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Philosophy Course Offerings

PHIL 120 Philosophical Foundations in the Study of Human Nature (Core: PF)
This course provides a thematic and historical introduction to basic philosophical issues regarding human nature, utilizing primary texts from established figures in the philosophical tradition. Topics include the moral dimension of human experience, the fundamental nature of the world, the nature of truth and knowledge, and justice. Readings include dialogues of Plato, authors from at least three of the four philosophical epochs (ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary), and at least one author from the Christian philosophical tradition. Emphasis is placed on methods of logical inquiry including Socratic dialectic, deductive and inductive inference, and other forms of philosophical discourse with the goal of developing the student’s skills in written and oral communication.

PHIL 200 Philosophy of Sex and Love (Core: DD)
In this course, we’ll engage both historical and contemporary philosophical work to interrogate a variety of questions concerning the nature of love and sex, including: What is love? What is sex? What makes it the case that X loves Y?  Is there, or should there be, an ethics of love and sex?  What is moral, what is normal, and who gets to decide? How do our understandings of masculinity and femininity inform what we believe about love and sex? The course will be divided into five units: (1) Reasons for Love; (2) Historical Perspectives on Sex and Love; (3) Sexual Preferences; (4) Sex and Gender; (5) Consent, Coercion, & Violence. Fall, even-numbered years.

PHIL 205 Existentialism and Film (Core: WT)
An introduction to the central themes of existentialism through a study of philosophical writing, literature, and film. We will examine the meaningfulness of human life and the way that it is threatened by nihilism and suffering; we will consider the existentialist account of human nature that is characterized by freedom, creativity, and responsibility; and we will critically examine the possibility of living an authentic life with others in modern society. 

PHIL / CLAS 207 Greek Philosophy
A study of the ancient Greek thinkers who initiated Western philosophy. The course begins with the pre-Socratic philosophers and focuses on Plato and Aristotle. Fall semester.

PHIL 210 Logic
A study of the principles of correct reasoning. The course covers informal fallacies and the fundamentals of symbolic logic, including quantification theory. Spring semester.

PHIL 211 Food Ethics
Eating is among the most primal of human activities. Yet the question of what we should eat becomes increasingly complicated as we learn more about the effects of our choices on animals, the environment, our communities and ourselves. When, if ever, is it ethical to eat animals? Should we eat locally or should we take a more cosmopolitan approach? Can mindful eating contribute to a more just world? What is a healthy body? The course culminates with a final project that analyzes our food practices from several ethical frameworks, informed by scientific, humanistic and economic perspectives. Designed for non-philosophy majors. Prerequisite: PHIL 120.

PHIL 213 Medieval Philosophy
A study of the philosophers of the medieval period (approximately A.D. 350 to 1350), with emphasis on Augustine, Anselm and Thomas Aquinas. Themes covered include the relation of faith and reason, existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature of the soul, and ethics. Spring semester.

PHIL 218 Science and Philosophy
An examination of philosophical issues related to modern science. The course covers such topics as the Scientific Revolution; the distinction between science and non-science; methods of scientific thinking; the evaluation of truth claims in science; science as a social construction; ethical issues arising from scientific practice; and the aims of science in a democratic society.

PHIL 235 Skepticism, Knowledge and Faith (Core: WT)
A historical survey of texts by prominent authors in the Western tradition concerning the nature, conditions and types of human knowledge. Topics may include arguments for the existence of God, foundations of empirical science, psychological belief states as distinct from religious faith, skepticism in both epistemic and religious contexts, and the nature of reason and rational inquiry. Prerequisite: PHIL 120. Alternate years.

PHIL 250 / THRS 255 Philosophy of Religion (Core: WT)
A study providing a rational assessment of religious beliefs and concepts and of arguments used in their support. The course considers contemporary challenges to the belief in God and the responses to these challenges. Fall semester, alternate years.

PHIL / THRS 265 Asian Philosophy and Religion (Core: BB)
A study of the major philosophical and religious traditions of South and East Asia. The course emphasizes the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The ethical, metaphysical and epistemological aspects of each major tradition are covered. Fall semester.

PHIL 275 Bioethics
A study of ethical issues associated with health and medicine. The course begins with an overview of major positions in ethical theory and of fundamental concepts and principles in medical ethics. Issues may include, but are not limited to, the relation between health care providers and patients, human reproduction, conflicting definitions of mental illness, the use of biotechnology for human enhancement, balancing individual liberty with public health, withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, research ethics, and social justice and health policy. Catholic teachings on some of these issues are considered. Spring semester.

PHIL 282 Law, Morality and Punishment
Do we have a moral obligation to obey the law? Are unjust laws still laws? Does self-defense make any sense as a legal excuse? Students investigate the validity and authority of legal systems with special attention to the historical evolution of key concepts within the Western philosophical tradition. Topics include the relation of law to morality, the conditions of responsibility and the justification of punishment. Prerequisite: PHIL 120.

PHIL 300 Modern Philosophy
A study of the major movements and figures in European philosophy from the 16th to 19th centuries. The focus of the course is the rise of skepticism in relation to developments in science and religion, the study of the nature of the mind, and the knowing process and claims about the nature and existence of the self, of the external world and of God. A number of thinkers and philosophers are surveyed with principal emphasis on Descartes, Locke, Hume and Kant. Prerequisite: PHIL 207 or PHIL 210 or PHIL 213. Fall semester.

PHIL 302 Minds, Brains, and Computers
An investigation of the nature of minds and mentality, surveying both historical and contemporary accounts. Topics covered may include include the relationship between the mental and the physical, theories of mental content and mental representaiton, the nature of consciousness, the capabilities of artifical intelligence, and the existence of free will.

PHIL / AMER 305 American Philosophy (Adv. Core: WT)
A study of the major movements and figures in American philosophy and intellectual history. The course examines the diverse philosophical themes in the American tradition, including idealism, 18th-century political theory, transcendentalism and pragmatism. Figures studied include Edwards, Adams, Jefferson, Emerson, Thoreau, James and Dewey. Spring semester.

PHIL 315 Ethics
How ought we live? This course will help students develop their ability to answer this question by introducing them to three major ethical traditions: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theory. We will use these theories to examine pressing issues about the path of our own lives, as well as the path of our society. Past topics have included: Are some careers more ethical than others? Is it ever wrong to bring children into the world? Are national borders unjust or are they a moral necessity?

PHIL / POLI 316 Modern Political Thought
A critical examination of the political theories of major thinkers of the modern period and the development of these ideas in contemporary political thought. We will investigate such issues as the origin and purpose of political societies, the nature of political power, and the concepts of authority and sovereignty, law, liberty, civil disobedience and revolution. We will consider the writings of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rawls, among others.  

PHIL 322 Aquinas’ Philosophy and Theology (Adv. Core: CI)
A critical study of the philosophical theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Topics covered may include the existence and nature of God; the efficacy of religious language; the origin, order and purpose of created beings; the interplay between intellect and will in human actions; the relationship between virtue and the good life for human beings; the species of vice and their causes; and the metaphysical accounts of Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, Incarnation and Eucharist. Fall semester, alternate years.

PHIL 330 The European Enlightenment (Adv. Core: WT)
An overview of the history of ideas in the Western tradition, covering the period from 1688 to 1789, principally in France and Britain, with consideration given to the influence of the Enlightenment on the founding of America. The central theme of the course is the emergence and rapid development of natural science, its growing influence on all departments of human knowledge and its confrontation with the religious traditions of the time. Representative writers include Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, Mandeville and Adam Smith. Fall semester.

PHIL / CLAS 334 Tragedy and Philosophy (Adv. Core: EI)
A study of tragedy as a dramatic and literary form and the different Western philosophical theories of tragedy inspired by that art form. One half of the course concentrates on Greek tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) and its commentators, both ancient (Plato and Aristotle) and modern. The second half examines both Renaissance and modern examples of the tragic tradition with contemporary philosophical readings on the significance of that tradition. Spring semester, alternate years.

PHIL 340 20th Century Continental
A survey of the main philosophical movements of 20th-century European philosophy. We will critically examine Heidegger’s approach to phenomenology, Sartre’s development of existentialism, the Frankfurt School’s neo-Marxist critiques of fascism and consumerism, and the revisionary account of power that Foucault develops in his studies of punishment and sexuality. We will also consider recent philosophical work that draws on these traditions.

PHIL/WMGS 344 Feminist Philosophy (Adv. Core: DD)
This course provides a survey of topics in contemporary feminist philosopy, and it will be divided into four units: (1) Oppression, Gender, & Misogyny; (2) Objectification & Self-Objectification; (3) Consent & Sexual Violence; and (4) Feminist Epistemologies. In our first unit, we'll discuss concept that are fundamental to feminist theory, including oppression, gender, and misogyny; and then we'll consider how sexist and racist oppression relate to and augment each other. In our second unit, we'll ask questions like: what does it mean to be objectified. Who/what can be objectified and who/what can objectify? Then, in our third unit we'll turn our attention to the nature of consent and sexual violence. We'll ask: what is consent? What role does consent play in an ethical sex life? What is rape? How does rape relate to other sexual wrongs? And, finally, we'll survey some of the recent literature in feminist epistemology, focusing largely on the phonomenon of hermeneutical injustice. Prerequisite: PHIL 120. Fall semester, odd-numbered years.

PHIL 352 Labyrinths of Time (Adv. Core: BB)
The course examines different ideations and representations of time throughout history and through the framework of different cultures with special attention to the collision of these ideations in the work of Latin American fiction writers. Students study and discuss representations of time in literature, art and film. The course culminates in a final creative project through which students present their new understanding of time. Fall semester.

PHIL 365 Twentieth-Century Philosophy
A survey of the main philosophical movements of the 20th century, the course covers leading figures in pragmatism, phenomenology, analytic philosophy and the continental tradition. Representative authors may include James, Dewey, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Quine, Heidegger, Rorty and Foucault. Prerequisite: PHIL 210 or PHIL 300. Spring semester, alternate years.

PHIL 370 The Analytic Tradition
A historical survey of the main developments and leading figures in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. The primary focus is on the application of new methods of logic and linguistic analysis to the perennial problems of metaphysics and epistemology. Figures studied include Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Carnap, Ryle, Quine and Kripke. Prerequisite: PHIL 210 or PHIL 300. Spring semester, alternate years.

PHIL 389 Special Topics
A study of a single philosophical topic of special interest to students. When the course is offered, the topic is listed in the timetable of courses.

PHIL 490 Independent Study
A course allowing staff and students to explore together philosophical topics of special interest. Prerequisite: instructor’s consent and approval by the associate dean of humanities.

PHIL 495 Thesis Research
In this course, the student will work together with a faculty advisor from the Philosophy discipline to produce a proposal for the student's senior these project (which will be written in PHIL 496(, along with an annontated bibliography of research sources for the project. This course may be taken prior to or concurrently with PHIL 496. In ordinary cases, the student will have the same advisor for PHIL 495 and PHIL 496.

PHIL 496 Thesis Writing
Students will work with a member of the Philosophy faculty to produce a senior these on a philosopher, topic, or theme of their choosing, and to revise the thesis based on instructor feedback. Pre /co-requisites: instructor approval and PHIL 495.

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