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Philosophy Courses, Majors, & Minor

Here is information from the DePauw Catalog: the requirements for majoring and minoring in philosophy, and the Catalog's descriptions of all DePauw philosophy courses. The Catalog course descriptions are general, allowing different instructors to teach the same course differently. For  instructors' more detailed descriptions of the courses we are offering now and next semester, see our Upcoming & Current Courses.

 

Requirements for a major

Philosophy

Total courses required Nine
Core courses
  • Any two from PHIL 212, PHIL 213 and PHIL 216
  • PHIL 251
  • PHIL 490
Other required courses One course from the following: Value Courses, from PHIL 230 to 242, PHIL 340, or a topics course (PHIL 209 or 309) in moral philosophy or in the philosophy of art and aesthetics.
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four, including either PHIL 419 or 469
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of PHIL 490, the capstone course for majors in philosophy. This course covers a broad range of advanced topics in philosophy; typically three or four topics are covered during the semester. This course places a particular emphasis on original thought; students are expected to frame philosophical problems for themselves and conduct independent research.
Recent changes in major Effective with the Fall 2009 semester, courses in philosophy have been renumbered. Requirements for the major have not changed, but the course numbers for the core courses and other required courses have. Consult the list of courses below for the former course numbers.
Writing in the Major Clear thought is essential for doing philosophy well. Clear writing and clear thinking are inextricably linked; therefore, clear writing is essential for doing philosophy well. Central to good philosophical writing are the capacities to (1) express the views of others accurately and charitably, (2) develop one's own criticisms of others' views, (3) creatively develop one¿s own views, and (4) anticipate and respond to objections to one's own views. Accordingly, our courses are designed to inculcate these abilities in our students. In most upper-level philosophy courses, students are required to complete at least one substantial writing assignment that involves submitting an initial draft, receiving feedback on that draft, and submitting a final draft revised in light of that feedback.

To satisfy the writing in the major requirement for philosophy, a student must achieve a grade of C (not including C-) or higher on the final drafts of three appropriate writing assignments from 300- or higher-level philosophy courses, and submit those final papers to his or her major advisor. Not all three papers may have been assigned by the same professor. Professors for upper-level philosophy courses will identify writing assignments that are suitable for this requirement.

Philosophy bridged to another discipline

Total courses required Ten
Core courses PHIL 470 0r 491
Other required courses Five additional courses in philosophy (three at the 300 or above). Three courses in the other discipline (two at the 200-level or above and one at the 300-level or above)
Number 300 and 400 level courses Five
Senior requirement and capstone experience In the senior year, bridge majors complete either PHIL 470 or PHIL 491. In either case, bridge majors write a substantial paper that deals with material at the intersection of philosophy and the other discipline.
Additional information Students seeking a bridge major must submit a plan no later than fall break of the third year. This plan must include a description of the philosophical problem(s) at the intersection of philosophy and the other discipline that the student wishes to explore, as well as courses that will constitute the bridge major. The plan should designate one course from the student's list of courses that will constitute the bridge major as the "bridge course." In constructing this plan, students must secure agreement from a philosophy department faculty member to oversee PHIL 470 or 491 in the student's senior year. This plan is to be submitted to the major advisor and must be approved by the department and filed with the registrar's office. The department's decision about whether to approve the plan will be based on the coherence of the plan as well as the department's assessment of the student's ability to carry out the independent research required to complete the proposed plan.
Recent changes in major On 12/6/2010 the Faculty approved increasing the number of courses for the bridge major to ten, adding PHIL 470 as an alternate senior requirement, increasing the number of courses in the other discipline to three, and modifying the plan for the bridge major.

Requirements for a minor

Philosophy

Total courses required Four
Core courses Courses must be at the 200-level or above
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One

Courses in Philosophy

PHIL 001

Ethics Debate Team

Participation in Ethics Bowl or Bioethics Bowl competitions.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
0 Course Credit

PHIL 101

Introduction to Philosophy

Selected problems of philosophy and some alternative solutions. Readings from contemporary and historical philosophers. Seniors admitted only by permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 102

God, Evil and the Meaning of Life

Readings from philosophical, religious and literary authors on such questions as the meaning of God, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, the meaning of human life, the relation of morality and religious belief. Open to first-year students and sophomores; open to others only by permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 184

On-Campus Extended Studies Course

An on-campus course offered during the Winter or May term. May be offered for .5 course credits or as a co-curricular (0 credit). Counts toward satisfying the Extended Studies requirement.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Variable

PHIL 197

First-Year Seminar

A seminar focused on a theme in the study of philosophy. Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 209

Topics

An introductory course to a systematic field of philosophy, history, philosophical movement, or set of philosophical problems. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 210

History of Philosophy: Chinese Philosophy

Major philosophers and schools in Classical China. Readings are selected from the writings of Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Xunzi, Mozi, Zhuangzi, Hanfeizi. The main focus will be on Chinese philosophy, but some comparisons with Western thought will be made. Not open to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 212

History of Western Philosophy: Ancient

Major philosophers and philosophical schools of western philosophy. The course covers the Pre-Socratics through Stoicism and Skepticism. Offered only fall semester.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 213

History of Philosophy: Medieval

This course examines the main figures and debates in Medieval Philosophy, beginning with St. Augustine of Hippo and concluding with Machiavelli. Some topics covered: the refutation of skepticism, what is truth, the City of God versus the City of Man, Natural Law, Just War and what constitutes good government. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophical theories are featured. Counts toward European Studies Minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 216

History of Western Philosophy: Early Modern

Major philosophers and philosophical schools of western philosophy. The course covers Descartes through Kant. Emphasis on epistemology and metaphysics. Offered only spring semester. Counts toward European Studies Minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 220

Existentialism

Introductory course in Existentialism. Major writers from both 19th and 20th centuries, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. Issues to be discussed: the meaning of life, value of morality, absurdity of life, relation between being and nothingness. Counts toward European Studies Minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 230

Ethical Theory

Historical and contemporary answers to some of the main problems of ethics, including the standard of right and wrong, the criteria of goodness, the possibility of ethical knowledge and the place of reason in ethics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 231

Leadership and Responsibility

Examines theoretical, practical and moral dimensions of leadership. Topics include the nature of leadership, the elements of effective leadership, the obligations and responsibilities of leaders and followers, the challenges of leadership in a diverse society. Particular attention given to key figures and events in the civil rights movement as a way of illustrating and illuminating concepts covered in the course.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 232

Environmental Ethics

An examination of the extent of, limits to, and grounds for individual and collective moral obligations with respect to the 'more-than-human world.' Discusses anthropocentric, zoocentric, biocentric and ecocentric value theories; ecofeminist, deep ecology, and environmental justice perspectives; and/or such topics as biodiversity, climate change, sustainable agriculture, and/or ethics of consumption. This course may include a community engagement/service learning project and required field trips.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 233

Ethics and Business

An examination of ethical questions relating to business activity. Topics include: economic justice, the moral responsibilities of corporations, rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, business and consumers, regulation of business.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 234

Biomedical Ethics

Perplexing moral issues arising in contemporary biomedical practice, research and medical care. Readings from a variety of sources.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 240

Philosophy of Art

Traditional and recent theories of art, the work of art, criticism, theories of taste and aesthetic quality and special problems concerning the individual arts.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

PHIL 242

Philosophy of Sex and Gender

An introduction to the principal views in the history of philosophy on the issues concerning the status of women, relationship between the sexes, sexual attitudes and orientations. First part of the class: the foundations of the Conservative View and reactions against them. Second part of the class: some problem areas, such as the desire for pleasure, homosexuality in society, pornography and whether there are unconscious libidinal mechanisms directing our lives.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

PHIL 251

Logic

A systematic study of reasoning with emphasis on questions of meaning and validity. Includes sentential logic, elementary quantification, a survey of fallacies and selected topics in inductive logic.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Science and Mathematics 1 course

PHIL 260

Cosmology [See also PHYS 203]

An examination of fundamental questions about the origin, order and meaning of the universe from the perspective of physics, philosophy and other disciplines. Topics include: development of Western cosmology; physics and metaphysics of space and time; the Cosmological and Design arguments for the existence of God; the Anthropic Principle; life and consciousness.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 309

Topics

An advanced course in a topics area, such as, metaethics, contemporary European philosophy, or Social-Political Philosophy. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 340

Classical Political Philosophy

With an emphasis on classic texts from writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Mill and Marx, this course pursues fundamental questions in political philosophy. Why have government at all? What is the nature and extent of our obligation to obey government? What obligations does the government have toward us? What right do we have to disobey? Our first goal will be to understand our authors' answers to such questions, but our most important task will be the critical appraisal of their answers. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy of permission of instructor. Counts toward European Studies Minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Prerequisite: one course in philosophy of permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 342

Philosophy of Law

An inquiry into topics, such as, the nature of law, the relation of law to morality, the notion of responsibility in the law, punishment and the import for law of liberty of expression. Readings from classical and recent philosophers of law.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 351

Advanced Logic

Techniques of proof in sentential logic, predicate calculus and predicate calculus with identity. Introduction of metalogical issues of consistency, completeness and Godel incompleteness. Topics in philosophical logic such as modal, tense and epistemic logics. Prerequisite: PHIL 251 or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
PHIL 251 or permission of instructor. 1 course

PHIL 352

Epistemology

What is knowledge? Is it possible for humans to get it? If so, how? What is it for a belief to be justified? What is the relationship between knowledge and justification? In this course, we examine some of the main analyses of knowledge and some of the main criteria of justification and other related questions. Readings will include classic and contemporary sources. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 353

Metaphysics

A philosophical study of the nature of reality, considering such problems as the theory of causes, the status of universals, freedom, mind-body, space and time, individuation. The course will consider both historical and contemporary sources. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 360

Philosophy of Science

The nature, aims and methods of the natural and social sciences. The nature of scientific description, explanation and prediction. The role of theories, models and deduction in science. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, or major in science or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy, or major in science, or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 361

Philosophy of Language

An inquiry into the nature and function of language, considering questions of reference, meaning, metaphor and the relationship of logic to thought. Although the course will focus primarily on issues raised by Frege and Wittgenstein and developed by contemporary analytic philosophers, discussions of language by non-analytic philosophers may also be considered. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 363

Philosophy of Religion

An examination of philosophical issues related to religious belief. Typical topics include various puzzles relating to the divine attributes, arguments for and against God's existence and the contemporary debate between theism and naturalism. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 364

Death: Philosophical Approaches

An examination of philosophical questions surrounding death. Topics include the rationality of fear of death, the possibility of the survival of death, the relation between mortality and the meaning of life and idea of a good death. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 419

Major Philosophers

One or two philosophers, usually chosen from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Wittgenstein and Frege. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics. Counts toward European Studies Minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 469

Philosophical Problems

A study of one or more problems, such as universals, time, freedom, causation, happiness and necessary truth. Attention mainly to recent papers and books. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

PHIL 470

Independent Study in Philosophy

Directed studies in a selected field or fields of philosophy. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/4-1/2-1 course

PHIL 490

Senior Seminar

This class is the capstone course for majors in philosophy. It covers a broad range of advanced topics in philosophy; typically three or four topics are covered during the semester. Topics may be treated historically or systematically. The students are responsible for presentations and discussions of the material. Several papers will be assigned. May not be taken pass/fail. Open only to seniors.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

PHIL 491

Senior Thesis

This course provides an opportunity for outstanding philosophy majors to produce a substantial (normally 30+ pages in length) research paper on an important topic in philosophy. Students who are planning to do graduate work in philosophy are encouraged to take this course. Students must apply to the department for approval to undertake this project. Accepted students will be assigned a thesis advisor who will set the schedule for the completion of the paper. The course culminates with an oral defense of the completed paper. Prerequisites: Major in Philosophy, senior status, and departmental approval. May not be taken pass/fail.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Major in Philosophy, senior status, and departmental approval 1 course