Philosophy Course Descriptions 2016-2017

Philosophy Course Descriptions

PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy                                                                      

3 credits An introduction to the central philosophical questions that have historically spanned and conceptually founded Western civilization. The course surveys key thinkers, philosophical movements, and academic fields of the discipline. Questions regarding the meaning of existence, the freedom of the self, the nature of a just society, and the workings of human knowledge expose students to the pursuits of metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, philosophy of science, moral and political philosophy, and ethics. GT-AH3 

PHIL 201 Logic and Epistemology      

3 credits An introduction to historical and contemporary approaches to epistemology, philosophical methodology, logic, systems of classification, and methods of validation. Emphasis is placed on critical inquiry into the complex relationship among logic, empiricism, and rationalism, while focusing on the real-world implications of the epistemological assumptions of logic itself.  Prerequisite:  PHIL 101. 

PHIL 335 Ethics                                                                                                        

3 credits An examination of influential moral philosophers and contrasting theories concerning how one “ought” to live, from ancient Greek and Eastern philosophers  to contemporary thinkers. Central questions of the course explore the “good life,” critique ideologies that limit ethical options, and imagine how to expand individual choices in cultivating a just society. The course concludes with student applications of ethical theories to current global issues.  Prerequisite: PHIL 101

One of the following: 

PHIL 315 Eastern Philosophy      

3 credits An introduction to the central philosophical questions which have conceptually founded Eastern philosophy. This course surveys primary texts, intellectual movements, and cultural traditions that inform and influence Eastern philosophy while investigating the theoretical spaces that exist between philosophical assumptions of the East and West. Prerequisite: PHIL 101. 

PHIL 345 Philosophy of Religion                                                                              

3 credits An exploration of the significance of faith in our human worldview. Through a comparative approach to major world religions, students investigate the underlying assumptions behind the ways of “knowing” God and participating in the “divine,” and how those assumptions diversely manifest themselves culturally, metaphorically, and psychologically. Prerequisite:  PHIL 101. 

PHIL 355 Philosophy of Science                                                                              

3 credits An exploration of the ongoing relationship between philosophy and science, and an examination of how philosophical movements have informed some of the major shifts in scientific paradigms throughout history. The course concludes with an examination of how scientific revolutions potentially “de-center” humans and reorient the relationship between the self and the world. Prerequisite: PHIL 101. 

One of the following:

POLS 309 Political Theory I–Ancient to Early Modern                                        

3 credits A survey of the historical development of western political theories from their origins in ancient Greece to the development of early modern political theories such as liberalism and republicanism. Students study thinkers such as Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Prerequisite: POLS 117 recommended.

POLS 310 Political Theory II–Late Modern and Contemporary                        

3 credits A survey of the historical development of modern and contemporary political theories since the French Revolution. Issues investigated might include the rise of liberal democracy and its critics, the impact of the industrial revolution on modern politics, and how technological change and environmental limitations have affected contemporary political thought. Students study thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. Prerequisite: POLS 117 recommended. 

One of the following: 

ENG 371 Literary Theory and Criticism                                                                

3 credits An introduction to some of the primary conversations structuring debates in literary theory and criticism. Students learn to identify central questions, assumptions, and conflicts in theoretical and critical texts. Students also gain an understanding of the ways that theory and criticism influence their immediate experiences in English courses. Prerequisites: ENG 250 with a minimum grade of “C” and at least one 300-level literature course, or instructor permission. 

ENVS 410 Environmental Ethics                                                                            

3 credits A seminar on the complexities of environmental issues from a philosophical perspective. The course also offers a survey of the evolution of environmental moral philosophy as well as in-depth analysis of major thinkers in the field. Students confront ethical concerns from both historical and personal perspectives, with an emphasis on the ability to critically evaluate and apply these perspectives to their work in environmental fields. Prerequisite: ENVS 301 and 350; or PHIL 335. 

PHIL 325 Women and Gender in Philosophy                                                          

3 credits A discussion of the significance of women and gender in the development of philosophy. This course questions how the philosophical canon has appropriated, incorporated, and sometimes erased women’s contributions. Drawing upon a variety of discourses, in and outside of philosophy itself (including feminist and queer theory), students assess how the philosophical endeavor changes in light of previously overlooked and currently influential gender studies work. Students use gender and sexuality as a framework that enriches and interrogates philosophical fields ranging from cultural theory to epistemology. Prerequisite: PHIL 101. 

PHIL 401 Reality and Representation      

3 credits The course analyzes, and provides students the opportunity to more deeply investigate, the philosophical foundations of spoken and written representation through a broad survey of theoretical readings in aesthetics, authorship, interpretation, realism, and subjectivity. Examining a diverse range of classic and contemporary thinkers in philosophy and cultural studies, the course explores the ways representation frames the experience of being in the world, and asks such questions as: ‘How do ideas become the words we speak?’; ‘Do the words we speak mean the same when writ-ten?’; and ‘What makes the narrative possible?’ The answers to these questions have broad philosophical, political, and cultural implication. Prerequisite: PHIL 201 or PHIL 335 or ENG 371.