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Catalog

Philosophy Courses

PHIL  110 - Great Philosophical Questions (4)

An Introduction to classic texts of philosophy, focused on major philosophical issues including the problem of knowledge, the existence of God, the mystery of evil, free choice vs. determinism, and the essence of human nature. Offered every semester.

PHIL  195 - FYS: First-Year Seminar (4)

First Year Seminars are designed and taught by faculty who have a special passion for the topic. All FYSeminars are small classes (16 students) that count toward the university Core. Many FYSeminars include enrichment activities such as excursions into the city or guest speakers. FYSeminars are only open to students in their first or second semester at USF, and students may only take one FYS, in either Fall or Spring. For a detailed description of this course, and other FYSeminars this semester, go to this webpage by cutting and pasting the link: http://www.usfca.edu/artsci/firstyearsem/

PHIL  202 - Philosophy of Religion (4)

What counts as a "religion"? Must it affirm the existence of God? What do most people and cultures seem to mean by "God"? Can the existence of God be demonstrated? Is it reasonable to believe God exists? Can God's existence be reconciled with human freedom and with the existence of evil? The course takes up these and related questions, ponders the answers given by classical and contemporary thinkers, and discusses them. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  203 - Social and Political Philosophy (4)

This course will examine significant philosophical contributions to an understanding of politics and society. Among the questions it will address are: What is the nature and basis of the state? Which form of government is best? How do we determine whether political institutions are just? What conceptions of human nature underlie various political philosophies? The course will draw from classical, modern, and contemporary sources in political philosophy. Offered every year.

PHIL  204 - Philosophy of Science (4)

A critical examination of conflicting interpretations of scientific practice. Major issues include the nature of scientific explanation, the development of instrumentation and experimental techniques, how scientific knowledge is validated, whether theories are to be interpreted as literally true or as instrumentally adequate, scientific revolutions, and the rationality of science. Offered every year.

PHIL  205 - Philosophy of Biology (4)

This course engages in a philosophical reflection of evolutionary theory and the theory of the gene. Among questions we will address are: Why is intelligent design not as good of a theory of species origin as evolution? Is it possible to hold a rational belief in Christianity and in evolutionary theory? Do genes determine human behavior? Does biology just reduce to chemistry and physics? Offered every year.

PHIL  208 - Liberation Philosophy (4)

Using primary sources, the course will address the questions of the nature of philosophy and reason in a post-colonial, post-modern, and multi-cultural world. The course focuses on philosophies of liberation from eurocentrism, racism, and colonialism from a variety of historical and geopolitical spaces. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  209 - Aesthetics (4)

Traditional and contemporary theories of art and aesthetic experience; a study of selected problems in philosophy of art. Offered every semester to students in the Art and Architecture and Performing Arts and Social Justice majors.

PHIL  211 - Ancient Philosophy (4)

This course studies texts in ancient philosophy, from the Presocratics to Hellenistic philosophy, and has a special focus on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  220 - Asian Philosophy (4)

This course examines the historical development and contemporary debates of some of the main philosophical traditions of Asia. The topics include metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical questions raised in Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucianist philosophies. References will also be made to the larger cultural and political issues that are relevant in these traditions today. Offered every year.

PHIL  225 - Prisons and Punishment (SL) (4)

In this course, students will examine philosophical justifications for punishment, the morality of incarceration, and the genealogy of what recently has been called the "prison-industrial complex." As a Service Learning course, students will volunteer with organizations dedicated to improving the health and welfare of inmates in California prisons. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  230 - Philosophy of Human Person (4)

This course is oriented around the questions “What am I?” and “How should I live?” and explores the answers that both historical and contemporary philosophers have given. Topics include the immortality and nature of the soul, death, the distinction between body and mind, the relational and social aspects of the self, free will, the nature of emotion, and the goals of human life. Offered every semester.

PHIL  231 - (4)

This course surveys classic and contemporary African American philosophy, and includes such figures as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Frantz Fanon. It considers the relation of this work to major topics of Western philosophy, from the social contract theory to existentialism to cosmopolitanism. Starting from the lived experiences of blacks in the New and Old World, this course takes up key issues and problems in the history of the modern world: theories of nationalism, identity, solidarity, and responses to injustice and domination.

PHIL  240 - Ethics (4)

This course critically analyzes ethical arguments and various positions on contemporary ethical issues. The course will be composed of three focus areas: Ethical Theory, Social Issues, and Ethics of Everyday life. Approximately one-third of the course will be devoted to each area. Some sections focus on more specific ethical issues, such as Business Issues, Environmental Issues, Bio-medical Issues, and Legal Issues, and are so designated in the Course Schedule. Offered every semester.

PHIL  241 - Ethics: Service Learning (SL) (4)

This course critically analyzes ethical arguments and various positions on contemporary ethical issues. The Service Learning component provides concrete experience as students work with organizations dedicated to ameliorating the causes and effects of poverty, racism, gender inequality, and other social ills. Offered every semester.

PHIL  242 - Latin American Philosophy (CD) (4)

This course introduces students to the major figures and movements in the five hundred year history of philosophical production in Latin America. Along the way, we will examine many of the major themes in Latin American philosophy: human nature, race and personal identity, knowledge, freedom, liberation, colonialism, and perhaps most significantly, what it means to do philosophy. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  251 - Mind, Freedom and Knowledge (4)

An examination of three central questions in philosophy: What is the nature of the mind? Do we have free will? How can we know anything at all? Texts by current and historical philosophers. Offered every semester.

PHIL  252 - Plato (4)

Alfred North Whitehead famously said that all Western Philosophy was "a footnote to Plato." He introduces most of its important questions, and many of his answers to them are still being debated. What is courage, friendship, virtue? Can the latter be taught? What is justice and the most just state? Can it realistically be achieved, and, if so, how? Is the truth of all values and statements relative to the ones who holds them or is there an objective standard by which these should be judged? If so, what is it? We will examine these and other questions through an investigation and discussion of Plato's dialogues. Offered every year.

PHIL  253 - Problems in Democracy (4)

An introduction to the philosophy of democratic government. The importance of articulating such a philosophy will be cast in terms of current challenges to democratic society, such as multiculturalism, postmodernism, and the problem of determining the meaning of the Constitution posed by abortion and physician-assisted suicide and same-sex marriage. Offered every year.

PHIL  255 - Philosophy of Education (4)

An introduction to philosophy that emphasizes classic and contemporary ideas that ground the theoretical foundation of educational theory, focusing on broad philosophical questions rather than education policy issues. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  256 - Existentialism (4)

This course is an inquiry into the meaning of human existence with particular emphasis on the self. The course encourages inquiry into the meaning of our experience with absurdity, alienation, anxiety, freedom, God, and being. Direction for thinking about these issues is provided by philosophers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Camus, Dostoevsky, and Heidegger. Through reading, discussion, and reflection students come to understand where they believe the meaning of human existence is located. Offered every semester.

PHIL  266 - The Human Animal (4)

By comparing and contrasting animal and human existence, this course seeks to question the boundaries between animal and human existence as well as to discuss the responsibility we might have towards non-human animals. Historically the course covers the philosophers from Ancient Greece (Aristotle), Medieval Philosophy (Aquinas), Modern Philosophy (Descartes and Kant) to contemporary philosophy (Merleau-Ponty, Singer and Nagel). The course includes major philosophical issues such as questions of selfhood, being, rationality, language, as well as moral questions. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  275 - Asian Amer Philosophy (CD) (4)

This course examines the nature of self and society within the context of Asian American experience broadly conceived. Western and Asian philosophies will be used to consider such topics as the nature of the examined life, happiness, justice, and social transformation. In addition, various 20th century Asian American issues will be considered, such as race, gender, class, modernity, U.S. imperialism, Asian anti-colonialism, immigration, and citizenship. Offered every year. Offered every year.

PHIL  295 - SIT: Transfer Seminars (4)

Students-In-Transition (SIT) Seminars are designed and taught by faculty who have a special passion for the topic. All SIT Seminars are small classes (16 students) that count toward the university Core. Many SIT Seminars include enrichment activities such as excursions into the city or guest speakers. SIT Seminars are only open to transfer students who are in their first or second semester at USF, and students may only take one SIT Seminar, in either Fall or Spring. For a detailed description of this course, and other SIT Seminars this semester, go to this webpage by cutting and pasting the link: http://www.usfca.edu/artsci/firstyearsem/

PHIL  299 - Writing on Great Philosophical Questions (4)

A writing intensive (WI) introduction to the classic texts of philosophy, focused on great philosophical issues such as the freedom of the will, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of God. Upon completion of three WI courses, students receive a certificate in writing and rhetoric. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  307 - Philosophy of Art (4)

Using a multimedia and historical approach, this class offers an introduction to the different theories of art that have shaped the Western Tradition. Class meetings will be organized around readings dealing with theories of the beautiful, slide presentations that will give students a sense of the works being produced, and, when appropriate, music.

PHIL  310 - Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course follows the development of Greek philosophical thought from the Pre-Socratics through the Hellenistic thinkers and then tracks these lines of thought to medieval times. Because of the central importance of their ideas, the writings of Plato and Aristotle will be given special attention. Offered every Fall.

PHIL  312 - Modern Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. Revolutionary changes in science and politics from the 16th century onwards reconstituted central issues in what is now called Modern Philosophy. This course focuses on knowledge and political community in the works of Descartes, Hobbes, Hume and Kant, among others. Offered every Spring.

PHIL  315 - Ethics for Majors (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This is an ethics course for majors and minors in philosophy. It provides a foundation and orientation for their other electives in this area and a common set of reference terms. It addresses central ethical issues through consideration of historical and contemporary philosophers. Offered every Spring.

PHIL  316 - Philosophy of Knowledge (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A seminar study of classical and contemporary theories of knowledge. Topics include the nature of knowledge, skepticism, perception, theories of justification, a priori knowledge, theories of truth, with close attention given to moderate realism and its relation to contemporary epistemology.

PHIL  317 - Philosophy of Emotion (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course examines the nature, value, and complexity of emotion. Topics may include: the relation between emotion and reason, the justifiability of negative emotions, the relation between emotion and social practices, and the roles of philosophy and science in the study of emotion.

PHIL  319 - Logic (4)

This course emphasizes contemporary symbolic logic. We will study deductive logical systems and learn how to evaluate arguments with both truth-tables and proofs in propositional and predicate logic. We will also learn how to translate ordinary language arguments into a formal symbolic language and back again. Offered every year.

PHIL  322 - Modal Logic and Metaphysics (4)

This course is an exploration of the major systems of modal logic for the purpose of studying contemporary topics in analytic metaphysics, such as, but not limited to, ontological arguments for the existence of God, the nature of time, the possibility of time travel, fictional objects, and identity. Prerequisites: First-order logic with a C- or above, or instructor approval. Offered every other year.

PHIL  325 - Metaphysics (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A study of metaphysical systems and theories from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Topics include metaphysical inquiry and method, the nature of metaphysical discourse, representative schools and metaphysical issues, such as being, essence and existence, personhood, knowledge, freedom, and God.

PHIL  328 - Kant (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A study of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, with readings from his major works in metaphysics and epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and politics.

PHIL  329 - 19th Century Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course studies one of the most diverse periods in the history of philosophy. It included post-Kantian thinkers (such as Hegel) who have an absolute faith in reason and who attempt to build complete all-encompassing philosophical systems. Out of these systems Marx’s theory arises. On the other side of the spectrum we find the collapse of reason in nihilists such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

PHIL  330 - Philosophy Symposium (1 - 2)

A variable topic course, based on the study of a figure or topic in the history of Philosophy. May be offered in conjunction with SII 330 - St Ignatius Institute Symposium; may be taken repeated times for credit. Prerequisite: Majors and minors only.

PHIL  335 - Feminist Thought (4)

An introduction to a variety of feminist theories and approaches with emphasis on the arts, philosophy, politics, and media. Offered every Spring. Cross Listed With: MS - 335.

PHIL  339 - Moral Psychology (4)

This course focuses on the psychological states and social conditions involved in moral judgment, practices, and attitudes. Topics may include moral motivation, praise and blame, the nature of moral reasons, the nature of the virtues (and whether we have them), and forms of agency (such as childhood, psychopathy, and autism) that cast light on the cognitive and affective structure of moral judgments, reactions, and practices. Readings may be historical or contemporary

PHIL  341 - Jewish Philosophy (4)

An introductory course to both the history and major themes within modern Jewish thought from the early Enlightenment to our contemporary era, the intention of this course is to present an overview of the major thinkers who have shaped Jewish thought as well the major themes within modern Jewish history. The course will specifically focus on the themes of universalism, hope, and redemption within the context of Judaism's encounter with modernity as reflected on by Jewish intellectuals within the Western philosophical tradition.

PHIL  345 - Feminist Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A study of selected classical philosophical readings on women, and an examination of several philosophical issues of contemporary feminism such as sex equality, sexual harassment, and feminine versus feminist ethics.

PHIL  362 - Philosophy of Mind (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course is a survey of philosophical accounts of the nature of the mind, including both historical and contemporary analyses. Special topics will be explored as well, and they may include: artificial intelligence, consciousness, intentionality, emotion, and the role of philosophy in the science of the mind.

PHIL  367 - Philosophy of History (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This seminar course examines universal, critical, and hermeneutic approaches to history in an attempt to discern if human existence has meaning, and if so, what that meaning is. Discussion will focus on the works of such philosophers as Nietzsche, Augustine, Hegel, Oakeshott, Collingwood, and Dilthey.

PHIL  370 - Philosophy of Action (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. Investigates the nature of human agency in the world, as distinct from those parts of the world incapable of action and robust agency. Possible topics include: what it is to act for a reason, how agency fits with a causal picture of the world, the nature of free will and whether we have it, weakness of will, addiction, autonomy, and the nature of the psychological elements of human acts (such as motivation, deliberation, belief, and intention). The course may also focus on the significance of these distinctions for practical moral and legal decision-making.

PHIL  372 - Philosophy of Law (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A study of classic and contemporary texts dealing with different theories of the nature of law and the meaning of related concepts such as justice, authority, and legal obligation.

PHIL  373 - Contemporary Ethical Problems (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. An in-depth study of a selection of contemporary normative and meta-ethical issues.

PHIL  377 - Philosophy and Literature (4)

This variable topics course is a study of the philosophical significance of one or more writers of fiction. It may focus on a genre, period, or specific figure. Readings will be juxtaposed with relevant texts from the tradition of philosophy.

PHIL  380 - Special Topics in Philosophy (4)

A variable topics course based on the research or teaching interests of individual faculty.

PHIL  381 - Advanced Social and Political Philosophy (4)

This course is a philosophical exploration of four interrelated concepts: equality, justice, rights, and authority. It will examine their various meanings and the reasons given to support the values they represent. It will also demonstrate the prominent roles they play in a number of contemporary ethical and political debates. These concepts are usually understood and applied in national contexts, but debates about their role in international contexts may also be explored. Prerequisite: Majors and minors only.

PHIL  398 - Honors Thesis (4)

Prerequisite: Contact the Philosophy Department Program Assistant for more information. Open only to senior philosophy majors with a 3.3 cumulative GPA and a 3.75 GPA in Philosophy together with departmental approval of a prospectus, which must be submitted to the Department at the end of the semester prior to its being written.

PHIL  399 - Directed Reading and Research (1 - 6)

Written permission of the instructor, department chair, and dean is required. Offered as needed.

PHIL  402 - Phenomenology (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course focuses on the challenge to Enlightenment rationality mounted by contemporary phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. Through close readings and discussions of primary texts, students will learn to both understand phenomenological texts as well as conduct phenomenological analyses.

PHIL  403 - Pragmatism (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. A study of the classic American Pragmatist philosophies of Charles Sanders Pierce, William James, and John Dewey. Pragmatic strains in earlier and later American philosophy will also be examined.

PHIL  404 - Contemporary Thomism (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course studies the Thomistic revival of the 20th century, which began with Aeterni Patris and culminated in the work of Maritain, Gilson, Pieper, and Lonergan. It may cover the whole movement or focus on a figure within it.

PHIL  405 - Analytic Philosophy: Frege to Wittgenstein (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. An historical introduction to the analytic tradition in philosophy, with emphasis on its neo-Kantian roots, the critique of traditional philosophy, the influence of science on philosophy and on the relation of philosophy to avant-garde art, and other cultural movements in the 20th century.

PHIL  406 - Postmodernism (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course is a variable introduction to the debate concerning the purported end of modernity. We will analyze the postmodern critiques of the myths of the ego, language as representation, history as teleology, and technology as benign. We will also study the postmodern critiques of Marxism, Freudianism, Feminism, and political liberalism. May be repeated for credit each time a different topic is covered.

PHIL  480 - Topics in Contemporary Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. An intensive study of selected problems in philosophy. Subject matter will vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit each time a different topic is covered.

PHIL  481 - Topics in Philosophy of Race (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. This course examines philosophical concepts central to race relations and policy, such as identity, ideology, social construction, racism and justice.

PHIL  482 - Topics in the History of Philosophy (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. An intensive study of selected historical philosophers. Subject matter will vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit each time a different topic is covered.

PHIL  483 - Topics in Political Philosophy (4)

Prerequisites: PHIL - 212 or PHIL - 303 or permission of instructor. An intensive study of selected problems in social and political philosophy. Subject matter will vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit each time a different topic is covered. Offered intermittently.

PHIL  484 - Topics in Ethics (4)

Prerequisite: Majors and minors only. An intensive study of selected problems in ethics. Subject matter will vary with instructor. May be repeated for credit each time a different topic is covered.