Philosophy (Major, Minor)

Philosophy Department

Nancy Tarr Hart, Ph.D., Chair
Jessica Davis, Ph.D.
Jina Fast, Ph.D.

Degrees offered

Major
Minor

Campuses

Main Campus

The Philosophy Department of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business offers a Major and Minor in Philosophy to students in the Women's College, and a Minor to students in the College of Adult Undergraduate Studies.

Summary

Women's College and College of Adult Undergraduate Studies

Philosophy, the oldest of the liberal arts, rests on Socrates' views that "all philosophy begins in wonder" and "the unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates promoted the practical uses of philosophy in everyday life, and encouraged dialogue and vigorous debate as the most effective ways of discerning truth. In this Socratic spirit, the Philosophy Department seeks to: assist students in acquiring a fundamental and realistic understanding of self and world; acquaint students with the thinking of philosophers whose ideas have most influenced the development of our culture; and, engender in students those habits of critical and systematic thinking necessary for a coherent and ethical perspective on the world, while also nurturing their passion for social justice and equity.

Philosophical study prepares students for success in a variety of fields in academia as well as in the private and public sectors through developing and honing skills of clear and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and effective reasoning. Some program majors and minors have attended graduate schools, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Yale School of Divinity, American University, University of Chicago, University of Maryland School of Law, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, State University of New York at Binghamton, and University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Others have accepted positions in the fields of education, business, law, politics, and medicine.

Home to NDMU's Ethics Bowl Team and the Phi Sigma Tau chapter of the national philosophy honor society for students who meet the membership requirements, the Department requires a senior thesis as a capstone project for its majors. Under the advisement of a faculty member, the student chooses a philosophical subject of interest to explore in greater depth while demonstrating the skills learned over the four-year course of study. Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 in all courses taken to complete the requirements of the Philosophy Major.

The following courses satisfy NDMU General Education requirements for the students beginning in 2021/22; Thinking Critically and Analytically: PHL-201, Pursuing Meaning, Purpose and Well Being: PHL-220, PHL-316, PHL-339, Becomin an Engaged Citizen: PHL-210, Understanding and Valuing Diverse Identities and Perspectives: PHL-324.

NDMU students beginning prior to 2021/22 should refer to their catalogue for courses that fulfill their General Education requirments

Philosophy courses are also offered in the university’s graduate programs. 

Program of Study

Required Courses for the Major in Philosophy (Credits)

The major consists of a total of 33 credits to include:

       Introductory course (3)

       PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy (3)

       One course in religion and human nature (3)

       PHL-302 Philosophy of Human Nature (3)
       PHL-305 Philosophy of Religion (3)
       PHL-306 Problem of Evil (3)
       PHL-311 Disability and Moral Personhood (3)
       IDS-479 Honors: Philosophy through Literature (3) 
 
 
       One course in metaphysics and epistemology (3)
 
       PHL-301 Honors: The Mind-Body Problem (3)
       PHL-310 Logic (3)
       PHL-316 Philosophy of Education (3)
       PHL-321 Epistemology: Knowledge & Ignorance (3)

 

       One course in ethics (3)

       PHL-330 Ethics (3)
       PHL-334 Business Ethics (3)
       PHL-336 Environmental Ethics (3)
       PHL-339 Medical Ethics (3)
       PHL-471 Honors: Morals and Mortality: Ethics of Exiting (3)

       

       One course in social philosophy (3)

       PHL-315 Philosophy of Sexuality (3)
       PHL-322 Social & Political Philosophy (3)
       PHL-323 Feminist Philosophy (3)
       PHL-324 Philosophy of Race (3)

       

      One course from the historical sequence (3)

       PHL-312   History of Western Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (3)
       PHL-313   History of Western Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (3)
       PHL-376H Honors: Human Flourishing: Ancient Perspectives, Contemporary Interpretations (3)

       One seminar (3)

       PHL-422 Major Themes in Philosophy (3)
       PHL-424 Major Figures in Philosophy (3)

       One thesis (3)

       PHL-411 Senior Thesis (3)

       Electives (9) three electives at the 300- or 400-level. One of these elective courses may be satisfied by:

       PHL-210 Ethics Bowl: Foundations and Practice (3)
       PHL-463 Independent Study (3)
       PHL-465 Directed Readings (3) 

 

Minor in Philosophy

The Philosophy Department also offers a Minor in Philosophy that consists of 18 credit hours of course work in Philosophy. Courses for the Minor are chosen by the student and should be selected in consultation with a faculty member in the Philosophy Department.

Philosophy Four-Year Plan

Below is a sample Program of Study for the Philosophy Major. Students should select courses with the assistance of a faculty advisor.

Fall Spring 
First year      
ENG-101 College Writing  3  Foreign Language 3
NDMU-100 First Year Seminar 3 History 3
COM-106 Fundamentals of Oral Com 3 Mathematics 3
General Education/Electives 6 Social Science 3
 [15 credits]   PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy 3
  [15 credits]  
Second year      
PHL Historical Sequence course 3 Meaning & Purpose Gen Education 3
Fine Arts 3 Natural Science 4
Religious Studies 3 PHL Social Philosophy course 3
General Education/Electives 4 English Literature 3
[16 credits] General Education/Electives 3
[16 credits]  
Third year      
PHL Religion and Human Nature course 3 PHL Metaphysics and Epistemology course  3
PHL 300/400 Elective 3 PHL Seminar course 3
General Education/Electives 9 General Education/Electives 9
[15 credits]   [15 credits]  
Fourth year      
PHL 300/400 Elective 3 PHL 300/400 elective 3
PHL 411 Senior Thesis 3 General Education/Electives 9
General Education/Electives 9 Physical Education
[15 credits]    [13 credits]  

 


Courses

IDS-479 Honors: Philosophy Through Literature

Takes a fresh look at traditional philosophical problems using classic philosophical texts and literary works that deal with common issues. Considers the questions: What is self? Is there an answer to the problem of evil? Are our actions free or determined? Are there any objective moral values? Is the material world real? Prerequisite: Morrissy scholar or permission. Fulfills general education requirement in 300/400 level philosophy. [3 credits]

PHL-201 Introduction to Philosophy

Studies some of the major issues that have intrigued reflective people from time immemorial: How do we know? What is human nature? Is there life after death? Where did the universe originate? We will evaluate replies suggested from the time of Plato to the 20th century. Fulfills general education requirement for 200-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-210 Ethics Bowl: Foundations and Practice

Explores contemporary ethical issues and the philosophical concepts that can be used to make progress toward solutions. Students examine novel cases published by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics for the annual intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, and prepare to compete at the regional bowl through research and mock competitions. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-301 Honors: The Mind-Body Problem

Introduces students to the problematic nature of the statement "our minds control our bodies." Identifies the philosophical and psychological assumptions underlying this statement. Examines the contradictions and unrecognized implications of these assumptions. Explores alternative accounts of what is known, in philosophy and psychology, as mind-body interaction, including accounts that deny the existence of mind, and/or provides alternative models. Prerequisites: IDS-172 or PHL-201 and PSY-101. Fulfills general education requirement in philosophy. [3 credits]

PHL-302 Philosophy of Human Nature

Explores the meaning and nature of human existence. Investigates both classic and contemporary answers to the following questions: Is the person a body or a mind? Are we free or determined? What grounds do we have for belief in God? On what principles do we judge things right or wrong? Why should citizens obey the law? What things do we call art? When can I say "I know"? What is the meaning of life? Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-305 Philosophy of Religion

Investigates major thinkers and issues in the history of philosophy of religion, including: the attributes and existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature of miracles, survival after death, and other issues. Prerequisites: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-306 The Problem of Evil

Analyzes the Judeo-Christian tradition's responses to the problem of evil: If God is all good, all knowing and all powerful, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-310 Logic

This course will address topics in both informal and formal logic, with an emphasis on formal logic. Topics covered will include argument identification and structure, the translation of English statements into propositional form, the use of truth tables, and natural deduction in propositional logic. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level philosophy. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-311 Disability and Moral Personhood

Examines philosophical conceptions of moral personhood in a global context, concentrating on the role that abilities and disabilities play in determining who is considered a qualified, morally autonomous agent. Many lifelong and acquired disabilities are known to interfere with persons’ reasoning and communicating abilities. Most ethical theories require that persons be both fully rational and able to communicate in order to garner respect as moral decision makers. Consequently, many persons labelled disabled are denied moral autonomy/the right to self-determination. Globally there is no consensus as to who or what counts as disabled; a cross-cultural perspective is therefore necessary in examining how disability and ability factor in conceptions of moral personhood in ethical theorizing. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level course. Fulfills general education requirement for Values. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-312 History of Ancient and Medieval Western Philosophy

Explores the major philosophical thinkers and movements in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the works of Socrates. Plato and Aristotle as well as the major philosophical thinkers and movements in Western philosophy from St. Augustine in the fifth century to responses to Thomas Aquinas in the 14th and 15th centuries. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/500 level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-313 History of Modern and Contemporary Western Philosophy

Explores Western philosophic thought from the 17th and 19th centuries through the works of select Continental Rationalists and British Empiricists with a special emphasis on metaphysical and epistemological views. Considers questions (and answers) that dominate 19th and 20th century Western philosophy. Investigates the origins and themes of American pragmatism, Anglo-American philosophy of language, existential-phenomenology, critical theory and postmodernism. Offers an opportunity to make sense of emerging issues and debates in 21st century philosophy. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level philosophy course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-315 Philosophy of Sexuality

Employs a philosophical approach in the study of human sexuality. Specific topics include questions related to sexual orientation, lust, casual sex, adultery, love, sexual preferences, relationships, and the intersectionality of sexual identity with other identities such as race and gender. As we consider these questions, we will challenge assumptions regarding human sexuality, consider the importance of sexuality to a good life, and discuss the appropriate role of the state in human sexual behavior. Prerequisite: PHL-201. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level philosophy course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-316 Philosophy of Education

Explores philosophical principles underlying formal education as well as the principles, values, and assumptions underlying the process of learning. Examines contemporary methods of practicing and assessing philosophy in schools. Engages with philosophical texts from ancient philosophy through contemporary scholarship to address questions such as: What does it mean to learn? How can teaching be an ethical practice? How might schooling be critiqued through a philosophical lens? Prerequisite: PHL-201. Fulfills General Education Requirement for 300-400 level Philosophy course. 

[ 3 credits ]

PHL-321 Epistemology: Knowledge & Ignorance

Analyzes the nature and scope of human knowledge. Focuses on the ways in which knowing, believing and having an opinion differ, and investigates the limitations of reason and the boundaries of human understanding. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for 300/400-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-322 Social and Political Philosophy

Examines the origins and justifications of various social and political systems from ancient through contemporary times. Topics addressed may include: The moral justification of particular forms of government, the definition of community and the relationship of the individual to the community, and the importance of race and gender in society. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level course and values. [3 credits]

PHL-323 Feminist Philosophy

Investigates the meaning and significance of lived, bodily experience in the formation of human consciousness. Evaluates the history of Western Philosophy from the perspective of those who were once seen as marginal to it, and in doing so elucidates the many debates within Feminist Philosophy about the nature and limits of the philosophical enterprise. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level course and gender. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-324 Critical Philosophy of Race

Examines the concept of race and the phenomenon of racism. Differentiates between individual racism and institutional racism, with a strong focus on the latter. Topics addressed may include: The concept of race as both constructed and real, the politics of racialized identity, epistemologies of ignorance, the persistence of racial inequality, reparations, and the intersection of race with gender, class and sexuality. The corseis heavily interdisciplinary, drawing from history, sociology, gender studies, comparative literature, African-American studies, and Hispanic/Latino studies. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level course. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-330 Ethics

Introduces contemporary moral issues in light of systems suggested by major thinkers such as Aristotle, J. S. Mill and Kant. Includes considerations of topics such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning and capital punishment. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level and values. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-334 Business Ethics

Discusses ethics as a dimension of social responsibility, the role of corporate culture in business, and emerging issues in business ethics, such as the ways in which differences will affect ethical decision making. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level course and values. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-336 Environmental Ethics

Addresses a variety of challenging issues in environmental ethics. Topics considered may include, among others: the status of non-human animals, farming and the environment, global climate change, inter-generational justice, issues of land use, the preservation of forests and wilderness, and the use and development of energy resources. Through an examination of some of these issues, the course also introduces students to a variety of moral theories, from both philosophical and religious perspectives. The social, gender, and environmental justice implications of ecological issues are a major concern of the course. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirements for 300/400-level PHL and values. Crosslisted with ENV 336. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-339 Medical Ethics

Evaluates the traditional foundations of moral
theory in the West, with special emphasis on
issues in medical ethics. Prerequisites: PHL-201.
Fulfills general education requirements for
300/400-level course and values. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-411 Philosophy Senior Thesis

Student designs a research project culminating in a thesis on a philosophical issue. At the end of the semester, the student will give an oral presentation of her thesis to department faculty and students. Prerequisite: philosophy major with senior status, or philosophy major with junior status and at least seven philosophy courses completed, or permission. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-422 Major Themes in Philosophy

Provides an in-depth exploration of a major theme, concept, framework, or idea central to the discipline of philosophy. May be taken twice on different themes. Past themes include: Philosophy of Mind & Disability, Virtue Theory & Anti-Theory. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. Fulfills general education requirement for cross-cultural studies ONLY WHEN THEME IS Islamic philosophy. [3 credits]

PHL-424 Major Figures in Philosophy

Provides an in-depth exploration of a major figure or group of figures, either historical or contemporary, central to the discipline of philosophy. Past themes include: Islamic Philosophy, Immanuel Kant, Simone de Beauvoir. May be taken twice on different figures. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course. [3 credits]

PHL-463 Independent Study

Provides an opportunity for independent work on an approved topic in philosophy. Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course; one 300-level course; and permission of instructor. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-465 Directed Readings in Philosophy

Provides an opportunity to explore an area of the student's particular interest under the guidance of a member of the department to permit intensive examination of the area of special interest. Prerequisite: one 200-level philosophy course; one 300-level philosophy course; permission of the instructor. [ 3 credits ]

PHL-471 Honors: Morals and Mortality: Ethics of Exiting

Considers the structure and foundations of morality with special emphasis on ethical problems related to death and dying. Prerequisite: PHL-201, Morrissy scholar or permission. Fulfills general education requirement in philosophy and values. [3 credits]