Department of Philosophy

Michael Pace, Ph.D., Chair

Professors: M.W. Martin, Warren;

Associate Professors: Hughes, Pace.

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Studying philosophy enables students to think for themselves while learning from the insights of great thinkers from the past. It helps students to reason logically, analyze and solve problems, state and defend views clearly, make moral decisions more effectively, and integrate the personal and professional aspects of life.

Philosophy seeks to unify our lives, and to clarify the values that give life meaning. It illuminates such perplexing issues as what makes a society just, how the mind and body are related, whether actions are free or determined, and whether God exists.

Majoring in philosophy provides an excellent preparation for careers and graduate study and in fields such as law, journalism, education and business. Since philosophy is inherently interdisciplinary, many philosophy majors find it natural to double major (that is, to major in two disciplines). Philosophical questions arise in all disciplines, including law, psychology, political science, natural science, English, business, art and religion.

A philosophy minor educates one in critical reasoning and the history of Western philosophy, and provides insights into a wide range of practical and theoretical topics within philosophy (usually including issues relating to one's major discipline).

We have a chapter in Phi Sigma Tau, the International Honor Society for Philosophy.

Members of the philosophy faculty are active scholars whose research focuses on issues in applied ethics, religion, epistemology and philosophy of mind.

Departmental Honors

The philosophy faculty awards departmental honors to graduating senior philosophy majors who have demonstrated outstanding academic work in philosophy. To be considered for departmental honors, students must have achieved a grade point average of 3.500 or higher in their philosophy courses, and have completed a substantial independent research paper in philosophy, judged to be excellent, as part of PHIL 398 Junior/Senior Seminar (or who have otherwise demonstrated to the philosophy faculty that they have written a substantial philosophical research paper, judged to be excellent).

Departmental Award

The philosophy department bestows its annual William James Award on an exceptional philosophy student selected by the philosophy faculty.

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

A minimum of 21 credits in the major must be upper-division.

core requirements (12 credits)

PHIL 203

Logic, or


PHIL 300

Symbolic Logic


PHIL 310

From Socrates to Aquinas


PHIL 311

Descartes to Kierkegaard


PHIL 398

Junior/Senior Seminar


metaphysics and epistemology (6 credits)

two of the following

PHIL 125

Philosophy of Religion


PHIL 305



PHIL 306

Games and Decisions


PHIL 309

Religion, Knowledge and Evil


PHIL 320

Belief, Truth, and Knowledge


PHIL 321

Philosophy of Science


PHIL 322a

Philosophical Theology


PHIL 340

Philosophy of Mind


ethics (6 credits)

two of the following

PHIL 104

Introduction to Ethics


PHIL 120

Global Ethics and Religion


PHIL 303

Environmental Ethics


PHIL 314

Medical Ethics


PHIL 316

Business and Professional Ethics


PHIL 318

Political and Legal Philosophy


PHIL 319

Philosophy of Women/Women of Color


electives (6 credits)

two philosophy courses, either listed above or from other courses listed in the catalog


If PHIL 398 is repeated for credit, one will count as a core requirement. The other PHIL 398 may then be counted as an elective or, if appropriate and if approved by the chair, the other PHIL 398 may be counted as either ethics or metaphysics/epistemology.

total credits



Program Learning Outcomes and Educational Effectiveness Evaluation Plans for BA Philosophy.

Minor in the Department of Philosophy

Minor in Philosophy

A philosophy minor is designed for those who are majoring in departments with numerous requirements, making it difficult to double major in philosophy. A minimum of 9 credits in the minor must be upperdivision.

logic core requirement (3 credits)

one of the following

PHIL 203



PHIL 300

Symbolic Logic


PHIL 306

Games and Decisions


history core requirement (3 credits)

one of the following

PHIL 310

From Socrates to Aquinas


PHIL 311

Descartes to Kierkegaard


electives (12 credits)

four philosophy courses (9 credits must be upper-division)


Any member of the philosophy department may be consulted in choosing the courses most suited to the individual student's needs. Students are strongly encouraged to take PHIL 398 as one of their electives.


total credits



Course Descriptions – Philosophy

PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to approaches and issues in fundamental areas of philosophy such as ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and metaphysics. As part of the course, students explore how philosophy can help to shape and to justify personal values. Not a prerequisite for other philosophy courses. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 104 Introduction to Ethics

Students examine some of the most urgent contemporary moral problems, based on the insights of major thinkers in the history of philosophical thinking about morality. Practical topics may include abortion, the death penalty, world hunger, and the environment. (Offered every semester.) 3 credits.

PHIL 120 Global Ethics and Religion

(Same as REL 120.) An introduction to ethical issues from the perspective of the world religions: What is the relationship between religion and ethics? Why do people suffer? How do the religions differ on ethics? Are there universal religious ethical values? (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 125 Philosophy of Religion

(Same as REL 125.) An introduction to philosophical issues in the world religions. Comparisons and contrasts between Western and Asian philosophy of religion are emphasized: What is the meaning of life? How do resurrection and reincarnation differ? Does God exist? How could a good God allow evil? Could only one religion be right? (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 203 Logic

An introduction which teaches the skills necessary for distinguishing between correct and incorrect reasoning. Methods will be taught which can help one to reason more persuasively and to write more clearly. A focus on interpreting arguments in everyday English plus a study of conclusive methods for testing the correctness of reasoning. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 300 Symbolic Logic

A study of methods to distinguish good and bad deductive reasoning. Students will learn to “translate” English sentences into the formal language of sentential and predicate logic, to construct proofs in the language, and to understand the semantics (or model theory) for the language. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 303 Environmental Ethics

How to understand and evaluate moral issues related to the environment. Topics include, environmental justice, property rights, individualism vs. “deep ecology,” global warming, use of wilderness, non-human animals, sustainability, and Schweitzer's “reverence for life.” (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 304 Multicultural Ethics

An inquiry into the promises and perils of a multicultural society. Main topics include ethical theory from international perspectives, the nature of prejudice, and the culture wars. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 305 Metaphysics

Metaphysics deals with what exists and, ultimately, with what is real. Topics include: the relationship of God to time, whether or not our language refers to reality, and whether humans have free will or are determined to act as they do. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 306 Games and Decisions

Prerequisite, A philosophy course, or an upper-division course in economics or mathematics, or consent of instructor. Decision theory and game theory are formal apparatuses for analyzing preferences and choices. Students will learn the basics of the formal theories and then examine their foundations and philosophical implications. Some attention will be paid to psychological studies suggesting how people actually make decisions. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 309 Religion, Knowledge and Evil

(Same as REL 309.) In this course, students will examine important contemporary theories of knowledge that support the rationality, justification, and warrant of religious beliefs. Students will also assess the merits of those religious epistemologies in the face of arguments based on evil and suffering. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 310 From Socrates to Aquinas

(Same as REL 310.) An interdisciplinary study of philosophical and religious thinkers from the earliest Greek philosophers through the Middle Ages. We see how the ideas of the PreSocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Maimonides, and Aquinas change through time, and inform our contemporary search for moral and religious values. (Offered fall semester.) 3 credits.

PHIL 311 Descartes to Kierkegaard

(Same as REL 311.) An interdisciplinary study of the great philosophical and religious thinkers from the Reformation to the 20th century whose ideas form the basis for modern thought. Major thinkers include René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Søren Kierkegaard. (Offered spring semester.) 3 credits.

PHIL 314 Medical Ethics

A systematic examination of ethical principles applied to moral dilemmas in health care. Topics include: euthanasia, abortion, informed consent, the professionalpatient relationship, human and animal experimentation, and allocating scarce medical resources. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 315 Voluntary Service

An exploration of volunteering and philanthropy (voluntary giving for public purposes). This interdisciplinary course serves as an introduction to ethics at the upperdivision level. Topics include the moral aspects of caring and helping, and of responsibilities concerning world hunger, and case studies of people like Albert Schweitzer. (Offered every three years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 316 Business and Professional Ethics

A study of pressing moral issues generated today in business and the professions. Topics include the special responsibilities of professionals, the obligations of corporations concerning the environment and product safety, the rights of employees, and honesty in advertising. Relevant to all students with career interests. (Offered every semester.) 3 credits.

PHIL 318 Political and Legal Philosophy

An examination of significant moral issues in politics, society and law, illuminated by contemporary and historical writers. Topics include punishment, defending a guilty client, moral rights, theories about the just society, liberty, war, and terrorism. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 319 Philosophy of Women/Women of Color

A study of philosophical issues concerning sex roles and gender, focusing on women of color — especially AfricanAmerican, MexicanAmerican, and AsianAmerican women. Topics include stereotypes, beauty, women as 'Other,' gender and the law, and such moral values as autonomy, empowerment, equality, and justice. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 320 Belief, Truth, and Knowledge

An examination of fundamental issues about the origin, nature, and validity of knowledge. Topics include the nature of truth, the problems which arise concerning the reliability and objects of perception, how our beliefs can be justified, whether skepticism can be avoided, and whether there can be certain knowledge. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 321 Philosophy of Science

An introduction to the classic issues in the philosophy of science: the nature of scientific explanation, the confirmation of scientific theories, the nature of scientific laws, the distinction between science and pseudoscience, and the "unity of science". (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 322a Philosophical Theology

(Same as REL 322a.) This course uses philosophical methodology to examine major issues in modern theology. Students consider issues such as whether God can be understood by human reason, whether there is only one correct understanding of God, the relevance of talking about God in the modern scientific world, and how the religious person should view contrary faiths of other religions. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

PHIL 323 Philosophy in Literature

A study of intriguing philosophical ideas and themes as dealt with by novelists, poets, and dramatists. The unifying theme of the course varies. The most recent ones were love, selfdeception, and achieving an authentic self, individual freedom and the authority of the state, and the concept of the self. (Offered every three years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 325 Albert Schweitzer: His Life and Thought

(Same as PCST 325, REL 325.)

PHIL 329 Experimental Course

(Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

PHIL 340 Philosophy of Mind

A study of classical and contemporary philosophical issues concerning the mind and mental phenomena — e.g., the concept of a person, mental images, dreams, minds and machines, philosophical presuppositions in psychology. (Offered alternate years.) 3 credits.

PHIL 396 Seminar

Indepth study in a specific area. (Offered as needed.) 3 credits.

PHIL 398 Junior/Senior Seminar

Prerequisites, junior standing and 6 credits in philosophy, or consent of instructor. In their junior or senior year, all philosophy majors must enroll at least once in this seminar on a significant topic in philosophy. Students will complete a substantial philosophical essay. May be repeated for credit when the topic changes. (Offered every year.) 3 credits.

PHIL 399 Individual Study and Research

(Offered as needed.) 1–6 credits.

PHIL 490 Independent Internship

Prerequisites, 6 credits completed in philosophy, consent of both instructor and philosophy department chair. P/NP. May be repeated for credit. (Offered every semester.) ½–3 credits.

PHIL 499 Individual Study

Prerequisites, junior standing, 6 credits in philosophy, must be arranged with the instructor and approved by department chair. Directed reading and an independent research paper are designed to meet the needs of superior upperdivision philosophy students. (Offered as needed.) 1–3 credits.