Philosophy: The Examined Life (Core)

An introductory examination of the history and nature of Western philosophical thought from the ancient Greeks to the present.

Fulfills the Philosophy Cornerstone requirement.

PHL 100 3

Gods, Souls, and Bodies (First-Year Seminar)

In this course, we will wrestle with big philosophical questions about ourselves, God, and the world. Why does God allow suffering? How do you know that this table is real? Do we have souls or are we just thinking meat? What happens when we die? Is everything relative?

PHL 110 4

Questioning Love and Desire (First-Year Seminar)

The very word “philosophy” means love of wisdom, and love has been one of the central preoccupations of philosophers from ancient Greece to present times. This course will introduce students to philosophy through exploring the question of love and desire and their role in living meaningfully.

PHL 111 4

Face it, You’re Going to Die - Philosophical Answers and Questions (First-Year Seminar)

This course will focus mainly on philosophical questions about the self and death: What am “I”? Do we have souls or are we just physical bodies? Does “person” necessarily mean “human”? What makes someone the same person over time? What happens after death? If death is the end, is that a bad thing? Is suicide ever rational or morally acceptable?

PHL 112 4

Philosophy: What Does it All Mean? (First-Year Seminar)

In this course, we will examine some perennial issues in philosophy, including the nature of the self, knowledge, friendship and love, tragedy, and freedom and justice.

Prerequisite(s): PHL 113 is a First-Year Seminar and open to First-Year Students only.

Fulfills the First-Year Seminar and Philosophy Cornerstone Requirements.

PHL 113 4

Ethics and the Good Life

Discussion of major ethical theories in the history of philosophy in search for answers to fundamental moral questions: What makes actions right or wrong? Is morality relative or objective? Does morality depend on God? What is the purpose of life and what does morality have to do with it? Does morality conflict with personal happiness?

PHL 221 3

Freedom and the Just Society

This course will explore questions about the relationship between the individual and society: What gives society authority over the individual? Would we be better off without society? Should we obey all of society’s laws or only those we think are just? What basic rights should people have in society? How could society be more just? How should wealth be distributed?

PHL 222 3

Introduction to Moral Reasoning

A non-historical introduction to ethics that will focus on basic theories and problems.

PHL 223 3

Contemporary Moral Issues

We will discuss a variety of contemporary ethical issues. Topics covered will vary from semester to semester but may include animal rights, moral relativism, physician-assisted suicide, the death penalty, cloning, and the extent to which we have an obligation to help those less fortunate.

PHL 224 3

Biomedical Ethics

Discussion and resolution of ethical problems associated with the practice of medicine and the pursuit of biomedical research. Topics include: ethical issues in human experimentation; euthanasia; abortion; fetal research; and reproductive technologies.

PHL 235 3

Ethics and the Arts

Philosophy in dialogue with the Arts. Problems of ethics are examined using philosophic texts and works of literature and other arts.

PHL 236 3

Elementary Logic

The art of reasoning or argument: deductive and inductive. Terms as signs. Definition and division of terms and concepts. Relations between statements. Categorical deductive reasoning. Propositional logic. Predicate logic.

PHL 241 3

Political Philosophy

A discussion of the major themes in the history of Western political philosophy. Key figures include Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls.

PHL 251 3

Asian Philosophies

What is the nature of the self? What is the divine like? How should we live? What happens when we die? In this course, we discuss answers to these and many other questions from the rich philosophical traditions outside the Western world.

PHL 253 3

Nietzsche and the Critique of Religion

Nietzsche’s critique of traditional religion goes far beyond his famous pronouncement that God is dead. His attack on traditional religious thought provides insight into his rejection of traditional morality and his proposal for new ways of action. In this course the students will analyze his new ways of moral thought.

PHL 254 3

Philosophy of Film

Film and video have become increasingly important and pervasive in our world. This course will examine what philosophical theories might teach us about film, and it will interrogate film in order to find out what it might teach us about philosophy as a way of questioning reality and discerning or creating meaning.

PHL 262 3

Philosophy of Architecture

An investigation, proceeding both historically and transculturally, into how “meaning” is embodied in architecture. Reflection is guided especially by Christian Norberg-Schulz, who has developed a phenomenological approach to the study of architecture based upon the central ideas of Martin Heidegger.

PHL 264 3

Readings in Contemporary Thought

An introduction to the philosophy of our time. Texts chosen to be readable. A focus on humanistic issues: how the unconscious controls behavior, where meaning and value come from, how one can be hoodwinked by political ideologies, whether the mind really exists, what to do about the loss of meta-narratives in our modern lives.

265 3

Topics in Philosophy

This course offers students and faculty an opportunity to investigate in some depth a specific area of the study of philosophy not normally otherwise addressed by the department.

PHL 266 3


Philosophical principles of art and beauty. Review of major classical and modern theories. Discussion of specific works of art from different historical periods.

PHL 283 3

Philosophy of Science

A study of basic philosophical questions pertaining to the scientific endeavor and its methodology. Topics for discussion include: the foundations of science and the criteria for distinguishing science from non-science; conditions for the emergence and development of scientific theories; reductionism and the unity of science project; skepticism and limitations of the scientific method; implications of the scientific viewpoint for our understanding of the world in which we live and of the human condition (social and political implications of science).

PHL 285 3

Genetics and Human Nature: Born that Way or Becoming Who We Are?

This course explores the implications of modern biology, particularly genetics, for our understanding of human nature. How does the biological viewpoint change how we distinguish normal from abnormal, natural from artificial, health from disease? What is its impact on the debate concerning nature and nurture, as well as on questions about race, sexual orientation, altruism, and gender?

PHL 286 3


What is involved when we “interpret” a book, a poem, a movie, a painting, or any “text”? A philosophical analysis of the activity of understanding and interpretation as discussed by several Continental philosophers of the twentieth century.

PHL 305 3

Philosophy and the Unconscious

Descartes and other modern philosophers argued for the transparency of the self. Yet, this position was radically questioned and energetically rejected by a host of European and American philosophers, psychologists, authors, poets and artists from the late 19th century through the 20th century, and the protest continues into the present day. In particular, the course will examine how the notion of the “unconscious” has complexified our understanding of the self. Featured authors will include Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and C.G Jung.

PHL 306 3

Philosophy of Religion

Religious experience; faith and reason; proofs for the existence of God and criticisms of them; the divine attributes.

PHL 307 3


Speculative study of being in light of its causes and principles. Major themes: science of being as being, truth, goodness, substance, analogy, act and potency.

PHL 331 3

Philosophy of Knowledge

Nature and conditions of the act of human knowledge as such; the origin of human understanding and the possibility of knowing truth within diverse human sciences.

PHL 332 3


Selected dialogues of Plato. Problems and topics include: Plato’s criticisms of Greek philosophy; the roles of love, poetry, and rhetoric in human knowledge and morality; the concept of forms.

PHL 341 3


Aristotle’s psychology, ethics, and metaphysics, and its importance to subsequent philosophers.

PHL 342 3


A course on the philosophy of Socrates. Students will study Plato’s early Socratic dialogues as well as texts by Xenophon and Aristophanes.

PHL 343 3

Medieval Philosophy

Encounter of Greek philosophical theories with Christianity as seen through the works of representative medieval thinkers, especially Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham.

PHL 353 3

Thomas Aquinas and His Contemporaries

In the 13th century when Aristotle’s ideas were presented in Latin to the Christian theologians, a revolution in Western philosophical thought resulted. At the center of the intellectual controversies is the figure of Thomas Aquinas. Thomas, the most rational of theologians or the most religious of philosophers provided profound and innovative solutions to metaphysical, epistemological and moral problems. This course will examine his sources, his solutions and the responses of his contemporaries.

PHL 354 3

Descartes to Hume

Renaissance skepticism and the birth of Cartesianism. Descartes’ mathematicism and the methodic doubt. The Meditations. The thinking self, proofs for God’s existence, Cartesian dualism, and the problem of mind-body interaction. Locke’s critique of innate ideas. Berkeley’s immaterialism. Hume’s empiricism as a prelude to Kantianism.

PHL 361 3


Issues from The Critique of Pure Reason will be addressed first, such as the difference between the thing in itself and appearance. Then Kant’s moral philosophy will be discussed in detail. Slow and careful reading required.

PHL 363 3

Hegel and Marx

Roots of Marxism in Hegel and Feuerbach. Humanism of young Marx. Praxis and alienation. History as dialectical. Nature of communism. Collaborative works of Marx and Engels.

PHL 364 3


The Existentialist thinkers of the 20th Century vigorously protested the abstraction and sterility of certain kinds of philosophical and theological discourse and demanded that we confront the life and death, flesh and blood issues of our existence. The course will examine the sources of their existential protest in the thought of the 19th Century thinkers Nietzsche and Kierkegaard and progress through a discussion of the major figures and works in the Existentialist movement of the 20th Century.

PHL 371 3

Heidegger and His Influence

An introduction to the thought of the most seminal philosopher of the 20th century. Topics discussed include the critique of metaphysics, theology, science, and technology; the structure of being-in-the-world; time and history; anxiety, death, radical finitude and authentic existence. Consideration of Heidegger’s influence on contemporary thinking in philosophy and in all the major disciplines.

PHL 372 3

Recent British and American Analytic Philosophy

A general introduction to recent 20th Century philosophy in Britain and America. Themes include: the attack on metaphysics; the nature of values; the way language works; the foundations of logic, science and mathematics; the attempt to reconcile science and human values.

PHL 374 3

Foucault: Power, Truth, Subjectivity

Michel Foucault, an influential French thinker of the 20th century, is best known for his analyses of the positive and productive relations between power and knowledge and his exploration of an ethics understood in terms of the care of the self and others. This course is intended to be an in-depth study of his thought, and the primary means of study will be a careful reading and evaluation of a selection of his key writings.

PHL 375 3

Senior Philosophy Colloquium

A senior philosophy major completes a capstone essay (plus an oral presentation and defense) on a philosopher or philosophical topic under the supervision of a department faculty member. Generally, this course is taken in the spring semester of the senior year.

PHL 421 3

Internship in Philosophy

Fall and Spring Semesters

PHL 475 3

Directed Study

Supervised reading and research on selected topics.

PHL 490 3