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 will be 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 will be 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 then 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 213 Medieval Philosophy
A study of the philosophers of the medieval period (approximately 350 C.E. 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
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. Representative authors are Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Augustine, Luther, Erasmus, Hume and Bernard Williams. Spring semester, alternate years.
PHIL 245 Business Ethics
A study of the ethical issues that confront contemporary businesses. The course will begin by introducing the major positions in Western ethical theory and by considering the moral status and the purpose of corporations. Through the use of case studies, the course will go on to explore a number of particular issues which may include (but is not limited to) whistle blowing, surveillance/screening of employees, preferential hiring, the ethics of advertising, ethical accounting practices, globalization, outsourcing, sweatshop labor, and environmental pollution and resource depletion. Fall semester, 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 will begin 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 will be 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 will 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 the 19th century. 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 will be 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 will examine 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 311 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 will culminate 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 / 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 will 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 will 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 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 / CLAS 334 Tragedy and Philosophy (Adv. Core: E)I
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 will concentrate on Greek tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) and its commentators, both ancient (Plato and Aristotle) and modern. The second half will examine 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 Philosophy of Music (Adv. Core: EI)
The course will introduce students to fundamental problems and puzzles in the philosophy of music as well as engage students in musical experiences that provoke philosophical questions. Students will be exposed to music that challenges the presuppositions inherent in conventional American cultural expectations and the Western approach to musical experience more broadly. It will start by exploring the genesis of these questions in ancient Greek philosophy and culture and trace them through their reemergence in the Enlightenment, modern, and post-modern eras.
PHIL 365 Twentieth-Century Philosophy
A survey of the main philosophical movements of the 20th century, the course will cover 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
An 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 will be 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 associate dean of Humanities.