For students entering BEFORE Fall 2020:

Philosophy Major (40 credits)

  • 4 credits at the 100 or 200 level
  • Logic (210, formerly 110)
  • Ancient Philosophy (331)
  • Modern Philosophy (334)
  • One course from each of the following elective groups:
  • Group A (Ethics):Moral Philosophy (321), Feminist Ethics (325), or another philosophy course in ethics with the approval of the chair.
  • Group B (History):Medieval Philosophy (333), 19th-Century Philosophy (336), Analytic Philosophy (337), American Philosophy (338), Chinese Philosophy (339), Existential Ethics (327), or Continental Philosophy (341).
  • Group C (Epistemology/Metaphysics):Philosophy of Science (363), Theories of Knowledge (364), Metaphysics (365), Philosophy of Mind (367).
  • Philosophy Capstone (388)
  • 8 additional credits, at least 4 of them at the 300 level


  • Once Majors and Minors have begun to take courses at the 300-level, normally they should not take any more courses at the 100-level, except for PHIL 110: Logic.
  • Majors and Minors can count a course taken to satisfy the Ethics Common Seminar requirement (ETHS 390 or HONR 390) for major/minor requirements provided the course is offered by a member of the Philosophy Department.

Philosophy Minor (20 credits)

Required Courses: Five courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level.

For students entering Fall 2020 and later:

Philosophy Major (40 credits in the Philosophy Department)

  • 1 Introductory course (100-level Thematic Encounter)
  • 2 Thematic Focus courses (1 Abstract Structures and 1 Human Experience)
  • 1 CSD course (either CSD:I or CSD:S)
  • 3 300-level courses (Thematic Encounters)
  • 2 Electives (these could include: 100 or 300 level Thematic Encounters, an additional CSD course, additional Thematic Focus, or any other philosophy coursework)
  • 1 Capstone


  • No more than 8 credits at the 100 level may count toward the major without permission of the Department Chair.
  • Once Majors and Minors have begun to take courses at the 300-level, normally they should not take any more courses at the 100-level, except for PHIL 110: Logic.

Philosophy Minor (20 credits)

Required Courses: Five courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level.

Courses offered regularly:

105 Identity and Social Ethics in the United States (4)

This course provides a theoretical and practical consideration of the concept of "identity," and how we might understand diverse racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the contemporary United States. The approach involves an evaluative critique of various canonical philosophies alongside contemporary work that challenge our cultural presuppositions. The emphasis will be on a social ontology of selfhood withing a democratic framework of constructive relations.

115 Philosophical Perspectives on Identity (4)

Who am I? What makes me, me? Who gets to say who I am? How do personal qualities, relations with others, and social categories like race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, and class come together to form my personal and social identity? How does who I am inform what I know and don't know? Does who I am give me specific responsibilities? If so, what are they? This course invites you to explore multiple dimensions of who you are using philosophical ideas and tools.

121 Great Issues in Philosophy. (4)

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of perennial issues in philosophy. Questions that might be treated: freedom and responsibility, God, love, being, knowledge, death. Topics in this course may be treated in the context of the great philosophers of the past or through a study of more contemporary thinkers.

123 Philosophy of Human Nature. (4)

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of what it means to be human. Questions that might be treated: body and soul; immortality; meaning of person and personality; determinism and freedom; reason and imagination; emotion and will; individuality and group; relationship to others and to God; language; labor; temporality.

125 Social Philosophy. (4)

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of the human in society. Questions that might be treated: the meaning of society; individual and society; society and law; economy and society; work as social phenomenon; society and freedom; world of culture and society; violence and nonviolence; philosophy of power; philosophy of conflict in community; political philosophy.

150 Philosophy in Literature. (4)

An introduction to philosophical questioning through a study of major themes of novels, plays and/or poetry. Readings will serve as an avenue for treating aesthetic or psychological or ethical concerns.

156 Asian Philosophy. (4)

An introduction to the foundational texts of the South Asian and Chinese philosophical traditions. Texts originating in South Asia (i.e., the Indian subcontinent) will include selections from the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and early sutras from the Theravada Buddhist tradition. The Chinese traditions of Confucianism and Taoism will be approached through study of the Lao Tzu (a.k.a. the Tao Te Ching) and the Analects of Confucius.

210 Logic. (4)

This course is an introduction to formal symbolic logic. It focuses on the development of a symbolic language to capture the structure of natural-language arguments, in order to evaluate the validity of those arguments. Topics include truth functions, truth tables, and natural deduction.

321 Moral Philosophy. (4)

The meaning of rights and responsibilities, virtues and vices, values and obligations. Questions of good and evil, right and wrong, freedom and determinism. Natural law, utilitarianism and other systematic theories of morally right behavior. Fall and/or spring.

322 Environmental Ethics. (4)

This course investigates a variety of ethical issues that arise from consideration of the relation between humans and the non-human natural world (i.e., the environment, animals, land, ecosystems, wilderness areas). This course will introduce students to the basic concepts of environmental ethics, to specific ethical issues associated with environmental policy, and to philosophical theorizing about the environment.

325 Feminist Ethics. (4)

This course will examine how women's experiences and philosophical reflection on those experiences offer important and necessary perspectives in the field of moral and ethical thinking. Topics may include the nature of feminism, freedom and oppression; the role of care, trust, autonomy, reason and emotion in the moral life, and a consideration of how feminism has come to challenge basic premises and conceptual tools of traditional, western approaches to ethics and moral reasoning. The course will also explore social/ethical issues stemming from the intersection of gender with race, ethnicity, culture, class, and/or sexuality.

327 Existential Ethics (4)

Existentialism, a 20th century philosophy with roots in the 19th century and various developments in post-modern thought, rejects all foundational givens except the raw fact of existence. This means that it rejects ethical traditions grounded in religion, in reason, in “virtues,” in particular theories of human nature, and in cultural tradition. Nevertheless, existentialist thinkers have often emerged as powerful ethical thinkers, precisely because they refuse to embrace any traditional foundations for ethics and thus keep ethical questions open for debate. We will examine existentialism’s radical critique of traditional philosophical foundations using readings from such thinkers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Beauvoir. As we proceed, we will explore the ethical implications of these existential currents of thought by reflecting on short pieces of literature and narratives illustrative of ethical dilemmas of modern and contemporary life.

331 Ancient Philosophy. (4)

Raphael’s famous fresco The School of Athens accurately depicts the world of Ancient Philosophy studied in this course. The painting features a multitude of ancient philosophers and writers, mathematicians and scientists, thinkers and students, almost all of them involved in conversation, argumentation, writing or meditation in a beautiful public space. The foundation and focal point of the painting is the two central figures of Plato and Aristotle, who will also serve as the foundation and focal points for this course, which aims to help students become knowledgeable participants in the conversations about truth, reality, virtue and the good that shaped the beginnings of Western philosophy and continue to shape philosophical discourse today.

334 Modern Philosophy’s Quest for Truth. (4)

Modern Philosophy is not “modern” in the everyday sense, but studies the 17th and 18th century shift in European thought away from the influence that classical thinkers had come to have, especially as their works were reinterpreted and incorporated into the religious dominion that Judeo-Christian and Islamic paradigms exercised over philosophical  thought. This shift involved a radical re-appraisal of the human subject as thinker and knower. Even those thinkers skeptical of the human capacity to grasp absolute truths upheld the authority of human reason to understand its own limits and to assert itself as the ultimate judge of where and how “truth” could be claimed—though they disagreed significantly on these limits. These philosophers asserted an independence and autonomy for human reason that paved the way for later declarations of political freedoms. Thinkers studied include Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Kant.

339 Chinese Philosophy. (4)

An introduction to the Chinese philosophical tradition through selected foundational texts like the Tao Te Ching, the Chuang Tzu, the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch and selections from the writings of Chu Hsi. Students will also study early Chinese philosophical teachings concerning the nature of male and female and their appropriate social roles, contemporary analyses of the role Confucian teachings played in constructing these gender categories and institutions, and philosophical discussions of the compatibility of Confucian teachings with contemporary (Western) egalitarian gender sensibilities.

364 Theories of Knowledge. (4)

What is meant by saying a sentence is true? What are the criteria to be followed in order to arrive at truth? Is it possible to reach definitive truth? Theories of knowledge and truth from Empiricist to Rationalist to Realist. Alternate years.

367 Philosophy of Mind (4)

This course explores a number of issues of interest to contemporary philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists. These include: the nature of consciousness and how we should study it, the relationship between the mind, the body, and the world, psychopathology and what it can teach us about how we think, the problem of personal identity, the relevance for language to thought and the implications for how we should understand animal minds, and finally how to determine whether a machine can think. In addition to being a general introduction to these topics, this course is designed with a particular interdisciplinary aim: to examine how the empirical work of cognitive scientists inform the theories of contemporary philosophers.

388 Philosophy Capstone (4)

Required for senior philosophy majors for graduation with the philosophy major. Topics vary, but the course centers around an integrative philosophical experience that calls for independent research, writing, and presentation. Spring.

Courses offered occasionally, according to faculty interest:

323 Biomedical Ethics. (4)

An examination of ethical questions raised by health-care practice and recent advances in medical technology. Both ethical theory and ethical decision-making will be addressed. Possible topics include confidentiality, informed consent, genetic engineering, reproductive technology and death and dying issues.

324 Business Ethics. (4)

This course will examine ethical and social issues associated with contemporary American business. Responsibilities of businesses to employees, consumers and the society at large will be considered. Questions of individual moral responsibility and questions of social justice and public policy will be addressed. Students will examine these issues from the point of view of a variety of stakeholders: business management, employees, investors, consumers, and citizens.

Prerequisite: students are strongly encouraged to have taken at least one previous course in management, accounting, philosophy, or economics. Note: normally offered as ETHS 390, not as PHIL 324.

326 Political Philosophy. (4)

This course examines the relation between moral and political values and goods. Consideration of such questions as whether politics can be neutral among competing conceptions of morality, the nature, justification, and limits of political authority and whether politicians should be held to different moral standards from the rest of us.

333 Medieval Philosophy. (4)

Philosophy in the West did not take a long nap after the ancient era. This course in medieval philosophy will investigate the period which began with Augustine and reached its culmination in 13th- and 14th-century Scholasticism, especially with Thomas Aquinas. It will investigate at least three major philosophers or schools of philosophy of that era. Note: This course may be taken for Theology Upper-Division credit (TU), but normally cannot double-count as both; exceptions must be pre-approved by the department chair.

336 19th-Century Philosophy. (4)

Philosophy on the European continent followed no one pattern in the 19th century. G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche make this century one of the most varied in the history of philosophy. This course will focus on one or more thinkers to explore European thought of that epoch. This course can be repeated for credit, with the approval of the department chair, when content varies. Alternate years.

338 American Philosophy. (4)

Though American thinkers have been heavily influenced by European philosophers, an indigenous philosophy began to develop in North America in the 19th century and continued into the 20th century. Philosophers that may be discussed include Charles Sanders Peirce, Josiah Royce, William James, John Dewey and Alfred North Whitehead. This course can be repeated for credit, with the approval of the department chair, when content varies. Alternate years.

341 Continental Philosophy. (4)

Starting in the 20th century a series of philosophies with the same kind of method but with different content has grown from the methodology of the philosopher and mathematician Edmund Husserl. People such as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Jean Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur, Jaques Derrida, and Michael Foucault have applied the method of Husserl to very different problems. This course will choose from these and other contemporary continental thinkers. This course can be repeated for credit, with the approval of the department chair, when content varies. Alternate years.

346 Philosophy of Religion. (4)

While philosophy sometimes seems opposed to religious faith, their relation has often been friendly, as "faith seeking understanding." Philosophical reflection on religious belief critically examines the claims of faith as well as attempts to discredit or dismiss the claims of faith. This course will explore this tradition through one or more lenses: philosophical reflection on: a) the validity of religious experience, b) the reasonableness of belief in God, c) the problem of evil or reconciling the experience of evil and suffering with religious belief, or d) other historical or emerging themes in the philosophy of religion. The course will consider also the perspective of theology in responding to philosophical reflection. Alternate years. Note: This course can be taken for Theology Upper-Division credit (TU), but normally cannot double-count as both; exceptions must be pre-approved by the department chair.

355 Philosophies of Violence/Nonviolence. (4)

This course looks at the way that the search for security and the claim to possession of absolute truth can lead to violence. The way of thinking involved in technology easily structures the world so that whatever does not fit into that framework is discounted and ignored and treated violently, as the philosopher Martin Heidegger shows. How does such an attitude lead to violence? Finally, the course will look at the nonviolent ethical response which the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas demands from the person who hears the call of the poor and the oppressed when they cry out against their oppression and poverty. Alternate years.

358 Philosophy of Law. (4)

This course will consider some of the central conceptual and normative issues in the area of jurisprudence. Concepts such as legal responsibility, negligence, causality, cruel and unusual punishment, etc., will be considered. Frameworks for legal decision-making will be developed and applied.

363 Philosophy of Science. (4)

An examination of selected topics in the philosophy of the natural and social sciences. Possible topics include philosophical presuppositions of the sciences, models of explanation, induction and confirmation, causality, evolution, philosophy of psychology, and the nature of theoretical entities. Course can be repeated for credit with the approval of the department chair when content varies.

368 Special Topics. (4)

Courses offered by faculty members in areas of their special interest. Offered as schedule allows.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)

Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

377 Philosophical Topics in Justice (4)

A philosophical treatment of justice and related concepts. What does it mean to live justly? What are the effects of injustice? The course explores the concepts of justice and injustice, as well as their implications for how we live and act in the world. Specific topics vary.

397 Internship (1-16)

Approved Application for Internship Form REQUIRED. See Internship Office Web Page.