Philosophy | Course Catalogue

2020-2021 Catalogue

One of the things most characteristic of being human is our capacity for reflection, especially self-reflection, i.e., our ability to reflect on our own ability to reflect, a thinking about our own thinking. To engage in philosophical reflection, then, is to reflect on the fundamental nature and meaning of our very existence. The study of philosophy is thus at once both deeply personal (as the question of the meaning of my own existence) and communal (as the question of our shared historical human identity and responsibility). The study of philosophy always entails a dual focus - first, on the methods and processes of thinking, and second on the determinate histories or traditions of philosophical reflection. It means learning, then, to think for oneself about fundamental issues, while at the same time learning about how others have ventured such reflection. By critically interacting with examples of sustained philosophical reflection on the most fundamental problems of human existence, students can gain greater control of their own reasoning processes as they partake in this fundamental questioning on their own, and can come to have more important critical insights into their world - social and otherwise - and more imaginative and thoughtful responses to life's challenges.

 

Minor Requirements: Philosophy.

A minor in philosophy consists of 15 hours distributed as follows (students interested in the major should see Religion, Philosophy, and Social Change):

  • Required Courses (9 hours):
    • PHI 101: Introduction to Philosophy 3 hours
    • PHI 223: Ethics 3 hours
    • PHI 224: Logic 3 hours
  • Electives (6 hours):
    Two of the following philosophy courses, at least one of which must be at the 300-level.
    • PHI 210: Readings in Philosophy 3 hours
    • PHI/REL 216: Faith and Doubt 3 hours
    • PHI/REL 306: Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Philosophy 3 hours
    • PHI/REL 309: From Modern to Postmodern 3 hours
    • PHI/WST 355: Seminar in Gender and Philosophy 3 hours
 

Philosophy (PHI) Course Descriptions

PHI 101: Introduction to Philosophy.
Goal: To introduce students to the history of philosophy from its beginning in Greece through the modern times.
Content: Through examination of primary texts in translation, students will be introduced to the questions about reality, human existence, God, and the good life that motivated philosophical speculation from its very beginnings in the Greek world through modern times.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Historical Events & Phenomena; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
PHI 207: Effective Leadership in Community.
Goal: Designed to put basic leadership principles and skills into practice as well as provide emerging student leaders with an understanding of effective leadership practices, philosophies of social change, social change strategies, and information on engagement opportunities on campus and in the community.
Content: Students will explore a variety of theories and philosophies of social change and will engage academic research on these topics. Students will use their new found understanding of philosophies of social change to focus
on the social change model of leadership in experiential learning settings. Students will evaluate their own personal leadership style and its implications as a practicing leader of social change.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of WIS 110 or permission from the instructor.
Cross-listed as: LED 207.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
PHI 210: Readings in Philosophy.
Goal: To introduce students to the sorts of questions and issues discussed in philosophical texts and the ways in which philosophers discuss these questions and issues. To help students develop their own skills in the reading and analysis of philosophical texts within a global context.
Content: Writings from one, two, or three different significant philosophers and/or sample writings from within a significant field of philosophy. Readings will broaden and deepen students' understanding of philosophy within a global context. If the course focuses on the work of one philosopher, students and faculty will read together a significant part of that philosopher's work. If the course covers more than one philosopher, students and faculty will consider the philosophers' different approaches to a particular philosophical theme or set of themes. Representative topics might include Chinese philosophy, philosophy and the everyday, or Posthumanism.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of College writing proficiency requirement.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as AST 210 (for Asian content only).
 
PHI 216: Faith and Doubt.
Goal: To introduce students to the philosophical issues raised by faith and doubt concerning "the Divine," including the nature of religious language and institutions and the impact such faith and doubt has on views of reality and ethics.
Content: Faith in some conception of a "Divinity" is still an important component of human societies, in spite of increasing attacks against faith and in favor of doubt. These debates about faith and doubt employ interesting philosophical arguments and have important philosophical, social, and political ramifications. Students will engage texts that argue for and against the rationality of belief in divinity, the importance of faith and doubt on views of social and ethical life, and differing views of reality connected with faith and doubt.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals & Communities; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as REL 216.
 
PHI 223: Ethics.
Goal: To introduce students to the various issues involved in making moral decisions and to alternative theoretical constructs for making these decisions.
Content: Theories and principles of value and moral decision-making, and the application of these theories and principles to problematic situations in personal and professional life.
Taught: Annually.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals & Communities; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
PHI 224: Logic.
Goal: To introduce students to fundamentals of logical theory and its application in the development and evaluation of arguments.
Content: Formal and informal reasoning and fallacies; basic symbolic logic.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
PHI 240: Introduction to Political Thought.
Goal: The course will enhance the student's ability to analyze, interpret, and critique primary sources with a view to purpose, assumptions, argument, and historical context.
Content: Encountering the political and philosophical content of some of the world's major political ideologies, students read and evaluate the original contributions of modern political theorists. The focus is on liberalism, socialism, communism, fascism, communitarianism, and feminism.
Taught: Fall or Spring.
Prerequisite: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals and Communities; (SBS/PS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as POL 240.
 
PHI 300: Foundations of Political Thought.
Goal: To introduce students to political theory's treatment of central political and moral issues, such as human nature, power, community, equality, liberty, and democracy.
Content: Students will read and analyze the contributions of political thinkers including Aristotle, Plato, Machiavellian, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, and Marx. The course will close with an analysis of treatment of some of these issues by contemporary political thinkers.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of College writing proficiency requirement or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as POL 300.
 
PHI 306: Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Thought.
Goal: To engage students in the critical reading and assessment of significant philosophers/theologians or philosophical/theological trends from the pre-Socratics throught the High Middle Ages.
Content: Students will examine in detail the philosophical/theological ideas of a particular philosopher/theologian, school of philosophy/theology, or philosophical/theological trend from the pre-Socratics through the High Middle Ages, such as the close examination of the works of a single thinker (e.g., Plato or Augustine), a school of thought (e.g., Neoplatonism or Aristotelianism), or philosophical/theological issue (e.g., problem of universals, nature of sacraments, or mysticism).
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as REL 306.
 
PHI 307: Power and Service Leadership.
Goal: This class is designed to assist emerging leaders with knowledge, skills, and practice to enact effective social change. This course is also designed for students to think critically about questions of power in various leadership,
and particularly service leadership positions.
Content: Students will explore philosophies and critical theories of power, including philosophies of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. This course discusses the following aspects of service learning for social change – why we are involved in service learning, what we get out of service learning, what do we give to those we serve, what do we take from those we serve, what are the unintended consequences of our service, and how can we maximize the good of our service for all involved? Students will engage how social change is accomplished in our society as well as advantages and limitations of various change strategies in terms of their impact on and use of societal power dynamics.
Prerequisites: PHI/LED 207 or permission of the instructor.
Cross-listed as: LED 307.
Credit: 3 hours.

PHI 309: From Modern to Postmodern.
Goal: To engage students in the critical reading and assessment of significant philosophical and religious thinkers or philosophical and religious trends from the Modern period until today.
Content: Students will examine in detail the philosophical and religious ideas of a particular thinker, school of thought, or philosophical/religious trend from the early modern period until today. Emphasis will be given to the characteristics of Modernism (in a range of different fields, including philosophy, theology, literature, and art) and the critiques of it in Postmodernism.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as REL 309.
 
PHI 355: Seminar in Gender and Philosophy.
Goal: To engage students in the critical reading and assessment of significant philosophical works concerning how gender impacts the practices of philosophy and society.
Content: Students will examine in detail the philosophical ideas of a particular philosopher, school of philosophy, or philosophical trend that concerns the impact of gender on issues such as views of reality, theories of knowledge, and the nature of human existence and society.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen Ed. Credit: Synthesizing Perspectives; Women’s Experiences; (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as WST 355.

PHI 396: Special Topics in Philosophy.
Goal: To engage students in a focused and careful study of a particular area of philosophical inquiry.
Content: Topics will vary according to the interests of the students and the instructor. Possible topics include philosophical sub-fields such as metaphysics or aesthetics, philosophical issues such as those of the understanding of personal identity or the implications of gender in philosophical expression, philosophical schools such as pragmatism or modern British empiricism, and the work of a particularly significant philosopher such as Plato, Kant, or Arendt.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: Any 300-level PHI course or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.
 
PHI 451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To engage an individual student in a sustained research project that culminates in the writing of a paper.
Content: Topic varies according to the interests of the student.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.
Credit: 1-6 hours.
 
PHI 452/199: Field Study.
Goal: To introduce students to on-site experience of specific vocations in their major.
Content: Actual work experience.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor and program director.
Credit: 1-12 hours.
 
PHI 499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required).
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