Department of Philosophy
Chairperson: Jackson T. Buras
Graduate Program Director: Alexander Pruss
Associate Graduate Program Director: Francis Beckwith
The Department of Philosophy offers graduate work leading to the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees. For admission to its graduate program, the department requires
- a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution;
- at least fifteen hours of course work in philosophy;
- a Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) score predictive of success in this program.
- The Philosophy Department normally requires the GRE for all applicants. Exceptions may be made at the Department’s discretion on a case-by-case basis. Please apply to the Director of Graduate Studies if you believe an exception in your case would be reasonable;
- a brief writing sample; and
- three letters of recommendation.
The faculty of the department may modify these requirements in exceptional circumstances. We currently do not admit students for terminal M.A. studies, but doctoral students often find it useful to receive the M.A. degree when they have completed enough of the program to qualify for it.
An analysis of philosophical problems about science. Such central concepts as law, causation, induction, hypothesis, theory, verification, and models are studied. Presuppositions and methodologies of different sciences may be examined. The relation of scientific views to moral, social, and metaphysical problems is considered.
A critical examination of classical and current problems in theories of knowledge. Attention is given to such problems as meaning, truth, the knowing situation, universals, knowledge of the external world and of other minds, and validation of knowledge claims. The contributions of recent movements such as logical empiricism, linguistic analysis, phenomenology may be studied.
The history and development of philosophy from 250 to 1400 A.D. Some of the major philosophers studied include Augustine, Boethius, John Scotus Erigena, Anselm, Abelard, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. Special emphasis will be placed on the significance of pre-Enlightenment thinkers to the development of the Enlightenment and Modernity.
A critical study of historical and contemporary approaches to primary issues in jurisprudence and the philosophy of law, including tort law, criminal law, and Constitutional law.
A philosophical inquiry into such topics as the existence and nature of God, religious experience, immortality, the problem of evil, the relationship between reason and faith, the meaning of religious language and symbols, and the validity of religious knowledge claims. Methods of contemporary philosophical analysis are used in clarifying religious concepts.
A critical analysis of classical and contemporary metaphysical systems and problems. These include the world views found in the philosophies of naturalism, idealism, personalism, positivism, pragmatism, organicism, and existentialism. Problem areas considered are mind-body relations, cosmology, ontology, philosophical anthropology, universals, determinism, and freedom. Basic categories such substance, cause, time, space, matter, and form are critically examined. Attention also is focused upon methods and criteria employed in metaphysical study.
A critical study of philosophical material in literature, that is, a study of the philosophy to be found in essays, novels, poems, and plays. Among the authors usually studied are Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Lucretius, Voltaire, Goethe, Ibsen, Nietzsche, Kafka, Camus, Sartre, Malraux, Hesse and selected contemporary novelists.
Philosophical and intellectual movements in Latin America from the colonial times to the present. These movements include scholasticism, eclecticism, utilitarianism, romanticism, positivism, vitalism, phenomenology, and existentialism and philosophies of liberation. Works of major representatives of these movements (including such men as Bello, Mora, Sierra, Varona, Deustua, Caso, Korn, Vasconcelos, Farias Brito, Vaz Ferreira, and Romero) are studied.
An historical and critical survey of the major movements in Chinese, Indian, or Japanese philosophy. Course may be repeated once with different area of concentration.
A critical study of philosophical movements in Europe during the past one hundred and fifty years. Some of the major philosophers studied include Nietzsche, Husserl, Adorno, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Wittgenstein, Russell, Carnap, Gadamer, Habermas, Lyotard, Foucault, and Derrida. Movements studied include phenomenology, positivism, naturalism, critical theory, existentialism, structuralism, deconstructionism, and post modernism. Course may be repeated once with a different area of concentration.
A critical study of philosophical movements in the United States during the past one hundred years. Some of the philosophers whose works are studied include Pierce, James, Royce, Dewey, Mead, Lewis, Santayana, Whitehead, and Quine. Recent movements such as critical realism, naturalism, humanism, personalism, logical positivism, and linguistic analysis are also studied.
The language of first-order logic as a formal deductive system.
Critical examination of the basic problems in general semantics and philosophy of language, giving special attention to the major authors in these fields.
Major issues in contemporary ethical writings. Course may be repeated once for credit if topic varies.
A critical survey of the fundamental concepts and theories used in justifying social institutions. Problems such as authority, law, freedom, rights, equality, responsibility, power, justice, the state, and justification of open societies are considered.
Jewish philosophy in the twentieth century, with emphasis on the relation between mortality and morality, justice and totalitarianism, faith after the Holocaust, and individualism and revolution.
Examines the evolution of political philosophy and institutions in Muslim culture.
Faculty-directed individual, group, or class research project. Course may be taken up to three times with a different topic for a maximum of 9 credit hours.
To fulfill requirements for non-thesis master's students who need to complete final degree requirements other than coursework during their last semester. This may include such things as a comprehensive examination, oral examination, or foreign language requirement. Students are required to be registered during the semester they graduate.
Topics include Plato’s philosophical contributions in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, and aesthetics. Additional topics may include the philosophical uses of literary form, and the role of psychology and the emotions in an adequate philosophical understanding of human nature and the common good. Students learn a variety of interpretive approaches to Plato and also become familiar with the secondary literature on Plato. The course may be taken up to three times with different topics for a total of nine hours course credit.
We read from Aristotle’s writings around a theme, e.g., metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, politics, aesthetics, or psychology. Students become conversant with Aristotle’s writings and important secondary literature. Course may be taken up to three times with different topics for a total of nine hours course credit.
An intensive reading of selected philosophical works of Soren Kierkegaard, drawn from his pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous authorship. Focuses on significant philosophical issues discussed in Kierkegaard's works, putting him in conversation with important philosophers both from the past and from the contemporary world. Course may be taken up to two times with different topics for a total of 6 hours course credit.
A seminar on the major interpretations of the nature and meaning of value, with particular attention to the relation between value theory and ethics. Course may be repeated once with a different topic of study.
An intensive, critical reading of selected works of major philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Russell, and Rawls. Other philosophers may be added to this list. May be taken a maximum of six times if different topic, not to exceed eighteen semester hours.
A critical study of philosophers from the classical world; may include figures from the pre-socratic origins of philosophy to the times of epicurean and stoic philosophers, including especially Plato and Aristotle. Course may be taken up to three times with different topics for a total of nine hours course credit.
An in-depth study of relevant recent and/or more classical philosophical literature on one or more selected topics such as free will, responsibility, practical rationality, decision theory, and intention. Course may be taken up to three times with different topics for a total of nine hours course credit.
A critical study of philosophers from the Modern Period, including thinkers from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Course may be taken up to three times if topic is different for a total of nine hours credit.
A philosophical examination of the nature of the human mind and its relation to the body as well as theories that account for the nature of consciousness, intentionality, and other features of mentality. Course may be taken up to three times when topic is different for a total of nine credit hours for the course.
Examination of historical, normative, and analytical problems which have arisen in the history of philosophy and an examination of the systems of philosophy which have emerged from the consideration of these problems. May be taken six times if different topic, not to exceed eighteen semester hours.
In this course the student should gain formal tools that are useful in a wide-range of areas of philosophy, including: propositional logic, quantificational logic, basic set theory, basic probability theory, and basic modal logic.
This course contains a significant amount of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. This course has as its goal mastering the art of writing a critical essay in philosophy, an essential skill for success in graduate school in philosophy and for publication success after securing a faculty position in philosophy.
Special research topics to be undertaken by students under direct supervision of the professor. Course may be taken a maximum of four times if different topic, not to exceed twelve hours.
Covers a broad array of issues concerning the nature of successful cognition of the sort sought after in purely theoretical activities. May focus on issues such as the nature and possibility of knowledge, the threat of skepticism, and the nature of rationality and justification, as well as on current controversies in the literature, including controversies with the value of knowledge, debates between foundationalists and coherentists, the Gettier problem, and many others. Course may be taken up to three times when the topic is different for a total of nine credit hours for the course.
Covers a broad array of issues concerning the nature of being and reality, involving topics concerning God, the world, and the self. May focus on related topics such as ontology, category theory, substances and attributes, space and time, causation, and possible worlds. Course may be taken up to three times when topic is different for a total of nine credit hours for the course.
A critical readings course on primary sources and ancient and medieval philosophy. The course concludes with a comprehensive written examination over the sources.
A critical readings course on primary sources in modern and contemporary philosophy. The course concludes with a comprehensive written examination over the sources.
See PSC 5333 for course information.
An examination of the liberal and republican traditions of government and their relationship to church-state relations, with particular emphasis on how philosophers, legal theorists, and/or theologians assess the influence of both traditions on the American constitutional system. Among the topics that may be discussed are the debates about liberalism, religious liberty, religious establishment, the employement of religious reasons in a liberal regime, and the nature of public reason.
See PSC 5343 for course information.
This course will address a broad range of pedagogical issues involved in becoming a successful philosophy teacher. Topics include: educational theory, organizational strategies, practical techniques for effective lecturing, practical techniques for stimulating discussion, the logistics of evaluation, the scholarship of teaching and the importance of ongoing self-assessment of classroom performance.
See PSC 5353 for course information.
A critical study of issues in contemporary ethical theory; may be taken up to three times with different topics of study, not to exceed nine semester hours.
This course investigates issues in contemporary philosophy of religion. Course may be taken up to three times with different topics, not to exceed a total of nine hours of course credit.
A critical study of issues in contemporary philosophy of sciences; may be taken up to three times with different topics of study, not to exceed nine hours of course credit.
A critical study of issues in philosophy of language. Meaning, reference, intentionality and extensionality are among possible topics to be considered using primary sources in contemporary philosophy. May be taken up to three times with different topics not to exceed nine total credit hours.
See PSC 5393 for course information.
Research, writing, and oral defense of an approved master's thesis. A minimum of six semester credit hours of PHI 5V99 is required.
Supervised research for developing and writing a Dissertation Prospectus Proposal that will be the subject of a preliminary exam that will admit students to candidacy. A student may repeat this course for credit, with a maximum of eighteen total hours.
Supervised research for the doctoral dissertation.