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.
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.