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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
Traditional and contemporary theories of art and aesthetic experience; a study of selected problems in philosophy of art.
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.
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, Daoist 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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.
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. Offered every other year. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
An introduction to a variety of feminist theories and approaches with emphasis on the arts, philosophy, politics, and media. Offered every Spring. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
An in-depth study of a selection of contemporary normative and meta-ethical issues. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
A variable topics course based on the research or teaching interests of individual faculty. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
The senior thesis is an elective for students wishing to work in depth on a research paper of significant. Approval by a faculty member, who will serve as the senior thesis advisor, is required. With permission, students may also work with alternative media. Students will work on the thesis during their final year at USF.
Written permission of the instructor, department chair, and dean is required. Offered as needed. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.
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. Open to non-majors; but does not count as D1 or D3 Core.