Students wishing to study a specific philosophical problem or philosopher in depth may pursue independent studies or, in exceptional cases, honors.

New Fall ’24 capstone Course: PHIL 490 – Imagination: Art and Ethics 


Visit the Course Catalog for the listing of official course descriptions

PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to the methods of philosophy including logical analysis and traditional philosophical problems such as the nature and extent of knowledge, the dilemma of freedom and determinism, the justification of the belief in god, personal identity, and the mind-body problem. [H]

PHIL 102: Basic Social Questions

An examination of conceptual and moral questions associated with selected contemporary social issues. Topics can include: the morality of abortion, the justification of preferential treatment, the permissibility of same-sex sex and marriage, and prostitution. [H, V]

PHIL 145: Introduction to Bioethics

This course concerns the moral and social controversies arising in medicine, biomedical research, and the life sciences. Topics may include: human cloning, genetic engineering, stem-cell research, reproductive technology, surrogate motherhood, euthanasia, informed consent, etc. [H, V; W]

PHIL 155: Environmental Ethics

This course will begin with a brief presentation of prominent ethical theories and concepts important to debates in environmental policy. We will apply these theories and concepts to a range of environmental issues, including population growth, sustainability and our responsibilities to future generations, animal rights, food ethics, and climate change. In addition to reading, discussing and writing about rigorous academic material, students will be required to engage on a practical level with some environmental cause. [H, V, W]

PHIL 200: Logic

An investigation of the principles of correct reasoning through the use of formal techniques. By employing these techniques, students will learn to assess the validity of arguments and to find counterexamples to invalid arguments. Formal languages studied include propositional and predicate logic, and may also include languages of modal and deontic logic. Some metalogic may also be covered, including proofs of the soundness and completeness of some of the deductive systems studied. [Q]

PHIL 214: Ancient Greek Philosophy: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

A survey of the philosophical systems of Plato and Aristotle, with occasional excursions into pre-Socratic and post-Aristotelian thought. Readings drawn exclusively from classical texts. [H]

PHIL 216: The Birth of Modern European Philosophy: Descartes to Kant

A critical survey of European philosophy from 1600 to 1800, a period during which enormously influential contributions were made to the philosophical study of knowledge, reality, and the nature and limits of philosophy itself. Philosophers to be studied include Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. [H]

PHIL 220: Metaphysics

A detailed examination of substance, universals, mind-body, personal identity, freedom of the will, causality, space, and time. Contemporary and traditional solutions are presented. [H]    (Prerequisite: PHIL 101, or instructor permission)

PHIL 225: Philosophy of Mind

A general introduction to the philosophy of mind, addressing four key philosophical issues: the nature of psychological explanation, the mind-body problem, the possibility of artificial intelligence, and the nature of persons. [H]   (Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy or Psychology)

PHIL 226: Philosophy of Literature

An examination of fundamental philosophical questions on literature as an art form: its nature, interpretation, and evaluation. Topics may include: the ontological status of works of literature; the role of intentionality in literary meaning; the nature of metaphor; the readers emotional engagement with characters; the role of literature in moral and emotional development; the relationships between the sorts of values literature may have (aesthetic, moral, cognitive, etc.). [H, V, W]     (Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy, or instructor permission)

PHIL 230: Theories of Knowledge

A detailed examination of the concept of knowledge, nature of beliefs, justification of beliefs, relationship between knowledge and beliefs, truth, perception. [H]    (Prerequisite:  PHIL 101 or instructor permission)


PHIL 236: Science, Reason, and Reality

The course covers theories of scientific method, the nature of scientific explanation, and the evaluation of scientific theories. [H]   (Prerequisite: :PHIL101 or instructor permission)

PHIL 238: Special Topics: Philosophy of Economics

The opinions of economists shape debates concerning some of the most pressing problems facing society, including global warming, economic inequality, and immigration. Economists sometimes refer to their own discipline as the “dismal science”. In this course we’ll take economists’ self-description as a science seriously. We will examine the nature of economic expertise, as well as consider the sometimes implicit value judgments that underlie economic models. [H, V]

PHIL 240: Philosophy of Art

An examination of the fundamental philosophical questions about the arts, including: What is art? Are there standards in the evaluation of artworks? Do the arts require or convey knowledge, and if so, what kind? What is the connection between art and emotion? What are the possible relationships between art and morality? Readings are drawn from both classical and contemporary philosophical writings. [H, V]   (Cross listed: FAMS 240)

PHIL 245: Bioethics

This course will begin with a brief presentation of prominent ethical theories and concepts important to debates in bioethics. We will apply these theories and concepts to a range of bioethics issues, including abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy, choosing for incompetent patients, and medical research. [H, V,W]

PHIL 250: Ethics

A critical investigation of some of the main theories of morally right action, with special emphasis on Mill’s utilitarianism, Kant’s categorical imperative, and W.D. Ross’s moral pluralism. Other topics usually include the nature of justice, value, and moral worth. Readings are drawn mostly from original sources. [H, V]

PHIL 260: Political Philosophy

A critical examination of the traditional theories of liberty, equality, justice, and political obligation as found in philosophers such as Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, and Rawls. [H, SS, V]    (Prerequisites: PHIL 101, or PHIL 102, or PHIL 250, or instructor permission)

PHIL 270: Feminist Philosophy

An examination of issues in feminist philosophy including its critique of traditional Western philosophy and its contribution to major areas of philosophy such as ethics, social and political philosophy, theories of knowledge, and reality. [GM1, H, V]

PHIL 310: 20th Century Analytic Philosophy

A survey of the philosophical systems of Frege and Russell, with analysis of the implications of that work for the development of analytic philosophy in the 20th century. Readings drawn exclusively from primary texts. [H]    (Prerequisite: PHIL 200, or instructor permission)

PHIL 320: Philosophy of Language

This course addresses some basic questions about language: What is the relationship between thought and language? What is the relationship between language and reality? Theories about these issues will be applied to ethics and philosophy of mind. [H, W]   (Prerequisite: PHIL 101, PHIL 200, or instructor permission)

PHIL 330: Philosophy of Psychology

An examination of several topics in the philosophy of psychology. We will attempt to answer several questions including some of the following: What is normal and abnormal in mental functioning? What is the nature of psychiatric classifications such as autism or ADD? What can psychology and neuroscience teach us about right and wrong? What is empathy and what role does it play in our moral behavior? What does studying the brain teach us about free will and responsibility? In this class we will consider some of the answers that philosophers have developed in response to contemporary psychology, neuroscience, and the other sciences. [H]

PHIL 335: Experimental Philosophy

This course concerns the implications for philosophers of experiments aimed at discovering the attitudes of non-philosophers to traditional philosophical problems. The course concerns the methodology of philosophy, in particular the role of pre-theoretical intuition in debates over normative matters. It also concerns several traditional philosophical issues, such as moral luck, free will, happiness and intentionally.  [W]

PHIL 345: Philosophy of Film

An examination of philosophical questions on the nature, interpretation, and evaluation of film. Topics may include: the distinctive nature of the moving image compared to other forms of representation; the issue of whether film is an art form; film authorship; the essence of film narrative; the role of the imagination in understanding and appreciating film; identification and emotional engagement with characters; film and morality; film and knowledge.[H, V, W, GM2]   

PHIL 350: Metaethics

This advanced course in the philosophical study of moral properties, moral motivation, moral reasons, and moral knowledge considers questions such as: whether moral properties exist and, if so, whether they are natural or non-natural properties; whether contemporary accounts of supervenience or explanation can provide the foundations for moral realism; the relationship, if any, between moral judgment and moral motivation; whether moral requirements supply reasons for action; and whether moral knowledge is possible. [H, V]     (Prerequisite:  PHIL 250 plus one additional PHIL course, or instructor permission)

PHIL 360: Philosophy of Law

An examination of conceptual and normative issues related to law and the legal systems. Topics can include: the nature of law, legal systems and legal obligation, constitutional interpretation, liberty and the limits of law, and the justification of legal punishment. [H, V, W]   (Prerequisite: PHIL 102, PHIL 250, or instructor permission)

PHIL 361: Meaning of Life

This course is a philosophical examination of the question of whether human life has meaning. Topics include what “meaning” in this context might mean; whether impact, accomplishments, personal happiness, intrinsic value, narrative structure, or some other thing might make human life meaningful; and what the implications might be if human life has (or has no) meaning. (H)   Prerequisites: at least two prior courses in Philosophy

PHIL 366: God

A philosophical investigation into the existence of God, attributes of God, and theism’s possible implications in metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology. The course should appeal to students with a serious interest in clarifying the concept of God, answering the question of whether God exists, and understanding what further philosophical commitments might be involved in an acceptance of theism or atheism. [H]  (Prerequisite: at least two prior PHIL courses)

PHIL 371: Knowledge, Power, and Justice

This course is an examination of some of the many ways in which what we know, and what knowledge we are able to share with others, are shaped by the individual, structural, and institutional power relations. We hope to discover the conditions of epistemic justice and means for making knowledge acquisition and knowledge transmission more equitable. Readings will include books by Miranda Fricker and Jose Medina and others’ commentary, criticism, development, and application of their accounts. Throughout, we will explore the implications of epistemic injustice for social inequality, democratic institutions, and individual flourishing. [H, GM1, V, W]  (Prerequisite: any philosophy course or instructor permission)

PHIL 370-379: Advanced Topics in Philosophy

Seminar on a topic of interest to the members of the department. Topics include: history of philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of law.  (Prerequisite: determined at time of offering.)

PHIL 390: Independent Study

Individual projects with advice from a faculty member resulting in a paper of substantial substance and content. [W]   (Prerequisite: Department Head permission)

PHIL 490: Philosophy Capstone

This seminar serves as the Capstone course for the Philosophy major, but is also open to Philosophy minors who have already taken at least five philosophy courses. The Capstone provides students with an opportunity to apply and further develop their philosophical knowledge and skills, and their ability to engage in philosophical research and writing on a topic or area of special interest to them, if within the framework provided by the Capstone instructor. The Capstone promotes autonomous student work in investigating potential topics, conducting bibliographical research, etc., as well as sharing plans and ideas with peers in the seminar and with the instructor. While assignments, requirements, and course structure may vary along with the instructor, Capstone students will each produce a substantial piece of philosophical writing. [W]  (Prerequisite: Five courses in philosophy)

PHIL 495, 496: Thesis

Readings in original and translated works of philosophers and the writing of a paper of substantial substance and content. Majors not continuing to PHIL 496 from PHIL 495 may petition to change PHIL 495 to PHIL 390. [One W credit only upon completion of both 495 and 496]   (Prerequisite: Department Head permission)