Majors & minors courses

The courses below are, for the most part, restricted to Philosophy majors and minors. You can learn more about the various majors and minors we offer on our Majors and Minors page. If you are a non-major interested in taking one of the courses below, you should sign up for an appointment with Professor Jech, the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Fall 2023 Courses


Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
30301 01 (20506)

3:30-4:45 TR

This course will concentrate on major figures and persistent themes. A balance will be sought between scope and depth, the latter ensured by a close reading of selected texts.

Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
30301 02 (20507)

11:00-12:15 TR

This course will concentrate on major figures and persistent themes. A balance will be sought between scope and depth, the latter ensured by a close reading of selected texts.

History of Modern Philosophy
30302 01 (20508)

2:00-3:15 TR

This course examines the sweeping transformations of philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries by exploring some of the leading philosophers of that era. Topics include innovations in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophical theology, and the natural sciences, many of which continue to shape the agenda in contemporary philosophy.

Gateway Seminar: Deviant Logic
30304 01 (21924)

2:00-3:15 TR

Gateway Seminar for new and prospective majors and minors in Philosophy

Gateway Seminar: Philosophy of Mind
30304  02 (21923)

11:00-12:15 TR

Gateway Seminar for new and prospective majors and minors in Philosophy

The Examined Life
30305 01 (20509)
3:30-4:45 MW
Department Approval Required

In this course, open to students in their first semester in the God and the Good Life Fellows program, we will consider what it means to live philosophically. We will first approach this question in a general way by considering the nature of philosophy and its relationship to the rest of life. We will then take a more in-depth look at specific philosophical frameworks that aim to inform how we live. In particular, we will focus on Cynicism, Stoicism, and philosophical Daoism. We will seek to understand and assess these frameworks in their own right, in light of the contexts in which they were produced, and will also discuss the extent to which they can serve as guides to our own lives. In the final part of the course, we will break into small groups, each of which will prepare a dialogue and an immersion experience about other philosophical frameworks for living well.

This course also provides support and ongoing training to first-time dialogue leaders in the God and the Good Life Fellows program. To that end, our class meetings will be formatted in the same way as the dialogue meetings in GGL, and will include time for dialogue about the experience of facilitating GGL dialogues, including collaborative troubleshooting of any issues that may arise within or across GGL dialogue groups. The philosophical content we engage with in this course will also enrich the GGL dialogue experience by introducing perspectives that challenge and/or illuminate many of the positions that your dialogue group members will be exposed to in GGL.

Business and the Common Good
30310 01 (20510)

3:30-4:45 TR

This gateway seminar for the Minor in Business and the Common Good will be limited to 24 Mendoza College students, with priority given to students intending to pursue the Minor. The seminar focuses on the place of wealth and commerce in a well-ordered life, both for the individual and the community. Among other topics, the course takes a special interest in the rich Catholic tradition of reflection on these topics, especially the Catholic social teaching relevant to business that has emerged in the last two centuries.

Formal Logic
30313 01 (20511)

12:30-1:45 TR

An introduction to the fundamentals and techniques of logic for majors.

Seminar in Philosophy, Science, and Math
30329 01 (20512)

12:30-1:45 TR

Gateway course for the minor in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics. Offered annually in the Fall semester, covering topics falling in the intersection between these three disciplines.

Ancient Theories of the Soul
43103 01 (21779)

12:30-1:45 TR

The aim of the course is to render the students familiar with the most complex theories of the soul that were developed in antiquity and help them to study the validity and the soundness of the arguments developed in favor of them. While ancient philosophy did not yet grasp the radical difference between first-person and third-person approaches to the life of the mind, its attempts to understand the nature of the soul are very rich and at variance with each other. We will gain an overview of the theories of the soul by probably the three greatest ancient philosophers, Plato's, Aristotle's and Augustine's (while we will ignore the materialist conceptions of the Epicureans and the Stoics, Aristotle will teach us much about pre-Socratic notions). We will first read Plato's Phaedo, a dialogue in which Socrates, shortly before his execution, discusses arguments for and against the immortality of the soul. In this context, his theory of the Forms plays a crucial role. We will also have to discuss the difficult hermeneutic question of how Plato’s own opinions can be traced based on those of his dialogue’s interlocutors. For he himself does not appear in the Phaedo or in any of his dialogues. We will spend most of the semester with Aristotle's treatise On the Soul and his so-called Parva naturalia, a collection of short essays dealing with mental phenomena such as sensation, memory, dreaming etc. An important difference between Plato and Aristotle is that the latter develops his philosophical psychology in accordance with his philosophical biology and thus connects the various types and activities of the soul with different organic functions. He furthermore uses basic concepts from his new metaphysics to elucidate the nature of the soul. Finally, we will see how two short treatises by the young Augustine try to combine Platonic ideas with the new Christian beliefs.

43171 01 (20514)

9:30-10:45 TR

A comprehensive consideration of the major themes in Kierkegaard's thought, including: the relation of faith to art, knowledge and morality, the nature of subjectivity, what constitutes effective philosophical communication, etc. Main texts: Either/Or, Philosophical Fragments, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Fear and Trembling, and Sickness unto Death.

Recent Continental
43228 01 (22053)

3:30-4:45 TR

Critical introduction to and examination of recent work in Continental Philosophy

Ethics Theory
43301 01 (21802)

2:00-3:15 TR

The most significant work in philosophical ethics in recent decades has been carried out as a project of retrieval from the large scale normative theories scattered throughout the history of philosophy. In this course we will examine four of these historically significant bodies of ethical theory. We will do close readings of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Mill's essays on Coleridge and on Bentham, and Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals. These texts will be read in light of some of the contemporary disputes within ethical theory for which they provide a background. Our primary goal, however, will be to understand the texts themselves. The class will be run as a seminar. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the reading for the day. Course requirements will include three short papers (5-7 pages) and a take-home final. There are no specific prerequisites for the course, but students will be expected to have the skills and the motivation to engage critically with challenging philosophical work.

Philosophy, Gender and Feminism
43318 01 (20515)

Rea & Bernstein
12:30-1:45 MW

This course will survey a variety of philosophical issues pertaining to gender and feminism. Topics we expect to cover include the metaphysics of gender (e.g., the sex-gender distinction, the nature of masculinity and femininity, gender essentialism vs. gender constructivism); implicit bias and hermeneutic injustice; sexual harassment, violence, and the nature of consent; gender, feminism, and religion; and intersectionality.

43335 01 (22134)

12:30-1:45 TR

This course will deal with a range of core issues in contemporary meta-ethics. Topics covered will include the question of whether our moral judgements truly describe some feature of our decisions, actions and character; the objectivity of moral judgements; whether our ordinary moral judgements might be radically mistaken; and what methods are appropriate for moral inquiry.

Rawls and His Critics
43401 01 (22055)

3:30-6:15 M

The influence of John Rawls’s work on academic political and moral theorizing, especially on the academic disciplines of political and moral philosophy, would be difficult to overstate. The theoretical ambitions and the clear normative implications of his book A Theory of Justice showed the academy how much could still be accomplished in political philosophy. The book’s systematicity and clarity showed that these accomplishments could be won without loss of rigor. Its obvious connections to Kant and the social contract tradition did much to revive philosophers’ interest in the history of liberal thought. This seminar will begin with a careful study of parts of Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and of some of his later works. Rawls's theory has attracted criticism from a number of quarters. Some of the most interesting criticisms have come from the late Gerald Gaus and his students, who have argued for a quite different and anti-Rawlsian way of reasoning about fundamental political questions, and who have questioned Rawls's focus on what he called a well-ordered society. The latter part of the seminar will be spent reading and assessing some of their criticisms.

Philosophy of Law
43403 01 (20516)

12:30-1:45 MW

An overview of central topics in philosophy of law, followed by consideration of a range of theoretical issues in general criminal law.

Justice Seminar
43404 01 (20517)

3:30-4:45 TR

An examination of major theories of justice, both ancient and modern. Readings include representatives of liberal theorists of right, such as John Rawls, as well as perfectionist alternatives. The course also serves as the core seminar for the philosophy, politics, and economics concentration.

Islamic Political Philosophy
43426 01 (21778)

2:00-3:15 TR

A critical survey of thinkers, ideas, and works in Islamic political philosophy.

The Science-Gender Connection
43721 01 (20518)

2:00-3:15 TR

Through much of its history, academia has been gendered in a particular way -male dominated, focused on men¿s interests, and privileging those interests -and much of it still is. In response, the area of enquiry known as women¿s studies or gender studies emerged in the 1970s as part of the feminist movement. In this course we will explore gender, the concept that lies at the heart of this area of enquiry. We will find that this concept is as complex and multi-faceted as the diverse disciplines from which it now draws and as political as its feminist origins suggest. We will also find that it is fraught with controversy. Though the disciplines that contribute to the idea of gender comprise nearly all of academia, we will concentrate on the sciences, from which the concept of gender first emerged. We will start with the gendered origins of the concept - the gender of science - and then proceed to the science that developed as a result - the science of gender; and we will conclude with some questions concerning the connection between the two - the gender of science and the science of gender. No particular scientific background will be presupposed, and visits from science faculty will be organized to help us understand the terrain we will be covering. The rest of the time the course will be run as a seminar. Students will lead class discussions, present the results of individual research projects to the group, and have the opportunity to further develop those projects using feedback from the group. Throughout, our aim will be for each student to develop a fully informed and defensible response to the controversial terrain we will be exploring.

Philosophy of Cosmology
43725 01 (20519)

11:00-1:45 Tuesday

This course will explore the philosophical bases of modern physics and cosmology.

Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
43903  01 (20521)

11:00-12:15 MW

Cross listed withTEC

This course examines a range of metaphysical, ethical, and social questions about artificial intelligence. Questions to be addressed include: Could a computer be conscious? Is there anything the human mind can do that a machine couldn't be programmed to do? What are the similarities and differences between human and artificial intelligence? What are the likely cultural and economic effects of AI? What moral principles should guide our use of AI? Is it likely that we'll create AGI (artificial general intelligence), and would this pose an existential threat to humanity?