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PHILOSOPHY (PHI)

Creighton Rosental, Chair/Associate Professor
Peter Brown, David Ritchie, and Charlotte Thomas, Professors
Rosalind Simson, Associate Professor

Philosophy is a part of nearly every area of study. Many of the great intellectual movements, theories, and belief systems in our society owe something to philosophy. Subjects covered by philosophy courses include aspects of many other disciplines: ethics (applied and theoretical), logic, the nature and scope of human knowledge, art, film, literature, politics, law, gender, medicine, mind and body, and religion. Students explore these areas by reading classic works of philosophy that constitute some of the most important works in the Western intellectual heritage, but may also study views expressed by virtually any culture, ethnic group, or worldview, including ideas extracted from today’s news. Philosophy is both personal and communal; each student must seek his or her own understanding and perspective, but learning comes through communication of ideas, critical analysis, and making your case to others.

Philosophy Major

A major may be earned by taking 30 semester hours in philosophy, and must include 195, 280, 301, 311, 314, and 401; one course selected from 312, 313, 315, 316; one course selected from 360, 390, 393; and three elective philosophy courses. Philosophy majors must complete and pass a comprehensive examination on broad philosophical topics. These questions will require significant reference to philosophers and philosophical positions central to the western philosophical tradition. The philosophy comprehensive examination will be administered once each semester. Students will be eligible to take this examination after completing 75 hours of course credit and at least two History of Philosophy courses (311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316). Students must complete the exam prior to the beginning of their last semester in residence or graduation.

Philosophy Minor

A minor may be earned by taking 15 semester hours in Philosophy; two courses must be at 300-level or above and one of those must be selected from 311 or 314.

Department Honors

Majors may attain Departmental Honors in philosophy by meeting the following requirements: (1) maintain an overall 3.5 grade point average in philosophy; (2) complete satisfactorily one of the following courses: 360, 390, or 393; (3) present an honors thesis based on a closely supervised research project to be approved by all members of the Department.

The Philosophy Core

Though the department offers courses in a very wide range of areas, we have strong cores in two areas in particular: Moral Reasoning and History of Philosophy.  Students with a particular interest in one of these cores are encouraged to make the associated courses the centerpiece of their study of philosophy.

Moral Reasoning – The Moral Reasoning sequence will help students both personally and professionally in dealing with complicated ethical issues.  PHI 195 lays out the basic ethical theories that provide a framework for understanding and answering ethical questions.  PHI 295 covers different topics in applied ethics, depending on the course offered – some of these courses will be of particular value for professional application, others personal or social.  PHI 393 is for students who seek to do advanced study in moral reasoning.

PHI 195 – Introduction to Ethics – Required for majors
PHI 295 – Topics in Applied Ethics
PHI 393 – Advanced Topics in Ethics

History of Philosophy – Students interested in the history of the great ideas of Western civilization will be interested in one or more of these courses.  Our six course advanced sequence (PHI 311-316) covers the history of Western philosophical thought in depth.

PHI 190 – Introduction to Philosophy
PHI 311 – History of Philosophy I: Ancient Greek – Required for majors
PHI 312 – History of Philosophy II: Hellenistic and Early Medieval
PHI 313 – History of Philosophy III: Scholastic and Humanistic
PHI 314 – History of Philosophy IV: Early Modern – Required for majors
PHI 315 – History of Philosophy V: Kant and the 19th Century
PHI 316 – History of Philosophy VI: Late 19th and Early 20th Century
PHI 325 – Existentialism and Phenomenology
PHI 360 – Great Philosophers

General Education and Philosophy

The following courses satisfy general education literacy block requirements.

Religious Heritage
PHI 240 – Philosophy of Religion
Western Heritage
PHI 190 – Introduction to Philosophy
PHI 230 – Political Philosophy
Mathematical Reasoning
PHI 180 – Logic and Language
Human Behavior and Society
PHI 237 – Gender, Philosophy, and Law
Creative Expression
PHI 260 – Philosophy of the Arts
PHI 265 – Philosophy and Film
PHI 269 – Human Nature and Art

PHI 180. Logic and Language                                                                                                      (3 hours)
A study of the principles used in distinguishing correct from incorrect reasoning, employing both formal and informal methods. Special emphasis will be placed upon the application of these principles to everyday language and reasoning. Topics to be studied include: informal fallacies, definitions, categorical propositions and syllogisms, elementary truth functional logic, truth and validity, and induction. (Every year)
PHI 190. Introduction to Philosophy                                                                                             (3 hours)
An introduction to reading, writing, and thinking about the important issues and intellectual figures in the history of Western thought. The Western tradition of philosophical thought will define the subject matter of the course: Major elements of the Western tradition are understood in terms of important theories and ideas; “development of the West” is parsed in terms of the evolution and influence of those ideas; the influence of ideas from past cultures on later thinkers from disparate environments is carefully studied; and the influence of past thinkers in shaping the students’ own self-understanding and perspective will be explored. Emphasis will be placed on the cultivation of a philosophical attitude and the development of the arts of conceptual analysis and synthesis. (Every year)
PHI 195. Introduction to Ethics                                                                                                      (3 hours)
A study of the principal ethical traditions and theories of Western culture and their application to contemporary moral issues and social problems. This course provides a solid basis for anyone who wants training in the rational analysis of difficult and complex moral issues and decisions. (Every year)
PHI 198. Special Introductory Topics in Philosophy (Subtitle)                            (3 hours)
Study of an introductory topic in Philosophy not covered in any of the departmental offerings. This course may be applied to the Philosophy major or minor. (Occasionally)
PHI 230. Political Philosophy                                                                                                        (3 hours)
Provides an introductory examination of fundamental political issues in Western intellectual history, such as the contrast of individual rights versus political authority; freedom and equality; the origin and purpose of political institutions; and whether the human race demonstrates political progress over time. The course is executed via historical study of influential philosophical texts. (Every year)

PHI 235. Philosophy of Law                                                                                                           (3 hours)
This course introduces students to legal reasoning and the various theories regarding law and legal systems. In addition to discussing the traditional schools of jurisprudence, we will examine particular issues in legal theory such as obligation (social and economic), paternalism and the role of the judiciary. (Every two years)

PHI 237. Gender, Philosophy, and Law                                                                                       (3 hours)

(Same as WGS 285)
This course will examine two basic questions: 1) What does it mean for a society to treat men and women justly? 2) How close do American society and the American legal sys- tem come to this ideal? The course will consider these questions through readings in philosophy, social science, and law on topics such as: wage disparities between men and women; marriage, divorce, and child welfare; pregnancy, abortion, and reproductive technologies; and rape, prostitution, and pornography. (Every two years)
PHI 240. Philosophy of Religion                                                                                                   (3 hours)
A study of some of the major philosophical and theological issues that arise in the careful application of reason to the philosophical study of religion. The course examines important issues grounded within direct scriptural readings of the Judeo-Christian Heritage from a philosophical perspective and grounds those issues in religious scripture. Topics will be dis- cussed and considered guided by reason, using the methods of philosophical theology giving particular emphasis to relevance in relation to the students’ own religious experiences and beliefs. (Every two years)
PHI 247. Eastern Philosophy                                                                                                        (3 hours)
A study of some of the major traditions of Eastern Philosophy. This course attempts intro- duce students to the rich breadth and remarkable depth of some of the oldest philosophical schools of thought extant. The philosophies of India, in particular, may be traced back to poetic scriptural traditions originating in the 3rd millennium; and these traditions continue to inform lively contemporary schools of Indian philosophical thought. The humanism of Confucius and the schools of Chinese Philosophy that take their bearings from his ancient wisdom are both rich in their own terms and illuminating for students immersed in the intellectual traditions of the west. Readings will vary. No background in Western or Eastern philosophy presumed. (Every two years)

PHI 250. Mind, Brain and Behavior                                                                                             (3 hours)
This course is an introductory survey in topics in the philosophy of mind. Topics that will be covered in the course include theories of the nature of mind (dualism, behaviorism, functionalism, etc.), theories of personal identity, and puzzles and problems relating to role and nature of consciousness. Other topics may include philosophical treatments of: mental causation, perception, mental content and/or artificial or non-human intelligence. (Every two years)
PHI 260. Philosophy of the Arts                                                                                                    (3 hours)
This course is a survey of the philosophy of the arts. Subjects may include, but are not limited to the nature of beauty, art as representation, aesthetics and the aesthetic experience, art and ethics, art as evoking or expressing emotions, the formal qualities of art, the relation between form and content, the intention of the artist, the art world, art in context, and the nature of the art object. Any of the arts may be studied, including but not limited to music, fine art, folk art, public art, film, architecture, dance, and performance. (Every two years)
PHI 265. Philosophy and Film                                                                                                         (3 hours)
An introduction to philosophy and creative visual art through study of the discursive and aesthetic aspects of film. The course combines film criticism and appreciation with philosophical analysis in order to articulate the philosophical dimensions of art objects and the specific way film functions as a philosophical artistic medium. Materials of study include philosophical texts and seminal examples of both domestic and international film. (Every two years)
PHI 267. Philosophy and Literature                                                                                              (3 hours)
An examination of the relationship between philosophy and literature, including reading classic and contemporary literary texts as philosophy, and reading representative philosophical texts as literature. Commonalities and distinctions between these two modes of discourse, as well as their historical influence on one another, will be considered. (Every two years)
PHI 269. Human Nature and Art: (Location)                                                                             (3 hours)
This summer course is a study of the changing notions of the human condition in the Western tradition as discerned in great works of visual art and architecture studied in situ. Students in the course experience directly the works of art and architecture in question, since the course is only taught as a part of a study abroad program. (May be repeated once for credit if offered in a different location.) (Occasional)

PHI 280. Formal Logic                                                                                                                    (3 hours)

Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or ;six semester hours in mathematics or computer science. This course is a formal study of inference. Subject matter may include the syllogism, modal logic, consequences, truth functions, and quantification theory. Recommended, but not required: PHI 180. (Offered two years out of every three)
PHI 290. Special Topics in Philosophy (3 hours) A study of some significant topic in philosophy. Suitable for students with no background in philosophy. May be repeated with a different topic. (Occasional)

PHI 295. Topics in Applied Ethics                                                                                                  (3 hours)

Prerequisite: PHI 195.
A study of some topic or topics in applied ethics, this course builds off of theoretical ethics studied in PHI 195. Topics that may be offered are diverse, but may include: bioethics, business ethics; ethics, law, and international affairs; decision theory; environmental ethics; professional ethics; and leadership and organizational ethics. May be repeated with a different topic. (Every year)

PHI 301. Junior Seminar                                                                                                                  (1 hour)

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, Junior status, declared major in philosophy
This course is a workshop in philosophical skill development, including essay writing, the- sis and argumentation development, critical thinking, and presentation. Students will work together, with faculty, and with seniors from the Senior Seminar (see PHI 401) to complete at least one advanced philosophical project by the end of the semester. Junior seminar also will involve preparing for and attending talks by guest lecturers and/or attending off- campus philosophy-related events. (Every fall semester)

PHI 311. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Greek Philosophy                                                 (3 hours)

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.
A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, including the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle. (Every fall semester)

PHI 312. History of Philosophy II: Hellenistic and Early Medieval Philosophy                   (3 hours)

Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 311.
A survey of Hellenistic and early Medieval philosophy, which can include the Epicurean, Stoic, Skeptical, and Neo-Platonist schools of the Hellenistic world, as well as early Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm. (Every three years)

PHI 313. History of Philosophy III: Scholastic and Humanistic Philosophy                        (3 hours)

Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 311.
A survey of late Medieval philosophy, which can include Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophers (Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Ockham), and the rise of humanism, possibly including new approaches to ethics and politics (Machiavelli, Montaigne) and new approaches to nature (Bacon, Galileo). (Every three years)

PHI 314. History of Philosophy IV: Early Modern Philosophy                                               (3 hours)

Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
A survey of early modern philosophy, including figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Rousseau. (Every spring semester)

PHI 315. History of Philosophy V: Kant and the Nineteenth Century                                   (3 hours)

Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 314
A survey of Kant and nineteenth century philosophy, including figures such as Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche. (Every three years)

PHI 316. History of Philosophy VI: Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century            (3 hours)

Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 314
A survey of late nineteenth and early twentieth century philosophy, which can include the schools of existentialism, phenomenology, pragmatism, and analytic philosophy. Possible figures to be covered include Peirce, James, Husserl, Dewey, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Sartre. (Every three years)

PHI 325. Existentialism and Phenomenology                                                                           (3 hours)

Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
A study of the major themes of existentialism and phenomenology with some attention to their historical roots in the nineteenth century. (Every two years)

PHI 360. Great Philosophers                                                                                                        (3 hours)

Prerequisite: PHI 311.
An intensive study of the works of one or more major figures or schools from the history of philosophy. The course is designed to acquaint the student with the principles of philosophical research, as well as to provide an extensive knowledge of the philosopher(s) selected. The philosopher(s) selected will appear in the annual schedule of courses and be recorded on the student's transcript. The course may be taken twice with the consent of the instructor, for a maximum of 6 semester hours credit. (Occasional)
PHI 390. Special Topics in Philosophy                                                                                        (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy and junior or senior status; or consent of the instructor.
An intensive study of some significant topic in philosophy, not otherwise covered in depart- mental course offerings. May be repeated once for credit. (Occasional)

PHI 393. Advanced Topics in Ethics                                                                                           (3 hours)

Prerequisite: PHI 195
An intensive examination of the relation of philosophic ethics to human morality. Questions to be examined may include: the history and development of morality as a distinct form of judgment and action; the scope, authority, and force of moral obligation; the role of reason and justification in moral choice and action; the impact of ethical theories and practice on human choice, value, and meaning; and the relation of morality to human psychology and evolutionary biology. (Occasional)

PHI 398. Internship in Philosophy                                                                                            (1-3 hours)

Prerequisites:  junior or senior status
An intensive practicum experience at an approved business, organization, or academic institution. Senior-level students, under the direction of a faculty member and an on-site supervisor, are required to engage in projects or assignments requiring at least three on- site hours per week for every hour of credit. Students will learn through observation, regular discussions with the on-site supervisor and Mercer faculty member, and written reflection. In addition, students may be required to attend training events, workshops or weekly seminars. This course may be repeated for a total of 9 hours and does not count towards a major or minor in Philosophy. Graded S/U. (Every year)

PHI 401. Senior Seminar                                                                                                                 (2 hours)

Prerequisite: PHI 301, PHI 311, and two additional Philosophy courses, Senior status, declared major in philosophy
This course is a workshop in philosophical skill development, including essay writing, the- sis and argumentation development, critical thinking, and presentation. Students will work together, with faculty, and with juniors from the Junior Seminar (see PHI 301) to complete and present their Comprehensive Exam and Honors Thesis (if applicable) in philosophy. Senior seminar also will involve preparing for and attending talks by guest lecturers and/or attending off-campus philosophy-related events. (Every fall semester)
PHI 420. Directed Independent Research                                                                              (1-3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy, junior or senior status, and consent of the instructor.
This course is intended to provide the student with the opportunities to do guided reading in a field of interest. At least one substantial paper is required, and the student must have the project approved by the end of the third week of the semester. The course is available each semester. Variable credit 1-3 hours, not to exceed 3 hours total. (By special arrangement)

PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Charlotte Thomas, Director/ Professor

The Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major offers students an interdisciplinary approach to the study of topics, texts, and concerns that exist at the intersection of these three fields (e.g., theories of justice, rights, freedom, individual liberty, property, etc.) The program creates an intentional constellation of courses in these three disciplines that is designed to enrich the students’ experience of each discipline and offer a breadth of study not available in any one disciplinary major.
Besides providing a framework within which students interested in these three disciplines can develop a sense of their interrelations, the program will facilitate the development of a better perspective of the boundaries and scope of these disciplinary approaches. For example, in economics coursework a student will learn the principles of markets and how they display the effects of various incentive structures. The same student, in her political science coursework may begin to understand the political context in which such markets operate. And, from philosophy, the PPE student would learn some of the long, rich tradition of theories that ground both political and economic approaches to understanding the human condition, as well as explore the ethical implications of political and economic action.
This 39 credit-hour major consists of a 9-course (27 credit-hour) PPE core, 3 elective courses (9-credit hours) to be taken in any one of the PPE disciplines (PHI, POL, or ECN), and a Senior Thesis (3 credit hours) on a topic approved by a committee of PPE faculty members. Students pursuing the PPE major must have at least 18 hours in one PPE discipline (including courses in the PPE core). Other courses relevant to PPE may be substituted for electives by approval of the student’s PPE faculty committee.
Successful completion of the PPE major fulfills the CLA Additional Depth of Understanding requirement and leads to a BA degree.
Students declaring a major in PPE must form a committee of three faculty members (one from each PPE discipline) to coordinate their curriculum. One of these faculty members will become the advisor to the student’s senior thesis, and all three committee members will confer on all decisions relevant to that student’s course of study (e.g. senior thesis topics, judgments regarding whether or not a particular course should be allowed to substitute for a PPE elective, etc.)
PPE Core:
ECN 150, 151, 160, or 177
ECN 477 (History of Economic Thought) ECN 437, 438, or 441
PHI 190 or 195

PHI 230

PHI 311 or 314

POL 101 or 253

POL 200

POL 373 or 378

 

 


This page is maintained by the Philosophy Department of the College of Liberal Arts,
Creighton Rosental, Chair. Comments to rosental_c@mercer.edu

  Last Revision: February 23, 2013

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