Department Website:


  • Professor Xinli Wang (Chair) - ext. 3642
  • Associate Professor Wade Roberts - ext. 3418

Background Information:


As the oldest discipline and the womb of all knowledge, philosophy is the activity of critically and rationally examining the reasons behind the most fundamental presuppositions of human lives through thinking about thinking (Aristotle) and self-examination (Socrates).  The Department seeks to engage students in rational and critical thinking about their total life experience: logic, ethics, aesthetics, methods of knowing, and levels of being and, accordingly, to prepare students to lead examined lives.  Hence, in addition to fairly standard introductory and advanced courses, the department develops offerings of special interest to students in such diverse areas as natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  The study of philosophy develops students' abilities and skills of general problem solving, communication, persuasive powers, and writing.  Hence, much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any intellectual endeavor (graduate studies and professional school) and any job.  More specially, philosophical training is indispensable for any serious thinkers in humanities and social sciences.

Special programs, facilities, or equipment:

  • Philosophy club
  • Opportunity for studying philosophy abroad in one of the college exchange partners, such as the University of Leeds in England, the University of Otago and the University Waikoto in New Zealand, or the University of Newcastle in Australia

Programs of Emphasis:

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Individualized Programs of Emphasis in Philosophy and Another Area of Study:

For the students who want to take some substantial portion of philosophy courses either to enhance their existing POE in any area of study or just for their intellectual enjoyment, in addition to fairly standard introductory courses, the department develops offerings of special interest to students in such diverse areas as religious studies, politics, physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, environmental science and studies, economics and business, and peace and conflict studies.

  • Philosophy/mind
  • Psychology/Philosophy
  • Peace and Conflict Studies/Philosophy
  • Politics/Philosophy
  • Biology/Philosophy
  • Physics/Philosophy
  • Chemistry/Philosophy
  • History/Philosophy
  • Communications/Philosophy

Secondary Emphasis:

  • Requirements: total 18 credits (at least 15 credits in some special cases) in philosophy, among them, (a) two at advance level (either the 300-level or some specified 200-level courses); (b) one in logic; (c) one in history of philosophy.


PL-101   Introduction to Philosophy (Either Semester; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) Provide students with the background and conceptual tools necessary for more advanced study in the subject. At the discretion of instructor, the course could be an examination of some fundamental philosophical problems such (such as the meaning of life, reality, knowledge, freedom, and morality) or a survey of historical development of Western Philosophy, from Ancient Greek to modern Philosophy.

PL-103   Life, Death, and Meaning (Fall & Spring; All Years; 3.00 Credits; H,WK-HT) The course will explore the meaning of life and death. Our primary concern will be with death, one's own inevitable personal death as it figures in human life and in contributing, or perhaps even detracting from, the meaningfulness of such a life. It will give you a deeper philosophical understanding of the meaning of death, and consequently the meaning of life, which will ultimately bring you into true being and authentic existence.

PL-105   Introduction to Logic (Either Semester; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) An analysis of practical reasoning skills, including a systematic approach to informal arguments and the meaning of everyday claims. Aristotelian logic, Venn Diagrams, propositional logic and symbolic logic are included.

PL-106   Introduction to Ethics (Either Semester; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) Examines the historically valid ethical approaches to problems, i.e., pragmatic, relativistic and absolute and the application of such methods to contemporary ethical dilemmas, e.g., abortion, terrorism, euthanasia and capital punishment.

PL-115   Human Nature (Either Semester; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) An introduction to philosophy through an examination of seven theories of human nature: Plato, Marx, Freud, Sartre, Hobbes, Skinner, and Christianity.

PL-199   Special Topics (Variable; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the departments to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-205   Ancient Philosophy (Fall; Odd Years; 4.00 Credits; H,CW) This course is a historical surveyof ancient Greek philosophy which will cover representative figures (including the major pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle and important authors/movements from the Hellenistic period, such as Epicurus, Stoicism and Skepticism).

PL-208   Symbolic Logic (Fall; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; N,H,WK-FR) An introduction to the basics of first-order logic: the concept of artificial language, techniques for symbolizing ordinary languages and arguments, formal inference systems (either truth- free method or natural deduction), and other advanced topics in first-order logic. It has no prerequisites beyond high school algebra.

PL-221   American Political Thought (Fall; Variable; 4.00 Credits; S,H,CW) (see PS221)

PL-222   Western Political Thought (Spring; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H,S) See PS222.

PL-230   Business Ethics (Spring; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) Asks the student to examine his/her personal values relative to those professional values of the business world. In particular, students will examine the claims of society, government, labor, management as they impact upon the individual who contemplates a career in the business world. Issues such as safety in the work place, the right to privacy, the obligations of the corporation to its employees, its customers and to society itself will be covered.

PL-235   Ethics of Health Care (Fall; Odd Years; 3.00 Credits; H) This course is a seminar style course in 'professional ethics'. It will explore the various codes, value assumptions and dilemmas faced by those who practice the health care professions. Specific topics (or dilemmas) will be determined by each class, based upon the specific POEs of the enrolled students.

PL-241   Philosophy of Love (Either Semester; Variable; 3.00 Credits; H) A philosophical examination and reconstruction of the concept of erotic/romantic love in Western culture, with particular attention to its historical development and critical analysis by modern and contemporary philosophers and thinkers.

PL-245   Chinese Philosophy (Spring; All Years; 4.00 Credits; CA,H,I,SW-GE) The course will focus on the mainstream of the development of Chinese philosophy in the past two thousand years, namely, classical Confucianism and Taoism. prerequisites: Sophomore, Junior, or Senior standing.

PL-250   Science and Human Values (Either Semester; Variable; 3.00 Credits; H) This course examines the reciprocal influence between science and social values, from the perspective of the humanities. It asks, " What good is science? " Through selected readings and discussion, students consider how everyday life is shaped by scientific innovation and technology, just as society provides a framework of cultural values for science.

PL-255   Philosophy of Religion (Spring; Yearly; 3.00 Credits; H) A critical investigation of some of the main concepts of religion and theology. The course focuses on problems in the definition of religion, the idea of God, the nature of religious experience, the relation of faith and reason and the meaning of religious language.

PL-260   Philosophy of Science (Spring; Odd Years; 3.00 Credits; H) Lays out some central philosophical problems raised by natural sciences. The possible topics to be discussed: Is science rational and objective? Does science really make progress? If so, in what sense? How to distinguish science from pseudo- science. Is science superior knowledge to other types? What is a good scientific explanation? Could we ever know about unobservable physical entities and events? Is it ever legitimate to regard a scientific theory as true?

PL-265   Environmental Ethics (Fall; Even Years; 3.00 Credits; H) As the life-support system for everyone, the environment is unquestionably of high value. Yet decisions about its care and its uses evoke controversy. This course explores contrasting viewpoints and practices that impact the earth and its plant and animal life. Through readings, projects, and critical discussion of cases, students apply ethical theories to selected contemporary issues.

PL-299   Special Topics (Either Semester; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the department to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-304   Existentialism (Fall; Odd Years; 4.00 Credits; H,CW) Philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre are studied as an introduction to existentialist thought. Theistic and atheistic types are considered, as is significance of existentialism as a contemporary philosophy. Prerequisites: Any Philosophy course or Permission of instructor.

PL-305   Modern Philosophy/Minds (Fall; Even Years; 4.00 Credits; CA,H,CW) Selections from the founders of the twin pillars of modernity, i.e., Modern Philosophy (F. Bacon, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant) and Modern Science (Copernicus, Spinoza, Galileo, Pascal, Newton and Boyle) are studied with emphasis on the philosophical foundation of modern mind. Prerequisite: any philosophy course or the instructor's permission.

PL-308   Hegel to Nietzsche (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) This course will provide students with an overview of nineteenth-century philosophy, beginning with the tradition of German Idealism and proceeding through thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Marx, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: Take 1 course from the PL department.

PL-310   Contemporary Political Philosophy (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; S,H,CW) This course will focus on important political orientations and figures in the twentieth/early twenty-first century. Instructors may also focus on specific topics which have driven recent debates in contemporary political philosophy, including distributive justice, the normative foundations of liberalism/democracy or the tension between state sovereignty and international law (among others). Prerequisites: Take 1 course from the PL department or permission of the instructor.

PL-312   Twentieth Century Philosophy (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) This course will provide an introduction to important figures/movements within twentieth century philosophy, including logical positivism, the linguistic turn, phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism and pragmatism. Prerequisite: Take 1 course from the PL department.

PL-314   Philosophy of Physics (Either Semester; Irregular/On Demand; 3.00 Credits; H,N) (See PC314 description)

PL-318   Knowledge, Truth and Skepticism (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) The course is a study of the nature of human knowledge and justification of beliefs with special attention to three conceptually related topics: the nature and value of knowledge and the nature and structure of epistemic justification, the nature of truth, and the challenges from skepticism and influential responses to it. Prerequisites: Take any 1 Philosophy course, or by instructor consent.

PL-321   Philosophy of Language & Communication (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) Become acquainted with the primary works of the major thinkers in the philosophy of language (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Searle, Austin, Grice, Davidson, Kripke, Quine) and communication (Locke, Gadamer, and Habermas), and understand their positions on key philosophical issues that dominated in the analytic tradition in the 20th century, such as competing theories of meaning and reference, pragmatics and speech acts, and different models of linguistic understanding and communication. Prerequisite: Take 1 course from the PL department.

PL-335   Advanced Ethical Theory (Either Semester; Variable; 4.00 Credits; H) This course will provide students with an introduction to advanced topics in contemporary moral theory, including debates in metaethics as well as the discussion of specific normative frameworks (such as virtue ethics,consequentialism, deontology and the ethics of care/feminist ethics, among others). Prerequisites: One prior Philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

PL-340   Philosophy of Art (Either Semester; Variable; 3.00 Credits; F,H) A study of the main theories about art in the western tradition, with particular attention to classical views as well as modernist conceptions and post-modern critical reactions. Prerequisites: AR110 or permission of instructor.

PL-399   Special Topics (Variable; Variable; 1.00-4.00 Credits) Allows the department to offer special topics not normally offered. Departments may offer more than one special topic. Prerequisites vary by title.

PL-450   Senior Thesis (Variable; Variable; 3.00 Credits; H) Students will engage in independent research and write a substantial final paper which evidences sustained engagement with the secondary literature on a topic selected in consultation with faculty members. This course is designed as a capstone experience. Prereqisite: Senior standing.

PL-490   Internship/Need Paperwork (Variable; Variable; 2.00-9.00 Credits) See catalog.

PL-495   Internship Seminar (Variable; Variable; 2.00-6.00 Credits) See catalog