University of Dubuque

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Philosophy - Curriculum

The department offers a variety of courses in philosophy to challenge students to think about fundamental questions raised in human life. Through these courses, students develop skills in critically analyzing claims, issues, and ideas; contemplate basic questions about the world, life and reality; appreciate the wisdom and insight of great thinkers in the history of human thought; learn to think critically and constructively about their own beliefs, values and world views; and gain skills in careful research and academic writing. By teaching skills in analysis, writing, evaluation, and reflection, philosophy courses help build a strong liberal arts foundation for a degree in any field, including business, computer science, the natural and social sciences, English and education.

The Philosophy Major and Minor.

A philosophy major provides an excellent background for many graduate programs including law, philosophy, and theology. The department works with each student majoring in philosophy, both in courses and individually, to help the student develop:

  • An ability to analyze and evaluate ideas and issues critically and constructively;
  • General knowledge of the history of Western thought;
  • General understanding of the basic areas of philosophy, including epistemology (theory of knowledge), ethics, metaphysics, and logic;
  • Exposure to non-western philosophy; and
  • Skills in philosophical research and writing.

A major in philosophy requires 30 semester hours in philosophy, including:

  • PHL 111 Introduction to Philosophy (3), PHL118 Philosophy at the Movies (3), or some other introductory course in philosophy (3)
  • PHL 114 Logical Reasoning (3)
  • PHL 261 World Philosophies (3), or some other course on non-Western philosophy (3)
  • PHL 355 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (3)
  • PHL 356 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (3)
  • PHL 495 Senior Seminar (3)

Course Offerings

PHL 111 Introduction to Philosophy (3)
An introduction to the major areas of philosophy (logic, epistemology, ethics and metaphysics). Representative problems will be discussed in these areas with readings from representative philosophers in the history of human thought. Although the primary focus is on "western" philosophy, some "nonwestern" thinkers are considered as well.


PHL 114 Logical Reasoning(3)
An introduction to logic and critical reasoning. Students learn to identify arguments in everyday language, analyze them into premises and conclusions, symbolize them, and evaluate them for validity, soundness and cogency. Topics covered include a) methods for symbolizing and evaluating categoical inferences and syllogisms (Aristotelian logic), b) basic concepts of modern propositional logic, including the use of operators, truth tables and rules of natural deduction, c) methods for recognizing, formalizing and evaluating inductive reasoning, and d) formal and informal fallacies to avoid in reasoning.

PHL 118 Philosophy at the Movies(3)
An introduction to selected philosophical themes illustrated in contemporary film.

PHL 212 Ethics and Contemporary Issues (3)
An examination of the nature of ethical theory and how it applies to contemporary moral issues. Ethical theories are explored and applied to such issues as abortion, euthanasia, sex, racism, affirmative action, poverty and animal rights.

PHL 214 Environmental Perspectives (3)
An investigation of the ways in which the natural world has been understood in various historical, religious and philosophical perspectives, and of the implications for how humans should interact with the environment. The course emphasizes helping each student formulate a value perspective from which to evaluate human actions and policies concerning the environment. Cross-listed as REL 214.

PHL 216 Business Ethics (3)
An application of philosophy and ethics to the practice of business, focusing on the nature of work and excellence in business.

PHL 261 World Philosophies (3)
A comparative study of Western and nonwestern approaches to basic philosophical questions. The instructor may focus on specific aspects of philosophy as a basis for comparison between traditions.

PHL 312 Ethical Theory (3)
A careful look at several current philosophical theories of ethics, including, for example, relativism, divine command theory, utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, virtue ethics and natural law theory. Prerequisite: PHL 111 or PHL 212.

PHL 314 Social and Political Philosophy (3)
A survey of differing perspectives on social justice and just political structures. The course will cover views such as liberalism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism, feminism and multiculturalism. Course work will introduce students to the ideas of both historical and contemporary thinkers. Prerequisite: PHL 111 or PHL 212. Offered at the discretion of the department.

PHL 321 Philosophy of Religion (3)
A critical examination of the philosophy of religion through classical and contemporary readings that discuss such topics as arguments for and against God's existence, the rationality of belief in God, religious language, the immortality of the soul, and religious pluralism. Prerequisite: Previous Course in Philosophy or Religious Studies or consent of instructor. Prerequisite: One previous Philosophy or Religion course. Cross-listed as REL 321.

PHL 355 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (3)
An analysis of the ideas of representative "western" philosophers from the pre-socratics through the late medieval period with a heavy emphasis on reading primary works. Prerequisite: PHL 111.

PHL 356 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (3)
An analysis of the ideas of representative "western" philosophers from the renaissance to the present with a heavy emphasis on reading primary works.Prerequisite: PHL 111.

PHL 357, 358, 359 Topics in Philosophy (3)
An investigation of a particular philosopher, movement, period or philosophical topic, selected by the department. Examples could include historical figures (such as Plato, Descartes, Reid, Pascal, Kierkegaard, etc.), contemporary philosophers, or philosophical movements such as existentialism or feminist philosphy, or sub-areas of philosophy such as philosophy of science. Offered at the discretion of the department. Prerequisite: varies with topics.

PHL 391,392,393, 491,492, 493  Independent Research and Writing (1-3)
Primarily for philosophy majors. Junior or senior standing required. Involves substantial research, reading and philosophical writing. (Prerequisite: PHL 111 and PHL 201)

PHL 495 Senior Seminar (3)
An opportunity for students to develop research, analysis, writing oral presentation skills through study of a topic chosen by the instructor and through a scholarly research and writing project. Each student will write an original philosophical paper and present it and will write a statement of his or her ethical perspective. Prerequisite: PHL111 and three additional philosophy courses.



Typical Four Year Paradigm
Freshman Year: Fall
PHL111 Introduction to Philosophy
ENG101 Composition and Rhetoric
CIS101 Introduction to Computers
COM101 Basic Speech Communication
Math Skills Course

Freshman Year: Spring
PHL111 The Art of Reasoning
ENG112 Introduction to Literature
Social Science General Ed. Course
Social Science General Ed. Course
Elective

Sophomore Year: Fall
PHL261 World Philosophies
Social Science General Ed. Course
Natural Science General Ed. Course
Humanities General Ed. Course
Elective

Sophomore Year: Spring
PHL201 Writing and Research in Philosophy
Philosophy Elective
Social Science General Ed. Course
Humanities General Ed. Course
Elective

Junior Year: Fall
PHL355 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Electives, or Courses for Minor or Second Major

Junior Year: Spring
PHL312 Ethical Theory
PHL356 18th and 19th Century Philosophy
Electives, or Courses for Minor or Second Major

Senior Year: Fall
PHL455 Twentieth Century Philosophy
Electives, or Courses for Minor or Second Major

Senior Year: Spring
Philosophy Elective
PHL495 Advanced Seminar
Electives, or Courses for Minor or Second Major