Philosophy
Offered by the Philosophy department.

Major requirements

Philosophy major worksheet

The major consists of 10 semester courses.

Required courses

PHIL 125 Logic
PHIL 203 Ancient Greek Philosophy
PHIL 207 Modern Philosophy: The Enlightenment
PHIL 401 Advanced Seminar in Philosophy (in the senior year)

Special areas

At least one course is required from each of two special areas:

Value theory
PHIL 265 Philosophy of Law
PHIL 311 The Nature of Morality
PHIL 321 Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy

Metaphysics and Epistemology
PHIL 224 Minds and Machines
PHIL 245 Philosophy of Science
PHIL 325 Metaphysics

Electives
PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 111 Ethics
PHIL 121 Citizen and Society
PHIL 225 Philosophy of Religion
PHIL 233 Philosophy and Literature
PHIL 236 Aesthetics
PHIL 241 Bio-Ethics
PHIL 242 Medical Ethics
PHIL 255 Feminism, Philosophy and the Law
PHIL 260 How Judges Reason
PHIL 329 Nineteenth-Century Continental Philosophy

At least two courses (in addition to PHIL 401) are required at the 300 level or above. Not more than two courses at the 100 level, other than logic, may count toward the major. Students may be invited by the department to become honors candidates or to elect other independent work.

Guidelines have been established for interdepartmental major programs combining Philosophy with ReligionPolitical Science or History.

Minor requirements

Philosophy minor worksheet

The minor consists of five philosophy courses, including one at the 300 level and one from each of the following special areas: value theory (PHIL 265, PHIL 311 or PHIL 321) and metaphysics/epistemology (PHIL 245 or PHIL 325). Reasonable substitutions permitted at the discretion of the chair.  No more than two courses at the 100 level, other than logic, may count toward the minor

The department also participates in the minor programs in Environmental StudiesLegal StudiesPublic PolicyPsychology and Women’s Studies.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 098 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 099 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 101 – Introduction to Philosophy

    An examination of the fundamental problems of Western philosophy via study and discussion of perennially important texts by Plato, Descartes, Hume, and Nietzsche, as well as contemporary thinkers. Topics include appearance and reality, the relation of mind and body, skepticism, relativism, morality and the good life, among others. This course does not assume previous study of philosophy.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 111 – Ethics

    An introduction to moral reasoning through the study of ethical theories and their application to practical problems such as capital punishment, world hunger, animal rights and the environment. Special attention to developing and defending one’s own moral positions. Readings from traditional and contemporary sources.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 121 – Citizen and Society

    An introduction to social and political philosophy, with special emphasis on the individual’s role in various approaches to the proper constitution of the state. Emphasis will be placed on developing and defending one’s own positions on both theoretical and practical issues. Readings from traditional and contemporary sources.

(Previously Individual and Society)

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 125 – Logic

    An introduction to categorical, propositional and predicate logic with particular emphasis on methods of discovering and proving the validity of arguments. Designed to improve students’ ability to reason clearly and precisely. Analysis of logical equivalence, soundness and the relation of truth to validity.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 203 – Ancient Greek Philosophy

    An introduction to the thought of Plato and Aristotle: knowledge and truth, the nature of reality, the good life and the good society. Attention also to Socrates and the pre-Socratic philosophers.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 207 – Modern Philosophy: The Enlightenment

    This course focuses on some central epistemological, social, and metaphysical issues facing European philosophers in the17th and 18th centuries. Topics include the following: what are the nature, scope, and limits of knowledge; who is entitled to participate in the search for truth; what is the role of God in a rational universe; how do ideas represent external objects; are there innate ideas; are there perceiver-independent objects/properties. Students will focus on critical analysis of texts and careful articulation of arguments. Readings will be drawn from among the following philosophers: René Descartes, Mary Astell, George Berkeley, Mary Shepherd, Francçois Poullain de la Barre, John Locke, and David Hume.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 224 – Minds and Machines

    Can a computer think? What is the nature of thought? How does technology affect our conception of ourselves? This introductory course explores issues in the philosophy of mind.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 225 – Philosophy of Religion

    See Rel 225 for course description.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 233 – Philosophy and Literature

    Plato began the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy; this course seeks rapprochement. Philosophical examination of the relationship among readers, writers and literary texts, illuminating the nature of the mind and imagination, the domain of ethics and the task of moral philosophy. Topics include existentialism, the paradox of fiction and ethical criticism.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 235 – Friendship

    Is it possible to be friends with your dog? Can the wicked be friends? How do friendships differ from kinship bonds? Do friends have duties to each other that they do not have to others? In this course we will explore the nature of friendship and its relation to other social bonds. Our focus will be primarily on philosophical texts, but we will also consider sociological and historical analyses, and friendship as depicted in film.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 236 – Aesthetics

    The branch of philosophy that concerns itself with beauty and art. Examines the main historical and contemporary theories of art and the aesthetic experience. Special emphasis on the nature of aesthetic value, the limits of aesthetic theory and the contributions of aesthetic inquiry to other philosophical fields.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 241 – Bio-Ethics

    A consideration of ethical issues raised by biotechnologies. Possible topics include: laboratory-assisted reproduction and human cloning, enhancement of human traits, designing future children and stem cell research.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 242 – Medical Ethics

    A consideration of current ethical controversies in medicine. Topics will be drawn from life and death issues, resource allocation, experimentation with human subjects and ethical issues in the practice of health care.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 245 – Philosophy of Science

    An examination of modern views about the nature of science. One emphasis is on epistemological issues: scientific knowledge and its distinctiveness, observational evidence and theory construction, and scientific method. A second emphasis concerns issues about science, values and democratic society.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 255 – Feminism, Philosophy and the Law

    An examination of issues in law and philosophy posed by feminist theory, including how society views women and their roles, and how that view affects the legal and societal status of women.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 260 – How Judges Reason

    A consideration of fundamental issues in the conception and practice of law in the United States. Emphasis on the analysis of forms of legal reasoning; designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the judicial process.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 265 – Philosophy of Law

    A survey of key issues in legal philosophy and legal theory, such as the nature of law, the role of the ethical in the law and punishment theory. Materials will draw on the social sciences as well as philosophy to develop a framework for study of legal institutions across cultures.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 299 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 311 – The Nature of Morality

    The philosophical study of ethics comprises three subdivisions: normative ethics, applied ethics, and metaethics or the nature of morality. In this class we will study metaethics. We will not consider such normative ethical questions as — is act A morally right or is agent G morally good? Instead we will consider answers to the following questions: What do we mean when we judge “act A is good”? Do moral properties exist in the world in the same way physical properties do? Do objective moral facts exist? How are such facts related to culture? What counts as a moral explanation? What is the nature of moral disagreement? What does it mean to have a moral reason to act? (Previously Ethical Theory)

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 312 – Feminist Theory

    (See Women’s and Gender Studies 312 – Feminist Theory (WGS 312) for course description.)

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 321 – Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy

    A critical examination of recent theories of a just society, including the work of Nozick, Rawls, Habermas, Young and Benhabib. Offered in alternate years.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 325 – Metaphysics

    An investigation of philosophical problems involving space and time, causation, agency, contingency and necessity, and the distinction between mind and matter.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 329 – Nineteenth-Century Continental Philosophy

    Critical examination of post-Kantian idealism and the materialist turn in the context of the German Enlightenment. Intensive study of some of the following thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schopenhauer, Marx, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 399 – Independent Study

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 401 – Advanced Seminar in Philosophy

    Topics will vary from year to year, according to the interests of students and members of the department. Required of majors in their senior year.

  • Philosophy

    PHIL 500 – Individual Research

    Selected majors are invited by the department to pursue individual research in preparation for writing an Honors Thesis.

M. Teresa Celada

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Nancy Kendrick

Professor of Philosophy

Aidan Kestigian

Visiting Assistant Professor

Stephen Mathis

Associate Professor of Philosophy

John Partridge

Associate Professor of Philosophy; Chair, Department of Philosophy