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Department of Political Science and Philosophy
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Philosophy Course Descriptions

PHIL 2301 Introduction to Philosophy. This course offers a general overview of some main philosophical issues. We explore questions such as: Why is philosophy relevant? How do we do philosophy? Can we prove the existence of God by means of rational argument? Can we be certain of what we know? Who are we? Our mind? Our body? Both? If so, how are mind and body related? Can we be held responsible for our actions? Could we have done otherwise given our background, our biological and psychological constitution? And finally, what is “the good life”? Who decides what the good life is? Is a good life meaningful? 

PHIL 2311 Ethics. The goal of this course is to get a better philosophical understanding of some important notions in the field of ethics. The questions we deal with include: Are we moral beings? Do we have to be good? Why? How do we know what is good? How can we justify our actions? What is the role of reason, of emotions, of society and of environment in our moral life? Should all human beings have the same moral values? Is there any connection between being happy and being good?

PHIL 2321 Critical Reasoning and Logic. Why do we find people convincing? Why do we prefer certain arguments? What does it mean to say that an idea follows from another? Can we learn to think better? By learning logic we learn the tools for good thinking since we become aware of the rules governing the structure of our thought. This course provides the means to distinguish good from bad arguments, to evaluate problems and the solutions to them, and to identify fallacies and non-reasonable conclusions. The goal of this course is to help you improve your thinking (and, therefore, writing) skills. No prior knowledge in logic is required.

PHIL 3310 History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. This course covers the development of philosophy from its beginning in the sixth century B.C. to the 14th century. In this manner, it covers two main philosophical periods in the History of Philosophy usually referred to as Ancient and Medieval philosophy. We let some of the great philosophers lead us into fundamental notions and issues. Through their writings we learn to think and rethink about those issues. Learning about the history of philosophy is not just learning what philosophers said in the past, but understanding their concerns in what they said and rethinking their ideas in contemporary terms.

PHIL 3311 History of Modern Philosophy. This course covers the development of philosophical thought from the 15th century to the present. In the Modern period we witness the abandonment of medieval Scholastic philosophy, the lay out of the philosophical foundations for the new science (17th c.), the Enlightenment’s attempt to extend those foundations to the moral, social and political spheres (18th c.), and the developments and reactions to the Enlightenment during the 19th century. The course lets some fundamental figures in the history of philosophy lead us into fundamental notions and issues. Through their writings we learn to think and rethink about those issues in contemporary terms.

PHIL 3312 Introduction to Metaphysics. This introductory course will consider the traditional problems of metaphysics; personal identity, time, space, causation, freewill, universals and particulars, as well as more recent philosophical concerns such as “vagueness.” The course will look at some of the most important of the philosophers who contributed to this literature, including the Empiricists; Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, as well as the rationalists; Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza, up to and including more recent contemporary literature on these problems.

PHIL 3313 Philosophy of Religion. This course examines some fundamental issues concerning the nature of religious belief, the relation between faith and reason, the arguments for and against the existence of God, and the problem of evil.

PHIL 3314 World Religions from a Philosophical Perspective. This course offers a philosophical and comparative analysis of some of the major Western and Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Taoism.

PHIL 4311 Philosophy of Science and Technology. This course reflects on the nature of the scientific enterprise and its technological ramifications. It covers topics in the philosophy of science, including the difference between science and non-science, the nature of the scientific method, the ontological status of theoretical entities or the role of values in science. It also addresses the relation between science and technology and some fundamental topics in the philosophy of technology.

PHIL 4312 Philosophy of Mind. This course explores traditional and contemporary views on the nature of mind. It covers topics such as the mind-body problem, causation of mental entities, the fitting of consciousness in a physical world, intentionality, and computational approaches to mind. Thought experiments involving robots, zombies, Martians, or brains in vats will help us reflect on our nature as beings with mental lives.

PHIL 4330 Great Philosophical Figures. This course is dedicated to cover in depth the works of one or two prominent figures in the history of philosophy. This is a variable topic course.

*PHIL 4331 Classical Political Philosophy (3-0). A survey of classical Greek, Roman and Renaissance political thought from Socrates to Machiavelli.

*PHIL 4332 Modern Political Philosophy (3-0). A survey of modern political thought from Hobbes to Nietzsche.

*PHIL 4333 Contemporary Political Philosophy (3-0). A survey of recent political thought from Nietzsche to Derrida.

*PHIL 4334 Existentialism and Political Violence (3-0). A survey of existentialist thought, and the existentialist critique of political violence from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.

PHIL 4360 Topics in Contemporary Philosophy. This course studies key philosophical topics and writings in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Among the philosophical movements covered in this course are German idealism, existentialism, logical positivism, linguistic philosophy, and pragmatism.

PHIL 4391 Research. Students can take this course as Directed Readings in Philosophy or as a Research Senior Thesis. This second option is strongly recommended for students intending to apply for graduate studies in philosophy.

PHIL 4395 Capstone Seminar. Students will develop a portfolio from papers and writing samples that best represent their achievements in the discipline. The portfolio should include an introduction justifying the selection of the content material and a critical analysis of the progress made in the degree program.

*These courses are cross-listed with political science courses.