Hegel G. W. F. Hegel

Courses of Study

PHL 101 Knowledge of World, God, and Morality (3) MPF, MPT

Can you know for certain or know at all whether there really is a world or whether God exists? Can you know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong? These and related questions are explored while taking up the skeptical challenges to knowing anything at all. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning.

PHL 103 Society and the Individual (3) MPF

A study of the relationship between human beings and the societies in which they live and of the implications different perspectives on this relationship have for a view of social justice. We investigate this relation in terms of its political, economic, social, ethical, and epistemological dimensions. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning.

PHL 104 Purpose or Chance in the Universe (3) MPF, MPT

Is the present universe the result of purpose or chance? Positions and arguments on this question by scientists and philosophers at different points in Western history are studied. In this inquiry, special attention is paid to recent developments in scientific cosmology that throws important new light on the question. Whether the results of the inquiry support purpose or chance more strongly is considered. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning.

PHL 105 Theories of Human Nature (3) MPF, MPT

There have been various ways that human beings have understood themselves and their place in nature. Every conception of the self embodies a conception of what can be known, of how we ought to live, of what values we ought to hold, and to what extent we are free. We consider various conceptions of the person in light of these questions. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning.

PHL 106 Thought and Culture of India (3) MPF, MPT

Examines India’s history and civilization, philosophies and religions, arts and literature, science and technology as a culture’s self-understanding and self-expression of its ideas, values, and ways of thinking. Comparisons made between Indian and other ways of thought and modes of living.

PHL 131 Introduction to Ethics (3) MPF, MPT

Introduction to ethical theory and its application to individual moral issues relating to human conduct and social institutions and political systems. As a background for critical evaluation of these issues, major theoretical positions in ethics are investigated (including egoism, deontology, utilitarianism, religious ethics, and often virtue ethics and feminist ethics). Considers a number of issues relating to and often critical of ethical theories (may include relativism, skepticism, moral alienation, and cultural diversity of ethics). Course is historical and thematic with major ethical theories analyzed in relation to concrete situations. Involves students in the creative process of developing skills and arguments necessary to engage in reflective moral reasoning.

PHL 205 Science and Culture (3)

Study of science and scientific method as it relates to its social and cultural contexts. Cultural, aesthetic, ethical, and social dimensions of science. Offered infrequently.

PHL 211 Problems of God and Religion (3)

Critical analysis of selected problems such as nature and existence of God, problem of evil, justification of religious belief, and significance of religious experience.

PHL 221 Problems of Metaphysics and Knowledge (3) MPT

Critical examination of the nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Sample topics include relation of mind to body, freedom and determinism, whether the world is fundamentally material or mental, nature and extent of our knowledge of the world.

PHL 231 Happiness (4) MPT

Examines various approaches to the meaning, value, and possibility of happiness. Introduces fundamental questions of philosophy and basic reasoning skills, methodologies, and concepts used by philosophers. Students are prepared for further work in philosophy and develop skills in critical thinking, reading, and writing for any area of learning.

PHL 241 Philosophy of Art (3)

Introduction to basic notions of aesthetics, such as the definition of art, truth in the arts, characterization of aesthetic experience, etc. through examination of specific philosophies and problem areas. Readings may range from classical to contemporary thinkers. Offered infrequently.

PHL 245 Writing Philosophy (3)

Provides philosophy majors with the reading, writing, and reasoning skills necessary for the successful presentation of philosophical ideas in written work, with writing oriented toward both specialized (philosophically experienced and disciplinarily appropriate) and non-specialized (non-philosophical) audiences. The course will have a rotating philosophical topic around which readings will be structured and will be writing intensive.

PHL 263 Informal Logic (4) MPT

Informal analysis of discourse, especially argument, with the aim of improving understanding, criticism, evaluation, and construction of arguments in significant contexts.

PHL 273 Formal Logic (4) MPF, MPT

Survey of elementary logical systems: Aristotelian, Boolean, sentential, quantified. Scientific method and issues in the philosophy of logic may be included.

PHL 301 Ancient Philosophy (4) MPT

Survey of ancient philosophical thought covering pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic philosophy. Problems discussed include the nature of being and becoming, monism and pluralism, knowledge, value, and society. Emphasis given to philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.  Prerequisite: PHL 103, 104, 105, 131 or 221.

PHL 302 Modern Philosophy (4) MPT

Philosophical study of the development of philosophy at the beginning of modern period, Descartes to Kant. Both the interrelationship of points within each philosopher’s thought and the change of thought from earlier philosophers to later ones are emphasized. Specific issues for study include relation of thought and reality, knowledge and opinion, truth and appearance, value. Prerequisite: PHL 103, 104, 105, 131 or 221.

PHL 304 Indian Philosophy (4)

A survey of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Yogic philosophic traditions with special emphasis on the nature of self, consciousness and intentionality; knowledge and error; suffering, release and transcendence.

PHL 307 Gandhian Philosophy (3)

This course will survey Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of non-violence, Truth, politics, religion, education and economics. It also examines Gandhi’s relevance to modernity and discusses his influence on Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

PHL 310 Special Topics (1-4; maximum 8)

Treatment of selected topics or philosophers.

PHL 311 Ethical Theory (4)

Topical and historical in-depth study of classical and contemporary ethical theories. Addresses such questions as the following: What are the fundamental principles of moral action? Can such principles be justified? What moral theories are most adequate and why? What constitutes the well-lived life? Are persons moral agents? What is the relationship between morality and happiness? What is the relationship between freedom and morality? Why be moral? Prerequisite: PHL 131.

PHL 312 Contemporary Moral Problems (4) MPT

Moral argument and bases of moral decision. Discussion of such issues as sexuality, career and professional ethics, environmental responsibility, individual conscience and authority, abortion, suicide, and war. Prior completion of PHL 131 is recommended.

PHL 322 Contemporary European Philosophy (4)

Introduction to contemporary European philosophy that emphasizes its reliance on the historical development of philosophic concepts. Examines the ways in which contemporary philosophers reconstruct concepts such as rationality, language, value, time, and subjectivity. Special attention given to the processes by which concepts are invested with meaning, analyzed, and/or transformed. Offered infrequently.

PHL 331 Political Philosophy (3)

Inquiry into values and principles of government, justice and law, rights and responsibilities, freedom and power, violence and revolution.

PHL 335 Philosophy of Law (4)

Philosophical study of some problems arising in law. Problems discussed include: concept of law and its relation to morality; logic of legal reasoning; legal rights, duties, responsibility, punishment, fault, voluntariness, etc.

PHL 355 Feminist Theory (3) MPT

Examination of major writing by contemporary feminist thinkers. Traditional philosophical questions, such as justice, freedom, nature of a person, and relationship of an individual to society, are raised in context relevant to both male and female students. Cross-listed with WGS.

PHL 360 Interdisciplinary Special Topics (1-4; maximum 8)

Course of study on selected topic examined from perspective of two or more disciplines. Offered infrequently.

PHL 360A Confronting Death (4) MPT

Interdisciplinary course offered jointly by three or four departments examining how people regard their deaths and deaths of others. Approaches to death such as denial, acceptance, and rebellion are considered; issues such as immortality, funerals, grief, suicide, and euthanasia are taken up in a variety of literature and films. Offered at least every other year.

PHL 373 Symbolic Logic (4) MPT

Study of standard notation, principles of inference, formal systems, methods of proof. Chief attention given to first-order predicate logic. Some focus placed on the philosophy of logic. Offered every other year.

PHL 375 Medical Ethics (4) MPT

Purpose of course is to think together in an informed and critical manner about selected issues in the field of health care. Attempt made with each issue addressed to consider distinctive interests and perspectives of physicians, nurses, patients, and the public. Issues considered include physician/patient relationships; lying, truth-telling, paternalism, and trust; death and dying, including suicide, euthanasia, and treatment of defective newborns; treatment of mental illness and patient rights; allocating scarce resources; nature of health and purposes of medicine. Prerequisite: prior completion of one course in philosophy; PHL 131 is recommended.

PHL 376 Environmental Philosophy (4) MPT

Critical study of metaphysical, epistemological, and moral problems associated with questions of ecology and humankind’s relation to natural environment. Considers such issues as conceptions of nature, character and impact of various forms of technology, relations of environment and economics, environmentalism and justice, and environmental ethics. Offered alternate years.

PHL 390 Existentialism (4)

Study of major ideas in existential philosophers such as Camus, Heidegger, Jaspers, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Marcel, Merleau- Ponty, Nietzsche, Sartre. Cross-listed with REL.

PHL 392 Philosophy of Religion (4)

Study of major philosophical problems relating to religion. Topics are drawn variously from Western and Eastern intellectual traditions or from both. Problems such as the meaning of religious utterances, existence of a divine being, life after death, relationship of faith and reason are treated. Offered infrequently. Cross-listed with REL.

Advanced Philosophy Courses

Note: All of the following require a minimum of two previous courses in philosophy, and sometimes a specific prerequisite is cited. Students may also seek permission of instructor for entrance to a course.

PHL 402/502 19th Century Philosophy (4)

Detailed study of advances in philosophy attempted by major philosophers of the 19th century. Emphasis on solutions they offered to problems of early modern thought and to foundations laid for important developments in 20th century thinking. Course may follow philosophical systems of leading philosophers (e.g., Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx) or it may proceed topically (e.g., dialectics, alienation in Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard). Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: PHL 302.

PHL 404 What is Philosophy? (4) MPC

Addresses the questions of the nature and ends of philosophy. The capstone course offers both a culmination of a philosophical education through a discussion of various philosophical views on the meta-question of the nature of philosophy, and a culmination of a liberal education through a comparison of philosophy with other fields of inquiry. Prerequisite: 9 hours of completed philosophy courses and senior status.

PHL 405 Philosophy for Children (4) MPC

Focuses on humanistic thinking in K-8 education. Investigates the implications of and justification for the claim that it is the humanities that initiate us into a culture, into a historical community with its traditions and meanings. Considers how the humanities can lay foundations that will prepare children to assume the responsibility of critically assessing their culture in order to advance it.

PHL 410/510 Special Topics (1-4)

Seminar treatment of selected topics or philosophers. New topics at student initiative. Offered infrequently.

PHL 411/511 Advanced Ethical Theories (4)

Critical discussion of recent works in ethics. Prerequisite: PHL 131.

PHL 420/520 Seminar in Twentieth Century Philosophy (4)

Examination of one or more twentieth century philosophical figure (e.g., Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Foucault) and/or study of key philosophical issues of the twentieth century (such as being, language, power, action).

PHL 430/530 Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Philosophy (4)

Intensive study of a major topic (e.g., universals, knowledge and perception, the human soul, God, morality, language and reality) or work of a major philosopher (e.g., Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas) of ancient or medieval period. Repeatable with different content up to two times.

PHL 440/540 Seminar in Modern Philosophy (4)

Intensive study of philosophy of one major philosopher of early modern period, e.g., Spinoza, Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, or a topical study in the philosophy of the period. Repeatable with different content up to two times.

PHL 450/550 Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy (4)

Examination of one or more contemporary philosophical figure or philosophical issue in any area of current philosophical research. Repeatable with different content up to three times.

PHL 459/559 Political Philosophy Seminar (4)

Intensive study of a major political philosopher (e.g. Marx, Arendt, or Rawls) or intensive study of a focused theme in political philosophy (e.g., power, equality, freedom, or justice) and/or critical discussion of the texts and major work of a particular historical set of political philosophers.

PHL 470/570 Advanced Aesthetics (4)

Selected topics in advanced study of philosophy of art. Topics may include film aesthetics, philosophy of tragedy, metaphysics of the novel, aesthetic formalism. Repeatable with different content up to three times. Offered infrequently. Prior completion of PHL 241 recommended.

PHL 471/571 Philosophy of Science (4)

Philosophical foundations of science both natural and social. Such issues as the role of observation, laws, theories, and paradigms in science; ethical implications of science; objectivity of science are investigated. Offered infrequently.

PHL 480 Independent Reading for Departmental Honors (3, 3)

To earn departmental honors, a student must complete two semesters of independent reading courses.

PHL 493/593 Phenomenological Method (4)

Theoretical study of method in phenomenology as exemplified in the works of the major figures of the movement.

PHL 494/594 Philosophy of Mind (4)

Selected topics or authors, historical or contemporary. Topics include such problems as personal identity and individuation, the self, mind/body problems, the will, thought and cognition, perception, philosophy and psychology. Offered infrequently. Prior completion of PHL 221 is recommended.

PHL 495/595 Metaphysics (4)

Selected topics or authors in metaphysics, historical or contemporary. Topics include such problems as universals and particulars, causality, space and time, freedom and determinism, God, existence. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: PHL 221 is recommended.

PHL 496/596 Epistemology (4)

Analysis of such concepts as knowledge, belief, certainty, evidence, truth, perception. Offered alternate years. Prior completion of PHL 221 recommended.

PHL 600 Independent Reading Philosophy (1-6)

Intensive study of a group of problems in a limited field or of particular philosophers or of particular schools of philosophy.

PHL 601 Practicum in Teaching Philosophy (2)

Introduces graduate students to the pedagogy of philosophy by practicing and reflecting upon the fundamentals of grading, teaching, giving a lecture, directing a discussion group and preparing a syllabus as these activities specifically apply to the discipline.

PHL 610 Research Seminar (3-4)

Each student will take one paper written for a philosophy course and develop it into a length and quality suitable for publication in a scholarly journal. Members of the seminar will read each of these papers and suitable parts of its bibliography in order to critique the paper and assist its progress toward publication.

PHL 620 Advanced Topics in Philosophy (3-4; maximum 14)

Advanced graduate level seminar in philosophy, may treat an individual philosopher, philosophical time period, or philosophical topic. Repeatable up to 4 times with different content.

PHL 673 Symbolic Logic (4)

Study of propositional calculus and monadic and polyadic quantification, with some focus on propositional calculus as an axiomatic system. Offered infrequently.


Please note: not every course is offered every semester.

For the most up-to-date information see:


or contact the Chief Departmental Advisor for details.