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Department of Philosophy
216 Foust Building

Philosophy Major (BA)Prelaw concentrationPhilosophy Second MajorPhilosophy MinorPhilosophy Courses

Joshua Hoffman, Professor and Head of Department
Professors Leplin, McConnell, Rosenkrantz; Associate Professors King, Zimmerman; Assistant Professor Preti

The Department of Philosophy offers courses on the fundamental problems and methods of philosophy, the classics of philosophical literature, and the major figures in the history of philosophy.

Philosophy courses fall into natural groups.

  • Ethics and Theory of Value: 119, 121, 220, 231, 321, 322, 335, 361, 545.
  • Logic, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: 115, 211, 311, 319, 325, 523, 525, 527, 555, 575.
  • History of Philosophy: 251, 252, 351, 353.
  • Metaphysics: 259, 357, 559, 565.

Groups A and B are useful preparation for careers in law and government, and the department offers a major in philosophy with a Prelaw concentration. Group B provides knowledge and skills vital to careers in science and medicine. Group C relates philosophy to other humanistic disciplines and is vital to a liberal education. Group D is necessary for advanced work in philosophy.

All courses under 300 and many higher level courses are open to students without previous training in philosophy. Prerequisites for other courses may be waived at the discretion of the instructor. Students are encouraged to begin work in philosophy by taking 111, 115, 119, 211, 251, or 252.

The department sponsors a philosophy club open to all undergraduates, regardless of major. Each year the department sponsors a number of lectures by distinguished scholars from other institutions. The department conducts a biannual symposium on a topic of current research in philosophy.

 

Philosophy Major (Bachelor of Arts)

Required: 122 semester hours.

The Philosophy Major is recommended for students wishing a basic education in the liberal arts, students preparing for a career in law or government, and students contemplating graduate study in philosophy or a related discipline. Students who would like to major in philosophy but whose interests or career goals require substantial work in another field are encouraged to consider the option of a second major.

The Prelaw concentration provides a strong preparation for law school through courses in logic, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. These courses cover a broad range of skills and knowledge that are of fundamental importance in the field of law.

College of Arts and Sciences Liberal Education Requirements (CLER) (54-55 hours required)

All students must meet the All-University Liberal Education Requirements (AULER). The College of Arts and Sciences, however, has established liberal education requirements for its programs which, while including those of AULER, contain additional requirements in several categories. Therefore, students following this program should adhere to the College requirements. Please note that students who satisfy the College Liberal Education Requirements (CLER) will also satisfy the All-University Liberal Education Requirements (AULER). See College requirements and courses meeting AULER/CLER requirements.

The following courses offered by the Philosophy Department carry AULER and College of Arts and Sciences (CLER) credit:

  • PHI 111, 119, 121, 220, 231: Analytic & Evaluative Studies (AE, CAE)
  • PHI 251, 252: Historical Perspectives on Western Culture (HP/CPM, HP/CMO )
  • PHI 115, 211: Reasoning & Discourse (RD, CRD)

Major Requirements

Minimum 24 hours in philosophy courses above the 100-level, including at least 12 hours above the 200 level.

  • PHI 211.
  • PHI 251 and 252.

Prelaw Concentration

In addition to the major requirements, the Prelaw concentration requires the following:

  • PHI 115, and
  • either PHI 319 or 325 or 555, and
  • either PHI 119 or 121 or 220 or 321, and
  • either PHI 231 or 545, and
  • PHI 335

Note that the Prelaw concentration requires PHI 115 plus the major requirement of a minimum of 24 hours in philosophy courses above the 100 level. Thus, the Prelaw concentration requires a minimum of 27 hours in philosophy. If a student uses a 100-level course to satisfy (c) of the Prelaw Concentration requirements, then the minimum number of hours in Philosophy needed to complete the Prelaw Concentration increases to 30 hours.

Related Area Requirements

Cognate courses to be determined by department adviser where necessary.

Electives

Electives sufficient to complete the 122 semester hours required for degree.

 

Philosophy As A Second Major

The requirements for a second major in philosophy are the same as the requirements for a first major.

 

Philosophy Minor

The Philosophy Minor requires a minimum of 18 hours including PHI 251 and 252.

 

Philosophy Courses (PHI)

Courses For Undergraduates

111 Introduction to Philosophy (3:3).

Discussion of views and methods of major philosophers. Topics drawn from metaphysics and epistemology, such as the foundations and scope of human knowledge, personal identity, freedom and determinism, and the mind-body problem. [AE, CAE] .

115 Practical Reasoning (3:3).

Introduction to basic principles of reasoning and argumentation. Topics taken from syllogistic reasoning, probability, informal fallacies, the structural analysis of statements, and scientific methods. [RD, CRD].

119 Introduction to Ethics (3:3).

Fundamental questions of ethics, such as the nature of the distinction between good and evil, moral right and wrong, the foundation of moral judgments, relativism, absolutism, and subjectivism. Readings from major figures in the history of ethics. [AE, CAE].

121 Contemporary Moral Problems (3:3).

Philosophical readings and discussion of such current topics as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, censorship, sexual morality, affirmative action and preferential hiring, environmental ethics, population control, and the morality of war. [AE, CAE].

201 Topics in Philosophy (3:3).

  • May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

Variable content.

211 Introduction to Formal Logic (3:3).

Validity, consistency, implication, and the formal analysis of language. Propositional logic and quantification theory. [RD, CRD].

220 Medical Ethics (3:3).

Moral problems in medicine including the patient's right to know, the confidentiality of doctor-patient communications, informed consent and experimentation with human subjects, abortion, euthanasia, socialized medicine, conflicts between medicine and religion, and genetic engineering. [AE, CAE].

231 Social and Political Philosophy (3:3).

Major writings on social freedom or liberty, coercion, human rights, justice, and the basis of political authority. [AE, CAE].

251 History of Ancient Philosophy (3:3).

Survey of Western philosophical thought in the ancient period from the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, the Sceptics, Stoics, Epicureans. Particular choices of texts and philosophical ideas may vary. [HP, CHP-CPM].

252 History of Modern Philosophy (3:3).

Survey of Western philosophical thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, its historical background and its influences on subsequent intellectual developments. Reading from major figures of the period, such as Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant. [HP, CHP-CMO].

259 Philosophy of Religion (3:3).

Arguments concerning God's existence, the problem of evil, God's foreknowledge and human freedom, the analysis of divine attributes, immortality and the soul. (Same as REL 259) [AE, CAE].

267 Existentialism (3:3).

Introduction to the fundamental ideas of existentialism. Readings from Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre.

311 Intermediate Formal Logic (3:3). Pr. 211 or consent of instructor.

Quantification theory with completeness results, identity, functions, decidability, and axiomatic methods.

319 Knowledge, Truth, and Belief (3:3).

Discussion of concepts central to an understanding of the nature of human knowledge, such as truth, evidence, certainty, intuition, perception, the reasonableness of belief, and the reliability theory of justification.

321 Ethical Theory (3:3).

Analysis of the meaning of moral concepts such as good, right, ought, duty, and of the nature of ethical argument. Attention to current theories in normative ethics.

322 Philosophy of the Arts (3:3).

Philosophical problems concerning description, interpretation, and evaluation of the visual, performing, and literary arts, discussed generally and in relation to specific works of art. Readings in philosophy and art theory.

325 Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (3:3). Pr. one course in logic, mathematics, or natural science.

Concepts important to an understanding of the nature and goals of research in the natural sciences, such as observation, experiment, theory, law, and explanation. Philosophical problems about objectivity and conceptual change in science based on examples from the history of science. Nature of scientific knowledge.

330 Philosophy in Literature (3:3).

Basic philosophical issues in literature such as personal identity, the problem of evil, free will, ethical ideals, the nature of reality, truth in literature, and reference to fictional objects. Major works of fiction studied for their philosophical content.

335 Philosophy of Law (3:3).

Theories of the origin and justification of legal systems, our obligation to obey the law, justice, punishment, and related issues. Readings from classical and contemporary sources.

348 Existentialism, Phenomenology, and Structuralism (3:3).

Recent philosophical movements in France and Germany. Application of structuralist models to the human sciences. Post-structuralist developments such as Deconstruction and Hermeneutics. Selections from such writers as Husserl, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Lacan, Althusser, Derrida, Gadamer, and Ricoeur.

351 Major Philosophers (3:3).

  • May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

Systematic examination of the works of a major philosopher.

353 Major Philosophies (3:3).

  • May be repeated for credit when topic varies.

Systematic examination of a major historical movement in philosophy, such as rationalism, empiricism, positivism, materialism, and idealism.

357 Metaphysics (3:3). Pr. one course in philosophy.

Selected metaphysical issues such as personal identity and the immortality of the soul, freedom and determinism, the nature of space, time and substance, the problem of universals, forms of realism, and theory of reference.

361 Ethical Issues in Business (3:3).

Ethical theory and its application to business: economic justice, corporate responsibility, self-regulation and government regulation, conflict of interest, investment policy, advertising, and environmental responsibility.

401 Reading Course for Seniors (1-3). Pr. consent of instructor.

  • May be repeated for credit.

Supervised reading and research for philosophy majors.

402 Independent Study (1-3). Pr. satisfaction of requirements for the major in philosophy and consent of instructor.

  • May be repeated for credit.

493 Honors Work (3-6). See prerequisites under Honors Program, XXX 493.

 

Courses For Advanced Undergraduates and Graduate Students

523 Philosophy of Social and Behavioral Science (3:3). Pr. one course in social or behavioral science and one in philosophy or consent of instructor.

Issues in philosophy of social and behavioral science from Hume to the present: explanation, theory construction, methodology of the social sciences, the status of the sociology of knowledge.

525 Philosophy of Physical Science (3:3). Pr. 325 and one course in physical science or consent of instructor.

Study of a major current issue in the philosophy of science such as scientific progress and change, scientific methods, experiment and theory, scientific explanation, rationality, scientific realism, relations between philosophy of science and history of science. Examples drawn from modern history of the physical sciences.

527 Philosophy of Biological Science (3:3). Pr. one course in biology and one in philosophy or consent of instructor.

Examination of concepts of law, theory, explanation, evidence, classification, and reduction using examples drawn from biology. Investigation of problems related to alternative conceptual systems and conceptual change in biology, the nature of the biological subject matter, and the place of biology among the natural sciences.

545 Social Philosophy (3:3). Pr. one course in philosophy or consent of instructor.

Topics from social, political, and legal philosophy, such as property, justice, punishment, liberalism, and conservatism. Study of such major figures as Hobbes, Rousseau, and Marx.

555 Epistemology (3:3). Pr. 319 or consent of instructor.

Skepticism, the analysis of knowledge, confirmation and induction, apriori knowledge, naturalized epistemology.

559 Philosophy of Mind (3:3). Pr. one course in philosophy or consent of instructor.

The mind-body problem, identity theories, functionalism, reductive and eliminative materialism, behavioral and causal theories of mind.

565 Philosophy of Language (3:3). Pr. one course in philosophy or consent of instructor.

Theories of truth, meaning, and reference. Origin and nature of human language and its relations to animal and machine language.

575 Advanced Logic (3:3). Pr. 311 or consent of instructor.

Axiomatic first order quantification theory with completeness theorems. Numbers and sets. Paradoxes and type theory. Introduction to modal logic.

590 Aesthetics (3:3). Pr. 322 or consent of instructor.

Readings in the major philosophies of art, analysis of evaluative judgment and argument, the nature of aesthetic concepts, artistic truth, the art object, and the aesthetic experience.

Please refer to The Graduate School Bulletin for additional graduate level courses.

 
 
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