Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Courses

1010:  Introduction to Philosophy. Fall, Spring, Summer. What makes you, you? Why do bad things happen to good people? Can you really trust what you see? Can we be certain that God exists? What makes us responsible for the things we do? What are the limits of what we can know? What makes life worth living? In this course, you will critically discuss and debate these kinds of questions that have puzzled us for thousands of years and enrich our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

1020:  Introduction to Ethics. Fall, Spring, Summer. Where does morality come from? Is morality just a matter of opinion? What makes an action right or wrong? What does it mean to be a good person? Are there some things it's never okay to do? In this course, we will grapple with these and other central theoretical questions in ethics.

1030:  Introduction to Logic. Fall, Spring. Basic concepts of logic; how to distinguish arguments from non-arguments, premises from conclusions. Methods for evaluating arguments and how to recognize typical mistakes in reasoning. Approved for distance education.

1250: Contemporary Moral Issues. Fall, Spring, Summer. We will explore real-world moral challenges that we currently face as individuals and as a society. Do you have a right to privacy on the internet? Should same-sex marriage be legal? Can terrorism ever be justified? Is it morally acceptable to modify your body to make you stronger, faster, or smarter? The primary focus of this course is to enrich our understanding of such questions by increasing our knowledge of both the relevant facts and the values at issue. Approved for distance education.

2020:  History of Ethics. Fall or Spring. A study of the classic moral philosophers who have shaped modern thought on the subject, including Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Mill. Attention will be paid to the views of each on moral psychology.

2180: Philosophy of Law. Fall and Spring. Philosophical foundations of legal system; essential nature of law and relation to morality; liberty, justice and legal responsibility (intention, human causality, negligence, mens rea, fault, etc.) and punishment. Approved for distance education.

2190: Philosophy of Death and Dying. Fall, Spring, Summer. Everyone dies. But no one talks about it. This course breaks the silence by exploring questions like the following: What is death? How do we know when someone has died? Should we ever seek to die? How should societies approach suicide? Why do we fear death? Should we fear death? What can thinking about death tell us about how to live? Is there any evidence that we might be immortal? Would immortality actually be good for us, anyway? How should we deal with death? How is death dealt with cross-culturally?

2320: Environmental Ethics. Fall, Spring. Is global warming our problem? If so, what should we do about it? Are trees more important than jobs? What is so bad about genetically modified organisms? Is meat murder? Are tree-huggers terrorists? In this course, we will attempt to grapple with these sorts of questions by investigating the proper relationship between human beings and the environment, from a variety of distinct cultural perspectives.

2420: Medical Ethics. Fall, Spring, Summer. From birth to death, medical and healthcare practices are an intimate part of our lives. This course explores central questions in these practices, such as: Is it ever okay to get an abortion? Should physicians ever assist patients in ending their lives? Is genetic manipulation 'playing God'? Do we have a right to healthcare? Is it ever right to lie to a patient? Should we ever use the results of unethical research?

3100: Philosophy of Mind. Fall or Spring. Topics covered will include some of the following: the nature of mental phenomena, the relation between minds and bodies, free will, the relationship between thought and action, and the problem of other minds. Prerequisites: 3 hours in Philosophy.

3210: Indian and Chinese Philosophy. On demand. Some non-Western philosophical traditions. Possible topics include Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Vedanta; epistemology, formal inference, causality, metaphysics, mind-body relationships. Prerequisite: three hours in PHIL or consent of instructor.

3300: Theory of Knowledge. Alternate years. Theories of knowledge, truth, belief and evidence. Prerequisite: three hours in PHIL or consent of instructor.

4240: Topics in Social and Political Philosophy. Alternate years. An in-depth treatment of some theme(s) in social and political philosophy, including the justification of the state, the nature of citizens' obligations to the state, justifications for limiting liberties, state neutrality vs. perfectionism, the nature and justification of various social ideals, feminism and justice.

4700: Readings and Research. Fall, Spring. Supervised independent work in selected areas. Prerequisites: 12 hours of PHIL and consent of chair of department. Students may repeat more than one per semester if topics differ. May be repeated to six hours.

Graduate Courses

6120: History of Modern Philosophy. Metaphysics and epistemology in (at least) Descartes, Hume, and Kant.

6210: History of Moral Philosophy. A critical study of some of the major moral theories in the history of philosophy.

6500: Seminar in Teaching Applied Philosophy. A course designed to develop skills in teaching philosophy. To be taken by graduate students during the first semester of teaching assistantship. Graded S/U.

6800: Seminar in Philosophy. Systematic study of selected topics within the discipline. Content varies from one year or semester to the next. May be repeated.

6850: Directed Readings. Tutorial study of selected philosophical issues or topics not offered in regularly scheduled courses. Must be approved by tutorial instructor prior to registration. May be repeated. Graded S/U.

7800: Seminar in Philosophy. Systematic study of selected topics within the discipline. Content varies from one year or semester to the next. May be repeated.

7840: Directed Readings. Advanced tutorial study of selected philosophical issues or topics not offered in regularly scheduled courses. Must be approved by tutorial instructor prior to registration. May be repeated. Graded A/F.

7850: Directed Readings. Advanced tutorial study of selected philosophical issues or topics not offered in regularly scheduled courses. Must be approved by tutorial instructor prior to registration. May be repeated. Graded S/U.

7890: Readings for Preliminary Examination. Supervised independent readings in preparation for the doctoral preliminary examination. Graded S/U.

7990: Dissertation Research. Students must register for a minimum of 16 hours while working on their doctoral dissertation. A maximum of 24 hours may be counted toward the degree program.