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Students may complete a major or minor in Philosophy.


Robert J. Dostal, Professor (on leave semester II)
Christine M. Koggel, Professor, Chair and Major Adviser (on leave semester I)
Michael Krausz, Professor and Acting Chair, semester I
Adriel Trott, Instructor
Morgan Wallhagen, Lecturer
George E. Weaver Jr., Professor

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 comprising 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 noncredit departmental colloquia. The following five courses are required for the major: the two-semester Historical Introduction (PHIL 101 and 201); Ethics (PHIL 221); Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 211), Metaphysics (PHIL 212) or Logic (PHIL 103); and Senior Conference (PHIL 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. 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 noncredit 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, most 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 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 Pre-Socratics and of the two central Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. (Dostal, Trott, Division III)

PHIL B102 Introduction to Problems in 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. (Wallhagen, Division III)

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 Historical Introduction to Philosophy: Modern Philosophy

The development of philosophic thought from Descartes to Nietzsche. (Trott, Wallhagen, 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 COML B202) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B204 Readings in German Intellectual History

(Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B212) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B209 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Philosophical Approaches to Criticism

(Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as COML B209 and GERM B209) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B210 Philosophy of Social Science: Philosophy of Psychology

Prerequisite: ANTH 102 or another introductory course in the social sciences or philosophy, or permission of instructor. (staff, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B201) Not offered in 2006-07.

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 Nelson Goodman, Chhanda Gupta, Karl Popper, Hilary Putnam, Israel Scheffler 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? (Wallhagen, Division III)

PHIL 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: PHIL 103 and MATH 231. (Weaver, Division II; cross-listed as GNST B213)

PHIL 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: PHIL B103 or equivalent. (Weaver, Division II) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B221 Ethics

How should we live our lives and interact with others? This course explores answers to this question in the context of the global community in which we now live. It introduces students to ethics by way of an 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 the environment, and equity). (Koggel, Division III)

PHIL B222 Aesthetics: 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 COML B222)

PHIL B226 Introduction to Confucianism

(Kim, Division III; cross-listed as EAST B226 and POLS B226) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B228 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ancient and Early Modern

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B228)

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. (Wallhagen, Division III)

PHIL B230 Discrete Mathematics

An introduction to discrete mathematics with strong applications to computer science. Topics include set theory, functions and relations, propositional logic, proof techniques, recursion, counting techniques, difference equations, graphs and trees. (Weaver, Division II and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as CMSC B231 and MATH B231)

PHIL B231 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Modern

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B231)

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 2006-07.

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 domains of ethics and politics. 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. Developments in the philosophy of science will be considered, e.g., positivism, phenomenology, feminism, sociology of science. Biotechnology and information technology illustrate fundamental questions. The "science wars" of the 1990s provide debates concerning science, technology and the good life. (Dostal, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B238) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B243 Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

Surveys 20th-century continental philosophy: phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, Marxism and the Frankfurt school, structuralism and post-structuralism and deconstruction. Themes include meaning and truth, the basis for ethics and politics, embodiment, language, the "other" and feminism. Philosophers discussed include Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre. Prerequisites: PHIL B101 and PHIL B201. (Dostal, Division III)

PHIL B244 Philosophy and Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of human cognition. It goes from the abstract study of concepts of cognition at one end to well-defined empirical research into language and cognition and the specifics of cognitive modeling on computers at the other. Philosophy, linguistics, psychology, computer science and neuroscience are the major contributors to cognitive science. (Wallhagen, Division III)

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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B250 Topics in Chinese Cultural History: Introduction to Chinese Philosophy

(Kim, Division III; cross-listed as EAST B210 )

PHIL B252 Feminist Theory

(Barker, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B253) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B300 Nietzsche, Kant, Plato: Modes of Practical Philosophy

(Salkever; cross-listed as POLS B300) Not offered in 2006-07.

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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07 .

PHIL 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: PHIL 213 or Haverford's MATH 237. (Weaver; cross-listed as GNST B303) Not offered in 2006-07.

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. (Grobstein, Krausz, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B314 Existentialism

In this course we will examine the critique of the modern subject as presented by existentialism through the themes of freedom, anxiety, consciousness, selfhood and death. While the existentialists boldy embrace freedom, they do not deny the limitations to that freedom that the world presents. The course will be divided into four sections, each dedicated to one of the following thinkers: Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre. (Trott, Division III)

PHIL B316 History and 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: PHIL 103 or 214. (Weaver)

PHIL B318 Philosophy of Language

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

PHIL B319 Philosophy of Mind

In this course we will examine some of the core philosophical problems about the mind. Among the questions we will address are: What is the relationship between mind and body? What makes a particular state of a creature a mental state? Are minds a kind of computer? How do mental states manage to represent, or be about, other states of affairs? How can we account for various features of sensation and perception? What are thoughts, and do any non-human animals have them? What is consciousness, and does it show that there is something non-physical, or immaterial, about the mind? (Wallhagen, Division III)

PHIL B321 Greek Political Philosophy: Aristotle: Ethics and Politics

(Salkever, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B320)

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; cross-listed as COML B323) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B325 Philosophy 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 provocative. This course will examine varieties of relativism and their absolutistic counterparts. Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources. (Krausz, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B327 Political Philosophy in the 20th Century

(Salkever; cross-listed as POLS B327) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B329 Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein is notable for developing two philosophical systems. In the first, he attempted to show 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 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. The course begins by examining the first system in the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus and turns to his rejection of his earlier ideas in Philosophical Investigations and in On Certainty . (Koggel, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B329) Not offered in 2006-07.

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, Hume, Leibniz, Locke, etc.) and with respect to its impact on developments in epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion as well as developments in German Idealism and 20th century phenomenology (Heidegger and Husserl). (Dostal, Division III)

PHIL B336 Plato: Later Dialogues

An examination of several so-called "late" dialogues, primarily Philebus, Sophist, Statesman and Theaetetus. Special attention is given to the literary character of the dialogues, with thematic focus on dialectic and dialogic inquiry, Aristotelian modes of explanation and the Platonic images of the philosopher and the political leader. Fundamental ontological, epistemological and political questions are considered in these dialogues. (Dostal, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B336) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B338 Phenomenology

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 Edmund Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences and Martin Heidegger's Being and Time . Other writings to be considered include some of Heidegger's later work and Merleau-Ponty's preface to his Phenomenology of Perception . (Dostal, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

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 POLS B344)

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? (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B361 Interpretation Theory: Gadamer

This upper-level seminar focuses on a major work of contempoary philosophy, Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method , which provides a comprehensive theory of interpretation. Gadamer argues that all experience and understanding is interpretive. The seminar will consider both the background for and the reception of this work through selections from, among others, Aristotle, Derrida, Dilthey, Habermas, Heidegger, Kant, Plato and Strauss. (Dostal, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B364 Political Philosophy: Irony and Inquiry

(Elkins, Salkever; cross-listed as COML B364 and POLS B364)

PHIL B367 Hegel's Philosophy of Right

Hegel's Philosophy of Right, his major work of legal and political philosophy, is an account of the ethical basis of the state and of the relationship of politics, law and morality. In this course, we will engage in a close reading of the full text of the Philosophy of Right and consider several supplementary texts, including Marx's Critique of the Philosophy of Right. (Elkins, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B367) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B368 The Enlightenment and Its Critics

(Barker, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B368)

PHIL B371 Topics in Legal and Political Philosophy

(Elkins, Division I or III; cross-listed as POLS B371)

PHIL B372 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

(Kumar, Division II and Quantitative Skills; cross-listed as CMSC B372)

PHIL B376 Citizenship and Migration

(Barker, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B376)

PHIL B380 Persons, Morality and Modernity

(Elkins; cross-listed as POLS B380) Not offered in 2006-07.

PHIL B384 Islamic Political Thought

(Harrold; cross-listed as POLS B384) Not offered in 2006-07.

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. (Krausz, Division III)

PHIL B403 Supervised Work


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