Philosophy and Religion
Karnoutsos Arts and Sciences Hall, Room 606
Philosophy has traditionally been recognized as an integral part of liberal education. Programs and courses in philosophy examine the fundamental problems and questions that arise from reflection upon life and its varied experiences, as well as theories about the solutions to these problems and questions. Philosophy aims ultimately at the improvement of life through the systematic examination and clarification of ideas, values, and meanings.
Courses in religion systematically and objectively examine various forms of human activity and belief, which are commonly regarded as comprising the core of human religious experience. These include such issues as belief and unbelief, the existence and non-existence of God, morality and immorality, worship and idolatry, mortality and immortality, history and mythology, good and evil, and salvation.
The Philosophy and Religion Department is a member of the American Philosophical Association and the Aristotelian Society.
Sabine Roehr, Chairperson
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion
University of Hanover, Germany, M.A.; University of Missouri, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion
Trinity College, Dublin, B.A.; Christ Church, University of Oxford, B.Phil.; Cornell University, Ph.D.
Various discipline-specific concentrations that will prepare students for multiple fields of employment or areas of additional undergraduate/graduate study are noted below. Course requirements for each concentration are explained in detail. The requirements for graduation, in addition to completion of the major area, are listed on "Undergraduate Degree Requirements."
PHIL 1XX Philosophy Transfer Credit (0 Credits)
PHIL 2XX Philosophy Transfer Credit (0 Credits)
PHIL 101 Philosophy: Persons & Problems (3 Credits)
This course is an introduction to the main issues in philosophy, such as good and evil, mind and body, life and death, justice and freedom, creation and evolution. The focus is on philosophical concepts and methods. Topics include: the nature of being and reality, the right and the good, knowledge and belief, personal identity, and beauty and truth.
PHIL 102 Critical Thinking (3 Credits)
Course introduces students to basic critical thinking skills. It discusses good and bad arguments, informed and uninformed beliefs, analyzes fallacies, distinguishes between deductive and inductive reasoning, and applied these skills to real-life cases. Analyzing readings about current issues, accessing online sources, and writing summaries and analyses complete the course.
PHIL 103 Contemporary Moral Issues (3 Credits)
This course is an exploration of the ways to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad and importance from triviality. It addresses conceptions of justice, views of human nature, and standards of moral judgment. Classical and contemporary ethical theories will be considered and applied to contemporary problems in politics, environmental policy, medicine, business, and personal relations.
PHIL 105 Issues in Religion (3 Credits)
This course is a philosophical examination of the nature and the significance of religious thought and practice. Topics include: the nature of faith, the role of reason, the ethical significance of religious belief, and the existence of God.
PHIL 106 Comparative Religion (3 Credits)
The objective of this course is to study the religions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The emphasis is on the origin of the universe, the concepts of divinity and the Supreme Being, the nature of ultimate reality, and visions of the good life.
PHIL 109 Bioethics (3 Credits)
In this course students study major ethical theories and apply them to moral issues in the life sciences. They discuss various topics important to the medical professions, patients, policy-makers, and philosophers, such as euthanasia, abortion, doctor patient relationship, stem cell research, and genetic modification of organisms.
PHIL 110 Mythology (3 Credits)
All cultures have created myths as ways of interpreting the whole of nature and the inner world of man. There is an affinity between civilizations transcending space and time. The origins of myths are buried in the shifting sands of time, but our present understanding of the significance of the myths establishes continuity. The insights in myths have found expression in art, literature, and philosophy. The central themes in mythology are: the origin of the cosmos, the conflict of good and evil, free will and destiny, and the quest for eternal Life.
PHIL 112 Bioethics and Technology (3 Credits)
This course explores advances in medicine and biology from an ethical perspective. A brief introduction to the major approaches ethics will be followed by an exploration of the bioethical topics such as cloning, stem cell research and genetics. With the expansion of research in cloning, stem cells, and genetic modification there is a pressing need to introduce students to the ethical consequences of this research in order to make informed and intelligent decisions.
PHIL 113 Environmental Ethics (3 Credits)
This course focuses on the ethical implications of current environmental issues such as climate change, recycling, farming practices, sustainable technologies, ecoliteracy, animal rights, and clean energy. It also asks 'what is nature?' and explores various answers that have been offered by ethicists, writers, and scientists.
PHIL 125 Ethics in Everyday Life (3 Credits)
This course introduces students to basic ethical reasoning. Starting out from real-life situations, students analyze ethical problems by conceptualizing the moral intuitions and beliefs they already possess. With the help of short philosophical readings, they develop methods of applying ethical theories to moral decision-making in their disciplines and own lives.
PHIL 135 World Religions Today (3 Credits)
This course introduces students to a cross-cultural study of major religious traditions, for example, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It presents a historically informed consideration of similarities and differences and transcultural structures that can be discerned from these traditions of religious life.
PHIL 140 The Examined Life (3 Credits)
This course teaches students to identify and evaluate those beliefs that guide their thoughts and actions. Reflecting on different sources, students identify those philosophical beliefs that play a role in their own lives. By developing their critical thinking skills, they learn how to clarify, systematize, and assess these beliefs.
PHIL 203 Philosophy of Religion (3 Credits)
A systematic philosophical examination of the major issues in religious experience and history, such as the problems of the relation of faith and reason, the nature and existence of God, morality and immorality, good and evil, and human values and destiny.
PHIL 204 Introduction to Logic (3 Credits)
PHIL 205 Metaphysics: Appearance and Reality (3 Credits)
This course probes the nature of ultimate reality. Topics include appearance versus reality, being and becoming, essence and existence, space and time. Is there knowledge beyond the reach of science? How can we know what really exists?.
PHIL 206 Epistemology: Theory of Knowledge (3 Credits)
Course examines the nature and the scope of knowledge. What does it mean to know, and what is the nature of truth? What can be known, and can we be justified in our beliefs about what goes beyond the evidence of our senses? Is all knowledge innate or acquired in experience? What are the grounds and the limits of knowledge?.
PHIL 207 Ethics (3 Credits)
This course is chiefly a study of moral concepts and principles. Topics include: happiness, friendship, virtue, intention, and duty. Ethics asks: Is there a supreme good that all rational beings seek? Are there universal moral values? What is the difference between judgments of value and judgments of fact?.
PHIL 208 Great Philosophers: Voices of Wisdom (3 Credits)
The course is a systematic study of the ideas of the great philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche. Philosophy is a continuous dialogue about ideas of enduring interest, such as: truth, goodness, beauty, the nature of mind, the basis of right action, conceptions of happiness and the good life.
PHIL 215 On Love (3 Credits)
This course is a philosophical examination of the nature, aim and activity of love and desire. How does this most intimate of emotions shape us as moral agents? This course will explore why the object(s) of love inform one's identity as much as the way one loves.
PHIL 216 Aesthetics: Creativity & Imagination (3 Credits)
This course is concerned with theories of art and beauty, philosophical ideas within the various forms of art, and concepts in the interpretation of art: meaning, intention, style, purpose, and value. It addresses various ideas of art as representation of reality, imitation of appearances, significant form, and expression of feeling. Guest artists, visits to museums, and attendance at concerts are features of the course.
PHIL 217 Eastern Philosophy and Religion (3 Credits)
This course is a study of the historical development of philosophical ideas of India and China. The perspectives of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism on the nature or reality, knowledge, and the moral life will be discussed. The main themes are the knowledge of ultimate reality, the cultivation of the individual life as the basis of harmony in the world, and being one with reality.
PHIL 226 Religion in the City: When Faith Encounters Urban Life (3 Credits)
This course examines the role of religion in urban environments through its formative impact on culture, political action, public policy, social relationships and institutions, and the media and society.
PHIL 231 The Philosophy of War and Peace (3 Credits)
This course explores historical and contemporary philosophical and religious perspectives on war and peace. It investigates philosophical, anthropological, religious, social and political reasons why the human species fights wars, critically examines traditional and contemporary views on the morality of war, and reflects on the possibility of peace.
PHIL 234 Ancient Philosophy (3 Credits)
This course provides a history of ancient Western philosophy covering the period from its first beginnings in the Pre-Socratics, through Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to later Greek and Roman thought.
PHIL 235 Perspectives on Death (3 Credits)
The phenomenon of death is studied from the points of view of philosophy, religion, psychiatry, literature, and parapsychology.
PHIL 236 Self: I as Mind (3 Credits)
This course introduces students to the philosophical study of mind. Students will learn how their unique psychologies play a role in distinguishing themselves from others, as well as consider how their psychologies are shaped by their environment and biology. The course also focuses on the relationship between mind and body.
PHIL 239 On Evil (3 Credits)
This course examines the problem of evil in Western philosophical and religious traditions. Starting with an exploration of the classical roots of various conceptions of evil, it traces these conceptions through history, culminating in discussions of the pervasiveness of evil in reaction to modern experiences of war and genocide.
PHIL 240 Philosophy and Film (3 Credits)
This course combines the philosophical analysis of classical and contemporary films - popular as well as art-house - with the close reading of some seminal texts of the philosophical tradition, tracing the philosophical content of movies, but also thinking from a philosophical perspective about film as a medium that philosophizes on its own and film as an art form.
PHIL 244 Political and Social Philosophy (3 Credits)
A systematic study of the foundations and the history of political and social thought and practice. The topics include: the role of the state in the development of moral nature of man, the relation of the individual to society, forms of government, natural law, the internalization of social norms, political authority, and the values of representative government. Readings will be drawn from Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke.
PHIL 245 The Philosophy of Social Justice in the United States (3 Credits)
This course will provide an overview of social justice topics including: poverty, unemployment, the welfare state, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and income inequality. The readings for the course will include contemporary philosophic, sociological, and economic writings. Contemporary data sources will also be utilized.
PHIL 246 Food, Philosophy, and Global Health (3 Credits)
Food, Philosophy and Global Health explores our relationship with food through the lens of philosophy. Using ethics, logic and critical thinking, we investigate current debates and examine how collective choices impact the health of the planet. Using these insights, we develop a community action program that empowers an underserved community.
PHIL 260 Practice, Policy and Philosophy of Education (3 Credits)
This course will introduce students to the essential concepts, precepts and methods of philosophy of education. Students will use these foundations to reflect on the basic aspects of human learning as well as become effective participants within the milieu of modern education.
PHIL 290 Myth, Magic, and Mysticism (3 Credits)
This course will focus on the search for meaning and value in mythological, magical, and mystical experiences. The origin, structure, function, and the genre of myth, magic, and mysticism will be studied in an interdisciplinary framework of philosophy, art, and religion. The significance of these topics in creating a synthesis of reason and imagination in individual and social sphere will be investigated.
PHIL 302 Philosophy of Technology (3 Credits)
Beginning with an introduction into the historical interplay of science and technology, this course analyzes the social, political, cultural and moral effects of modern technologies, such as bio-and-nano-technologies, or humanity from a philosophical perspective. It also studies the phenomenon of technology itself from an analytical-philosophical perspective.
PHIL 303 Existentialism and Phenomenology (3 Credits)
PHIL 311 Symbolic Logic (3 Credits)
PHIL 317 Philosophy and Literature (3 Credits)
This course is a study of philosophical ideas in literature and how literature gives visible from to truths discovered in philosophical reflection. Readings are drawn from Aeschylus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, More, Hobbes, Pope, Blake, Kant, Keats, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Sartre. Topics include truth, beauty, goodness, and free will.
PHIL 320 Philosophy of Psychology (3 Credits)
This course is a study of psychological theories, principles, and concepts bearing on the nature of the mind and its complex structures. The central questions are: Are thoughts and sensations related to neurological processes? Are mental states identical to brain events? Is there room for free will together with psychological causality? Responses to these questions elucidate the concept of the self and the continuity of consciousness, the problem of other minds, the nature of intention, perception, and cognition. The course involves an examination of the methodology of social, experimental, and cognitive psychology, as well as developments in cognitive science.
PHIL 324 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (3 Credits)
An intensive and methodical study of the scriptural foundations, original doctrines, historical development, and the present status of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
PHIL 397 Re-Thinking Animals: A Paradigm Shift (3 Credits)
This course investigates the way society's attitudes towards animals have changed during the last decade by making use of Thomas S. Kuhn's notion of paradigm shift. Students reflect upon changes in particular disciplines, such as cognitive sciences, and changing attitudes towards human use of animals in all spheres of society.
Pre-Requisite(s): ENGL 102
PHIL 401 Philosophy of Science (3 Credits)
An inquiry into the form and function of concepts, laws, and theories, and into the character of explanation and prediction in the natural and social sciences, and an examination of some philosophical problems concerning scientific knowledge and scientific method.
PHIL 405 Advanced Seminar in Philosophy (3 Credits)
This seminar is an exploration of a central topic in metaphysics (i.e. being and reality), epistemology (truth and knowledge), ethics (the meaning of morality), or aesthetics (art and beauty).
PHIL 500 Selected Topics in Philosophy (3 Credits)
This course is an exploration of the great visions of the universe as articulated by ancient and contemporary thinkers. The readings represent a full range of perspectives and voices from all cultures. The topics for the course are intended to encourage a dialogue among diverse intellectual traditions and cultural heritages, with the aim of achieving a unified philosophical experience.
PHIL 510 Ethics Values & Society (3 Credits)
How can we arrive at a theory of justice, rights, and responsibilities which will give differing parts of the world with distinct needs and in stages of economic development and divergent goals, a meaningful role and participation in contributing to the whole? Exploring the ideas of justice, liberty, equality, law, responsibility, and rights across the boundaries of civilizations from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, and Greece, we trace the evolution of the central concerns in political thought which continue to shape the course of history.
PHIL 520 Contemporary Search for Meaning (3 Credits)
The search for truth and meaning spans human history and consists of the achievements of many minds. This continual pursuit has been referred to as "the perennial philosophy." The aim of this course is to inspire students to develop a sense of greater humanity and wholeness of self, and to cultivate intellectual autonomy. The readings are drawn from both philosophical and literary texts.