Philosophy Courses

PL 1100. Reality and Human Existence (3)

Fall and Spring semester. An introduction to the practice of philosophy which distinguishes philosophical understanding from other ways of knowing, through the investigation of ultimate questions about reality, including human reality. The course includes a philosophical examination of appearance and reality; knowledge and truth; and of issues such as the existence of God, freedom, immortality, personal identity, and the meaning of life. (PLI)

PL 1150. Honors: Reality and Human Existence (3)

Fall semester. The content and purpose are the same as PL 1100, Reality and Human Existence, though the perspective is broadened and deepened. Prerequisite: Honors status or instructor approval. (PLI)

PL 2500. Introduction to Logic (3)

A study of the fundamental types of logic and basic structures of logical reasoning, including argument patterns, deduction (syllogistic and/or symbolic methods), induction, definition, and informal fallacies.

PL 2600. Formal Logic (3)

A study of deduction using symbolic methods, including truth tables, first-order propositional logic, and first-order predicate logic, with emphasis on using rules of inference, conditional and indirect methods, and quantification rules to construct proofs.

PL 3100. Ethical Theory (3)

Fall and Spring semester. An exploration of those fundamental factors involved in moral decision making and the discovery of ethical principles, in order to achieve a critical and reasoned understanding of the meaning and basis of morality. The course includes a rigorous examination of ethical theory, and a study of the derivation of moral principles and values and their application in ethical decision making. Prerequisites: PL 1100 or PL 1150; sophomore standing; junior standing recommended. (PLII)

PL 3150. Honors: Ethical Theory (3)

Spring semester. The content and purpose are the same as PL 3100 Ethical Theory, though the perspective is broadened and deepened. Prerequisites: PL 1100 or PL 1150; sophomore standing; Honors status or instructor approval. (PLII)

PL 3200. Philosophy of God (3)

 This course will examine various philosophical issues relating to existence and nature of God, with special attention given to the nature of God.  Attention will also be given to various conceptions of God in different cultures and religious traditions. Other issues will include: the ontological argument; a discussion of the traditional attributes of God; God’s foreknowledge and human freedom; God and time; God and the nature of morality; God’s relationship to the world; and the religious relevance of the “God of philosophy.” Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3250. Virtue and Character (3)

The study of moral virtues is, both in Western culture and also in many Eastern cultures, a primordial philosophical approach to how to live well as a human being. Yet it has been mostly ignored academically in the last century in the West. This course examines the phenomenon of admiration as the origin of moral consciousness, and the historical centrality and the current revival of attention to the study of moral virtue and human character. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3300. Philosophy of Death and Dying (3)

This course examines, through a selection of classical and contemporary texts, the problem of death and dying both from a philosophical and from a practical point of view. Topics covered include the problem of pain and suffering; the meaning of death; attitudes toward death; ethical problems raised by recent medical technology, including euthanasia, suicide, assisted suicide, and the reasons for their popularity.  It also examines religious, moral, and legal definitions of death; issues in the care of the dying; and various theories of immortality. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3400. Ancient Philosophy (3)

A study of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, exploring issues such as the origin and nature of the universe; the unity and diversity of being; the development of logic; and the study of morals and politics. Thinkers to be studied may include the pre-Socratic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurean, Stoic, and Neoplatonic philosophers. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3410. Medieval Philosophy (3)

A study of philosophical thought from the patristic age to the decline of scholasticism. Themes include the relation between logic and reality (the problem of universals), and the attempt to reconcile the rediscovered pagan philosophy with religious belief (on creation, personal immortality, and the nature of God). Texts are chosen from the writings of major figures such as Augustine, Abelard, Anselm, the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus, and Ockham. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3420. Modern Philosophy (3)

A study of major issues and figures in 17th and 18th century philosophy, focusing on Continental rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza, and/or Leibniz), British empiricism (Locke, Berkeley, and/or Hume), and the critical philosophy of Kant. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3430. 19th Century Philosophy (3)

A study of selected issues and figures in 19th century philosophy. Topics are selected from the works of influential philosophers such as Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Comte, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Marx, Mill, Peirce, and James. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PL II)

PL 3440. 20th Century Anglo-American Philosophy (3)

An examination of the work of some of the most influential philosophers in the analytic tradition of 20th century philosophy. Topics are selected from the work of Frege, Russell, Ayer, Wittgenstein, the logical positivists, and ordinary language philosophers, and from recent work in analytic metaphysics and epistemology. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3450. 20th Century Continental Philosophy (3)

An examination of the work of some of the most influential philosophers in the Continental tradition of 20th century philosophy, including representative texts from the phenomenological, existentialist, and postmodernist movements. Topics are selected from the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Marcel, Gadamer, Habermas, Derrida, Foucault, and/or other significant philosophers. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3500-3590. Topics in the History of  Philosophy (3)

Study of a particular period or movement, such as pre-Socratic philosophy, Neoplatonism, Renaissance philosophy, etc. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

     PL 3500. The Pre-Socratics and Plato (3)

      PL 3510. The Pre-Socratics. (3)

PL 3650. Existentialism (3)

A systematic introduction to the work of major figures of 19th and 20th century existentialism. The main themes covered include the different views of the self which emerge in existentialist thought; the relationship of the self to the world, other people, and God; the nature of human freedom, choice, anxiety, commitment, and responsibility. These themes are explored through the work of such thinkers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Marcel, Merleau-Ponty, Dostoevski, and Kafka. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3670. Phenomenology (3)

An introduction to phenomenological philosophy, beginning with the thought of Husserl and including the development of phenomenology by philosophers such as Heidegger, Scheler, and Merleau-Ponty. Themes include the critique of naturalism and empiricism; intentionality and the description of experience; static (structural) and genetic (temporal) analysis; applications of phenomenological method; and the differences between transcendental and existential phenomenology. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3700. Postmodernism (3)

A study of the major themes and conceptualizations to emerge in postmodernist movements of later 20th century thought. The course examines the central movements of postmodernism: structuralism, hermeneutics, critical theory, and deconstructionism, focusing on themes such as the critique of rationality and identity, the nature of signs, issues of textual criticism, the critique of culture, postmodernist accounts of intentionality, and the nature of knowledge, language, and meaning. These issues are examined through a consideration of such thinkers as Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Barth, Foucault, Rorty, and Derrida. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3750. Philosophy of Art (3)

An exploration of a variety of central questions in the philosophy of art. Topics covered normally include a philosophical investigation into the nature of art; the unity of the fine arts (music, painting, sculpture and dance); their relation to performance art and crafts; the nature of aesthetic experience; the artistic process; the relation between the artist, the work and the viewer; art and truth.  Some consideration may also be given to such related issues as the artist's relationship to society, and art as a medium for the expression of moral values and of perspectives on the meaning of human life. The issues of the course are explored through a selection of writings from outstanding classical and contemporary thinkers. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3770. Philosophy of Religion (3)

A philosophical inquiry into the rationality of religious belief, focusing in particular on two questions: 1) Does God exist? and 2) Is religious belief rational? Discussion of these questions normally involves discussion of the following issues: arguments for the existence and nature of God; the problem of evil; the questions of immortality, religious pluralism, and the relationship between religion and morality; the nature of religious experience; faith vs. reason; religion vs. science; etc. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3775. Religion and Science (3)

This course is concerned with exploring philosophically several key issues which arise out of the historical and contemporary dialogue and debate between religion and science. The course will discuss: the history of the relationship; the nature of religious belief; the role of reason and faith in religion; the rise and challenge of naturalism; a study of various contrasting models of how the relationship might be understood; the origin of, and the order in, the universe; evolution and creation, with special emphasis on current debates. The course concludes by looking at some implications for the nature of the human person. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3800. Philosophy of Mind (3)

An examination of the various explanations of the nature of mind, including an assessment of dualism, materialism, behaviorism, epiphenomenalism, functionalism, mind-brain identity, etc. In order to analyze and evaluate these positions, considerable attention is given to questions regarding consciousness, experience, intellectual knowledge, intentionality, personal identity, human freedom and immortality. “Cognitive science” and other social scientific explanations of mind are also examined, including the question of mind vs. machine, and issues relating to artificial intelligence. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3840. Philosophy of Technology (3)

A philosophical inquiry into the impact of technology on society, culture, and the human person, including epistemological, metaphysical and ethical implications of the human development and use of technology.  Since the very existence of technology opens up new possibilities for decision making and action, technology comes into contact with human values and becomes part of the development of human society.  And so, this course seeks to provide a philosophical understanding of the role of technology in our lives, and highlights the concerns hat face a “technological society.” Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3850. Philosophy of Science (3)

This course explores questions that come up in thinking philosophically about natural science, such as: how is science to be defined; the criteria for good scientific theories; the distinction between science, non-science, and pseudo-science; how theory change takes place in science; scientific theories and objective truth; the status of theoretical entities in science; questions arising from science and religion, science and values, and the history of science.  Thinkers studied will include: Aristotle, Augustine, Galileo, Newton, Popper, Quine, Duhem, Hempel, Kuhn, Lauden, McMullin, and Longino. Prerequisite: PL1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3900. Metaphysics (3)

This course studies those principles and features that are necessary to the intelligibility of whatever is real insofar as it is real. It examines the relationships between being and becoming, the actual and the potential, creativity (freedom) and causal determination, the necessary and the contingent. It examines some questions about the existence and nature of God, the relation between physical and immaterial beings, and between being and knowing.  Texts from major philosophers (historical and/or contemporary) are employed. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 3940. Epistemology (3)

A philosophical examination of the origins, nature, and validity of human knowledge. Themes covered normally include the problem of objective knowledge; knowledge and truth; the mind and its relation to extra-mental reality; types of knowledge; and questions about perception, conceptual thinking, identity, language, and meaning. Attention is given to the historical development of these themes in the history of epistemology. The issues of the course are explored through a variety of epistemological writings by outstanding classical and/or contemporary philosophers. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4100. The Philosophy of Plato (3)

An examination of important philosophical themes as they develop in the dialogues of Plato. Attention is given to how the young Plato, much under the influence of Socrates (the early dialogues), struggles with moral, political and epistemological questions so as to develop in time (the middle and later dialogues) into an original metaphysician and moral thinker in his own right. Specific values issues include Plato’s views regarding individual and social justice, the good life, virtue, the common good, beauty and art; metaphysical issues include the nature of reality and knowledge (including Plato’s treatment of the world of forms and dialectical understanding), human nature and human destiny. Due to the peculiarities of Plato’s writings, some attention is given to contemporary interpretations of the dialogues. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4120. The Philosophy of Aristotle (3)

A study of the influential Greek philosopher known in the Middle Ages as “The Philosopher,” and who was called by Dante, “The Master of all who know.” This course examines primary texts, some pertaining to Aristotle’s theoretical writings (e.g., his logical, physical and metaphysical works) and others to his practical philosophy (e.g., his ethical, political and aesthetic treatises). Some commentators on Aristotle, including contemporary writers, also are consulted, since their work clarifies problems of interpretation in the ancient Greek’s philosophy. Special attention is also given to how Aristotle agrees and disagrees with his original teacher, Plato. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4140. The Philosophy of Aquinas (3)

Study of the thought of the thirteenth-century philosopher, known as the “Angelic Doctor.” Special attention is paid to historical influences on his thought as well as to developments that distinguish his philosophy from those of his predecessors and his immediate successors (such as Duns Scotus and William of Ockham). Primarily his views on the relation of faith to reason, on metaphysics, and on the philosophy of human knowing are studied. Some consideration is given to his practical philosophy and to his influence on contemporary thinkers. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4170. The Philosophy of Kant (3)

An introduction to the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, concentrating on his investigation of the nature and limits of human reason and on his theory of morality, and including attention to the context of his thought, particularly Hume’s empiricism and Newtonian physics. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4190. The Philosophy of Marx (3)

After a brief summary of pertinent elements in the thought of Hegel, there are textual studies of Karl Marx concentrating on his humanistic, economic, and revolutionary thought. Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150.

PL 4300. The Philosophy of Husserl (3)

An introduction to the thought of Edmund Husserl, “the founder of phenomenology.” Topics covered include the rejection of psychologism, the techniques of epoche and reduction, the intentionality of consciousness, time-consciousness, the transcendental ego, static and genetic constitution, the life-world, and the place of Husserl in 20th century thought. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4320. The Philosophy of Heidegger (3)

A seminar focusing on the central ideas and issues of Heidegger’s earlier and later philosophy. Heidegger’s attempt to think through the question of Being leads him to discover that which has been unthought, to describe the phenomenon of truth, and to explore the making-present of Being in the creative act, as well as to describe essential structures of human existence. The course thinks along with Heidegger by studying major sections of Being and Time as well as selected later writings that are significantly different in style and content. Heidegger’s influence on later 20th century thought is also considered. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4340. The Philosophy of Marcel (3)

This course involves a systematic, detailed examination of the major themes in several of Marcel’s main works. Themes covered include: Marcel’s Christian existentialist account of the human person; the distinctions between being and having, problem and mystery, primary and secondary reflection; the “concrete approaches” to human existence; and the philosophical critique of modern culture. Some consideration is also given to Marcel’s place in contemporary thought. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4400-4490. Seminar: Major Philosopher(s) (3)

Study of the thought of a single philosopher or pair of philosophers, using primary texts and including attention to the historical background and influence, methodology, distinguishing characteristics, and contemporary relevance of the ideas. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

     PL 4400. Descartes (3)

PL 4410. The Philosophy of St. Augustine (3)

This course will study the life and writings of St. Augustine of Hippo, and his vast contributions to the philosophical understanding of human existence. St. Augustine was a prolific thinker and writer with topics covering the relationship between faith and reason, free will, the soul, immortality, the existence and nature of God, knowledge, truth and wisdom. In particular, this course will explore the neo-platonic influence on St. Augustine’s philosophical views, his own development of an authentic Christian philosophy, and his impact on subsequent philosophy—especially medieval scholasticism. Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII)

PL 4500. Ethical Problems (3)

This course examines a number of ethical problems and social issues which are of both historical and contemporary relevance.  The course also emphasizes the application of ethical theories and principles as a way of informing our understanding of specific ethical problems.  Topics covered will be taken from: capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, freedom and censorship, animal rights, just war theory, worldviews, pluralism, and democratic politics, and other contemporary topics. Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4550. Business and Ethics (3)

An ethical study of business which establishes how a business qualifies as a moral agent, and examines the moral responsibility of business to its employees, its customers, its competition, government, and the environment. The course explores a variety of philosophical perspectives, including their application to case studies. Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4570. Philosophy of Law (3)

The treatment of the philosophical bases, presuppositions, and interpretations of society’s laws under five headings: law, liberty, justice, responsibility, and punishment.  The exploration of each of these topics involves the reading of theoretical essays and excerpts, from both natural law and positivist/utilitarian traditions, and the study of relevant court cases.  Readings are selected from such theorists as: Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, John Austin, H.L.A. Hart, Devlin, Rawls and Frankena.  Landmank cases, such as Griswold v. Connecticut, Furman v. Georgia, Roe v. Wade, and Brown v. the Board of Education, are included.  Prerequisite: PL 1100 or PL 1150. (PLII) 

PL 4600 (PS 4600). Modern Political Philosophy (3)

After a brief survey of ancient and medieval political theories, this course examines those political theories developed by major philosophers since the 16th century. It also examines the way in which these theories have influenced political policies and decisions in our day. Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4620 (PS 4620). Just War and International Ethics (3)

An intensive study of the classical debate about the “just war,” which broadly asks on what grounds one society can, in good conscience, prosecute war against another. Thinkers covered will include: Thucydides, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Grotius, and Clausewitz. Consideration of the just war is still relevant today as nations seek to apply moral principles to the problem of terrorism.  The course will also examine in what ways ethical principles pertain to international relations, and will reflect on the entire spectrum of political relations between countries and international groups. Questions about the legitimacy of one state to interfere in the affairs of another will be a special focus, with attention to recent revolutions and conflicts. PL3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4700-4790. Seminar in Ethics  (3)

Philosophical study of a selected ethical field, such as bioethics, medical ethics, environmental ethics, professional ethics, ethics in communication, etc. Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4700. Seminar in Medical Ethics (3)

This seminar in applied ethics will build upon the student's basic knowledge of ethics through the discussion and analysis of current ethical problems in medicine, health care, and the life sciences.  Coursework will engage students in the philosophical evaluation of dilemmas in medical ethics and related cases, and the application of basic ethical principles that flow out of our common human nature to resolve these dilemmas.  Prerequisite: PL 3100 or PL 3150. (PLII)

PL 4750.  Natural Law Ethics (3)

This course will examine the tradition and development of natural law ethics from its historical foundations in classical philosophy through its great synthesis during the Middle Ages, especially in the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, ending with an examination of its role in contemporary ethical discourse and its application to current ethical and legal problems such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and just war theory.  Throughout the course, special emphasis will be placed upon understanding the philosophical theory of human nature upon which natural law ethics is grounded, including the metaphysical implications of the human telos, as contrasted with other historical approaches to ethics.  The course will also address ways in which contemporary natural law theorists respond to contemporary critics of the tradition.  Prerequisite: PL 1100 or 1150. (PLII)