Department Website:


  • Professor Xinli Wang (Chair) - ext. 3642
  • Associate Professor Wade Roberts - ext. 3418

Background Information:


As the oldest discipline and the womb of all knowledge, philosophy is the activity of critically and rationally examining the reasons behind the most fundamental presuppositions of human lives through thinking about thinking (Aristotle) and self-examination (Socrates).  The Department seeks to engage students in rational and critical thinking about their total life experience: logic, ethics, aesthetics, methods of knowing, and levels of being and, accordingly, to prepare students to lead examined lives.  Hence, in addition to fairly standard introductory and advanced courses, the department develops offerings of special interest to students in such diverse areas as natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  The study of philosophy develops students' abilities and skills of general problem solving, communication, persuasive powers, and writing.  Hence, much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any intellectual endeavor (graduate studies and professional school) and any job.  More specially, philosophical training is indispensable for any serious thinkers in humanities and social sciences.

Special programs, facilities, or equipment:

  • Philosophy club
  • Opportunity for studying philosophy abroad in one of the college exchange partners, such as the University of Leeds in England, the University of Otago and the University Waikoto in New Zealand, or the University of Newcastle in Australia

Programs of Emphasis:

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Individualized Programs of Emphasis in Philosophy and Another Area of Study:

For the students who want to take some substantial portion of philosophy courses either to enhance their existing POE in any area of study or just for their intellectual enjoyment, in addition to fairly standard introductory courses, the department develops offerings of special interest to students in such diverse areas as religious studies, politics, physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, environmental science and studies, economics and business, and peace and conflict studies.

  • Philosophy/mind
  • Psychology/Philosophy
  • Peace and Conflict Studies/Philosophy
  • Politics/Philosophy
  • Biology/Philosophy
  • Physics/Philosophy
  • Chemistry/Philosophy
  • History/Philosophy
  • Communications/Philosophy

Secondary Emphasis:

  • Requirements: total 18 credits (at least 15 credits in some special cases) in philosophy, among them, (a) two at advance level (either the 300-level or some specified 200-level courses); (b) one in logic; (c) one in history of philosophy.


PL-101   Introduction to Philosophy (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,WK-HT) This course provides students with the background and conceptual tools that are required for more advanced study in the subject. At the discretion of the instructor, the course will either examine fundamental philosophical problems or provide a survey of important thinkers. Pre-Req or Co-Req: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-103   Life, Death, and Meaning (Fall & Spring; All Years; 3.00 Credits; H,WK-HT) The course will explore the meaning of life and death. Our primary concern will be with death, one's own inevitable personal death as it figures in human life and in contributing, or perhaps even detracting from, the meaningfulness of such a life. It will give you a deeper philosophical understanding of the meaning of death, and consequently the meaning of life, which will ultimately bring you into true being and authentic existence.

PL-105   Introduction to Logic (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,WK-FR) An analysis of practical reasoning skills, including a systematic approach to informal arguments and the meaning of everyday claims. Aristotelian logic, Venn Diagrams, propositional logic and symbolic logic are included.

PL-106   Introduction to Ethics (Either Semester; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,SW-ER) Examines the historically valid ethical approaches to problems, i.e., pragmatic, relativistic and absolute and the application of such methods to contemporary ethical dilemmas, e.g., abortion, terrorism, euthanasia, and capital punishment.

PL-199   Special Topics (Variable; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the departments to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-205   Ancient Philosophy (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,CW,WK-HT) This course is a historical survey of ancient Greek philosophy which will cover representative figures (including the major pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle and important authors/movements from the Hellenistic period, such as Epicurus, Stoicism and Skepticism). Prerequisite or corequisite: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109.

PL-208   Symbolic Logic (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; N,H,WK-FR) An introduction to the basics of first-order logic: the concept of artificial language, techniques for symbolizing ordinary languages and arguments, formal inference systems (either truth- free method or natural deduction), and other advanced topics in first-order logic. It has no prerequisites beyond high school algebra.

PL-230   Business Ethics (Variable; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H,SW-ER) Asks the student to examine his/her personal values relative to those professional values of the business world. In particular, students will examine the claims of society, government, labor, management as they impact upon the individual who contemplates a career in the business world. Issues such as safety in the workplace, the right to privacy, and the obligations of the corporation to its employees, its customers, and to society itself will be covered. Pre-Req or Co-Req: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-235   Ethics of Health Care (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,SW-ER) This course is a seminar-style course in 'professional ethics'. It will explore the various codes, value assumptions, and dilemmas faced by those who practice the health care professions. Specific topics (or dilemmas) will be determined by each class, based upon the specific POEs of the enrolled students. Pre-req or co-req: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-250   Science and Human Values (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,WK-HT,CTGES) This course examines the reciprocal influence between science and social values, from the perspective of the humanities. It asks, " What good is science? " Through selected readings and discussion, students consider how everyday life is shaped by scientific innovation and technology, just as society provides a framework of cultural values for science. Prereq or coreq: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-260   Philosophy of Science (Variable; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H,WK-HT,CTGES) Lays out some central philosophical problems raised by natural sciences. The possible topics to be discussed: Is science rational and objective? Does science really make progress? If so, in what sense? How to distinguish science from pseudoscience. Is science superior knowledge to other types? What is a good scientific explanation? Could we ever know about unobservable physical entities and events? Is it ever legitimate to regard a scientific theory as true? Prereq or coreq: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-265   Environmental Ethics (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,SW-ER) As the life-support system for everyone, the environment is unquestionably of high value. Yet decisions about its care and its uses evoke controversy. This course explores contrasting viewpoints and practices that impact the earth and its plant and animal life. Through readings, projects, and critical discussion of cases, students apply ethical theories to selected contemporary issues. Prereq or coreq: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-270   Ethical Theory (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,SW-ER) This course will provide students with an introduction to important debates in contemporary ethical theory (including debates about the epistemic status of moral claims and moral relativism). It will also introduce students to important normative frameworks within contemporary ethics (such as virtue ethics, utilitarianism, deontology, Confucian ethics, feminist ethics, etc.). Prerequisite: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-275   Modern Philosophy (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,CA,CW,WK-HT) Selections from the founders of the twin pillars of modernity, i.e., Modern Philosophy (F. Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant) and Modern Science (Copernicus, Spinoza, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Boyle) are studied with an emphasis on the philosophical origins of modern psychology and the epistemic foundations of contemporary scientific methodology. Prereq or coreq: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109

PL-299   Special Topics (Either Semester; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the department to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-304   Existentialism (Variable; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,CW,WK-HT) This course provides students with an introduction to the major philosophers and themes associated with existentialist thought. Through a critical engagement with authors such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and Camus (among others), we will explore questions concerning human freedom, alienation, authenticity, and mortality. Pre-or Co-Req: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109.

PL-308   End of History, Death of God (Either Semester; Yearly; 4.00 Credits; H,CW,WK-HT) Formerly titled " Hegel to Nietzsche. " This course provides an introduction to important philosophical discussions in nineteenth-century philosophy and political thought centered around the Hegelian/Marxist themes of history's end and Nietzsche's attempt to grapple with the implications of what he called " the death of God. " Prerequisite or corequisite: FYC-101 or EN-110 or EN-109.

PL-310   Contemporary Political Philosophy (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; S,H,CW) This course will focus on important political orientations and figures in the twentieth/early twenty-first century. Instructors may also focus on specific topics which have driven recent debates in contemporary political philosophy, including distributive justice, the normative foundations of liberalism/democracy or the tension between state sovereignty and international law (among others). Prerequisites: Take 1 course from the PL department or permission of the instructor.

PL-318   Knowledge, Truth and Skepticism (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) The course is a study of the nature of human knowledge and justification of beliefs with special attention to three conceptually related topics: the nature and value of knowledge and the nature and structure of epistemic justification, the nature of truth, and the challenges from skepticism and influential responses to it. Prerequisites: Take any 1 Philosophy course, or by instructor consent.

PL-399   Special Topics (Variable; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the department to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-450   Senior Thesis (Variable; Variable; 3.00 Credits; H) Students will engage in independent research and write a substantial final paper which evidences sustained engagement with the secondary literature on a topic selected in consultation with faculty members. This course is designed as a capstone experience. Prereqisite: Senior standing.

PL-490   Internship/Need Paperwork (Variable; Variable; 2.00-9.00 Credits) See catalog.

PL-495   Internship Seminar (Variable; Variable; 2.00-6.00 Credits) See catalog