PHL Course Descriptions
PHL210 Critical Thinking [3-0, 3 cr.]
Critical Thinking is an introductory course intended for all students, regardless of academic major. The course focuses on clear and careful reasoning. It aims to improve students’ sensitivity to language so that they are better able to extract arguments, distinguish good from bad argumentation, and construct their own arguments. These analytic tools are also applied to various texts, which include opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines, as well as short philosophical passages, and passages from other academic disciplines.
PHL211 Symbolic Logic [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course is an introduction to formal or symbolic logic. Students will begin by looking at different types of arguments, before focusing on deductive arguments. They will learn how to symbolize statements from natural language, distinguish between valid and invalid argument forms, construct truth tables, and provide different types of proofs in both propositional and predicate logic.
PHL301 Ethics [3-0, 3 cr.]
Ethics is classically the study of what is right, just, appropriate, or desirable, all of which are among the various meanings given to “the good,” the central concern of ethics. Typically, this course will have historical, theoretical, and applied dimensions. The historical dimension will provide acquaintance with the various kinds of ethical and moral theory that have emerged over the last two and half millennia; the theoretical dimension will examine the content of these ideas closely; and the applied dimension will sharpen the student’s ability to think through distinctively ethical and moral problems.
PHL302 Theory of Knowledge [3-0, 3 cr.]
The theory of knowledge, or epistemology, focuses on questions concerning the nature of human knowledge. Some of the questions raised in this class concern the possibility and extent of human knowledge, the correct definition of knowledge, different types of knowledge, different theories of justification, and the ethics of forming epistemic attitudes.
PHL303 Metaphysics [3-0, 3 cr.]
Metaphysics is that study of the basic structure of reality or being. Different topics might be covered under this heading. Some of these are: the nature of personal identity, the nature of free will, the nature of time, the relation between our concepts and reality, the relation between the mind and the body, the relation between particulars and universals, and how we should understand modal concepts.
PHL311 Philosophy of Religion [3-0, 3 cr.]
The philosophy of religion seeks to address different aspects of religion in a rational and systematic manner. The course focuses on a variety of questions. Some of these are metaphysical, concerning the concept of God, traditional as well as contemporary arguments for God’s existence, and formulations of the problem of evil as well as different responses to the problem. Others are epistemological, focusing on the relationship between faith and reason, the ethics of religious belief, and issues concerning religious pluralism.
PHL201 Ancient Philosophy [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course examines the roots of Western philosophy in Ancient Greece, and serves as an introduction to the history of philosophy. While the course emphasizes the works of Plato and Aristotle, it will also consider pre-Socratic philosophy, and post-Aristotelian philosophy time permitting. The course’s central themes are the origins of the universe, the nature of reality, the basis of our knowledge, and what constitutes a virtuous life and a good society.
PHL202 Medieval Philosophy [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course examines the works of major medieval philosophers. In particular, it emphasizes the connection between ancient, medieval, and early modern philosophy. The course covers thinkers from the Christian and Islamic traditions, and in particular their attempts to reconcile religious teachings with ancient philosophy, in particular the works of Aristotle. Some of the major themes include the the existence and nature of God, faith, and evil, as well as the place of philosophy in relation to religion.
PHL203 Early Modern Philosophy [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course examines some of the major works of early modern philosophers. In particular, the courses focuses on the developments in epistemology and metaphysics in light of the scientific developments of the period, and/or developments in moral and political theories. These include the rational/empiricism debate, different views of the mind’s relation to the body and the world, issues of personal identity, causation, moral psychology, and political theory.
PHL304 19th Century Philosophy [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course focuses on post-Kantian philosophy. The course traces the developments of thought through various thinkers such as Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Marx. Thematically the course focuses on the ideas of idealism, materialism, transcendental and naturalistic philosophy, as well as various issues that arise out of these conceptions. These issues include the nature of reason, freedom, culture, and history.
PHL328 Arabic and Islamic Philosophy [3-0, 3 cr.]
This course is an introduction to some of the key figures, seminal texts, and main themes of Islamic philosophy in the classical period. The authors include al-Razi, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), al-Ghazali, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Maymun (Maimonides) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Among the questions to be discussed are the following: What is the nature of the good life? What is the best form of government? Can we know anything at all? Is knowledge gained through rational thought or through mystical apprehension? What is the relation between reason and faith? How is the soul related to the body? What is the nature of prophecy? Can miracles occur? What are the limits, if any, of God’s power?
PHL306 Existentialism [3-0, 3 cr.]