Undergraduate Courses

PHL 100.  Introduction to Philosophy.  3 Hours.

Introductory survey of philosophy, its nature, methods and problems.  Topics typically include, among others, God, freedom, knowledge, right and wrong.  Classical and/or contemporary readings.

PHL 115.  Contemporary Moral Issues.  3 Hours.

Survey of contemporary moral problems and dilemmas; introduction to methods and concepts of moral philosophy.  Topics may include abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, economic justice, homosexuality, animal rights, and respect for nature.  Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 116.  Bioethics.  3 Hours.

Moral problems and dilemmas in medicine and health affairs; elementary methods and concepts of moral philosophy. Problems typically include, among others, AIDS and human and animal experimentation. Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 120.  Practical Reasoning.  3 Hours.

Survey of skills in critical thinking and scientific reasoning, including the ability to identify different kinds of arguments, recognize common fallacies of reasoning, and evaluate analogical, causal, and statistical arguments.  Quantitative Literacy is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 125.  Introduction to Ethics.  3 Hours.

Elements of moral philosophy.  Moral objectivity; connections among morality, rationality, and religion; nature and significance of moral value.

PHL 135.  The Rule of Law.  3 Hours.

Law and legal institutions and processes, with emphasis on civil law.  Development of legal ideas in such areas as torts, contracts, and property law.  Role and history of legal institutions within political framework.  Relations between courts and legislatures. Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 203.  Philosophy of Religion.  3 Hours.

Religion; its nature, warrant, and significance.  God, evil, religious experience, faith, and reason.

PHL 204.  Philosophy and Christianity.  3 Hours.

What Christians believe and why they believe it; foundations of Christian philosophical thought.  Christian concepts of God, Christ, salvation, atonement, faith, and ethics.

PHL 205.  Existentialism.  3 Hours.

What existentialists believe and why they believe it; foundations of existentialist philosophical thought.  Existentialist concepts of freedom, commitment, anxiety, and authenticity.

PHL 208.  Philosophy of the Arts.  3 Hours.

Art; its nature, scope, and significance.  Concepts of expression, beauty, artistic creation, and standards of art criticism.

PHL 215.  History of Moral Philosophy.  3 Hours.

Socrates to present, focusing on historical development of moral tradition that has shaped Western society.  Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, and others.

PHL 220.  Introduction to Symbolic Logic.  3 Hours.

Modern theory of deductive inference. Emphasis on recognizing valid forms of reasoning.  Truth-function theory and some beginning concepts of quantification theory. Quantitative Literacy is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 230.  Social and Political Philosophy.  3 Hours.

Survey of contemporary debates concerning fundamental principles of political life.  Topics typically include justification of political authority, the proper role of government in society, economic justice, freedom and rights, and the free enterprise system. Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 232.  Classical Political Thought.  3 Hours.

Development of western political thought from plato to Augustine; Theories of major political thinkers.

PHL 233.  Modern Political Theory.  3 Hours.

Development of Western political thought from the earlymodern era to contemporary debates in works of Machiavelli to Mill.  Theories of major political thinkers.

PHL 239.  Classical Thought of India China and the West.  3 Hours.

Conceptions of self, society, and natural world.

PHL 240.  History of Philosophy: Socrates Plato and Aristotle.  3 Hours.

Origins and development of Western philosophic tradition, with emphasis on writings of Plato and Aristotle.  Concepts of knowledge, reality, and the good life.

PHL 270.  The Scientific Enterprise.  3 Hours.

Science; its nature, scope, and significance.  Scientific reasoning; science as social institution; ethical issues in science.

PHL 290.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

In-depth examination of one or more problems, authors, or ideas of historical or current interest.

PHL 291.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

In-depth examination of one or more problems, authors, or ideas of historical or current interest.

PHL 292.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

In-depth examination of one or more problems, authors, or ideas of historical or current interest.

PHL 309.  Teaching Practicum.  3 Hours.

Teaching experience in philosophy courses, supervised by a faculty member. Student must have previously taken the course for which the student will work within. Permission of Director of Undergraduate Studies required. Pass/Fail.

PHL 314.  Philosophy and Feminism.  3 Hours.

Feminism; conceptual foundations, scope, and applications.  Problems typically include, among others, feminist concepts of gender, reasoning, knowledge, and ethics. Prerequisite: One  previous PHL course or permission of instructor.

PHL 315.  Ethics: Theories of Good and Evil.  3 Hours.

Morality; its nature, principles, and scope.  Normative and critical problems in moral philosophy; moral obligation. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 320.  Intermediate Symbolic Logic.  3 Hours.

Quantification theory; identity and definite description; soundness and completeness; skill in formal proof and ability to express arguments from natural language into artificial language. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required. Prerequisites: PHL 220 [Min Grade: C] or MA 120 [Min Grade: C]

PHL 321.  Cooperation and Competition.  3 Hours.

This is an introductory course in game theory.  Topics include game forms, Nash and subgame-perfect equilibrium, von Neumann-Morgenstern utility theory, design and solution of games, strategic implications of uncertainty and information asymmetries, institutions and elementary mechanism design, and basic evolutionary game theory.  All topics are taughtby application to examples from business, politics, law and individual behavior.  Course work will include analysis of philosophical implications and applications.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.  Quantitative Literacy is a significant component of this course (QEP). Prerequisites: EC 210 [Min Grade: C]

PHL 322.  Philosophical Issues in Behavior Economics.  3 Hours.

This is an intro to the relatively new field of Behavioral Economics.  Behavioral economists attempt to develop empirically more plausible accounts of economic behavior by, among other things, incorporating insights from psychology into their models.  In this course, we will discuss both theoretical developments and applications in a variety of fields, including industrial organization, marketing, and negotiations.  Course work will include analysis of the philosophical issues raised in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and philosophy of science.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required. Prerequisites: EC 210 [Min Grade: C]

PHL 330.  Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy.  3 Hours.

Libertarians believe that the legitimate functions of government are limited to protecting people's rights to life, liberty, and property.  As such, libertarianism represents a fundamental challenge to the legitimacy of the modern welfare state.  The purpose of this course is to examine systemically the llibertarian vision of the proper role of government and the philosophical foundations of that vision.  Readings are from historical and contemporary sources. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required. Writing is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 335.  Philosophy of Law.  3 Hours.

Theories of the nature of law (natural law, realism, positivism, critical legal theory); interpretation of precedents, statutes, and Constitution; Constitutional protections such as freedom of speech and religion and the right of privacy;  selected issues in criminal and civil law.  Ethics and Civic responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 341.  History of Philosophy: Descartes to Hume.  3 Hours.

Philosophy in modern era, focusing on continental rationalism and British empiricism; emphasis on theories of knowledge and reality; science, religion, and modernism. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required. Writing is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 348.  American Philosophy.  3 Hours.

Major philosophers of classical American period; Pierce, James, and Dewey.  Origins and nature of American pragmatism.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 350.  Philosophy of Language.  3 Hours.

Language; its nature, structure, and uses.  Reference, meaning, communication, and interpretation; Russell, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, and Quine, among others.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 372.  Minds and Machines.  3 Hours.

Artificial intelligence; its philosophical foundations and implications.  Topics may include mind-body problem, nature of intelligence, machine models of mind, computational processes, and mental representation. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 375.  Philosophy of Mind.  3 Hours.

Mind; its nature, forms, and functions.  Concepts of mind/body, consciousness, rationality, and personal identity; free will. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required. Writing is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 390.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

This course is a seminar whose content may be different each time it is taught.  It provides instructors with the opportunity to deal with topics that may not be considered in any other course or which may be treated in another course but only at an introductory level.  Topics may include:  special topcs insome area of philosophy, interdisciplinary issues, and important work or works by a great philosopher. One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 391.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

This course is a seminar whose content may be different each time it is taught.  It provides instructors with the opportunity to deal with topics that may not be considered in any other course or which may be treated in another course but only at an introductory level.  Topics may include:  special topcs insome area of philosophy, interdisciplinary issues, and important work or works by a great philosopher.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 392.  Topics in Philosophy.  3 Hours.

This course is a seminar whose content may be different each time it is taught.  It provides instructors with the opportunity to deal with topics that may not be considered in any other course or which may be treated in another course but only at an introductory level.  Topics may include:  special topcs insome area of philosophy, interdisciplinary issues, and important work or works by a great philosopher.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 405.  Epistemology: Theories of Knowledge.  3 Hours.

Human knowledge; its nature, sources, and limits.  Concepts of truth, objectivity, evidence, and belief.  Two previous PHL courses or permission of instructor required. Writing is a significant component of this course (QEP).

PHL 408.  Metaphysics.  3 Hours.

Reality; its basic elements, principles of existence and identity, and appearance and reality.  Concepts of cause, matter, mind, realism, and anti-realism. Two previous PHL courses or permission of instructor required.

PHL 435.  Philosophy of Law.  3 Hours.

Theories of the nature of law (natural law, realism, positivism, critical legal theory); interpretation of precedents, statutes, and Constitution; Constitutional protections such as freedom of speech and religion and the right of privacy; selected issues of criminal and civil law.  Requires additional work not required in PHL 335.  Ethics and Civic Responsibility are significant components of this course (QEP).

PHL 442.  History of Philosophy: Kant and 19th Century.  3 Hours.

Western philosophic tradition from Kant through end of nineteenth century.  Kant, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Mill, among others.  One previous PHL course or permission of instructor required.

PHL 443.  History of Philosophy: Twentieth Century.  3 Hours.

Major movements and problems of twentieth century philosophy.  Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Quine, among others.  Two previous PHL courses or permission of instructor required.

PHL 470.  Philosophical Problems in the Natural and Social Sciences.  3 Hours.

Nature and uses of science.  Concepts of explanation, confirmation, scientific law, and theory; special problems in sciences. Two previous PHL courses or permission of instructor required.

PHL 490.  Philosophy Seminar.  3 Hours.

In-depth survey of either a topic or individual author of current interest.  A systematic survey using previous course work in the main areas of philosophy to produce a substantial paper. Emphasis on detailed analysis of the structure of arguments and standards for empirical evidence where relevant. Proper standards for citation and attribution. Course fulfills capstone requirement for Seniors.

PHL 491.  Philosophy Seminar.  3 Hours.

In-depth survey of either a topic or individual author of current interest.  A systematic survey using previous course work in the main areas of philosophy to produce a substantial paper. Emphasis on detailed analysis of the structure of arguments and standards for empirical evidence where relevant. Proper standards for citation and attribution. This course fulfills the capstone requirement for seniors.

PHL 492.  Philosophy Seminar.  3 Hours.

In-depth survey of either a topic or individual author of current interest.  A systematic survey using previous course work in the main areas of philosophy to produce a substantial paper. Emphasis on detailed analysis of the structure of arguments and standards for empirical evidence where relevant. Proper standards for citation and attribution. This course fulfills the capstone requirement for seniors.

PHL 499.  Directed Studies.  1-3 Hour.

Special arrangement opportunity for in-depth study.  Permission of Instructor Only.


Sample Seminars and Topics in Philosophy

390-2C. Philosophy of Neuroscience. -- The contemporary neurosciences of cognition have, during the past two decades, yielded evidence that has prompted many philosophers to revise their judgments on issues traditionally considered to be in the exclusive province of philosophy including the relationship between (a) mind and brain and (b) psychology and neuroscience. However, the same scholars who have been quick to appeal to evidence from neuroscience to inform their philosophical positions have for the most part failed to evaluate the conceptual and theoretical assumptions that drive neuroscientific research. This task has fallen squarely on the shoulders of philosophers of neuroscience, and providing students with a unique venue in which to engage in such analytic work will be the primary aim of this course.

The course will begin by introducing students to a set of conceptual tools intended to serve two distinct purposes. On the one hand, they may be used to guide an evaluation of the relationship between certain philosophical claims (i.e., claims having metaphysical or ethical implications) and those neuroscientific data on which they are based. On the other, they are intended to function as a basis for critically investigating the processes of data production and data interpretation in contemporary neuroscience—particularly in those fields that study cognitive processes. Subsequent to the introduction of these tools, our strategy will be to read philosophical papers and those neuroscientific research papers on which they are based in tandem, appealing to the conceptual tools as a means to ground and structure our evaluation of both. The course is thus designed specifically to hone students’ analytic skills in a way that will positively shape and inform the development of their current and future neuroscientific and/or neuroscientifically-informed philosophical research projects.


490-7M. Holding Together: Coherence in Culture, Reason, and Action -- The idea that thoughts, concepts, emotions, and actions may “hold together” or cohere has played a central role in philosophical, scientific, and humanistic studies of knowledge, science, ethics, reasoning, action, truth, culture, and literature, among other things.  This course will pursue a deeper understanding of relationships between notions of coherence in different domains.  Questions covered may include: Is coherence central to knowledge?  What kind of coherence?  Is coherence central to truth?  Do metaphors and analogies—central to many works of fiction, poetry, film, and anthropological studies of culture—depend essentially on coherence?  Does scientific knowledge depend in fundamental ways on metaphors and analogies, on logical and probabilistic kinds of coherence, or on all or none of the above?  Should coherence play a role in practical decisions?  In ethics and political philosophy?  Does emotion have a role in coherence?  Do different cultures exhibit internal coherence?  What are the implications of this idea for understanding cultural change, conflict, and human evolution?  This is an intensive writing and discussion oriented course with papers, student presentations, and short exercises (perhaps involving computer simulations).


491. Economics, Institutions and Law -- (Also EC 450-2E) Students in this course will learn to analyze incentive structures in order to identify and solve problems involving market failures, principal-agent problems, public goods, and collective action.  The course will cover the mathematical modeling of incentives; the social/political implications of incentive-related problems; the ways in which existing economic, political, and legal institutions (e.g., individual firms, the Federal Reserve, the Clean Air Act, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, etc.) confront and/or attempt to solve such problems; and normative justifications of and challenges to such institutions. Background in intermediate microeconomics and introductory macroeconomics is assumed.