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Philosophy Course Offerings

PHIL 105 Critical Thinking
This course is designed to help students develop and sharpen valuable cognitive and analytical skills in order to think more critically about claims and the kinds of evidence and argumentation offered in their support. The course focuses on developing habits of reasonableness and objectivity, identifying fallacies, writing argumentatively, and analyzing inductive and deductive arguments. Special attention is paid to analogical, legal and scientific reasoning. Designed for non-majors.

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 / 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 / CLAS 209 Hellenistic Philosophy
The course introduces students to the three major schools of Hellenistic philosophy that dominated Greek thought after Aristotle (skepticism, stoicism and epicureanism) and their respective attempts to refine or reject the classical conception of the good life. Students explore principally the ethical implications of the Hellenistic movements, though certain issues in metaphysics and epistemology are covered as well.

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 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 / 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 310 Existentialist Thought (Adv. Core: WT)
A study of the development of European existentialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. The focus of the course is the meaning of human life and the nature of human values. It involves a study of existentialist conceptions of the human person and, in particular, views of human freedom and creativity, the role of the irrational in human life, the role of commitment and choice in human belief, judgment, action, and the relation of the essence and existence of the person. Principal figures studied are Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus.

PHIL / CLAS / POLI 314 Classical and Medieval Political Thought
An examination of the political theories of major ancient and medieval thinkers, with primary emphasis on the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. Students investigate issues such as the origin, nature and purpose of political societies, the types of political constitutions, the concepts of rulership and authority, the meaning of citizenship, and the relation of the individual to society. Fall semester, alternate years.

PHIL 315 Ethics
A study of four major ethical theories in Western philosophy and of their application to several contemporary ethical issues. The theories are those of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Issues examined may include, but are not limited to, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, free speech, just war, treatment of animals and the environment. Fall semester.

PHIL / POLI 316 Modern Political Thought
An examination of the political theories of major thinkers of the modern period (16th to 19th centuries), with primary emphasis given to the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx. Students investigate such issues as the origin and purpose of political societies, the nature of political power, and the concepts of social contract, authority and sovereignty, law, liberty, and revolution. Fall semester, alternate years.

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 American founding. 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 331 & 332 Food Ethics: The Philippines – For Honors Program Students (2+2 credits, Adv. Core: BB)
How can we eat ethically? The inseparability of food consumption from complex modes of production makes this a difficult question to answer. We examine three philosophical conflicts in food ethics: the industrial versus the agrarian, the modern versus the traditional, and the cosmopolitan versus the local. In the Philippines, students visit markets, farms, restaurants and agricultural-research centers to see how these conflicts can be navigated in a diverse and dynamic society. Fall semester: 2 credits; January term: 2 credits. Alternate years. Core credit awarded when both course components are completed.

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 / MUSI 336 Mozart, Metallica and Metaphysics (Adv. Core: EI)
The course introduces students to fundamental problems and puzzles in the philosophy of music, as well as engages students in musical experiences that provoke philosophical questions. Students are exposed to music that challenges the presuppositions inherent in conventional American cultural expectations and the Western approach to musical experience more broadly. It starts by exploring the genesis of these questions in ancient Greek philosophy and culture and traces them through their reemergence in the Enlightenment, modern and post-modern eras. Prerequisite: PHIL 120. Summer sessions, alternate years.

PHIL 342 Blaming and Forgiving (CORE: WT)
This course critically reflects on some common assumptions of blame and interpersonal forgiveness and begins addressing puzzles that arise from these assumptions. Questions taken up include: What kinds of psychological and social incapacities exempt us from deserving blame or praise for what we do? Does it matter what kinds of motives we have when we act wrongly or rightly? How can we take seriously the fact that someone treated us wrongly and still come to forgive them? We use both historical and contemporary texts to guide our study. Prerequisite: PHIL 120. Spring semester.

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.

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