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Department of Philosophy

101 Hartwell
(585) 395-2420

Chair and Professor: Georges Dicker, PhD, University of Wisconsin; University Professor: Paul Yu, PhD, University of Michigan; Professor: Harold Greenstein, PhD, New York University; Associate Professors: Gordon Barnes, PhD, University of Wisconsin; Catherine McKeen, PhD, Rutgers University; Visiting Assistant Professors: Robert Kieffer, PhD, SUNY University at Buffalo; Benjamin Rider, PhD, University of Texas; Lecturer: Yvgenia Skorobogatov-Gray, PhD, Binghamton University (SUNY).



The Department of Philosophy promotes the ideals of impartiality, intellectual rigor and clarity of thought. Its curriculum is designed to contribute to the enrichment and refinement of students’ analytical, conceptual and communication abilities. The study of philosophy develops rational self-consciousness and cultivates habits of critical thought. Examining the best writings in the history of philosophy provides a broader perspective from which to view one’s place in nature, the world and society.

The study of philosophy is excellent preparation not only for a career as an academic philosopher, but also for careers in all fields that require clear, analytical thinking, writing, and speaking, including teaching and education, government, the ministry, business and management, publishing, and many other fields. Philosophy is also an excellent major for pre-law students.

Major in Philosophy

Philosophy majors must earn a minimum of 30 credits in philosophy, 18 of which must come from six required courses, and at least 15 of which must come from upper-division courses.

Specifically, the program requirements are as follows: Credits
I. Six required courses
PHL 101 Introduction to Philosophy 3
PHL 102 Introduction to Ethics 3
PHL 205 Modern Logic 3
PHL 304 Ancient Philosophy 3
PHL 305 History of Modern Philosophy 3
PHL 396 Seminar on Philosophical Problems
PHL 491 Seminar on Individual Philosophers 3
II. Elective courses
Four PHL courses, at least two of which must be upper-division courses 12
Total: 30

Minor in Philosophy

Philosophy minors must complete 18 credits in philosophy, at least nine of which must come from upper-division courses.

Transfer credit is reviewed by the department chair on a course-by-course basis.

Philosophy Courses

PHL 101 Introduction to Philosophy (A,G). Cross-listed as HON 211. Provides a general introduction to the study of philosophy, including discussion of major problems of philosophy, based on the writings of historical and contemporary thinkers. 3 Cr. Every Semester

PHL 102 Introduction to Ethics (A,G). Provides for the study of major ethical systems in Western philosophy, including their intuitive, authoritarian, deontological, utilitarian, pragmatic or other justifications, through study of selected works of the chief moral philosophers. 3 Cr.

PHL 103 Introduction to Philosophy of Religion (A,G). Examines basic issues such as arguments for the existence of God, the coherence of the concept of God, the problem of evil, the relation between faith and reason, and the evidence of religious experience and miracles. 3 Cr. Spring

PHL 104 Critical Thinking (A,D,H). Provides a study of the kinds of fallacious reasoning and arguments found in editorials, political statements, advertising, philosophical works, textbooks and statistics. Focuses on the functions of language, the construction of valid arguments, the avoidance of fallacy, and the relationships among opinion, belief, evidence and fact. 3 Cr.

PHL 202 Logic (A,H). Provides a study of deductive and inductive processes of reasoning, including the relation of logic to scientific inquiry and method, and the identification of fallacies in reasoning and discourse. 3 Cr.

PHL 205 Modern logic (A). Uses the mechanism of an artificial language to provide a systematic study of deductive reasoning. Students will learn to translate English sentences into an artificial language and construct formal proofs of validity for deductive arguments. Covers classical sentential logic. Other topics that might be introduced include: predicate logic, identity, and modal logic. 3 Cr. Fall

PHL 207 Asian Wisdom (A,O). Explores the history and content of the ancient philosophical traditions of India, China and Japan. Our task will be both to outline and interpret the philosophical approaches of the Eastern schools of thought and to become aware of the connections and disparities between the latter and the Western philosophical narratives. 3 Cr.

PHL 208 Tai Chi and Chinese Culture (A,D,O). Teaches Tai Chi in the context of, including biases against, Chinese culture (philosophy, medical theory, art, calligraphy). 3 Cr.

PHL 304 Ancient Philosophy (A). Provides a critical analysis of the central ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers, especially those of Plato and Aristotle. 3 Cr. Fall

PHL 305 History of Modern Philosophy (A). Provides a systematic study of the views of major modern philosophers such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume and Kant. 3 Cr. Spring

PHL 308 The Arts in Society (A,I). Considers various issues concerning the arts and human values by examining the main arguments on all sides, and the philosophical underpinnings of those arguments. Includes issues such as moral criticism of the arts, censorship versus free expression, decisions about public art, government support of the arts, and the role of criticism. 3 Cr.

PHL 321 Medical Ethics (A,I). Using case studies, examines some of the complex ethical issues in medicine today: abortion on demand; euthanasia for defective newborns and for the terminally ill; medical experimentation and informed consent; psychosurgery and behavior control; genetic counseling and research; and allocation of medical resources. 3 Cr. Spring

PHL 322 Intermediate Logic (A). Covers translation of English into propositional and quantified forms; construction and analyses of well-formed arguments using propositional and quantified calculi; and symbolization of relational expressions and their use in argument forms for understanding the nature of deductive systems. 3 Cr.

PHL 323 Human Knowledge (A). Offers a careful consideration of competing answers to basic philosophical questions such as: What is truth? What is the difference between belief and knowledge? Is knowledge based on reason or experience? How much force do skeptical arguments regarding sense perception, reason, memory and induction have. 3 Cr.

PHL 326 Political Philosophy (A,D,I,W). Studies major political theories in the Western tradition, and critically examines such salient questions as: Why should some people have political power over others? Why should people obey any government? What are the alternatives, if any, to a political society. 3 Cr.

PHL 332 Death and Dying (A,I). Critically examines competing answers to controversial philosophical issues surrounding death and dying. Includes topics such as defining death, the morality and rationality of suicide, euthanasia, ethical problems of pain alleviation, and the rights of the terminally ill. 3 Cr.

PHL 333 God, Self and World (A). Provides an introduction to certain basic metaphysical problems, such as the existence of God, freedom vs. determinism, the mind/body problem, personal identity, the problem of immortality, substance, universals, primary and secondary qualities. 3 Cr.

PHL 335 Feminism and Philosophy (A,D,I,W). Cross-listed as WMS 335. Feminist theory and philosophy converge on some basic questions of enduring importance: questions concerning, e.g., personhood, knowledge and reality. Explores some varieties of feminism, such as liberal, radical, multicultural, postmodern and cyberfeminism. Investigates how these feminisms engage issues of contemporary moment, such as work equity, sexuality, pornography and technology, and examines the philosophical significance of these engagements. 3 Cr.

PHL 342 Business Ethics (A,D,I). Studies ethical issues arising in business practice. Considers, for example, corporate responsibility, the nature of meaningful work, the morality of the marketplace, and competition. 3 Cr. Every Semester

PHL 352 Dimensions of Mind (A). Studies the nature of the mind from various philosophical perspectives. Considers phenomena such as consciousness, volition, intentionality, motivation and emotion. 3 Cr. Spring

PHL 391 Tai Chi and Chinese Culture (A). An examination of the theory and practice of Tai Chi, with special focus on its integration with Chinese philosophy, culture and art. 3 Cr.

PHL 396 Seminar on Philosophical Problems (A). Studies specific philosophic problems and issues (e.g., justice, freedom, skepticism, etc.). Subject matter varies as topics change. 3 Cr. Spring

PHL 397 Abortion Controversy (A,I). Explores the moral issues involved in the controversy about anti-abortion and pro-choice stands on legalized abortion. Emphasis is placed on relevant moral principles and arguments with a consideration of the anthropological, psychological, medical, legal and social policy issues related to this controversy. 3 Cr.

PHL 414 Plato and Aristotle (A). Examines selected dialogues of Plato and the thought of Aristotle as found in his major works. 3 Cr.

PHL 428 Philosophy of Art (A). Critically examines competing answers to selected central questions in the philosophy of art using contemporary as well as historical writings. 3 Cr.

PHL 439 Practicum in Teaching Philosophy (A). Allows students to assist philosophy faculty in lower-division courses. Their specific duties are determined by the supervising faculty member(s). Not repeatable for multiple credit for assisting with the same course. Graded exclusively on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. 3 Cr.

PHL 491 Seminar on Individual Philosophers (A). Provides an in-depth study of the writings of one or two major philosophers, such as Descartes, Hume, Kant, Dewey, Sartre and Rawls. Content varies with appropriate subtitles provided. May be repeated as subtitle varies. 3 Cr. Fall

Last Updated 10/27/20

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