Home > Academics > Philosophy

Philosophy Courses

201. World Philosophy
An exploration of philosophical issues as they have been dealt with from a variety of non-Western philosophical traditions. Readings may include important texts from the Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist (South Asian and East Asian), Muslim, and Indian Brahmanical philosophical traditions, as well as the traditions of indigenous African and American peoples. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.

203. Problems of Philosophy
An exploration of philosophy through analysis and discussion of selected philosophical texts and problems. Sample topics include the relation of mind and body, free will and determinism, moral relativism and moral truth, and the nature of knowledge and belief. Emphasis is placed on oral and written communication skills. Restrictions: Open only to first-year students and sophomores during the regular semesters; open to all students in the summer sessions.

205. Philosophy of Food
An exploration of how food relates to major areas of philosophical inquiry, including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and political theory. Topics include the nature of food, food as art, biotechnology (GMOs), the ethics of eating animals, consumer rights and food safety, food as (cultural) identity, and the politics of world hunger.

206. Reasoning and Critical Thinking
A course aimed at developing the student’s ability to evaluate arguments and other informative prose and to construct arguments with greater cogency and effectiveness.

210. Bio-Medical Ethics
An introduction to ethics through a study of its applications in the area of health care. The course includes a survey of the major ethical theories and focuses on a selection of important problem areas such as euthanasia, reproductive technologies, human experimentation, and the justice of health care distribution. This course may count toward the requirements for the Medical Humanities Program.

213. Ethics and Business
An introduction to ethics through discussion and analysis of major ethical systems, theories of social and economic justice, and specific case studies in the area of business.

215. Environmental Ethics
An exploration of the challenges presented by the ethical analysis of environmental issues. The course explores both the theoretical and practical aspects of these issues. This course may count toward the requirements in Environmental Studies.

216. Social and Political Philosophy
An introduction to some of the most influential theories of Western social and political thought. Topics include the nature and legitimacy of political authority and democracy, the role of morality in society, the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and the challenges of diversity and inclusion. Multicultural and feminist perspectives are components of the course. This course may count toward the requirements for the Gender Studies Program.

218. Computers, Ethics and Society
An introduction to ethics in relation to computers, cyberspace, and the digital era. Through the detailed analysis of selected case studies, the course will explore the questions raised by computer technologies and their impact on business, scientific research, and society.

220. Philosophy and Film
A study of the language and aesthetics of film including the ways in which film may be used to investigate significant philosophical questions — especially in comparison to more traditional media.

222. Human Nature
An examination of selected classical and modern conceptions of the human being. Aristotle, Darwin, sociobiology, and our relation to other animals are among topics explored. This course may count toward the requirements in Environmental Studies.

223. Philosophy of Science
An examination of the methods, aims, and limits of scientific inquiry, with special attention to the evaluation and construction of arguments. The course will explore the logic of scientific explanation and the nature of scientific laws, theories, and change. This course may count toward the requirements in Environmental Studies.

225. Science and Religion
An examination of the nature of science and religion and their historical and contemporary relationships. The course will explore a selection of traditional problem areas such as evolution, cosmology, ethics, and education. This course may count toward requirements for the Religion major. This course may count toward the requirements in Environmental Studies.

280. Selected Topics in Philosophy
Selected topics in Philosophy at the introductory or intermediate level.


301. Philosophy of Law
An introduction to basic issues in the philosophy of law, such as methods of legal reasoning, the relation between legal norms and moral values, and the scope and foundations of rights. Seminal concepts of concern to law are discussed, including liberty, justice and punishment. Readings include classical and contemporary essays in jurisprudence, studies of specific US and international cases, and selected Supreme Court decisions.

303. Feminist Philosophy
A study of contemporary feminist though with an emphasis on the variety of responses to women's lived experiences. Topics may include gender socialization, the nature of (gender) oppression, sexuality and sexual violence against women, popular culture and self-image, abortion, and pornography. This course may count toward the theory requirement of the Gender Studies Program.

304. Philosophy through Literature
A discussion and analysis of classical and contemporary philosophical issues as they are presented in selected works of literature, with attention to the question of how philosophical ideas are conveyed through this alternative medium. Topics include: political philosophy; responsibility, free will, and determinism; the nature and purpose of humanity; and the meaning of life.

310. Philosophy of Art
An examination of philosophical issues concerning the creation and appreciation of works of art. Examples for study will be drawn from painting, sculpture, music and other visual, literary and dramatic arts. Topics may include art and morality, the definition of the concept of art, the nature of artistic value, the expression of emotion in art, and the relation between art and truth. This course may satisfy a requirement for the Art History major.

311. Principles of Ethics
A study of the major systems of ethics that have shaped Western thought, including but not limited to utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and feminist ethics. Emphasis is on the critical examination and reevaluation of those systems in light of contemporary social developments.

312. Rationality & Commitment
A critical examination of the issue of the extent to which reason can and should guide our moral commitments.

315. Philosophy of Love, Sex & Friendship
A seminar on the nature and morality of love, sex, and friendship and their social meanings. Topics to be discussed may include the nature of love, sexual identity, prostitution, pornography, and the nature of friendship. Emphasis is on the study of how gender norms inform our understanding of the controversies surrounding these topics. This course may count toward the theory requirement of the Gender Studies Program.

321. Symbolic Logic
An introduction to the techniques of modern symbolic logic with an emphasis on ordinary language applications. Topics include categorical logic, statement logic, and predicate logic. Additional topics vary and may include modal, deontic and non-classical logics.

331. African Philosophy
An introduction to traditions of African philosophical thought focusing on problems of definition, sources, function, and methodology. The course compares the scope and application of African thought on basic philosophical questions of human existence with thought from recent developments in Western philosophy on the same questions. This course may count toward the requirements for program in African, African-American Studies. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.

333. Chinese Philosophy
An in-depth study of the notions of personhood, human nature, moral responsibility, and social justice as they are developed in the major traditions of classical Chinese thought. Readings may include texts from the Confucian, Daoist, Neo-Confucian, and Buddhist traditions. Knowledge of Chinese language is not required for this course. This course may count toward requirements in Chinese and Chinese Studies programs. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.

335. Buddhist Philosophy
An introduction to key concepts in Buddhism’s view of persons, the world, and salvation. The course examines these concepts as they were expressed in early Buddhism and in recent Zen Buddhism. This course may count toward the requirements for the major in Chinese. Successful completion of this course satisfies the Cultures and Peoples requirement for graduation.

340. Philosophy of Medicine
A study of the practice of medicine through an examination of its fundamental concepts and values such as the nature of health and disease, the phenomenology of illness, the goals of medical practice, and the roles of individual autonomy and communal interest. This course may count toward the requirements for the Medical Humanities Program.

342. Philosophy of Religion
An examination of the meaning of religious beliefs and of arguments about their truth or falsity. The course focuses on religious beliefs about God and different ideas of God within the Western tradition. This course may count toward requirements for the major in Religion.

345. Philosophy of Language
An exploration of major themes in the philosophy of language, especially as they have developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. Topics may include the nature of language; meaning and reference; metaphor and other non-literal uses of language; and the philosophical implications of contemporary research in linguistics and cognitive psychology.

347. Epistemology
An introduction to central topics in epistemology including the nature, sources, and structure of scientific, moral, and religious belief, justification, and knowledge as well as skeptical challenges to their legitimacy.

348. Metaphysics
An introduction to concepts and issues in metaphysics, such as the mind-body problem and the nature of the basic entities that constitute the universe. The course includes a consideration of differing positions on these issues and gives students the opportunity to develop, articulate, and defend their own positions.

351. Ancient Western Philosophy
An exploration of ancient Western philosophical thought. Topics include the nature, purpose, and best life of persons; justice; the nature and order of the physical world; and the nature of truth. Emphasis is on discussion of primary texts drawn from pre-Socratic fragments and from the works of Plato, Aristotle, and select Hellenistic and Roman philosophers.

352. Early Modern European Philosophy
A historical survey of the rise of modern European philosophy in its cultural setting during the 17th and 18th centuries. Emphasis is on the study of selected primary texts, from Descartes to Hume, in relation to the philosophical, religious, and scientific thought of their day.

353. 19th Century European Philosophy

A survey of the development of 19th century philosophy beginning with Immanuel Kant. The course examines Kant’s legacy in subsequent thinkers such as G.W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, and John Stuart Mill. Issues for discussion include the role of human cognition in constituting reality, the rational basis of faith, the nature of individual liberty, and socio-economic determinants of belief. Thyis course may count toward the requirements of the German Studies Minor.

354. Existentialism
A survey of ideas and authors in the existentialist tradition. The course examines core ideas of existential philosophy such as freedom, authenticity, anxiety, absurdity, and awareness of death as developed by thinkers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Marcel, Heidegger, Sartre and Beauvoir. Selected films and literary works may supplement written texts.

355. Phenomenology
An exploration of the phenomenological movement in philosophy focused on thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Arendt, Merleau-Ponty and Gadamer. The course examines core ideas of phenomenology such as intentionality, embodiment, the life-world, the critique of the theoretical knowing, and the subjectivity of consciousness. Selected poetry and short films may be used to supplement written texts. This course may count toward the requirements of the German Studies Minor.

356. American Pragmatism
A survey of American Pragmatism from the 19th Century to the Present, with readings by Pragmatism’s founders, Peirce, James and Dewey, as well as by neopragmatists such as Quine, Goodman and Rorty. Topics include Pragmatist contributions to debates about truth, meaning, experience, freedom, and democracy.

357. The Analytic Tradition
A study of landmark works in analytic philosophy from the late 19th century to the present, focusing on figures such as Bertrand Russell, A. J. Ayer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The course explores the extent to which a critical understanding of language illuminates philosophical issues in metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology.

380. Selected Topics in Philosophy
Seminars on selected topics in Philosophy offered on an occasional basis.

450. Senior Directed Study
A course of individualized directed study in which the student prepares a written paper and makes an oral presentation on the paper topic. Required of all students majoring in philosophy. Normally to be completed in the fall of the senior year. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

470. Independent Study in Philosophy
A course in which the student pursues independently, under the guidance of a member of the department, a specific philosophical topic of interest. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

480. Advanced Topics in Philosophy
Selected topics in Philosophy at the advanced level.