIL 160, 225, 226, 330, 335); one course from the Continental Philosophy set (PHIL 260, 342, 343, 450); one course from the non-Western set (PHIL 283, 284, 440); PHIL 485 (Research in Philosophy); and 3 credits of either PHIL 499 (Internship) or one of the following: ECON 342 (Law and Economics), HIST 416 (American Legal History), HIST 417 (American Constitutional History), PSCI 422 (American Civil Liberties) or SOCG 415 (Sociology of Law).

Majors in Philosophy with an interest in graduate studies should take courses beyond the minimum required for the major, and they are especially urged to achieve competence in Greek, Latin, French or German. Students with a 3.5 GPA in Philosophy (and 3.25 overall) are eligible for Honors contingent on a grade of A in PHIL 485 and successful oral defense.

Philosophy Course Offerings

Philosophy course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of PHIL in the course listings.

100 – Individual and Community (3)

Through a close reading of Plato’s Republic, supplemented by accompanying readings, small tutorial groups will read, write, and talk about specific issues that interest them.

101 – Introduction to Philosophy (3)

A historical introduction to Western civilization’s philosophical heritage from Plato to contemporary philosophical movements.

110– Introduction to Law and Legal Writing (3)

This course provides a basic understanding of the U.S. legal system. The focus includes essential history and the working structure of the government, procedural issues in the courts, specific concepts of basic categories of law such as contract law and property, the distinctive characteristics of criminal law and procedure, brief writing, the roles of various legal professionals, and the effect of legal ethics on the practice of law.

151 – Introductory Logic (3)

Basic principles of analytical reasoning and the appraisal of arguments. Among the topics covered are symbolic language, translation, and methods of formal proof including propositional calculus and first order predicate calculus.

160 – Introduction to Ethics (3)

An introduction to ethical theory and a consideration of the central questions about the nature of duty, how one makes decisions about what is morally right and morally wrong, ideas about the good life and the good person, how we come to evaluate our own and other’s action, and the relationship of the ethical to other ideas including religious, political, and social values. Course readings draw from the classical historical theorists as well as some contemporary sources; discussions of the readings occur in the context of some specific ethical problems and dilemmas.

201 – Ancient Greek Philosophy (3)

Selected works by ancient Greek philosophers, including the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle.

202 – Early Modern Philosophy (3)

Rationalism and Empiricism. Selected works by such early modern philosophers as Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Berkeley.

210 – Social and Political Philosophy (3)

Introduction to classical, modern, and contemporary social and political theories as well as issues in a global context.

212Aesthetics (3)

The philosophical examination of art and consideration of central questions about the nature of art, the aesthetic experience, principles of evaluating works of art, and the relationship of the aesthetic to other values. Readings cover the major theorists in the history of philosophy as well as current theory and issues about art.

220 – Introduction to Feminism (3)

Study of feminism as a philosophical movement of the 20th century, its historical background, and contemporary feminist issues and theories.

225 – Practical Ethics (3)

An introduction to the philosophical examination of contemporary moral issues. Topics might include the death penalty, euthanasia, hate speech regulation, pornography, and human cloning.

226 – Medical Ethics (3)

Central ethical issues in clinical medicine. Topics might include the physician-patient relationship, informed consent and competency, reproductive technology, distribution of scarce medical resources, organ donation, and experimental medicine.

231— Topics in Philosophy (3)

Selected topics outside of regular course offerings.

244 – Philosophy of Science (3)

An examination of the philosophical issues raised and illustrated in both scientific theory and practice.

260 – Freud’s Greatest Hits (3)

A guided tour through Sigmund Freud’s most influential and important texts, on dreams, sexuality, the unconscious, slips, religion, and morality. Attention to Freud’s life, the impact of his ideas, and critical assessment of his theories and assumptions.

275 – Mock Trial Practicum (3)

Credit for satisfactory work on the University’s Mock Trial team and course assignments. Introduces students to legal research, briefing, and procedure. Enrollment by permission of department and instructor. Total credits earned for this practicum may not exceed 6. Offered as pass/fail only.

283 – Hinduism (3)

This course explores the diverse beliefs, rituals, and literatures of Indian religion that constitute Hinduism, the historical progression of their development, and their current expressions throughout the world. Cross-listed as RELG 283.

284 – Buddhism (3)

This course surveys Indian Buddhism’s diverse doctrines, practices, ethics, objectives, and their evolution over its 2500-year history, concluding with an examination of their transmission to the West. A major component is in-class contemplative and interactive exercises to reflect on core content and explore its relationship to human experience. Cross-listed as RELG 284.

Prerequisites for courses above 300: at least one course in Philosophy or Permission of the instructor.

301 – Medieval Philosophy (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 201. A survey of philosophical thought in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions.

302 – Hume and Kant (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 202. A study of the major works and influence of Hume and Kant, with emphasis on the Critique of Pure Reason.

303 – Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 202. Study of the most important European philosophers of the 19th century.

306 – Advanced Logic (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 151 or six credits in mathematics. Theory of formal systems; applied criteria of consistency, completeness, and quantification; other topics in symbolic logic.

310 – Plato (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 201. Close study of selected works by Plato and scholarship on Plato.

311 – Aristotle (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 201. Close study of selected works by Aristotle and scholarship on Aristotle.

318 – Philosophy of Religion (3)

Philosophical examination of such topics as the relationship between faith and reason, the existence and non-existence of god, life after death, mysticism, and miracles. Cross-listed as RELG 318.

320 – Philosophy of Law I (3)

Central issues in the philosophy of law, including theory of law, Constitutional interpretation, First Amendment protections, and race and gender in the law.  PHIL 320 and PHIL 325 may be taken in either order.

325 – Philosophy of Law II (3)

An exploration and analysis of issues in criminal and tort law: responsibility and punishment, causation and liability, acts and omissions, justifications and excuses, and the duty to rescue.  PHIL 320 and PHIL 325 may be taken in either order.

330 – Environmental Ethics (3)

A philosophical investigation of topics such as individualistic and holistic ethics, anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, wilderness and sustainability, ecofeminism, and environmental justice.

331 – Topics in Philosophy (3)

Selected topics outside of regular course offerings.

335 – Ethical Theory (3)

An in-depth study of moral theory. Topics might include relativism, utilitarianism, deontology, virtue theory, care ethics, egoism, and moral pluralism.

342 – Phenomenology (3)

The basic concepts and arguments of both transcendental and existential phenomenology, from central works of Husserl and Heidegger.

343 – Existentialism (3)

Critical study of major works of Heidegger, deBeauvoir, and Sartre.

350 – Feminist Theory and Philosophy (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 202 or 220. In-depth study of philosophical issues in feminism and implications of feminist theory for epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of science.

353 – Islamic Philosophy and Theology (3)

Central themes and topics in the Islamic theological and philosophical tradition will be discussed in some detail.  Such topics include the existence of God, free will and determinism, eschatology, ontology and epistemology.  References will be made between major Islamic philosophers and their medieval Christian counterparts.  Cross-listed as RELG 353

354 – Philosophy of Education (3)

Historical and contemporary philosophical examination of the goals and methods of education.

407 – Analytic Philosophy (3)

Prerequisites: PHIL 201 and 202. Study of the history, development and some central writings of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Quine and others.

425 – Philosophy Tutoring Practicum (3)

Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Advanced students in philosophy serve as tutors in introductory level philosophy classes, assisting others in preparing for exams and projects, organizing small-group work, and reviewing writing assignments. May be repeated once if tutoring in a different course.

430 – Seminar: Ethics, Environment, & Sustainability (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 330 or permission of instructor. Explores philosophical questions in ethics related to the environment and sustainability.  Emphasis will be on practical problems with specific topics including population and consumption, pollution, climate change, species preservation, and environmental justice.  The concept of sustainability will both frame the discussions and be itself subject to conceptual analysis.

440 – Studies in Asian and Comparative Philosophy (3)

Prerequisite: One of the following: PHIL/RELG 283, 284, 285, 286, 287. Studies in a topic within Asian philosophical traditions.

450 – Seminar in Twentieth Century Philosophy (3)

Prerequisite: PHIL 202. Intensive examination of a selected author, problem or movement of the 20th century.

481 – Readings in Philosophy (3)

Discussion of philosophical literature in a field selected by the philosophy faculty after consultation with students.

485 – Research in Philosophy (3)

Prerequisite: Senior standing and major in Philosophy or Philosophy, Pre-law Concentration. Capstone course required of all senior Philosophy majors; preparation of a senior thesis under supervision of the Philosophy faculty. Successful completion and defense, with GPA of 3.5 in the major, required for graduation with Honors in Philosophy.

491, 492 – Individual Study (1–3, 1–3)

Prerequisite: permission of department. Tutorial under the direction of a member of the staff. By permission of the instructor and department chair.

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Supervised off-campus experience, developed in consultation with the philosophy faculty.

Classics-Philosophy-Religion Course Offerings

Classics-Philosophy-Religion course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of CRPD in the course listings.

100 – Topics in Classics, Philosophy, and Religion (3)

Special interdisciplinary offerings in Classics, Philosophy, and Religion

104 – Meditation and Contemplative Practices (3)

This course offers a practical, experiential and theoretical introduction to mindfulness meditation and contemplation.  Students learn and practice meditation techniques daily while exploring the contemplative practices and theories of diverse cultural traditions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, such as philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.

299 – Mysterium Humanum Studies (3)

Different topics of fundamental human concern are treated at different times in this interdisciplinary course involving the entire faculty of the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion. Topics covered in the past include “Wrestling with Death,” “The Tempest of Time,” “Sex and Society in the West,” and “Slavery.”

301, 302 – Studies in Ancient Languages (3, 3)

Introduction to the morphology and syntax of selected ancient languages relevant to the study of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion (such as Coptic, Quranic Arabic, and Sanskrit). By permission of instructor. These courses do not satisfy the College’s general education requirement for proficiency in a foreign language.

304 – Contemplative Practice II (3)

Prerequisite: CPRD 104.  Contemplative Practice II is a continuation of CPRD 104.  Students will further develop and refine their daily meditation practice by exploring additional techniques and advanced topics.  It also surveys current trends in psychological and neuroscientific research on meditation, and deeply engages related philosophical concepts and debates.

331 – Cross-disciplinary Topics in Classics, Philosophy, and Religion (3)

A consideration of a theme from the perspective of two or three of the disciplines taught in the Department of Classics, Philosophy, and Religion.