Undergraduate Courses

PHIL 101g: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Western Culture (4 Units)
The influence on modern Western culture of philosophical thought about reality, knowledge and morality as developed by such philosophers as Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant.


PHIL 115g: Ancient Greek Culture and Society (4 Units)
Focus on the literary achievement from the beginning of Greek literature to the fourth century with a special emphasis on the philosophers.


PHIL 135g: Legal Controversies and Ethical Principles (4 Units)
Philosophical theories of law and applications to controversies of importance to society and our legal system, such as free speech, civil disobedience, and self-defense. Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140.


PHIL 137gm: Social Ethics for Earthlings and Others (4 Units)
A systematic study of contemporary issues in social and political philosophy engaging multimedia works of science fiction to illuminate classic Western moral and political theories.


PHIL 140g: Contemporary Moral and Social Issues (4 Units)
Critical study of controversial social issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, war and terrorism, pornography, and economic justice. Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140.


PHIL 141g: The Professions and the Public Interest in American Life (4 Units)
The study of the nature and role of professionals in life and society, forces that shape and direct them, foundations and applications of professional ethics. Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140


PHIL 155g: Modern Philosophy and the Meaning of Life (4 Units)
Modern philosophical treatments of the problem of the meaning or purpose of human life; special attention to Existentialism.


PHIL 220g: Science, Religion and the Making of the Modern Mind (4 Units)
Philosophical and religious implications of the scientific revolution of the 17th century and the Darwinian revolution in the 19th century.


PHIL 225g: Love and its Representations in Western Literature, Philosophy, and Film (4 Units)
Key works that have shaped the European and American cultural inheritance, with a special focus on the nature of love (and marriage or domesticity). Concurrent enrollment: MDA 140


PHIL 242: Theories of Art (4 Units)
An introduction to general theories of art and to issues concerning particular arts such as literature and drama, photography and film, painting, architecture and music.


PHIL 250ab: Elementary Formal Logic (2-2, FaSp Units)
Critical reasoning skills and their many everyday applications; theory of logically correct reasoning and its associated formal techniques.


PHIL 262g: Mind and Self: Modern Conceptions (4 Units)
Philosophical problems about the nature of mind associated with the rise of modern science; topics include the mind/body relation, personal identity, rationality and freedom.


PHIL 285Lg: Knowledge, Explanation, and the Cosmos (4 Units)
The nature and limits of knowledge and explanation, and challenges in understanding the origin of the universe and the place of intelligent life within it.


PHIL 300: Introduction to the Philosophical Classics (4 Units)
An examination of philosophical works which have had a profound impact on the nature of Western thought.


PHIL 315: History of Western Philosophy: Ancient Period (4 Units)
Major figures in the history of Western philosophical thought from the pre-Socratics to the Hellenistic period; emphasis on Plato and Aristotle.


PHIL 317: History of Western Philosophy: Medieval Period (4 Units)
Central themes in Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophy from late antiquity through the scholastic period.


PHIL 320: History of Western Philosophy: Modern Period (4 Units)
The development of philosophy from the 16th to the 19th centuries; emphasis on Continental Rationalism, British Empiricism, and the philosophy of Kant.


PHIL 330: Theories of Law (4 Units)
Examination of some of the major classical and contemporary theories of the nature and functions of law and of its relation to morality.


PHIL 335: Theoretical Models of Leadership (4 Units)
Political philosophers and social theorists on leadership: political obligation; the art of government; leadership in civil society and counter-cultural dissent; models of cosmopolitan leadership.


PHIL 337: History of Modern Political Philosophy (4 Units)
Analysis of some of the main political philosophies of the modern era; emphasis on the ethical and metaphysical foundations of political philosophy.


PHIL 338: Political Economy and Social Issues (4, Sp Units)
(Enroll in ECON 338) Contending politico-economic perspectives in modern Western thought and culture; absolutist, liberal, democratic, Marxist, anarchist, and other traditions, topics and issues.


PHIL 340: Ethics (4 Units)
Study of major philosophical theories of moral right and wrong, such as utilitarianism, Kantianism, egoism, virtue ethics, and theological ethics.


PHIL 345: Greek Ethics (4 Units)
Examination of the progress of the ethical thought and legal and political institutions of ancient Greece with an emphasis on the Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle.


PHIL 347: Philosophy in Literature (4 Units)
Philosophical content in representative European and American literature; philosophical problems about literature such as the nature of truth and meaning in fiction.


PHIL 350: Symbolic Logic (4 Units)
Introduction to basic techniques of propositional and quantificational logic, and elements of probability. Especially useful to philosophy, mathematics, science, and engineering majors.


PHIL 351: Reasoning and Logic (4 Units)
Study of reasoning as a strategy for arriving at knowledge in dependence on logical theory. Logical theories are developed alongside historically influential strategies of reasoning.


PHIL 352: Logic and Language (4 Units)
Introduction to modern symbolic logic, with applications to the philosophy of language, plus meta-logical and philosophical results about its scope and limits.


PHIL 355: Existentialism (4 Units)
A critical survey of major 19th and 20th century existentialist writers, including Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Kafka, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre.


PHIL 360: Epistemology and Metaphysics (4 Units)
Examination of problems in metaphysics and/or epistemology. Conducted at the intermediate level.


PHIL 361: Philosophy of Religion (4 Units)
The existence of God; mysticism, miracles and the possibility of disembodied existence; the problem of evil; religion and morality; the meaning of religious language.


PHIL 363: Philosophy of Perception (4 Units)
Philosophical investigation of sense perception as it relates to issues in epistemology, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science.


PHIL 385: Science and Rationality (4 Units)
Examination of the rationality of the scientific enterprise, and of the relation between science and human values.


PHIL 390: Special Problems (1-4 units) 
Supervised, individual studies. No more than one registration permitted. Enrollment by petition only.


PHIL 410: Early Greek Thought (4 Units)
A study of the Greek thinkers from Homer to the age of Socrates; emphasis on the pre-Socratic philosophers.


PHIL 411: Plato (4 Units)
Detailed study of the evolution of Plato's thought as revealed in selected dialogues.


PHIL 415: Aristotle (4 Units)
Intensive study of selected topics taken from Aristotle’s writings in natural philosophy, in metaphysics, and in other areas of philosophy.


PHIL 421: Continental Rationalism (4 Units)
Development of philosophy on the continent from the 17th to the 19th centuries; emphasis on the philosophical works of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza.


PHIL 422: British Empiricism (4 Units)
Development of philosophy in Great Britain from the 17th to the 19th centuries; emphasis on Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.


PHIL 423: The Critical Philosophy of Kant (4 Units)
Intensive study of the philosophical works of Kant.


PHIL 424: 19th Century Philosophy (4 Units)
Leading figures and movements in 19th century philosophy; works of such philosophers as Hegel, Schopenhauer, Mill, Nietzsche, and Bradley.


PHIL 425: American Philosophy (4 Units)
Leading figures and movements in American philosophy; works of such philosophers as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and C. I. Lewis.


PHIL 426: 20th Century European Philosophy (4 Units)
Main philosophers and movements from 1900, including the major developments within phenomenology and existentialism, the emergence of structuralism and hermeneutics.


PHIL 427: 20th Century Anglo-American Philosophy (4 Units)
The nature and function of analysis as a philosophical method; the development of major metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical views; Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Quine and others.


PHIL 428: Anglo-American Philosophy Since 1950 (4 Units)
Covers the period starting with Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'Philosophical Investigations' and continues through Saul Kripke's 'Naming and Necessity', and beyond.


PHIL 430: Philosophy of Law (4 Units)
Philosophical theories about the nature of law, relations between law and morality, and analysis of normative concepts central to law, such as responsibility, punishment, negligence.


PHIL 431: Law, Society, and Politics (4 Units)
A systematic presentation of the main philosophical perspectives on the interactions between law and the social-political aspects of our lives


PHIL 437: Social and Political Philosophy (4 Units)
The nature of man and society, the nature of justification of state and government, political rights and political obligation, justice and equality.


PHIL 440: Contemporary Ethical Theory (4 Units)
Ethical theories in the 20th century; contemporary theories of value and obligation; metaethical theories; intuitionism, naturalism, and non-cognitivism; concepts of justice, human rights, and freedom.


PHIL 442: History of Ethics to 1900 (4 Units)
An historical and critical study of the great moral philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and the British moralists.


PHIL 443: Value Theory (4 Units)
The evaluation of individual and social ends; consideration of such topics as values and rational choice, the good of a person, hedonism, welfare, ideals, and utopias.


PHIL 445: Philosophy of the Arts (4 Units)
Principal theories of the nature of, and response to, art; examination of form and content in various arts; consideration of the role of criticism.


PHIL 446: Aesthetics and the Film (4 Units)
Problems in the philosophy of art raised by film, such as the notion of "cinematic"; the nature of interpretation of films; criteria for evaluating films.


PHIL 450: Intermediate Symbolic Logic (4 Units)
Systematic study of the metatheory of quantificational logic, with applications to questions of decidability and completeness of formal systems including Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems.


PHIL 455: Phenomenology and Existentialism (4 Units)
Close study of major writings of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre.


PHIL 460: Metaphysics (4 Units)
Systematic introduction to basic concepts, including identity, difference, existence, individuals, substance, quality, and relation; emphasis on idealism, materialism, and the ontology of intentionality.


PHIL 462: Philosophy of Mind (4 Units)
Examination of contemporary theories of mind and its place in the natural world.


PHIL 463: Theories of Action (4 Units)
Systematic investigation of action, the mental states involved in action, the reasoning processes that lead to action, and related concepts including intentionality and free will.


PHIL 465: Philosophy of Language (4 Units)
The nature of communication, meaning, reference, truth, necessity, speech acts, convention, and language.


PHIL 470: Theory of Knowledge (4 Units)
Discussion of the nature and scope of human knowledge; consideration of such concepts as meaning, evidence, perception, belief, and certainty.


PHIL 471: Metaphysics and Epistemology (4 Units)
Capstone course: Classic issues in epistemology and the philosophy of language, leading up to the application of context-sensitivity in language to the problem of skepticism.


PHIL 472: Moral Philosophy (4 Units)
Capstone course: In-depth study of some important work from the last few decades concerning the nature and status of moral reasons, moral obligations, and moral discourse.


PHIL 473: Wittgenstein (4 Units)
A detailed study of the philosophical works of Ludwig Wittgenstein.


PHIL 480: Philosophy of Mathematics (4 Units)
The nature of mathematical truth and the nature of mathematical entities.


PHIL 485: Development of Physical Science (4 Units)
Concepts central in the advance of physical science such as the concepts of space, time, mass, force; philosophical problems concerning quantum mechanics.


PHIL 486: Methodologies of the Sciences (4 Units)
Comparison of the methodologies of the natural, social, and/or behavioral sciences; consideration of such topics as the concept of scientific law, prediction, explanation, confirmation.


PHIL 490: Directed Research (2-8, max 8 Units)
Individual research and readings. Not available for graduate credit. Prerequisite: departmental approval.


PHIL 494: Senior Thesis (4 Units)
Independent studies for philosophy majors, and guidance in the preparation of the senior thesis for students who wish to graduate with honors in philosophy. Not open to graduate students.


PHIL 499: Special Topics (2-4, max 8 Units)
Selected topics in various specialty areas within philosophy.



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  • Mudd Hall of Philosophy, MHP 113