2020-21 Catalogs

Course Descriptions

PHI 105 Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy Through Its History
An introduction to philosophy through its history and development, i.e., through an examination of central texts in the history of philosophy, up to and including contemporary works. Specific readings may vary from semester to semester, but will always include some canonical works by classic Western philosophers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant).  Prerequisite: a college writing course. Cr 3.

PHI 106 Introduction to Philosophy: Why Philosophize?
The course centers about the exploration of a single question: what it means to think philosophically. In the context of this question, we will examine what are the sources of philosophical thought and whether philosophy can justify its claim to be the foundation of all reflective endeavor. Prerequisite: a college writing course. Cr 3.

PHI 107 Introduction to Philosophy: World Philosophy
This course presents the world views of philosophers from ancient to contemporary times. The thinkers will be chosen from a broad range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Emphasis will be placed on the wide diversity and historical background of philosophical positions. Prerequisite: a college writing course. Cr 3.

PHI 200 World Philosophy Day
The World Philosophy Day course picks a new philosophical theme to focus on each year. The course consists of weekly discussions on the assigned readings, in addition to completing a term paper. Cr 1.

PHI 205 Logic
Techniques to distinguish good from bad reasoning through the study of formal and informal logic including fallacies, inductive and deductive arguments, truth tables, evidence, and rules of implication. Cr 3.

PHI 210 Ethical Theories
Critical evaluation of major ethical theories and systems. Extensive reading in original texts. Analysis of contemporary ethical issues. Cr 3.

PHI 211 Media Ethics
In the information age, media play an increasingly large role in our lives. Our notion of living in a global society is largely shaped by media. What is responsible journalism? Does violent programming contribute to violence in America? What are professional ethics and how should they guide media practitioners? We will discuss these questions by examining key ethical values in media such as: privacy, confidentiality, truth telling, conflicts of interest, and social responsibility. We will also explore some fundamental issues in ethical theory such as: Why be ethical? What is ethics? How do ethical theories differ? What are the best ways to evaluate and apply ethical theories to media controversies today? The course is designed for majors in philosophy, media studies, and communication as well as other interested students. Cr 3.

PHI 212 Environmental Ethics
This course analyzes the relations between human beings and the environment in terms of the concepts of justice, the good, and human responsibilities. It attempts to provide a new cosmological model for adjudicating between conflicting rights and duties. Issues to be discussed include animal rights, environmental protection, and ecological harmony. Cr 3.

PHI 220 Philosophy of Art and Visual Culture
What makes a person creative? What do artists think about their art? How do critics evaluate a work? If art is created for a cultural ritual or healing, is it to be understood differently? How do the circumstances of a work's creation and reception influence its evaluation? How do a person's class, ethnicity, and gender influence the artwork and its reception. Philosophers in the field of Aesthetics attempt to answer questions which artists, art historians, anthropologists, and critics ask about art. The works of art and philosophy considered will be drawn from a wide variety of cultural contexts. Cr 3.

PHI 221 Philosophy of Film
This course concentrates on the construction of meaning in the context of cinema. Major emphasis is placed on cinema as a product of social construction. Issues to be discussed include perception, memory, images, and the use of social stereotypes. Cr 3.

PHI 225 Philosophy of the Mind
An analysis of the major philosophical issues facing the science of psychology: language and the unconscious, body-mind interaction, freedom and determinism. Major figures to be studied include Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Freud, Merleau-Ponty, Lacan, and Skinner. Thematic emphasis will be on the historic interaction between psychology and philosophy in the development of Western thought. Cr 3.

PHI 230 Philosophy of Religion
Analysis of the nature of religious experience, knowledge, and language. Special attention given to problems, classical and contemporary, exhibited in religious experience and relevant to areas of common concern in the sciences, humanities, and philosophy. Cr 3.

PHI 235 Philosophy, Social Media, and Security 
The course examines the moral and communicative dimensions of social interaction in a digital context that presumes adequate security. The focus is how social media transforms traditional ethical issues such as: truth, trust, privacy, autonomy.  We will also inspect notions of and tolls for network security. Cr 3.

PHI 240 Political Philosophy
Critical evaluation of political philosophies, classical and contemporary; extensive reading in original texts; analysis of contemporary political issues. Cr 3.

PHI 241 Philosophy & the Politics of Work
This course is an examination of work that is situated at the intersection of personal identity and social structure. Philosophical perspectives on work and labor from such writers as Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Smith, Hegel, Marx, and Arendt will be examined. Work in contemporary society will be examined through sociology, economics, and politics. Student will be expected to attend film screenings outside of class. Cr 3.

PHI 245 Africa, Social Justice, and Exile
Why are people forced to leave Africa, where do they go, what makes it difficult to return? This course examines exile, its effect on men, women, and children. Looking at theories of social justice, personal narratives, short stories, and visual culture, will help us consider moral issues in the post-colonial landscape of Africa. Cr 3.

PHI 250 Philosophy of Science
An examination of two different models generally used in approaching scientific activity philosophically: the logical model and the historical model. Questions to be raised include whether these two approaches are mutually exclusive or whether one can subsume the other, and at what cost. Issues to be covered include description vs. explanation; scientific vs. non-scientific explanation; the issue of whether to include pragmatic and psychological dimensions of meaning in scientific explanations; the question of whether all facts are "theory-laden"; and the relationship between facts, laws, and theories in science. Cr 3.

PHI 260 Philosophy of Law
Critical evaluation of select issues in the philosophy of law. Possible topics include: the nature of law (positivism, natural law, legal realism); judicial decision making; constitutional adjudication; the justification of punishment; the legal enforcement of morality; legal responsibility; the judicial system. Readings are drawn from the disciplines of both philosophy and law, and include contemporary as well as historical selections. Cr 3.

PHI 270 Epistemology
An analysis of various theories of knowledge in reference to their methodologies and consequences. Texts to be read include Berkeley, Hume, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel. Cr 3.

PHI 285 Biology, Technology, and Ethics
An examination of key ethical controversies in biology including regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, genomics, and reproductive technologies. Cr 3. 

PHI 290 Problems in Philosophy

Consideration of selected problems or systems of philosophical significance, including general problems of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, specialized areas, etc. May be repeated for credit. Cr 3.

PHI 291 Death and Dying

Recent success in life-prolonging techniques has resulted in the creation of new disagreements over the proper definition of death. Which definition of death is the most adequate? Some have argued that dying, not death, is the vitally important topic. Has the term death changed its meaning from time to time and place to place in human history? This course will deal with these and similar epistemological issues. Cr 3.

PHI 295 Medicine, Madness, and Disease
Recent advances in modern medicine and medical technology challenge traditional notions of health, sanity, and the social order. The course will examine some of the controversial ethical dilemmas that patients, families, and health care providers confront, such as informed consent, truth-telling, prenatal screening, abortion, involuntary commitment for the mentally ill, drug testing, and patient rights. Cr 3.

PHI 310 History of Ancient Philosophy
Philosophic thought from the pre-Socratics to the late Hellenistic period, with major emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Cr 3.

PHI 312 Morality in African Literature and Film
Intellectual, cinematic and literary movements will be examined through generations of thinkers in African national, cultural and geographical settings. The course will look at texts from West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa dealing with theory, fiction, and visual culture. Important recent controversies in Postcolonial theory are explored. Cr 3.

PHI 315 Eastern Philosophy
This course examines the major texts of the great Asiatic religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen. Special emphasis is placed on the ethical and metaphysical dimensions of these traditions as well as their significance for contemporary theories of the person, social justice, and human fulfillment. Cr 3.

PHI 320 History of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
This course critically examines the merger of philosophical with the religious stream of thought by examining the ideas and text of Augustine, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Maimonides, Averroes, Dane, Ibn Kahldun, Erasmus and others. Cr 3.

PHI 330 The Enlightenment: Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
In the seventeenth and eighteenth century the basis of knowledge and authority were challenged and overturned. The emerging sciences challenged the authority of tradition and scripture, and this challenging began to affect other forms of authority. This class examines the central texts and debates of the period, focusing on the intersection of the transformation of knowledge and society. Cr 3.

PHI 340 History of Nineteenth-Century European Philosophy
Development of German idealism; emergence of social and scientific philosophies; contributions of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Feuerbach, and others. Cr 3.

PHI 350 American Philosophy
History and background of the origin of philosophical ideas in America; particular emphasis given to Peirce, James, Royce, Dewey. Cr 3.

PHI 360 Existentialism
An examination of the historical development and basic themes of existentialism as found in the writings of its major representatives: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Buber, Marcel, and others. Cr 3.

PHI 370 Analytic Philosophy
An historical approach to twentieth-century linguistic philosophy. This course will begin with logical atomism, continue through the era of logical positivism, and end with ordinary language analysis. Extensive reading of primary sources and major commentators. Cr 3.

PHI 380 Postmodernism and After
The course presents a survey of central movements within continental philosophy in the twentieth and twenty-first century:  structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, speculative realism, and new materialisms. Possible figures of study are: Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, Badiou, Butler, Malabou, Negri and Virno. Cr 3.

PHI 395 Philosophy Teaching Internship
In working closely with faculty teaching one of the department’s history of philosophy courses, undergraduate teaching assistants will gain insight into course materials and into all aspects of college teaching including reviewing materials for course use; lecturing and supervision of student groups; and providing feedback to students on their work. Prerequisite: instructor permission. Cr 3.

PHI 398 Independent Study
This course provides students with an opportunity to design a set of readings and learning objectives concerning a topic in the history of philosophy or a specific issue in philosophy. Students must complete an independent study proposal, and obtain permission of a faculty mentor and the Department chair. Students must meet regularly with the faculty mentor. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: a minimum of two 300-level philosophy courses plus written permission of the instructor involved. Cr 3.

PHI 400 Philosophy Topics Seminar
This is a seminar course dealing with a specific topic, philosophical problem, or major question in the history of philosophy or a contemporary philosophical issue. Examples of possible topics include:  free will and determinism, relativism and the meaning of life. Topics will change from year to year and the course may be repeated for credit when topics vary. The prerequisite for any 400-level seminar course is two (2) 300-level courses in philosophy, or permission of the instructor. Cr 3.

PHI 405 Major Figure Seminar in PhilosophyThis is a seminar course on a major figure in the history of philosophy. Major figures may include:  Plato, Kant, Nietzsche, James, and Beauvoir, among others. The course may be repeated for credit when figures vary. Cr. 3 PHI 409 Research SeminarA research seminar designed to provide senior level students an opportunity to participate in the research efforts of individual faculty and collaborate with each other in the design, methodology and completion of their tutorials. Cr 3.

PHI 410 Senior Thesis
Designed to furnish senior philosophy majors with extensive training, under tutorial supervision, in analysis of a philosophical problem or system or philosopher, with a view to producing and presenting a senior paper for oral defense. Prerequisites: advanced standing as a philosophy major, successful completion of PHI 400 and permission of the Department. Cr 3.

REL 240 Meaning, Morality, and Religion
This course surveys religion’s relationship to meaning, morality, and death, and it also examines different conceptions of theism. Cr 3.