2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog

Philosophy


Students may complete a major or minor in Philosophy.

Faculty

John Andrew Brook, Visiting Professor
Robert J. Dostal, Professor (on leave semester I)
Christine M. Koggel, Professor and Chair
Michael Krausz, Professor (on leave semester II)
Bharath Vallabha, Assistant 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 11 semester courses in the discipline and attend the monthly noncredit departmental colloquia which feature leading visiting scholars. The following five courses are required for the major: the two-semester Historical Introduction (PHIL 101 and 102); Ethics (PHIL 221); Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 211), Metaphysics (PHIL 212), or Logic (PHIL 103); and Senior Conference (PHIL 398 and PHIL 399). At least three other courses at the 300 level are required, one of which must concentrate on the work of a single philosopher or a period of 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

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.

Cross-Registration

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.

Prerequisites

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 Happiness and Reality in Ancient Thought
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, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B102 Science and Morality in Modernity
Is knowledge based on reason or perception? Is belief in God incompatible with reason? What are the foundations of morality? These questions and the answers to them had an important influence that shaped modernity. We will consider a range of answers given by a selection of modern philosophers that may include Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, and Wollstonecraft. Our aim will be to understand these philosophers’ responses to each other and to evaluate their arguments and thereby develop our own views.
(Koggel, Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B103 Introduction to Logic
Logic is the study of formal reasoning, which concerns the nature of valid arguments and inferential fallacies. In everyday life our arguments tend to be informal and sometimes imprecise. The study of logic concerns the structure and nature of arguments, and so helps to analyze them more precisely. Topics will include: valid and invalid arguments, determining the logical structure of ordinary sentences, reasoning with truth-functional connectives, and inferences involving quantifiers and predicates. This course does not presuppose any background knowledge in logic.
(Vallabha)

PHIL B104 Introduction to Problems in Philosophy
This problems oriented course introduces students to a broad range of philosophical issues, including those in the theory of knowledge, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion. Topics include the nature of knowledge, language and truth, relativism and absolutism, cross cultural understanding, human and artificial intelligence, freedom and determinism, the physical and the mental, and aesthetic and religious experience. This course sketches a landscape of the discipline and orients students for future work in the field. Texts are drawn from contemporary readings.
(Krausz, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

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: Humanities)
Cross-listed as COML B202
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B204 Readings in German Intellectual History
(Seyhan, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as GERM B212
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B209 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Philosophical Approaches to Criticism
(Seyhan, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as GERM B209
Cross-listed as COML B209
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B211 Theory of Knowledge
Varieties of realism and relativism address questions about what sorts of things exist and the constraints on our knowledge of them. The aim of this course is to develop a sense of how these theories interrelate, and to instill philosophical skills in the critical evaluation of them. Discussions will be based on contemporary readings.
(Krausz, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B212 Metaphysics
Metaphysics is inquiry into basic features of the world and ourselves. This course considers two topics of metaphysics, free will and personal identity, and their relationship. What is free will and are we free? Is freedom compatible with determinism? Does moral responsibility require free will? What makes someone the same person over time? Can a person survive without their body? Is the recognition of others required to be a person?
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B221 Ethics
An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of moral theories and a discussion of important ancient, modern, and contemporary texts which established these theories: virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism, emotivism, care ethics. This course considers questions concerning freedom, responsibility, and obligation. What is the relation of ethics to religion? How should we think about ethics in a global context? Is ethics independent of culture? A variety of practical questions will be considered.
(Dostal, Koggel, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B222 Aesthetics Nature and Experience of Art
Prerequisite: One introductory course in philosophy. Here are some questions we will discuss in this course: What sort of thing is a work of art? Can criticism in the arts be objective? Do such cultural entities answer to more than one admissible interpretation? What is the role of a creator’s intentions in fixing upon admissible interpretations? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? What is creativity in the arts? Readings will be drawn from contemporary sources from the analytic and continental traditions, including John Dewey’s Art as Experience, and works in Gary Iseminger, ed., Intention and Interpretation.
(Krausz, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as COML B222
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B225 Global Ethical Issues
The need for a critical analysis of what justice is and requires has become urgent in a context of increasing globalization, conflict and war, poverty and environmental devastation. This course examines prevailing theories and issues of justice as well as approaches by non-western, post-colonial, feminist, race, class, and disability theorists. Counts toward International Studies Minor and Gender and Sexuality concentration.
(Koggel, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B225,

PHIL B228 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ancient and Early Modern
(Salkever, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B228
Not offered in 2010-11.

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.
(Staff, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B231 Introduction to Political Philosophy: Modern
(Salkever, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B230

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: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B238
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B240 Environmental Ethics
This course surveys rights- and justice-based justifications for ethical positions on the environment. It examines approaches such as stewardship, intrinsic value, land ethic, deep ecology, ecofeminism, Asian and aboriginal. It explores issues such as obligations to future generations, to nonhumans and to the biosphere. Counts toward Environmental Studies concentration.
(Brook, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B240

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 or PHIL B201.
(Dostal, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B244 Philosophy and Cognitive Science
Cognitive science is a multidisciplinary 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. Philosophy both contributes to and examines cognitive science.
(Brook, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B245 Philosophy of Law
(Elkins, Division I: Social Science)
Cross-listed as POLS B245

PHIL B252 Feminist Theory
Beliefs that gender discrimination has been eliminated and women have achieved equality have become commonplace. We challenge these assumptions examining the concepts of patriarchy, sexism, and oppression. Exploring concepts central to feminist theory, we attend to the history of feminist theory and contemporary accounts of women’s place and status in different societies, varied experiences, and the impact of the phenomenon of globalization. We then explore the relevance of gender to philosophical questions about identity and agency with respect to moral, social and political theory. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor.
(Koggel, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B253
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B253 Theory in Practice: Humanities
(Higginson, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as FREN B213
Cross-listed as COML B213
Cross-listed as GERM B213

PHIL B254 Philosophy of Religion
An introduction to principle topics in the philosophy of religion: Does God exist? Is belief in God compatible with reason and science? Is God’s existence compatible with deep suffering and pain? Does the fact that there are many religions show that there is no religious truth? Includes readings eastern and western traditions and from analytic and continental philosophy. Authors will include Aquinas, Aurobindo, Dalai Lama, Dennett, James, Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein.
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B257 Philosophy of Action
What are actions? How are they related to metal states such as beliefs and desires and the physical environment? This course considers three important contemporary theories of action: Davidson’s causal theory; Anscombe’s neo-Arisotelian view; and Frankfurt’s hierarchical theory. Topics include: free will; the nature of intentions; an agent’s knowledge of her actions; and the weakness of the will. Prerequisite: At least one course in philosophy. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy.
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B259 Philosophy, Modern Physics and Ideals of Interpretation
In the modern era, interpretive ideals like objectivity, certainty and causality have been intensely scrutinized. Must there be a fact of the matter independently of all interpretive practices? Must there be a single right interpretation for all physical and cultural phenomena? Various readings will explore these and other questions. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy or Physics or permission of an instructor. Sophomore standing.
(Krausz, McCormack, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B263 Theory and Global Politics
(Staff, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B263
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B293 The Play of Interpretation

(Seyhan, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as COML B293
Cross-listed as ENGL B292

PHIL B300 Nietzsche, Kant, Plato: Modes of Practical Philosophy
(Salkever, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B300
Not offered in 2010-11.

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, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as BIOL B310
Not offered in 2010-11.

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 Simone de Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger, Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Marcel, Nietzsche, and Sartre. 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: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B317 Philosophy of Creativity
This course will address the following questions: What are the criteria of creativity? Is explaining creativity possible? Should we understand creativity in terms of persons, processes or products? What is the relation between creativity and skill? What is genius? What is creative imagination? Is there a difference between creativity in the arts and creativity in the sciences? What is the relation between the context of discovery and the context of justification? What is the relation between tradition and creativity? Is there a significant relationship between creativity and self-transformation?
(Krausz, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B318 Philosophy of Language: Early Analytic
In this course we will examine core philosophical questions about the nature of language and meaning. What are meanings, and how can linguistic entities (such as words and sentences) “have” them? How do words refer? How can they refer to non-existent entities (Santa Claus, Gandalf)? What is the relation of language to thought? We shall also consider the (supposed) importance of the analysis of language to philosophy (and the so-called “Linguistic Turn” in philosophy). We shall address these questions primarily through a study of the writings of the early analytic philosophers, especially Frege, Russell, and the early Wittgenstein.
(Staff, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B319 Topics in Philosophy of Mind
Emotions such as love, happiness, envy, boredom and excitement are central to our experience. This seminar questions: What is the nature and phenomenology of emotions? Can there be unconscious emotions? Are emotions in the brain, or are they forms of behavior? Are emotions guided by reason, or are they beyond the control of reason? Readings will include Damasio, Freud, James, Nussbaum, Sartre and Solomon. Prerequisite: At least one course in philosophy.
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B321 Greek Political Philosophy Aristotle: Ethics and Politics
(Salkever, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B320

PHIL B323 Culture and Interpretation
This course will pursue such questions as the following. For all objects of interpretation—including works of art, music, literature, persons or cultures—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 such ontologies as realism or constructivism? Discussions will be based on contemporary readings. Counts toward International Studies minor.
(Krausz, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as COML B323

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: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B327 Political Philosophy in the 20th Century
(Salkever, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B327
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B330 Kant
Prerequisite: PHIL 201 or the equivalent. 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 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.
(Dostal, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B338 Phenomenology: Heidegger and Husserl
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: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B344 Development Ethics
This course explores the meaning of and moral issues raised by development. In what direction and by what means should a society “develop”? What role, if any, does the globalization of markets and capitalism play in processes of development and in systems of discrimination on the basis of factors such as race and gender? Answers to these sorts of questions will be explored through an examination of some of the most prominent theorists and recent literature. Prerequisites: a philosophy, political theory or economics course or permission of the instructor. Counts toward International Studies minor and Gender and Sexuality concentration.
(Koggel, Division III: Humanities)
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: Humanities)
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B349 Social and Political Theory
(Staff Division I or Division III)
Cross-listed as SOCL B349
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B352 Feminism and Philosophy: Feminist Ethics
One of the most important feminist contributions to theory is its uncovering of the ways in which theory in the Western tradition has a hidden male bias. This course will explore feminist critiques of traditional moral theory by examining early accounts of an ethic of care that challenge the ethic of justice that has dominated moral theory in the liberal tradition. We then turn to feminist revisions to and expansions of these early accounts—including work exploring the implications and applications of feminist ethics in the contemporary global context. Counts toward Gender and Sexuality concentration.
(Koggel, Division III: Humanities)
Cross-listed as POLS B352

PHIL B371 Topics in Legal and Political Philosophy
(Elkins, Division I or Division III)
Cross-listed as POLS B371
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B372 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
(Kumar, Division II and Quantitative Skills)
Cross-listed as CMSC B372
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B373 Spinoza
(Elkins)
Cross-listed as POLS B373
Not offered in 2010-11.

PHIL B398 Senior Seminar
Senior majors are required to write an undergraduate thesis on an approved topic. The senior seminar is a two-semester course in which research and writing are directed. Seniors will meet collectively and individually with the supervising instructor.
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B399 Senior Seminar
The senior seminar is a required course for majors in Philosophy. It is the course in which the research and writing of an undergraduate thesis is directed both in and outside of the class time. Students will meet sometimes with the class as a whole and sometimes with the professor separately to present and discuss drafts of their theses.
(Vallabha, Division III: Humanities)

PHIL B403 Supervised Work
(Staff)