Philosophy (PHIL)

Edward Minar
Department Chair
313 Old Main

Philosophy Department Website

The Department of Philosophy offers an undergraduate major in philosophy as well as a combined major in philosophy and African and African American studies, both of which lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The department also offers a minor in philosophy.

The problems of philosophy include some of the deepest, most interesting, and most challenging questions that the human mind can raise. What is the difference between appearance and reality? What are the sources and limits of human knowledge? Does God exist? What is the origin of evil? Can computers think or have feelings? Do we have freedom of the will? Why be moral, and how is morality related to law? What is the proper scope of governmental authority? What is scientific explanation and why does it work? How does science differ from art? What is truth? What is the meaning of a word?

Philosophy cannot claim to have discovered fully adequate answers either to these questions or to the other questions that fall within its scope, but it has developed fruitful ways of addressing them, and it has found a number of partial answers that are both useful and exciting. Although the department's bent is generally analytic, our course offerings cover a broad range and include every major period in the history of western philosophy and most of the major subfields of contemporary philosophy. Our areas of special concentration are the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of religion.

For requirements for advanced degrees in philosophy, see the Graduate School Catalog.


PHIL 10103. Critical Reasoning: Discovery, Deduction, and Intellectual Self-Defense. 3 Hours.

This is a practical, "hands-on" course in sound reasoning, critical thinking, and the careful evaluation of evidence and argument. The course will utilize a range of real-world sources (television, Internet, magazines, etc.) and will be informed in content and method by the psychology of human judgment. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 20003. Introduction to Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An examination of such basic philosophical topics as the existence of God, the nature of the human mind, the relationship between appearance and reality, the forms and limits of human knowledge, freedom of the will, and standards of right and wrong. Includes both historical and contemporary readings. Corequisite: Drill component. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

PHIL 200H3. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. 3 Hours.

An examination of such basic philosophical topics as the existence of God, the nature of the human mind, the relationship between appearance and reality, the forms and limits of human knowledge, freedom of the will, and standards of right and wrong. Includes both historical and contemporary readings. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer)

PHIL 21003. Introduction to Ethics (ACTS Equivalency = PHIL 1003). 3 Hours.

Basic concepts of moral philosophy, including historical and contemporary literature concerned with such issues as ethical relativism vs. objectivism, duty, happiness, freedom of the will and responsibility, facts and values, individual liberty and society. Application of theories to substantive questions. Corequisite: Drill component. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 22003. Logic (ACTS Equivalency = PHIL 1003). 3 Hours.

Traditional and modern methods of deductive and inductive inference. Corequisite: Drill Component. (Typically offered: Fall and Spring)

PHIL 23003. Human Nature and the Meaning of Life. 3 Hours.

Examination of important views on human nature, the meaning of human existence, the value and significance of different human activities and projects, and on what philosophy, religion, art, and literature have to teach us on these topics. Reading may be drawn from a variety of philosophical, literary, and religious writings. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 25003. Philosophical Explorations. 3 Hours.

Explores topics in philosophy that are not currently covered in lower-level philosophy courses. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 31003. Ethics and the Professions. 3 Hours.

After a survey of the standard theories of moral obligation, justice, and rights, the course focuses on specific moral problems that arise within engineering, business, and the professions. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer)

PHIL 31103. Environmental Ethics. 3 Hours.

The course addresses ethical questions about nature and the natural environment. Topics of discussion include anthropocentric and biocentric ethics, population control, obligations to future generations, animal rights, moral considerability, Leopold's land ethic, deep ecology, and ecofeminism. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 31203. Bioethics. 3 Hours.

This course examines ethical dilemmas that arise in biological research, medical research, medical practice, and healthcare policy. Topics may include such things as abortion, assisted reproduction, cloning & genetic engineering, assisted suicide & voluntary euthanasia, organ donation, research ethics, patient autonomy, and healthcare policy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 31303. Medical Ethics. 3 Hours.

Equips students with the knowledge and analytical tools needed to meet the ethical challenges of the medical profession. Studies the fundamentals of ethical theory, examines professional codes of medical ethics, and explores ethical dilemmas that one could encounter in medicine. (Typically offered: Spring)

PHIL 32003. Philosophy and the Christian Faith. 3 Hours.

This course will deal with philosophical issues that arise in Christian theology. Topics to be discussed may include the doctrines of the Incarnation, the Trinity, Atonement, and Hell, as well as the nature of God and the relationship between faith and reason. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 34403. Animal Minds. 3 Hours.

This course explores questions about thinking, consciousness, emotion, and communication in non-human animals; about the differences between human and non-human animals; and about implications for our treatment of animals. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 3900V. Readings. 1-6 Hour.

Readings on topics of research interested or those not typically offered in regular classes, by arrangement with Professor. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer) May be repeated for up to 12 hours of degree credit.

PHIL 392H3. Honors Colloquium. 3 Hours.

Treats a special topic of issue offered as part of the honors program. Prerequisite: honors candidacy (not restricted to candidacy in philosophy). (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for degree credit.

PHIL 39403. Philosophy and Physics. 3 Hours.

Examination of the metaphysical and epistemological implications of specific physical theories with an emphasis on twentieth-century physics. Topics covered may include the nature of space and time (particularly as described in relativity theory), the nature of the quantum mechanical world, and the temporal asymmetries found in thermodynamics and other areas of physics. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 399HV. Honors Course. 1-6 Hour.

Honors thesis research and writing under the direction of a faculty member in the department. Prerequisite: Junior standing. (Typically offered: Fall, Spring and Summer) May be repeated for up to 12 hours of degree credit.

PHIL 40003. Ancient Greek Philosophy. 3 Hours.

Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Fall)

PHIL 40203. Medieval Philosophy. 3 Hours.

Includes Augustine, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham. Prerequisite: At least one course in Philosophy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 40303. Modern Philosophy-17th and 18th Centuries. 3 Hours.

British and Continental philosophy, including Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. (Typically offered: Spring)

PHIL 40903. Special Topics in Philosophy. 3 Hours.

This course will cover subject matter not covered in regularly offered courses. Course cannot be repeated when the topic is the same as one in which the student is previously enrolled. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for degree credit.

PHIL 409H3. Honors Special Topics in Philosophy. 3 Hours.

This course will cover subject matter not covered in regularly offered courses. Course cannot be repeated when the topic is the same as one in which the student is previously enrolled. Prerequisite: Honors standing. (Typically offered: Irregular) May be repeated for degree credit.

PHIL 41003. Modern Jewish Thought. 3 Hours.

A survey of the main trends in Jewish thought from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41103. Social and Political Philosophy. 3 Hours.

Selected philosophical theories of society, the state, social justice, and their connections with individuals. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41203. Classical Ethical Theory. 3 Hours.

Study of classical texts in the history of philosophical ethics from Plato to Nietzsche. Philosophers covered may include Plato, Aristotle, Butler, Hume, Kant, and Mill. Prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41303. Contemporary Ethical Theory. 3 Hours.

A study of contemporary texts in philosophical ethics from G.E. Moore to the present. Philosophers covered may include Moore, Stevenson, Hare, Foot, and Rawls. Prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41403. Philosophy of Law. 3 Hours.

A philosophical consideration of the nature of law, theory of adjudication, concepts of legal responsibility, liberty and the limits of law, and selected moral-legal issues (abortion, affirmative action, punishment, etc.). (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41503. Theories of Legal Punishment. 3 Hours.

Examines the ways in which political states frequently exercise the power to punish their citizens. Explores the question, what is punishment, and what licenses the state to punish its citizens? Considers and evaluates different responses to these and related questions. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 41903. Existentialism. 3 Hours.

Explores texts by major existentialist philosophers including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and relevant literary works. Topics may include critiques of traditional views of human nature, the self, the meaning of life and existing authentically. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 42003. Theory of Knowledge. 3 Hours.

An examination of skepticism, the nature and structures of knowledge and epistemic justification, human rationality, and the justification of religious belief. Prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 42103. Philosophy of Science. 3 Hours.

Examination of issues related to scientific explanation, empirical foundations of science, observation and objectivity, nature of laws and theories, realism and instrumentalism, induction and confirmation, models, causation, and simplicity, beginning with historical survey set in the context of the history of science but emphasizing works from the 1930s to the current period, often including issues in recent physics. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 42303. Philosophy of Language. 3 Hours.

A survey of mainstream philosophical theories of meaning, reference, truth, and logical form. Attention given to the views of such figures as Frege, Russell, Tarski, Searie, Dumett, and the advocates of possible world's semantics. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 42403. Speech, Power, and Politics. 3 Hours.

Discusses the meaning of pejorative speech, how such speech derogates, and how speech could embody an ideology, function as propaganda, erode democratic norms, oppress marginalized people, and enable or even constitute a form of violence. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 42503. Symbolic Logic I. 3 Hours.

Rigorous analyses of the concepts of proof, consistency, equivalence, validity, implication, and truth. Full coverage of truth-functional logic and quantification theory (predicate calculus). Discussion of the nature and limits of mechanical procedures (algorithms) for proving theorems in logic and mathematics. Informal accounts of the basic facts about infinite sets. Prerequisite: PHIL 22003 or MATH 26103. (Typically offered: Fall)

PHIL 43003. Philosophy of Religion. 3 Hours.

Types of religious belief and critical examination of their possible validity, including traditional arguments and contemporary questions of meaning. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 43103. Contemporary Jewish Thought. 3 Hours.

A survey of trends in Jewish thought in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on the ways in which Jewish thinkers have responded to the events affecting Jews and the conditions of Jewish life from approximately 1900 to the present. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 43203. Philosophy of Race and Gender. 3 Hours.

Examines the metaphysical, ethical, aesthetic, political, and legal dimensions of race and gender. Topics include theories of race and gender, Latinx feminism, the ethics of racist humor and removing historical monuments, misogyny and misandry, transgender and nonbinary identities, and the role of self-interpretation in sexual orientation. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 43303. Feminist Philosophy. 3 Hours.

Explores feminist contributions in traditional philosophical areas such as ethics, political philosophy, and epistemology. Topics include feminist analyses of the family, pornography, sexual harassment, violence against women, and race relations; and ways different schools of feminist thought describe women's oppression, its causes, and resistance to it. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 44003. Philosophy of Art. 3 Hours.

Varieties of truth and value in the arts and aesthetic experience, focusing on the creative process in the art and in other human activities. (Typically offered: Spring)

PHIL 44203. Philosophy of Mind. 3 Hours.

An examination of such topics such as the relationship between mind and body, the mentality of machines, knowledge of other minds, the nature of psychological explanation, the relationships between psychology and the other sciences, mental representation, the nature of the self, and free will and determinism. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 44303. Philosophy of Psychology. 3 Hours.

Explores philosophical issues concerning the domain, foundations and methodology of psychology, and the relation of psychological explanations to other scientific and philosophical investigations of the mind. Topics include cognitive architecture and the evolution of minds, extended or embodied cognition, perception and introspection, consciousness and attention, social cognition, thought and language. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 46003. Metaphysics. 3 Hours.

Theory and critical analysis of such basic metaphysical problems as mind and body, universals and particulars, space and time, determinism and free will, self-identity and individualism, with emphasis on contemporary perspectives. Prerequisite: 3 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Irregular)

PHIL 49803. Capstone Course for Philosophy Majors. 3 Hours.

An undergraduate seminar to be taken in the student's final spring semester. The content will vary with the instructor. The objective is for the student to sharpen his or her philosophical skills by, e.g., writing short papers, giving class presentations, and writing a substantial final essay. Prerequisite: 21 hours of philosophy. (Typically offered: Spring)