Courses & Requirements

Courses & Requirements

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 alterative 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.

Major Requirements

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

COURSEWORK

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

Courses

PHIL 210Historical Introduction to Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 225Formal Logic

4 units

PHIL 230Introduction to Ethics

4 units

PHIL 490Senior Seminar

4 units

Electives

Three of these courses must be at the 300-level. The three upper division courses must meet the following distribution requirements: One must concentrate on the history of philosophy, one on moral and political philosophy, and one on metaphysics and epistemology. One course can fulfill two distribution requirements. For example, Philosophy 305 can count both toward the history of philosophy and metaphysics and epistemology; and PHIL 300 and PHIL 310 can count both toward the history of philosophy and moral and political philosophy.

History of philosophy
PHIL 300Topics in Classical Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 305Topics in Modern Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 310Hobbes to Kant

4 units

PHIL 350Modern Classics in Political Philosophy: Justice, Liberty, and Equality

4 units

Moral and political philosophy
PHIL 300Topics in Classical Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 310Hobbes to Kant

4 units

PHIL 330Globalization and Justice

4 units

PHIL 340Philosophy of Law

4 units

PHIL 345Contemporary Moral Philosophy: Authenticiy, Identity, and Freedom

4 units

PHIL 350Modern Classics in Political Philosophy: Justice, Liberty, and Equality

4 units

Metaphysics and epistemology
PHIL 305Topics in Modern Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 325Metalogic

4 units

PHIL 355Philosophy of Space and Time

4 units

PHIL 360Philosophy of Mind

4 units

PHIL 365Philosophy of Science

4 units

PHIL 370Philosophy of Language

4 units

PHIL 375Theory of Knowledge

4 units

PHIL 380Wittgenstein

4 units

PHIL 385Metaphysics

4 units

PHIL 101 can be counted toward the six additional courses in philosophy, but is not a required course.

Choosing Electives

Students interested in Law and Politics:

PHIL 230Introduction to Ethics

4 units

PHIL 240Philosophy of Race

4 units

PHIL 235Feminism

4 units

PHIL 255Environmental Ethics

4 units

PHIL 300Topics in Classical Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 310Hobbes to Kant

4 units

PHIL 330Globalization and Justice

4 units

PHIL 340Philosophy of Law

4 units

PHIL 350Modern Classics in Political Philosophy: Justice, Liberty, and Equality

4 units

Students interested in Physics and Mathematics:

PHIL 285Paradoxes

4 units

PHIL 325Metalogic

4 units

MATH 354/PHIL 320Set Theory and Foundations of Mathematics

4 units

PHIL 355Philosophy of Space and Time

4 units

PHIL 360Philosophy of Mind

4 units

PHIL 365Philosophy of Science

4 units

PHIL 375Theory of Knowledge

4 units

PHIL 380Wittgenstein

4 units

PHIL 385Metaphysics

4 units

Students interested in Health and Bioethics:

PHIL 230Introduction to Ethics

4 units

PHIL 240Philosophy of Race

4 units

PHIL 255Environmental Ethics

4 units

PHIL 365Philosophy of Science

4 units

Students interested in Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science:

PHIL 325Metalogic

4 units

PHIL 360Philosophy of Mind

4 units

PHIL 365Philosophy of Science

4 units

PHIL 370Philosophy of Language

4 units

PHIL 375Theory of Knowledge

4 units

PHIL 380Wittgenstein

4 units

Students interested in the History of Philosophy:

PHIL 205Introduction to Ancient Thought

4 units

PHIL 210Historical Introduction to Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 230Introduction to Ethics

4 units

PHIL 300Topics in Classical Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 305Topics in Modern Philosophy

4 units

PHIL 310Hobbes to Kant

4 units

PHIL 380Wittgenstein

4 units

WRITING REQUIREMENT

Students majoring in Philosophy will satisfy the second-stage component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by completing at least one writing-intensive upper division philosophy course with a grade of B- or higher (or appropriate course work). Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Graduating seniors in philosophy enroll in Philosophy 490, the Senior Seminar, in the fall semester. The comprehensive requirement is met by achieving a grade of C or better in the seminar.

The work of the seminar includes the writing of a research paper in philosophy. Students may choose from among the following three options: (1) A new paper on a topic previously studied in prior courses or summer research. The new paper must significantly advance the earlier work. (2) A critical book review based on a recent book in philosophy. (3) A paper on a topic chosen in consultation with a faculty member in philosophy. In all cases the goal of the comprehensive project is to synthesize and advance the senior philosophy major’s understanding of a major area of philosophy through the critical examination of an independently chosen topic, guided by faculty mentors, and carried out with the support of all the philosophy seniors.

The professor for the course is one of two readers for the senior comprehensive paper. Seniors select and work with a second philosophy professor who serves as the second reader. Selection of a second reader is done in consultation with the professor teaching the senior seminar. Students enrolled in the Senior Seminar present their work to the campus community in mid-November. The letter grade for Philosophy 490 is based on the quality of the comprehensive paper, the quality of contributions to the seminar discussions in Philosophy 490, and the quality of oral presentations. The philosophy faculty as a whole determines final grades. Work judged as exceptional will result in the designation “pass with distinction.” In addition, if the essay passes with distinction and the student's overall GPA is 3.25 or better, with 3.5 or better in philosophy, the student receives honors in philosophy.

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 will be determined by the philosophy faculty as a whole once final versions of the senior essays have been submitted. Seniors need a 3.5 GPA in philosophy, distinction in their senior comprehensives paper, and a 3.25 GPA overall to be considered for Departmental honors. See the Honors Program and consult the department chair for further details.

INTERDEPARTMENTAL MAJOR IN COGNITIVE SCIENCE

See Cognitive Science.

GRADUATE STUDY IN PHILOSOPHY

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.

Minor Requirements

Five courses (20 units) in Philosophy, including PHIL 225. At least one course must be an upper division course (in the 300 series). Students who wish to craft a narrowly focused course of study for the minor should consult a philosophy faculty adviser and the concentration guides above (listed under "Philosophy Major").

Courses

Philosophy Courses