Course Descriptions

PHIL 110 (AR) Philosophical Problems (1)

A general introduction to the problems and methods of philosophy drawing on classic and contemporary texts. Topics covered may include the existence of God and nature of religious belief, what it means to be a person, the nature and limits of knowledge, and problems concerning the nature of justice, goodness, and moral responsibility. Particular emphasis placed on analyzing, evaluating, and constructing arguments.   No student who has taken PHIL 111W can also receive credit for PHIL 110. Note: This course differs from PHIL 111W in not being writing-centered.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 111W (AR) Philosophical Problems (1)

A general introduction to the problems and methods of philosophy drawing on classic and contemporary texts. Topics covered may include the existence of God and nature of religious belief, what it means to be a person, the nature and limits of knowledge, and problems concerning the nature of justice, goodness, and moral responsibility. Particular emphasis placed on analyzing, evaluating, and constructing arguments.  No student who has taken PHIL 110 can also receive credit for PHIL 111W. Note: This course differs from PHIL 110 in being writing-centered.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment:  Writing-centered; Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 140 (QA*) Symbolic Logic (1)

Introductory examination of the notion of logical validity. Formal features of validity are captured in deductive systems of varying expressive power, beginning with classical propositional logic and ending with classical first-order logic. The primary aim of the course is competence in using the deductive systems to assess natural language arguments for validity, but some attention is paid to the deductive systems regarded as objects  of study in their own right.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (starred)
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 230 History of Philosophy: Ancient Greece (1)

An examination of ancient Greek philosophy, emphasizing the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle.

  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy Course
  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 231 History of Philosophy: Modern (1)

A careful presentation of the strengths and weaknesses of 17th and 18th century Rationalism and Empiricism, by means of a critical examination of basic texts and themes in the work of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy Course
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 235W Philosophical Ethics (1)

An examination of major philosophical views about right and wrong, including the roles of reason and emotion in moral judgment, the meaning of moral terms, the question of relativism, the relationship between facts and values, and the idea of the good life. Readings will include both historical and contemporary texts.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy Course
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Markowitz

PHIL 238 Existentialism (1)

An introduction to the works of the chief figures of modern existentialism: Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sarte. Emphasis on how existentialism endeavors to overcome traditional dualities of subject and object, mind and world, reason and passion, and fact and value.

  • Prerequisite: One prior course in Philosophy strongly recommended.
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Havas

PHIL 242 (AR) What is Art? (1)

What makes something a work of art? Must an artwork be beautiful, or can anything, given the right context, count as a work of art? What does it mean to say that some works of art are better than others? This course will examine such questions and the heated controversies they have provoked among artists, critics, philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and others.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons and Values
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Markowitz

PHIL 250 Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1)

An examination of the account of mind and world Kant defends in his Critique of Pure Reason, with particular focus on his views of the possibility of a priori knowledge, space and time, objectivity and experience, self-knowledge, and the contrast between appearances and things-in-themselves. 


PHIL 252 Being and Possibility: An Introduction to Metaphysics (1)

A study of some classical metaphysical concepts such as substance, essence, causation, time and freedom of will.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 266 Puzzles and Paradoxes (1)

A good paradox can reveal otherwise hidden assumptions and potential problems in the way we think about the nature of space, time, change, truth, language, and even reason itself. This course will examine some of the great classic and contemporary philosophical puzzles and paradoxes, such as Zeno's paradoxes of motion, the sorites paradoxes, the paradox of the liar, Newcomb's paradox, and the prisoner's dilemma, and it will look at a variety of ways in which philosophers address these problems and assess their significance.

  • Offering: Every third year
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 280 Epistemology (1)

Topics in the theory of knowledge: e.g., knowledge of the external world, skepticism, foundations of knowledge, perception, belief, justification, truth.

  • Prerequisite: One course in philosophy
  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Coleman

PHIL 325 Kierkegaard, Meaning, and the Self (1)

A careful reading of Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript, with special attention to the apparent paradox involved in the Postscript's claim that truth is subjectivity. The relationship between faith and reason will be explored as well as the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity as these distinctions bear on the question of what makes for a meaningful life in the present age.

  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy course or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Havas

PHIL 330W Theories of Justice (1)

A study of major conceptions of justice held by late-twentieth-century political philosophers, including the liberalism of John Rawls, the libertarianism of Robert Nozick, and the communitarianism of Michael Sandel, followed by an examination of feminist, socialist and postmodernist critiques of these conceptions. 

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy course or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Markowitz

PHIL 332 Philosophy of Science (1)

Philosophical analysis of concepts of scientific inquiry, such as: the structure of theory, observation, explanation and prediction, natural law, causation, confirmation, the existence of theoretical entities, the truth of scientific theories.

  • Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy; some science recommended
  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Coleman

PHIL 335 History, Sexuality, and Power (1)

An examination of the foundations of Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and the construction of sexuality theory through a close reading of texts by Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault. Special emphasis on the possibility that one systematically and inevitably misperceives various aspects of our psychic and social reality; on the ways such misperceptions may reflect and contribute to various aspects of social inequality; and on the tensions and complementarities between the views we will examine.

  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy course or consent of instructor. Closed to first-year students.
  • Offering: Alternate Springs
  • Instructor: Markowitz

PHIL 341 Heidegger's Being and Time (1)

A close reading of Martin Heidegger's seminal work, Being and Time, with an emphasis on his critique of Cartesian conceptions of self and world. Heidegger's conception of death, guilt, and resoluteness and the notion of an authentic human life it underwrites receives special attention.

  • Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Havas

PHIL 342 Representation and Reality: Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein (1)

Introduction to the philosophical approach evolved by Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein for treating questions about the nature of representation and its relation to reality. The approach is now basic in philosophy and has proved influential, sometimes crucially so, across the arts, sciences, and other humanities. A sample of motivating questions: What, if anything, must representations (thoughts, beliefs, sentences, pictures) have in common with what they represent? What, if anything, must representations have in common with other representations? What, if anything, do the various structural features of a representation stand for? For that matter, what counts as structure, what as content? Special attention to internal tensions in the various philosophical theories we discuss and their implications for contemporary thought.   

  • Prerequisite:  PHIL 140, or PHIL 230 or PHIL 231, or consent of instructor.
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Welty

PHIL 350 The Self in Question (1)

An examination of the notion of the self from three different points of view. Is the self an object of some sort? If not, in what does self-knowledge consist? Is the self an illusion? If so, what accounts for the persistence of our sense of self? How might that illusion be seen for what it is? Is the self an activity? If so, are there better and worse ways of engaging in that activity? Readings from traditional and contemporary sources in Eastern and Western philosophy.

  • Prerequisite: PHIL 110 or PHIL 111W or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Havas

PHIL 354 (4th Sem Lang Req) Nietzsche and Philosophy (1)

An introduction to the major works of Friedrich Nietzsche with an emphasis on his attack on the moral ideal of selflessness and on the conception of temporality and agency that underwrite the attack. 

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Fourth Semester Language Requirement
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 110 or PHIL 111W or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Havas

PHIL 360W Philosophy of Mind (1)

Analysis of various concepts concerning consciousness and the mind. We will investigate such questions as: the mind-body problem; the problem of other minds; the privacy of experience; personal identity; and the relation between thought and language.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 110 or PHIL 111W
  • Offering: Alternate years in spring
  • Instructor: Coleman

PHIL 361 Later Wittgenstein (1)

A sustained engagement with Wittgenstein's later work, principally Philosophical Investigations. Under discussion will be topics in philosophy of language and logic, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophical psychology. No previous acquaintance with Wittgenstein's philosophy is presupposed, although this course is a natural sequel to PHIL 342.

  • Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy, closed to first-year students
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 370W Philosophy of Language (1)

Philosophical examination of language. Discussion from multiple historical and cultural perspectives of such topics as the nature and function of language, the amenability of various aspects of language to scientific investigations, relativism, and such concepts as meaning, reference, naming, and truth.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: One Philosophy Course
  • Offering: Alternate years in fall
  • Instructor: Welty

PHIL 388 Special Topics (1)

Content varies with semester. The course may study a particular philosopher or approach to philosophy, or it may examine a particular philosophical problem in depth; it may be historical or it may have a contemporary perspective.

  • Prerequisite: PHIL 110 or PHIL 111W or consent of instructor 
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 390 and 490 Independent Study (.5 - 1)

Intensive study of a selected area.

  • Prerequisite: Consent of instructor
  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

PHIL 492W Philosophy Senior Seminar: Writing Philosophy (1)

Focus on the craft of philosophical writing as well as on a particular philosophical topic. In addition to analyzing the structure of exemplary works of philosophy, students will criticize each other's work and revise their own short papers. Each student will then write and defend a major paper on some aspect of the topic of the seminar. Most philosophy majors will complete their Senior Year Experience through this course. The seminar is open to other qualified students with the instructor's consent.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Staff