Department of Philosophy

108 Anderson Hall
Helen Schroepfer, Chairperson

PROFESSORS: Hoffman, Porritt

ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS: Golden, Pierlott, Schroepfer, Woolfrey

ASSISTANT PROFESSORS: Forbes, Johnson, Ruchti, Striblen, Udell

The Department of Philosophy offers two concentrations leading to the bachelor of arts degree.

1. The philosophy concentration surveys the history of philosophy, explores its major disciplines, and focuses on selected topics of perennial interest. The purpose of the program is to develop the organizational, analytic, and expressive skills required for law school, graduate work in philosophy, and a wide range of careers in government, business, and industry.

2. The religious studies concentration is a valuable preparation for careers in fields where an understanding of religious/cultural background and diversity is crucial, such as education, public relations, international affairs, and business. Undergraduate work in religious studies can also enrich students' personal lives and may be used to prepare students for seminary study at the graduate level.


120 semester hours

  1. General ed. requirements, see pages 38-44 (48 semester hours)
  2. Language/culture requirement (0-15 semester hours)
  3. Major requirements (30 semester hours)
  4. Free electives (27-42 semester hours)

BACHELOR OF ARTS - Philosophy Concentration

  1. Required core courses (18 semester hours)
    PHI 190*, 270*, 272*, 355, 412, and 499
  2. Diversity requirements (3 semester hours)
    Choose one of the following diversity courses: PHI 204, 205, or 405
  3. Philosophy electives

* Lower-level core courses must be passed with a grade of C or better.

BACHELOR OF ARTS - Religious Studies Concentration

  1. Required courses (30 semester hours)
    1. Major program requrements (15)
      PHI 101, 102, either 204 OR 205, 206, and 414
    2. Major program electives (15)
      Five electives (at least three must be at or above the 300 level) from the following, under advisement:
      ANT 344; PHI 125, 130, 204, 205, 207, 220, 270, 271, 272, 310, 349, 390; SOC 344

    Note: Language requirements are 12-15 semester hours.
    Up to nine hours may be taken as culture cluster classes.

Minor Programs

Students may minor in either philosophy or religious studies. A minimum of 18 semester hours is required. Elective courses are selected in consultation with the student's minor adviser. Either of these minors may be taken as a concentration in the bachelor of arts in liberal studies general degree program.


Applied Ethics Minor (18 semester hours)

  1. Required courses (9 semester hours)
    PHI 180, 150 or 190, 412
  2. Choose two of the following electives (6 semester hours)
    PHI 207, 282, 340, 371, 373, 411, 421, 480, 481, 482
  3. Philosophy or related elective (3 semester hours)
    Must be at the 300-level or above. Related course must be approved by the department chair.

Philosophy Minor (18 semester hours)

  1. Required courses (12 semester hours)
    PHI 101, 150 or 190, 174 or 180, and 270, 271, or 272
  2. Philosophy electives (under advisement) (6 semester hours)

Religious Studies Minor (18 semester hours)

  1. Required courses (9 semester hours)
    PHI 102, 206, and 204 or 205
  2. Choose three courses (at least two must be at or above the 300 level) from the following (9 semester hours)
    ANT 344 or SOC 344; PHI 125, 130, 204, 205 (if not taken above), 207, 271, 310, 349, 390, 414


Symbol: PHI, unless otherwise noted.

100 Creating Meaning (3) An introduction to existentialism emphasizing film and literature. Existentialism was one of the most influential intellectual currents of the 20th century. Through film, literature, and the primary philosophical texts of existential philosophers such as Frederick Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir, the course will explore basic existential themes such as the formation of values, “dread,” and “alienation.” Existentialism focuses less on what to think and more on how to live stark-raving sane in the face of radical freedom and responsibility.

101 Introduction to Philosophy (3) The chief problems and methods of philosophic thought, with a survey of some typical solutions. The place and influence of philosophy in life today.

102 Introduction to Religious Studies (3) The role of religion in human life. Illustrations drawn from various traditions, rituals, and belief patterns, both ancient and modern.
Approved interdisciplinary course. Writing emphasis course.

125 Theology and Science: Enemies or Partners (3) An inquiry into the relationship of theology to the natural sciences. Team taught by a physicist and a philosopher, the course investigates how ideas of God have been affected by advances in physics and biology. Crosslisted as PHY 125.

130 Religion in the U.S. (3) This course will explore the rich diversity of religions in the United States and the impact of religion on our culture.
Diverse communities course.

150   Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (3) An introduction to the principles needed for effective thinking and evaluation of arguments in practical situations. Topics include procedures and guidelines for identifying and evaluating arguments, recognizing and eliminating fallacies, and writing and criticizing argumentative essays.

174 Principles of the Arts (3) A critical examination of traditional and contemporary aesthetic theories from diverse cultural perspectives to extend students' thinking about the "concept" as well as the "experience" of art. Visual and literary arts are emphasized, as well as how to live a more artful life.
Approved interdisciplinary course.

180 Introduction to Ethics (3) Introduction to major theories and contemporary work in moral philosophy and offers tools for ethical decision making in our daily lives with an emphasis on the influence of culture, power, and privilege.
Diverse communities course.

190   Logic (3) Introduction to deductive and inductive logic, with emphasis on classical syllogistic and symbolic logic. Topics include arguments, categorical propositions and classes, immediate inferences, Venn diagrams, rules of syllogism, propositional functions, truth tables, and predicate logic.

SSC 200 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (3) An interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature and causes of social conflict. The aim throughout is to find ways of avoiding destructive conflict, whether through negotiation or other means. The issue of justice as a factor in conflict receives special attention.
Approved interdisciplinary course.

201 Contemporary Issues (3) Discussion and analysis of contemporary philosophical issues. The topic varies from semester to semester.
This course may be taken again for credit.

204 Philosophies and Religions of India (3) The religious and philosophical heritage of India, from Vedic times to the present. Examination of major classics, such as Rig Veda, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, and Yoga-sutras; recent writers such as Tagore, Gandhi, and Radhakrishnan.

205 Philosophies and Religions of the Far East (3) A survey of Far Eastern philosophy, religion, and scientific thought. Confucianism, Taoism, and the various schools of Mahayana Buddhism, including Zen, are given primary emphasis.

206 Religions of the West (3) An introduction to the three major traditions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. By exploring their earliest heritage, including founders, scriptures, early institutions and practices, the course will then address how these traditions were preserved, reinvigorated, and sometimes transformed in response to social change and political upheaval.

207 Philosophies of Nonviolence (3) An examination of the concepts of violence and nonviolence, especially as seen by recent thinkers. The course attempts to link theory with practice by considering the contributions of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Thoreau, and other philosophers, religious thinkers, and activists.

220 Introduction to Islam (3) A general introduction to Islam which will focus on the sources for Muslim belief and practices, the diversity within the Muslim community, and modern movements within Islam and the Muslim community.

270 History of Ancient Philosophy (3) A survey of the major figures of ancient philosophy, from the pre-Socratic period through Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, and Stoics, to the Skeptics and Neo-Platonists.
Culture cluster

271 History of Medieval Philosophy (3) The history of philosophy from the early Church fathers to the late Middle Ages. St. Augustine, St. Thomas, mysticism, Jewish and Islamic influences, humanism, and the rise of science.

272 History of Modern Philosophy (3) From Descartes to Hegel. The social, political, and scientific impact of the philosophers.
Culture cluster

273 19th-Century Philosophy (3) Hegel and German Idealism; decisive influences on European and American literature and thought. Survey of the chief themes of Schopenhauer, Comte, Mill, Peirce, Marx, Kierkegaard, Darwin, and Nietzsche.
Culture cluster

280 Philosophy and Film (3) This course helps students understand and discuss philosophy, film, and how the two disciplines intersect. Students’ critical-thinking skills will improve as they use film theory and terminology to decipher key philosophical texts, and vice versa.

282 Animal Ethics (3) An exploration of the religious, philosophical, and scientific perspectives on animals, animal treatment, and animal use, including arguments for vegetarian/veganism and of activist groups.

284 American Philosophies (3) Leaders in science, literature, religion, and government who have shaped American thought. Philosophers of Puritanism, the Revolution, Transcendentalism, and native schools of Realism, Idealism, and Pragmatism.

310 New Religious Movements (3) An examination of new religious movements, alternative spiritualities, and “cults.” This course will explore their main beliefs and practices as well as theoretical perspectives for understanding them. Writing emphasis course.

330 (also LIN 330) Introduction to Meaning (3) Discussion of the analysis of meaning given by various disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, linguistics, communication studies, and the arts.
Approved interdisciplinary course. Writing emphasis course.

340 Contemporary Moral Issues (3) Philosophical examination of major social debates (e.g., abortion, human cloning, war, and violence) and their relation to race, class, gender, and other categories.Writing emphasis course.

349 Ideas of the Bible (3) This course will explore major themes in the Bible and their impact on Western culture, including constructions of gender. Particular attention will be paid to their influence on Western literature, religion, and philosophy.

350 Philosophical Topics: The 20th Century and Beyond (3) A historical survey of the main trends in late 20th century philosophy and contemporary philosophy. The topic may vary from semester to semester.
This course may be taken again for credit.

355 Political Philosophy (3) What is the legitimate role of the state? How do we preserve liberty, equality, and produce a just distribution of burdens and benefits in a society? To begin to answer these sorts of questions, this course examines philosophical texts on politics from thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Thoreau, Mill, and Marx.

371 Medical Ethics (3) A case-based approach to the study of philosophical concepts and ethical criteria as applied to health care practice and clinical research. PREREQ: Junior or senior standing or department consent. Approved interdisciplinary course

373 Business Ethics (3) The study of philosophical concepts and ethical criteria as applied to business practices.  Through case studies and scholarly contributions, the course will cover issues such as the ethical nature of the free market system, foreign outsourcing, and the environmental impact of business, consumer rights, worker rights, and job discrimination, among other issues. Diverse communities course.

390 Women and Religion (3) An exploration of how the beliefs and practices of major world religions have both hampered and enhanced women’s lives. The often marginalized voices of women from within these traditions will be placed in the foreground, uncovering in the process a rich heritage of women’s influence and how ideas and images have been used and often creatively transformed to undermine violence and exploitation. Diverse communities course.

405 Feminist Theory (3) Designed to introduce and discuss basic questions in contemporary feminist theory, the course will explore different philosophies of feminism and include such issues as motherhood, intersections with other theories of oppression, and body politics. PREREQ: WOS 225 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted with WOS 405.
Approved interdisciplinary course.

410 Independent Studies (1-3)
This course may be taken again for credit.

411 The Problem of War (3) An interdisciplinary examination of war and the "war system," including terrorism. Alternatives to war are also considered.

412 Ethical Theories (3) An inquiry into the meaning, interpretations, and function of ethical theory in our lives. The course will explore some combination of classic, modern, and contemporary ethical theories. PREREQ: PHI 101 or 180, and an overall 2.00 GPA, or permission of instructor.

414 Philosophy of Religion (3) Religion and the religious experience as viewed by major Western thinkers. The concepts of God, immortality, religious knowledge, evil, miracles, and the science-religion dialogue.

415 Existentialism (3) An exploration of important texts in 19th and 20th century existentialism and their influence on contemporary currents in philosophy and the social sciences. PREREQ: Two prior philosophy courses or instructor approval.
Culture cluster

421 Philosophy of Law (3) Consideration of the philosophical foundations of law. Topics may include the nature of law and its relation to rights, liberties, duties, liability, responsibility, and privacy; the nature of judicial reasoning; concepts of responsibility and liability; theories of punishment; causation in the law; discrimination and equality; the relation of law and morality; civil disobedience.

422 Philosophy of Science (3) The nature of scientific method and scientific theory, with reference to presuppositions, inference, explanation, prediction, applications, and verification. PREREQ: At least one 200-level PHI course (PHI 272 recommended) and one other PHI course or permission of instructor.

436 Symbolic Logic (3) Principles and methods of symbolic logic. Practice in determining validity of sentential and quantificational arguments. The algebra of classes. PREREQ: PHI 190 or permission of the instructor.

480 Environmental Ethics (3) Study of arguments and principles surrounding moral questions about the environment: Who and what deserves moral consideration? What are our moral obligations to the environment? What if our obligations to the environment and human beings conflict? Do animals have rights? PREREQ: One PHI course or permission of instructor.

481 Philosophy of Human Rights (3) This course examines the theories of human rights and their bearing on public policy issues such as legitimacy of war and terrorism, economic justice, and whether future generations have rights. Topics include whether basic human rights exist, and if so, what are they, what is their nature or basis, and what arguments can be brought to bear upon these questions. PREREQ: Six credits of philosophy or permission of instructor.

482 Social Philosophy (3) The relationship between the individual and the social/political order. The good society and the just state as seen by modern and recent Western thinkers, such as Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Nozick, and Rawls. Cutting-edge issues of the present day are also explored. Course is conducted in seminar format.

499  Philosophical Concepts and Systems (3) An intensive study of the major works of one philosophical system, emphasizing comparison with other views. Required of all philosophy majors. PREREQ: Six hours of philosophy, senior standing, and an overall minimum 2.00 GPA, or permission of instructor.
This course may be taken again for credit.