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Robert J. Dostal
Michael Krausz
George E. Weaver Jr.

Associate Professor:
Christine M. Koggel, Chair and Major Adviser

Assistant Professor:
Cheryl Chen (on leave, semester I)

Affiliated Faculty:
Jeremy Elkins
Youngmin Kim
Deepak Kumar
Stephen G. Salkever
Azade Seyhan

The Department of Philosophy introduces students to some of the most compelling answers to questions of human existence and knowledge. It also grooms students for a variety of fields that require analysis, conceptual precision, argumentative skill, and clarity of thought and expression. These include administration, the arts, business, computer science, health professions, law and social services. The major in philosophy also prepares students for graduate-level study leading to careers in teaching and research in the discipline.

The curriculum focuses on three major areas: the systematic areas of philosophy, such as logic, theory of knowledge, metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics; the history of philosophy through the study of key philosophers and philosophical periods; and the philosophical explication of methods in such domains as art, history, religion and science.

The department is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium comprised of 13 member institutions in the Delaware Valley. It sponsors conferences on various topics in philosophy and an annual undergraduate student philosophy conference.

Major Requirements

Students majoring in philosophy must take a minimum of 10 semester courses and attend the monthly non-credit departmental colloquia. The following five courses are required for the major: the two-semester Historical Introduction (Philosophy 101 and 201); Ethics (221); Theory of Knowledge (211), Metaphysics (212) or Logic (103); and Senior Conference (399). At least three other courses at the 300 level are required. Majors must take one historical course that concentrates on the work of a single philosopher or a period in philosophy.

Philosophy majors are encouraged to supplement their philosophical interests by taking advantage of courses offered in related areas, such as anthropology, history, history of art, languages, literature, mathematics, political science, psychology and sociology.


Honors will be awarded by the department based on the senior thesis and other work completed in the department. As well, the Milton C. Nahm Prize in Philosophy is a cash award presented to the graduating senior major whose senior thesis the department judges to be of outstanding caliber. This prize need not be granted every year.

Minor Requirements

Students may minor in philosophy by taking six courses in the discipline at any level. They must also attend the monthly non-credit departmental colloquia.


Students may take advantage of cross-registration arrangements with Haverford College, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania. Courses at these institutions may satisfy Bryn Mawr requirements, but students should check with the chair of the department to make sure specific courses meet requirements.


No introductory-level course carries a prerequisite. However, all courses at both the intermediate and advanced levels carry prerequisites. Unless stated otherwise in the course description, any introductory course satisfies the prerequisite for an intermediate-level course, and any intermediate course satisfies the prerequisite for an advanced-level course.

PHIL B101. A Historical Introduction to Philosophy: Ancient Philosophy

What is the fundamental nature of the world? Can we have knowledge about the world and ourselves, and if so, how? What is the good life? In this course, we explore answers to these sorts of metaphysical, epistemological and ethical questions by examining the works of the Presocratics and of the two central Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. (Dostal, Koggel, Division III)

PHIL B102. Introduction to Problems of Philosophy

Contemporary formulations of certain philosophical problems are examined, such as the nature of knowledge, persons, freedom and determinism, the grounds of rationality, cognitive and moral relativism, and creativity in both science and art. (Krausz, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B103. Introduction to Logic

Training in reading and writing proof discourses (i.e., those segments of writing or speech that express deductive reasoning) to gain insight into the nature of logic, the relationship between logic and linguistics, and the place of logic in theory of knowledge. (Weaver)

PHIL B201. A Historical Introduction to Philosophy: Modern Philosophy

The development of philosophic thought from Descartes to Nietzsche. (Chen, Dostal, Division III)

PHIL B202. Culture and Interpretation

A study of methodological and philosophical issues associated with interpreting alternative cultures, including whether ethnocentrism is inevitable, whether alternative cultures are found or imputed, whether interpretation is invariably circular or relativistic, and what counts as a good reason for one cultural interpretation over another. (Krausz, Division III; cross-listed as Comparative Literature 202) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B203. Formal Semantics

A study of the adequacy of first-order logic as a component of a theory of linguistic analysis. Grammatical, semantic and proof theoretic inadequacies of first-order logics are examined and various ways of enriching these logics to provide more adequate theories are developed, with special attention to various types of linguistic presuppositions, analyticity, selection restrictions, the question-answer relation, ambiguity and paraphrase. Prerequisite: Philosophy 103. (Weaver, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B204. Readings in German Intellectual History

(Meyer, Pavsek, Schönherr, Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as German and German Studies 212) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B205. Philosophy and Medicine

This course explores several of the philosophical issues raised by the enterprise of medical science. These issues cross a wide range of philosophical subfields, including the philosophy of science, epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. Topics to be covered include: the nature of health, disease and illness, the epistemology of medical diagnosis, and the relationship between medical science and healthcare ethics. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B209. Philosophical Approaches to Criticism

(Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as Comparative Literature 209 and German and German Studies 209)

PHIL B211. Theory of Knowledge: Relativism and Realism

What sorts of things are there and what constraints are there in knowing them? Have we access to things as such or are they inevitably filtered through some conceptual scheme? This course will examine the debate between relativism and absolutism in relation to the debate between realism and antirealism. The course will seek to instill philosophical skills in the critical evaluation of pertinent theories. Readings will include works of Karl Popper, Nelson Goodman, Hilary Putnam, Israel Scheffler, Chhanda Gupta and others. (Krausz, Division III)

PHIL B212. Metaphysics

An examination of the issues that arise when we try to discern the fundamental nature of the world. What does it mean to say that something is real, objective, mind-independent or true? How do we go about deciding whether the world includes values, God, mind, numbers? Is there a reason to regard science's description of the world as depicting the world as it really is? (Chen, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B221. Ethics

An introduction to ethics by way of examination of moral theories (such as theories of justice and human rights, utilitarianism, Kant's categorical imperative, relativism and care ethics) and of practical issues (such as abortion, euthanasia, pornography and censorship, animal rights, and equity). (Koggel, Division III)

PHIL B222. Aesthetics: The Nature and Experience of Art

What sorts of things are works of art, music and literature? Can criticism in the arts be objective? Do such works answer to more than one admissible interpretation? If so, what is to prevent one from sliding into an interpretive anarchism? What is the role of a creator's intentions in fixing upon admissible interpretations? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources from the analytic and continental traditions. (Krausz, Division III; cross-listed as Comparative Literature 222)

PHIL B226. Introduction to Confucianism

(Kim, Division III; cross-listed as East Asian Studies 226)

PHIL B228. Political Philosophy (Ancient and Early Modern)

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 228)

PHIL B229. Concepts of the Self

In this course, we will discuss several related philosophical questions about the nature of the self, introspection, self-knowledge and personal identity. What kind of thing is the self? Is the self identical with your body or something distinct from it? What is introspection? What are you conscious of when you are self-conscious? How does knowledge of your own thoughts, sensations and desires differ from other kinds of knowledge? What kinds of changes can you undergo and still remain the same person you were before? We will address these issues by reading work from both historical and contemporary sources. (Chen, Division III)

PHIL B230. Discrete Mathematics

(Weaver, Division II or Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as Computer Science 231 and Mathematics 230)

PHIL B231. Political Philosophy (Modern)

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 231)

PHIL B236. Plato: Early and Middle Dialogues

Plato is sometimes accused of being out of touch with the real world, of radically changing his mind in his later years, of keeping his "secret" philosophy hidden, and even of writing not philosophy so much as dramatic fiction. Carefully reading representative later and earlier work, we will try to see how far such claims might or might not be justified. (Dostal, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B238. Science, Technology and the Good Life

This course considers questions concerning what is science, what is technology and what is their relationship to each other and to the domain of ethics and politics. We will pursue this set of questions historically and in the contemporary context. We will consider how modern science defined itself in its opposition to Aristotelian science. We will examine the Cartesian and Baconian scientific models and the self-understanding of these models with regard to ethics and politics. Contemporary developments in the philosophy of science will be considered, e.g., positivism, phenomenology, feminism, sociology of science. Is the U.S. the republic of technology? Biotechnology and information technology illustrate fundamental questions. The "science wars" of the 1990s provide another set of debates concerning science, technology and the good life. (Dostal, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 238) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B246. Philosophical Skepticism

This course will examine philosophical arguments that purport to show that we cannot know the things we take ourselves to know. We will focus on the problem of induction, external world skepticism, the problem of other minds and self-knowledge. (Chen, Division III)

PHIL B252. Feminist Theory

An examination of feminist critiques of traditional philosophical conceptions of morality, the self, reason and objectivity. Philosophical contributions to issues of concern for feminists, such as the nature of equality, justice and oppression, are studied. (Koggel, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B300. Nietzsche, Kant, Aristotle: Modes of Practical Philosophy

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 300) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B301. Hume

A close examination of Hume's philosophy, focusing on his psychology and its implications on his epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind and ethics. His views on causation, substance, personal identity, induction, practical reasoning, free will and the basis of moral judgements are considered in detail. How Hume is related to other British and Continental philosophers, and the significance of his views for Kant as well as for a number of philosophical debates, are also examined. (Chen, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B310. Philosophy of Science

An examination of positivistic science and its critics. Topics include the possibility and nature of scientific progress from relativistic perspectives. (Krausz, Grobstein, Division III)

PHIL B314. Existentialism

The course examines the philosophical roots and development of existentialism through selected readings (including novels and plays where relevant) in the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Camus, Marcel and Jaspers. The focus will be on the main features of the existentialist outlook, including treatments of freedom and choice, the person, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, being, time and authenticity. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B316. Philosophy of Mathematics

Epistemological problems, particularly in reference to mathematical realism, are examined and various solutions are discussed, with emphasis on "structuralist" solutions arising out of modern abstract algebra. Prerequisite: Philosophy 103 or 214. (Weaver) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B318. Philosophy of Language

It is argued that all mathematically precise results in linguistics, computer science and logic presuppose the theory of strings. This theory is given two formulations: (1) as the theory of string systems (or free monoids); and (2) as the theory of generalized arithmetics. These formulations are equivalent and within the theory of string systems three different types of models for linguistic description are developed: algebraic, automata theoretic and formal grammar. As an example we take the notion of distributional structure and define regular sets in terms of this notion. We then show that the regular sets are exactly the class of languages generated by left linear grammars and that this latter class is exactly those languages accepted by finite state automata. Prerequisite: Philosophy 103. (Weaver, Division III)

PHIL B319. Philosophy of Mind

Contemporary philosophy of mind is a subfield of metaphysics that attempts to explain how the existence of mental properties and events (such as pain and belief) can be consistent with the modern scientific view that everything that exists is physical. The first part of the course will explore major theories about mental properties, including functionalism, epi-phenomenalism, supervenience and eliminative materialism. We will discuss the debate over whether the mind is more like a traditional computer or a connectionist "neural net." Towards the end of the semester we will examine theories of mental content — how mental states come to be about one thing rather than something else. (Chen, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B321. Greek Political Philosophy

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 320)

PHIL B322. Equality Theory

An examination of various conceptions of equality within the liberal tradition, beginning with selections from John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, and an exploration of some of the key issues concerning views of the self, social relations and justice. The course also looks at critiques of Rawls and liberal theory in general by the communitarians Sandel, Taylor, MacIntyre and Walzer, as well as recent revisions to liberalism by Kymlicka, Rawls and Gutmann. Finally, the course explores some challenges to liberal equality theory in recent feminist discussions of the nature of the self, autonomy, social relations and justice. (Koggel, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B323. Culture and Interpretation

This course will pursue such questions as the following. For all objects of interpretation, must there be a single right interpretation? If not, what is to prevent one from sliding into an interpretive anarchism? Does interpretation affect the nature or the number of an object of interpretation? Does the singularity or multiplicity of interpretations mandate either realism or constructivism or any other ontology? Discussions will be based on contemporary readings. (Krausz, Division III)

PHIL B325. Philosophy of Music: The Nature and Experience of Classical Music

This course will consider philosophical issues pertaining to the ontology of works of music, meaning and understanding of music, emotions and expressiveness of music, music and intentionality, scores in relation to performances, the idea of rightness of interpretation, music and morality, and music in relation to other arts and practices. Examples of works will be provided in class. Prerequisite: a 200-level philosophy course or a course in music, music theory or criticism, or permission of instructor. (Krausz, Division III)

PHIL B326. Relativism: Cognitive and Moral

Cognitive relativists believe that truth is relative to particular cultures or conceptual schemes. In an analogous way, moral relativists believe that moral rightness is relative to particular cultures or conceptual schemes. Relativistic theories of truth and morality are widely embraced in the current intellectual climate, and they are as perplexing as they are pro-vocative. This course will examine varieties of relativism and their absolutistic counterparts. Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources. (Krausz, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B327. Political Philosophy in the 20th Century

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 327)

PHIL B329. Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein is notable for developing two complete philosophical systems. In the first, he attempted to show that there is a single common structure underlying all language, thought and being, and that the job of philosophy was to make it clear. In the second, he denied that the idea of such a structure was even coherent, and claimed that the job of philosophy was to free philosophers from bewitchments due to misunderstandings of ordinary concepts in language. We will begin by examining the first system as outlined in the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus. We then turn to his rejection of his earlier ideas in Philosophical Investigations. The course will end with an examination of parts of On Certainty. (Koggel, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B330. Kant

The significance of Kant's transcendental philosophy for thought in the 19th and 20th centuries cannot be overstated. His work is profoundly important for both the analytical and the so-called "continental" schools of thought. This course will provide a close study of Kant's breakthrough work: The Critique of Pure Reason. We will read and discuss the text with reference to its historical context (Descartes, Locke, Hume, Leibniz, etc.) and with respect to its impact on later developments in epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion as well as developments in German Idealism and 20th century phenomenology (Husserl and Heidegger). We will read selections from the other two Critiques and discuss Kant's ethics and his aesthetics which similarly shaped subsequent philosophical discussion. (Dostal, Division III)

PHIL B338. Phenomenology: Husserl and Heidegger

This upper level seminar will consider the two main proponents of phenomenology — a movement in philosophy in the 20th century that attempted to restart philosophy in a radical way. Its concerns are philosophically comprehensive: ontology, epistemology, philosophy of science, ethics and so on. Phenomenology provides the important background for other later developments in 20th century philosophy and beyond: existentialism, deconstruction, post-modernism. This seminar will focus primarily on two books: Edmund Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences and Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. Other writings by these two authors will also be considered including some of Heidegger's later work that seems to turn away from phenomenology. The seminar concludes with a consideration of Merleau-Ponty's preface to his Phenomenology of Perception. (Dostal, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B344. Development Ethics

This course explores the questions and moral issues raised by development in the context of globalization. Questions to be considered include: In what direction and by what means should a society develop? What are the obligations, if any, of rich countries to poor countries? What role, if any, should rich countries, international institutions and nongovernmental organizations have in the development or self-development of poor countries? To what extent, if any, do moral relativism, national sovereignty and universalism pose a challenge to cross-cultural ethical inquiry about theories of human flourishing, human rights and justice? (Koggel, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 344)

PHIL B347. Philosophy of Perception

A discussion of several issues in the philosophy of perception. What exactly do we perceive? What is the role of concepts in our experience? What is the relation between perceptual experience and empirical judgment? Does our capacity to think depend on our ability to perceive? (Chen, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B352. Feminism and Philosophy: Transnationalism

An investigation of the lessons feminism and philosophy offer one another. The course examines feminist critiques of traditional philosophical conceptions of morality, the self, reason and objectivity; and it studies philosophical contributions to issues of concern for feminists, such as the nature of equality, justice and oppression. (Koggel, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 352) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B355. Descartes

This advanced seminar examines the major works of the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes. Through his Meditations, with responses and replies, Principles of Philosophy, Discourse on Method and other works, we will gain an appreciation of Descartes' philosophical sophistication and the richness of his positions. Emphasis will be placed on the context of Descartes' work in the history of philosophy. (Chen, Division III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B359. Sacrifice, Identity and Law

(Elkins, Division III; cross-listed as Comparative Literature 359 and Political Science 359) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B361. Interpretation Theory: Gadamer

This upper level seminar focuses on a major work of contemporary philosophy, Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method, which provides a comprehensive theory of interpretation. Gadamer argues that all experience and understanding is iterpretive. The seminar will consider both the background for and the reception of this work through selections from, among others, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Dilthey, Heidegger, Strauss, Habermas and Derrida. (Dostal, Divsion III) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B364. Irony and Inquiry: Plato and Nietzsche

(Elkins, Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as Comparative Literature 364 and Political Science 364) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B372. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

(Kumar, Division II or Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as Computer Science 372)

PHIL B380. Persons, Morality and Modernity

(Elkins, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 380) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B384. Islamic Political Thought

(Harrold, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 384)

PHIL B390. The American Regime: Philosophical Foundations of American Politics

(staff, Division III; cross-listed as Political Science 390) Not offered in 2004-05.

PHIL B399. Senior Conference

Senior majors are required to write an undergraduate thesis on an approved topic. The senior conference is the course in which research and writing are directed. Seniors will meet collectively and individually with the supervising instructor. (Koggel)

The Department of Philosophy sponsors the following General Studies courses. These courses should be of interest to philosophy students as well as students in mathematics and computer science.

GNST B213. Introduction to Mathematical Logic

Equational logics and the equational theories of algebra are used as an introduction to mathematical logic. While the basics of the grammar and deductive systems of these logics are covered, the primary focus is their semantics or model theory. Particular attention is given to those ideas and results that anticipate developments in classical first-order model theory. Prerequisites: Philosophy 103 and Mathematics 231. (Weaver, Division II)

GNST B214. Modal Logic

This course examines the Kripke "possible world" semantics for a family of logics whose logical vocabulary contains 'necessity' and 'possibility.' Primary emphasis is given to sentential logics and the modal extensions. Techniques are developed for establishing completeness, compactness and interpolation results. Time permitting, both quantified modal logics and temporal logics will also be considered. Prerequisite: Philosophy 103 or its equivalent. (Weaver, Division II)

GNST B215. Introduction to Set Theory: Cardinals and Ordinals

Study of the theory of cardinal and ordinal numbers in the context of G-del-Bernays-von Neumann set theory. Topics include equivalents of the axiom of choice and basic results in infinite combinatorics. Prerequisites: Philosophy 103 and Mathematics 231. (Weaver, Division II) Not offered in 2004-05.

GNST B303. Advanced Mathematical Logic

This course develops various advanced topics in the branch of mathematical logic called model theory. Topics include homogeneous models, universal models, saturated and special models, back-and-forth constructions, ultraproducts, the compactness and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, submodel complete theories, model complete theories, and omega-categorical theories. Prerequisite: General Studies 213 or Haverford Mathematics 237. (Weaver, Division II) Not offered in 2004-05.

Haverford College currently offers the following courses in philosophy at the 200 and 300 levels:

210a. Plato
221b. Early Modern Continental Philosophy
225a. The Concept of Freedom and the Dialectic of Master and Slave
232a. African American Philosophy
242a. Buddhist Philosophy
253b. Analytic Philosophy of Language
254b. Metaphysics
310a. Topics in Ancient Philosophy
332b. Topics in 20th Century Philosophy: Derrida
336b. Hegel
342b. Topics in Asian Philosophy
354a. Topics in Metaphysics: Frege
399. Senior Seminar

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