Department of Philosophy

Course Descriptions

1200 Critical Thinking
6 credit hours

This course is an introduction to essential principles of reasoning and critical thinking.  It is designed to develop students’ abilities  to evaluate various forms of reasoning, to examine critically beliefs, conventions and theories, and to develop sound arguments.  Emphasis will be given to decision-making and arguments in ordinary language, particularly those addressed to issues of public concern and moral debate.


1201 Introduction to Philosophy
6 credit hours

Philosophy is devoted to the critical and creative examination of such fundamental questions as: What can be known? Does existence have meaning? What is a worthwhile life? What moral obligations do people have to one another? What makes a society just? Philosophy provides systematic training in the framing of these questions and in the rigorous analysis of the issues they involve.

Note: Students cannot receive credit for PHIL 1306 or PHIL 1600 if they receive credit for PHIL 1201 and vice versa. However, students can receive credit for both PHIL 1306 and PHIL 1600.


1222 Ethics for Modern Life
6 credit hours

The course examines competing moral perspectives on topics such as capital punishment, suicide, euthanasia, abortion, genetic engineering, friendship, marriage, parenthood, discrimination, inequality, poverty, foreign aid, and the environment. The aim is to help the student to develop a coherent set of principles to deal with these and other topics.


1244 Human Freedom
3 credit hours

The traditional problems of free will and political freedom and different concepts and conceptions of freedom and liberation are considered. In addition, there will be an examination of some contemporary thought on freedom and liberation.


1245 Philosophies of Life
3 credit hours

An examination of the major philosophies of life and an assessment of the reasons for and against their adoption. Consideration will be given to various forms of collectivism and individualism and to various views of what is ultimately worth striving for.


1246 Sex and Sexuality
3 credit hours

The philosophy of sex and sexuality concerns the nature and moral significance of sexual behaviors. Topics may include the concept of sex, sexual identity, sex and love, sex and marriage, rape, and prostitution.


1248 Killing and Letting Die
3 credit hours

When, if ever, is it morally permissible to kill another human being, or yourself? What is morally problematic about killing? Is killing morally worse than letting die? Are we morally obligated to prevent as many deaths as we can? This course explores these questions and others through a discussion of classical and contemporary philosophical readings. 


1255 Scientific Method [PHYS 1370]
3 credit hours

This course provides a historical and logical analysis of methods commonly used in science.  Possible topics include science vs. pseudo-science, natural vs. social sciences, modes of reasoning, observation and experimentation, construction and empirical testing of theories and models, and thought experiments.


1304 Propaganda and Truth
3 credit hours

Is truth relative to cultures or ways of seeing the world?  Is objectivity a fiction? Is the claim to have the truth merely a tactic of manipulation? Is sincere advocacy just another form of propaganda? These are a few of the questions we will ask in this course.


1306 Reality, Thinking, and the Self
3 credit hours

Does God exist? Do souls exist? What is the self? Could a computer ever think? What can we know about reality? Students explore these questions and others through a discussion of classical and contemporary philosophical readings.

Note: Students cannot receive credit for PHIL 1306 or PHIL 1600 if they receive credit for PHIL 1201 and vice versa. However, students can receive credit for both PHIL 1306 and PHIL 1600.


1360 Autonomy and Education [EDUC 1360]
3 credit hours

Students will examine autonomy as a concept, andevaluate its appropriateness as an educational goal. Students will be challenged to consider the role of education in their personal growth and development, as well as possibilities for their own agency in this development.  


1600 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
3 credit hours

 

Are such values such as good and bad, or beautiful and ugly, a part of the nature of the world or do they exist only in our minds? What is the role of pleasure and virtue, or knowledge and beauty in a life well lived? Students consider the work of moral philosophers and philosophers of art who try to identify the concepts and principles that help us to answer these questions.

 

Note: Students cannot receive credit for PHIL 1306 or PHIL 1600 if they receive credit for PHIL 1201 and vice versa. However, students can receive credit for both PHIL 1306 and PHIL 1600.


2301 Introduction to Symbolic Logic
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 24 credit hours

This course introduces the fundamentals of symbolic logic.  Both the propositional and predicate calculus are covered as well as various standard proof techniques.


2302 Ethics
6 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

An introduction to moral philosophy designed to lead the student to examine the foundations of their moral positions. To this end historical and contemporary answers by philosophers to questions such as the following will be examined: What ought I to do morally and ultimately why I ought to do it? Are ethical positions simply relative: (a) to a person? (b) to a society? What is the relation between science and morality? Why be moral?


2303 Right and Wrong
3 credit hours

Students examine theories of right and wrong. Some of the questions students will discuss include: do the ends justify the means? Is right and wrong relative to a culture? Can we justify a particular set of moral rules? Is deception always morally wrong? When, if ever, is killing morally permissible? 

Note: Students cannot receive credit for both PHIL 2303 and PHIL 2302.


2304 Evil
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course is about the nature and significance of evil events, actions, characters, and institutions.  Topics include historical accounts of evil, suffering, skepticism about evil, evil and mental illness, terrorism, torture, and genocide.


2305 Environmental Ethics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

The nature of the ecological crisis will be examined. Philosophical responses to it will be presented which will involve analysis of the concepts of animal rights, of the intrinsic value of nature, and of obligations to future generations. A portion of the course will be spent on the application of the theoretical concepts to specific ecological issues including population and world hunger, pollution, and the sustainable society. Part of the objective of the applied section will be to raise issues of public policy within a philosophical framework.


2311 Political Philosophy: The Classic Texts
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

A critical examination of core works in the history of political philosophy. Philosophers discussed often include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Marx, and Nietzsche.


2312 Contemporary Political Philosophy
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course introduces students to the major schools of contemporary political thought, such as utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, and feminism.  Among the issues addressed are the justification of state power, the role of human nature in determining political arrangements, democracy and the rights of minorities, the tension between liberty and equality, and the just distribution of resources.


2318 Science and Society
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course studies science in its social context.  Contemporary and historical case studies provide a basis for examining effects of scientific and technological innovation on society, whether social values are implicated in scientific discovery and justification, and ways in which social and economic institutions shape scientific practice.


2325 Philosophical Issues in International Development
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course will examine various philosophical issues concerning international development.  Among the issues addressed will be the nature of development, how to measure development, the extent to which those who are well off have a duty to aid those in need, the limits to which it is morally acceptable to place conditions on receipt of aid, and the extent to which it is appropriate for developing countries to protect their cultures from the forces of globalization.


2327 Classic Readings in Philosophy of Mind
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Students will study writings on mind by important philosophers from antiquity to the twentieth century.


2328 The Mind-Body Problem
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

What is the relation between your thoughts and feelings and whatever is happening simultaneously in your brain and the rest of your body?  This course introduces students to arguments for and against a variety of answers to this question.


2329 Thoughts, Emotions, and Intentions
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Students in this course investigate the nature of consciousness, feelings and motivation.


2330 Philosophy of Religion
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

A philosophical examination of the nature and rationality of religious belief and practices.


2331 Business Ethics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

An examination of the extent to which business objectives can, must, or do conflict with moral objectives, and of the extent to which business organizations can be brought into harmony with moral objectives. This will involve treatment of the relevant aspects of ethical theory.


2332 Ethics and the Law
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course will be concerned with topics such as punishment, the legislation of morality, the notion of mitigating circumstances, and the role of the victim in legal proceedings.


2333 Philosophy of Law
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

 

Topics covered often include natural law theory, legal positivism, the separability thesis, relations between law and morality, legal interpretation, the economic analysis of the law, and legal skepticism.

 


2345 Greek Philosophy: The Presocratics and Plato
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

A brief examination of Greek philosophy before the time of Socrates followed by careful readings of selected dialogues by Plato.


2346 Greek Philosophy: Aristotle and The Hellenists
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

A study of Aristotle’s views (focusing on topics in metaphysics, psychology, knowledge, and ethics), together with a brief examination of several Hellenistic philosophers.


2349 Arguing about Art
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Students address a number of topics concerning the arts that preoccupy contemporary philosophers, such as: the art instinct, our emotional engagement with fiction, the enjoyment of horror, the aesthetics of photography, everyday aesthetics, public art, the role of museums, and outsider art.


2358 Philosophy of Human Nature
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Is there such a thing as a fixed and essential human nature?  If so, what is it?  What are we like as beings in the universe, on earth, in history?  This course will consider a range of classical and contemporary responses to these questions.  Included among the views that will be addressed are those of Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Darwin, Marx, and Freud, as well as existentialist, behaviorist, and feminist accounts.


2362 Philosophy and Literature
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Works that have been discussed in recent years include: Shakespeare’s King Lear, Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, Melville’s Billy Budd, Conrad’s Lord Jim, Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers, and Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter.  The course may also address philosophical questions about literature.  For instance, what cognitive and moral values are associated with our reading of literature?  How do we explain our emotional reactions to fictional works?  Why do we enjoy the experiences elicited by literary tragedy and horror?


2365 Philosophy of Education: Classic Texts [EDUC 2365]
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

A critical examination of influential works in the history of educational thought.


2368 Bioethics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Medical technology has created moral issues that cannot be settled simply on the basis of medical facts. Both the medical profession and society as a whole must make value decisions before life and death issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and treatment of the insane can be settled. This course is intended to help the student reach reasoned conclusions on these issues through clarification and appraisal of arguments.


2385 Philosophical Issues in Feminism [WMST 2385]
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

This course examines philosophical issues in feminism, such as sexism, oppression, social construction, essentialism, gender, race, and class.  Attention is paid to ties between theory and practice.


2401 Games and Sport
3 credit hours 
Prerequisite: 9 credit hours

Students examine questions such as: Are all sports games? What is a game? What ethical constraints should be imposed on participants in games and sports? What values should games and sports encourage?


2456 The Meaning of Life
3 credit hours
Prerequisites: 9 credits hours

Does life have a meaning? How can you live your life authentically? What defines who you are? Students examine answers to these questions from the nineteenth- and twentieth-century existentialist and alternative traditions (including, e.g., Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus).


3000 Metaphysics
6 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

Metaphysics seeks to determine whether we can know any general truths about the world.  What is it to exist?  What is it to be an individual?  What are the fundamental kinds of things and relations?  Consideration is given to the principal metaphysical theories that form part of the Western philosophical tradition, e.g., materialism, idealism, dualism, and monism.  The course will also consider the major problems and concepts of metaphysics, e.g., time, space, substance, essence, free will, determinism, and causality.


3200 Environmental Aesthetics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

Environmental Aesthetics is concerned with aesthetic appreciation of nature and human-made or human-influenced environments.  Topics will include the nature and value of natural beauty, the relationship between art appreciation and nature appreciation, the role of knowledge in the aesthetic appreciation of nature, and the importance of environmental participation to the appreciation of environments.


3317 Wealth, Money and Economics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

Students explore various views on the nature and value of both wealth and money. In addition, attention will be paid to what economic rights are and which ones best serve social interests. No knowledge of economics is presupposed.


3348 Aesthetics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

Students examine philosophical aesthetics. Topics include: representation, expression, the cognitive aspects of art and aesthetic experience, the logic of taste, aesthetic value, and the relation between art and emotion, as well as the nature of certain art forms, like those of literature, architecture and dance.


3365 Philosophical Foundations of Education [EDUC 3365]
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

This course is an enquiry into the nature and aims of education.  Topics considered will include analyses of the concept of education, evaluation of contrasting views about what constitutes an ideal education, and implications of various theories of knowledge for methods of teaching and learning. Selections from historical and contemporary thinkers will be studied.


3375 Philosophy and Film
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

This course will deal with philosophical questions concerning, or arising in, film.  These include general issues of perspective, evidence, knowledge, and objectivity, as well as more specific questions, such as: What is the nature of representation in film?  Can film be construed as a language?  What constitutes uniqueness in film?  What constitutes excellence?  What is the logic of film criticism?  These and other questions will be addressed in an effort to clarify the nature of the relation between philosophy and film.


3402 Philosophy of Language
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

How is it that words and sentences mean what they do?  One answer to this question is that linguistic meaning is determined by the speaker’s intentions; another is that it is determined by social practices.  Each answer raises issues regarding the relation of language to both thought and reality.


3404 Theory of Knowledge
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

This course examines the various concepts of human knowledge and attempts to find the limits of that knowledge. Traditional approaches to problems in the theory of knowledge will be considered as well as current work.


3405 Ethics of Belief
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

We commonly evaluate beliefs as rational or irrational; justified or unjustified; responsible or irresponsible.  But what do these terms mean and when are they correctly applied?  Can beliefs be ethical?  These and related questions are debated by contemporary epistemologists.  This course seeks to interpret and assess the main competing views.


3414 Intermediate Logic
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHIL 2301

This course continues and develops the work of PHIL 2301. It offers students of all faculties opportunities for further growth in reasoning skills, in part through supervised practice in the logical appraisal of extracts from a variety of important writings. Some branches of logic are developed beyond the level of PHIL 2301. The complete predicate calculus (with identity) is applied to arguments of ordinary English. Inductive logic, and practically significant areas of logical theory, are developed considerably. Scientific method and the general methods of some other disciplines are analyzed in some depth.


3415 Argumentation Theory
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHIL 1200

Contemporary argumentation theory draws upon several disciplines: philosophy of language, cognitive psychology, feminist philosophy, and communications theory.  This course will examine the concept of argument through the lens provided by argumentation theorists.  Alternative conceptions of argument will be critically examined and an overview of the development of argumentation theory will be provided.


3442 Early Modern Philosophy: The Rationalists
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A critical examination of the works from this movement, focusing on the areas of metaphysics and epistemology. Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibniz are among the philosophers typically studied.


3443 Early Modern Philosophy: The Empiricists
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A critical examination of the works from this movement, focusing on the areas of metaphysics and epistemology. Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume are among the philosophers typically studied.


3444 Later Modern Philosophy: Kant
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A lecture and seminar course on Kant’s theory of knowledge.


3448 Philosophy of Science
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

An introduction to the main problems of the philosophy of science designed to familiarize students with some of the contemporary analyses of scientific concepts and methods.


3454 Philosophy of History
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A critical study of the philosophical views on the course of human history (its pattern, purpose, and value) and an examination of the aim, nature, and validity of historical knowledge.


3455 Existentialism: The 19th Century
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A lecture and seminar course examining the 19th century origins of the existentialist movement in contemporary philosophy, with specific investigation of the writings of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. 


3456 Existentialism: The 20th Century
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

A lecture and seminar course examining the 20th century expression of the existentialist movement in contemporary philosophy, through close study of the writings of Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and others.


3457 Continental Philosophy
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

This course is a study of one or more topics or figures in recent or contemporary phenomenology, hermeneutics, or deconstruction.  Philosophers discussed in the course may include Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Levinas, Foucault, and Derrida.


3471 Meta-Ethics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

The course investigates the moral concepts that are used in the formulation and evaluation of ethical theories, including: ‘morality’, ‘moral value’, ‘virtue’, ‘vice’, ‘moral right’, ‘moral obligation’, ‘justice’, and ‘good’.


3472 Foundation of Ethics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL 

The course will involve the study of the nature of moral judgments and the logic of moral reasoning.


3474 Moral Responsibility
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in PHIL

Students consider questions such as: When are we morally responsible for what we do? When do we share responsibility for a harm that has been brought about by a collective? Should we hold organizations morally responsible for wrongfully causing harm? Can the moral responsibility of organizations always be reduced to the moral responsibility of individual members?


3475 Moral Psychology
3 credit hours
Prerequisites: 6 credit hours in PHIL

 

Moral psychology is an interdisciplinary study that draws on empirical research about human psychology and behavior and conceptual work in philosophical ethics.


3850-3875 Directed Study: Reading Courses in Philosophy
6 credit hours

Prerequisite: Six (6) credit hours in PHIL, consent of instructor, and permission of Chairperson.

The subject matter of this course will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor.


3876-3899 Directed Study: Reading Courses in Philosophy
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: Six (6) credit hours in PHIL, consent of instructor, and permission of Chairperson.

The subject matter of this course will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor.


4514 Philosophy of Biology
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in PHIL including 6 hours at the 2000 level or above

The course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern biology.  Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, biological laws, theoretical modeling, objectivity, reductionism, species concepts, evolution vs. creationism, human nature, and biological theories of gender, race, and sexuality.


4515  Philosophy of Physics [PHYS 4370]
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: PHYS 2400, 3500 and PHIL prerequisites as outlined in paragraph 8 in the Philosophy Calendar entry; or permission of the instructors.

This course explores methodological, conceptual, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that arise in modern physics.  Possible topics include scientific revolutions, experimentation, laws of nature, space, time, matter, causality, indeterminism, non-locality, thought experiments, and theoretical unification.


4525 International Justice
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in PHIL including 6 hours at the 2000 level or above

This course will consider how major theories of justice such as Kantian constructivism, economic contractarianism, and utilitarianism deal with important issues in international justice such as the law of peoples, distributive justice, human rights, and democratization.


4565 Pragmatism
3 credit hours
Prerequisites:  Twelve (12) credit hours in PHIL including six (6) credit hours at the 2000 level or above

 

Students read the founding texts of pragmatism from the late-19th and early-20th centuries (e.g., by Peirce, James, and Dewey). Students analyze the pragmatist critique of traditional western philosophical ideas about meaning, truth, reality, foundations of knowledge, and practice. Students examine the historical reception of pragmatism and assess its continuing importance.


4566 Analytic Philosophy
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in PHIL including 6 hours at the 2000 level or above

A lecture and seminar course that examines the origins, expressions, and significance of the contemporary analytic movement in philosophy.


4585 Feminist Philosophy [WMST 4585]
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in PHIL including 6 hours at the 2000 level or above

This course examines the contributions of feminist philosophers to historical and contemporary philosophical thought in diverse areas of inquiry, such as ethics, political theory, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.


4599 Honours Thesis
6 credit hours
Prerequisite: Honours standing in philosophy.

Honours students have the option of completing a thesis on an approved topic.  The permission of the Chairperson of the Department and the availability of a thesis supervisor are required. 


4826-4849 Special Topics
3 credit hours
Prerequisite: 12 credit hours in PHIL including 6 hours at the 2000 level or above

These courses focus on a topic of research interest to the professor.  The topics will vary from year to year.