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Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences

PHIL Course Descriptions

View the schedule of classes to determine course offerings by semester.

  • PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy (3)

    Introduces the fundamental questions and problems of philosophy and critically examines how some of the greatest philosophers in the history of Western cultures have attempted to answer these questions. Emphasis is placed on students' demonstration of their own abilities to seek answers to these"eternal questions." A capstone feature of the course challenges students to communicate, orally and in writing, the value of philosophical thinking in their personal lives and their chosen professions. [HIPL / CTE or HAT]

  • PHIL 140 Contemporary Moral Issues (3)

    Explores contemporary issues of ethical concern. Students are introduced to philosophical reasoning on controversial topics, including the responsibilities of corporations, war and violence, human relationships and other currently debated matters of public policy and personal ethics. The course aims to help students develop abilities to understand, evaluate and construct arguments in the realm of applied ethics. [HIPL / CTE or HAT]

  • PHIL 150 Critical Thinking and Arguments (3)

    Explores the process of thinking critically and philosophically and guides students in thinking more clearly, insightfully and effectively. In addition, this course focuses on helping students identify, understand and critically assess philosophical arguments. Students use classic philosophic texts and real-world examples to develop both their critical-thinking skills and their ability (in written and oral forms) to formulate, express and critique arguments. [HIPL / CTE or HAT]

  • PHIL 250 Social and Political Philosophy (3)

    Examines the values and principles that establish and justify societies and that determine the rights and responsibilities of a society to its own members; of the members in relation to each other and to the society as a whole; and of a society in relation other societies. The course considers the application of these principles to such issues as justice, human rights, political and social institutions, and international relations.

  • PHIL 280 Environmental Ethics (3)

    Explores the relationship between humans and the nonhuman environment and guides students in thinking more clearly, insightfully and effectively about that relationship. Students read a wide array of classic and contemporary texts from a variety of philosophic traditions, and they are asked to consider some of the most pressing ethical, political and legal issues concerning our treatment of the environment. [HIPL / CTE or HAT]

  • PHIL 301 Ethics (3)

    A critical examination of fundamental questions in ethics: What is good and evil? Why be moral? What is right and wrong moral conduct? What does it take to be a good person, and what does it mean to live a good life? Students read a balanced selection of classical and contemporary works and explore a variety of moral issues in personal and professional life.

  • PHIL 302 Philosophy of Community (3)

    Covers some of the basic concerns raised by the cosmopolitan liberalism and communitarian critique. The goals are to help students think through the arguments on each side of this debate and to help figure out for themselves the extent to which they want their lives and the policies of the communities in which they live to reflect either cosmopolitan liberal or communitarian commitments.

  • PHIL 305 Professional Ethics in Human Services (3)

    An examination of values, moral principles and ethical issues inherent in, and related to, the human service professions. The major focus is directed toward determining the moral responsibilities of the human service professions and whether the moral responsibilities are being realized.

  • PHIL 309 Eastern Religions (3)

    A study of the history, beliefs and rituals of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto.

  • PHIL 316 Logic of Language (3)

    An introduction to informal and formal logic. The use and abuse of language in general is first considered, then informal fallacies are examined. Next, deductive, inductive and analogical arguments are distinguished. The remainder of the course is devoted to examining the formal structures of descriptive language and the formal rules of logic.

  • PHIL 317 Ancient Philosophy (3)

    A critical examination of the questions, systems and contributions of the most influential philosophers of Western antiquity. The pre-Socratics and their legacy of questions and world views are first considered. The philosophies of Plato and Aristotle are examined next in light of the attempts of both philosophers to deal with the inherited questions of pre-Socratics and the moral and cultural problems of their time. Concludes with a look at the Epicurean, Stoic and neo-Platonist philosophies and the influence of neo-Platonism on Christian theology.

  • PHIL 319 Modern Philosophy (3)

    Traces the development and influence of British empiricism and continental rationalism from the scientific revolution of the 17th century through the age of reason, the romantic rebellion and the industrial revolution, and the rise of nationalism. Philosophers to be studied are Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Rousseau, Mill, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche.

  • PHIL 320 20th-Century Philosophy (3)

    A critical examination of the most influential American and European philosophers of the 20th century. Emphasis is placed on the rebellion against 19th-century idealism and metaphysics as manifested in the two divergent and predominant contemporary philosophies: existentialism and analytic philosophy. Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Whitehead, Bergson, James, Dewey, Sartre, Kafka and Camus are among the philosophers considered.

  • PHIL 322 Philosophy of Religion (3)

    A critical examination of the fundamental beliefs of the major religions of the world (not, however, a course in the history of religions or of religious belief). The course reviews the rational justifications for such important beliefs as the existence of God, the existence and immortality of the soul, the existence of evil as compatible with a merciful god and the value of miracles, prayer and mystery. Concludes with a look at religious alternatives to traditional theism.

  • PHIL 419 Religions in America (3)

    A study of the historical and theological developments in Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism on the American continent, from the colonial period to the present, including a consideration of the ways in which American civilization modified European religious traditions and developed new sects, cults and religious traditions.

  • PHIL 490 Theories of Justice (3)

    A critical examination of the classical and contemporary theories of justice that are the foundations of Western law and morality. Among the philosophers studied are Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Rousseau, Bentham, Marx, Rawls and Hart. Emphasis is placed on each thinker's treatment of such fundamental concepts as natural law and positive law, human rights and the common good, the social contract, sovereign rights and power, the forfeiture of "absolute" rights, individual liberty and property, and utilitarianism and intuitionism as theories of justice.

  • PHIL 492 Independent Study (1-6)

    Provides for individual work in research. prerequisite: presentation of a research proposal to the divisional chair, permission of the chair and instructor, and senior standing

  • PHIL 493 Honors Seminar (3)

    An advanced interdisciplinary seminar that focuses on important books and issues and encourages independent thinking, clear presentation and an understanding of the concerns and methods of various disciplines. The course may be team taught; topic and instructor(s) may change from semester to semester. Course may be repeated for credit when topic changes. prerequisite: 3.3 GPA and permission of the Denit Honors Program director

  • PHIL 494 Honors Project (3-6)

    Directed individual instruction in an advanced project of the student's choice; the project must be academically related to this discipline. Each student works closely with a faculty director who guides his/her progress. The project must be of honors quality and must be finally approved by both the faculty director and a second faculty member. Course is eligible for a continuing studies grade. prerequisite: 3.3 GPA and permission of both the Denit Honors Program director and the faculty director

  • PHIL 495 Existentialism (3)

    An in-depth study of one of the most provocative philosophies of the modern age. The major works of the leading philosophers of the movement are examined as well as the expression of their philosophies in contemporary art, poetry, fiction and cinema.

  • PHIL 496 International Law and Morality (3)

    Explores the relationship between international law and morality and guides students in thinking more clearly, insightfully and effectively about the various legal, political and social institutions that make up the international legal regime. Students read a wide array of classic and contemporary texts from a variety of philosophic traditions, and they are asked to consider some of the most pressing conceptual and ethical issues concerning international law.

  • PHIL 497 Special Topics in Philosophy (3)

    Intensive exploration of topics in philosophy of mutual interest to faculty and students. Content varies according to the concurrent interests of faculty and students. The subject studied appears under the Topics heading in the class schedule. Course may be repeated for credit when topic changes.

  • PHIL 498 Internship in Applied Ethics (3)

    Designed for students who wish to observe and gain firsthand experience of the practice of business and professional ethics at designated profit or nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore community. Students work with a mentor at the organization of their choice and write a substantial (25- to 30-page) critical essay on applied ethics. Eligible for a continuing studies (CS) grade. prerequisite: IDIS 302 or PHIL 301 or PHIL 305 and an interview with the director of the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics

  • PHIL 499 Capstone in Philosophy, Society and Applied Ethics (3)

    A culmination of the student's program of study in the Philosophy, Society and Applied Ethics program. Required for all Philosophy, Society and Applied Ethics majors. Students consult with the instructor or another faculty member with relevant expertise to develop a mutually agreed upon capstone project that demonstrates the student's understanding of the relationship between philosophy and his or her chosen subfield. prerequisite: permission of program director and completion of all other required courses in the major