Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2019-2020 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Philosophy

Overview

The practice of philosophy provides students with the skills of conceptual analysis, logical reasoning, and critical thinking. These skills are intrinsically valuable throughout one's life and apply to a wide variety of professions, including law, medicine, education, journalism, business, public policy, and government. In addition, the methods and skills developed in a philosophical education aim to provide students with the intellectual grounds for reflecting on their beliefs, to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of alternative beliefs, and to understand how philosophical ideas have shaped their culture and history. Studying philosophy will help students develop these intellectual grounds. In both these respects, the mission of philosophy promotes responsible citizenship, social and economic justice, and the recognition of and respect for differences among groups and between individuals.

Students interested in pursuing graduate study in philosophy should contact a faculty advisor as early as possible for assistance crafting an appropriate course of study both in philosophy and relevant cognate fields.

Major Requirements

Ten courses (40 units) in philosophy are required for the major.

COURSEWORK

Students are required to complete the courses listed below and seven additional electives.

Courses

PHIL 101Introduction to Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 150Formal Logic

4 units

PHIL 490Senior Seminar

4 units

Electives

Three of these courses must be at the 300-level, and students must meet the following distribution requirements: one course in the history of philosophy, one course in diversity in philosophy, one course on philosophical questions of self and community, and one course on philosophical questions of mind and world. Students must also take at least one philosophy course designated as experiential learning.

History of Philosophy

Courses in the History of Philosophy directly study the views and arguments that have shaped the discipline over thousands of years, through engagement with primary philosophical texts.

PHIL 210Modern Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 211Historical Foundations of Moral Theory

4 units

PHIL 212Existentialist Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 310Topics in Modern Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 311Wittgenstein

4 units

PHIL 313The Brothers Karamazov

4 units

Diversity in Philosophy

Although diverse perspectives are represented across our courses, Diversity in Philosophy courses focus on philosophical topics, authors and texts that have traditionally been marginalized within the Western philosophical tradition due to a lack of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, gender, and intersectional diversity in academic philosophy.

PHIL 220Philosophy of Race

4 units

PHIL 221Feminist Theories

4 units

PHIL 222Knowledge and Power

4 units

PHIL 320Health and Social Justice

4 units

PHIL 321The Philosophy of James Baldwin

4 units

Self and Community

Self and Community courses examine questions that arise when we consider how to live a good life and how to relate to human beings, non-human animals, and other aspects of the world around us.  

PHIL 230Happiness, Meaning, and the Good Life

4 units

PHIL 231Environmental and Animal Ethics

4 units

PHIL 232Philosophy of Religion

4 units

PHIL 233Bioethics

4 units

PHIL 299Ethics Bowl: Contemporary Debates on Ethical Issues

4 units

PHIL 330Law and Morality

4 units

PHIL 331Contemporary Moral Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 395Philosophy Seminar

4 units

Mind and World

Mind and World courses apply the methods of philosophy to examine questions that arise when considering the fundamental nature of the world and our place in it. Courses that meet this requirement explore the conceptual foundations of our theories of the world or explore the nature of our knowledge of or representations of the world.

PHIL 241Paradoxes

4 units

PHIL 242Minds, Agents, and Persons

4 units

PHIL 243Representation and Reality

4 units

PHIL 340Evidence, Reasoning, Science, and Truth

4 units

PHIL 341Philosophy of Space and Time

4 units

PHIL 342Theory of Knowledge

4 units

PHIL 344Language, Translation, and Meaning

4 units

PHIL 345Consciousness and Cognition

4 units

PHIL 346Metaphysics

4 units

PHIL 350Metalogic

4 units

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning can be understood as learning through reflection on doing. Within philosophy, experiential learning may take many forms, but primarily:

(a) Work with community partners or meaningful engagement with a real-world context, where student experiences in these spaces are central to, and necessary for, course objectives.

(b) Courses which centrally revolve around a pedagogical approach other than classroom lecture and/or discussion, specifically courses in which students are provided with structured, active experiences and/or creative opportunities, and students learn philosophical sensitivity and analytic abilities through the engagement, itself, and by reflecting on these experiences.

PHIL 230Happiness, Meaning, and the Good Life

4 units

PHIL 299Ethics Bowl: Contemporary Debates on Ethical Issues

4 units

PHIL 320Health and Social Justice

4 units

PHIL 360Beauty

4 units

PHIL 361Philosophy and Children

4 units

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students must earn at least a B on a paper of at least 5 pages in length written for a 300-level philosophy course. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major.  Typically, students will submit a qualifying, graded paper to the chair by May of their junior year.

Comprehensive Requirement

Graduating seniors in philosophy enroll in Philosophy 490, the Senior Seminar, in the fall semester. The work of the seminar will include writing a research paper in philosophy and giving a public presentation of one’s research. The comprehensive requirement is met by achieving a grade of C or better in the seminar. Work judged as exceptional will result in the designation “Pass with Distinction.”

College Honors

There is no special class associated with honors. Honors in philosophy is awarded in recognition of excellence in work done for the senior essay and seminar, and will be determined by the philosophy faculty as a whole once final versions of the senior essays have been submitted.

To be eligible for honors, a student must have at least a 3.25 GPA overall and a 3.5 GPA in the major. Additionally, the student will be required to enroll in the senior seminar in their senior year and complete a comprehensives paper. The paper must earn Distinction, which is to be determined by the instructor of the senior seminar in consultation with members of the philosophy department. See the Honors Program and consult the department chair for further details.

Minor Requirements

Five courses (20 units) in Philosophy, including PHIL 101 and PHIL 150. At least one course must be an upper division course (in the 300 series).

Transfer Credit Policies

The Philosophy Department may accept online courses in transfer, both as general elective credit and as credit toward the major or minor. There are no Philosophy-related AP, IB, or A-level examinations which earn transfer credit. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Courses

Philosophy Courses