Course Offerings in Philosophy 2016-17

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What is Philosophy?

Here are some questions we discuss in philosophy:

  • Does God exist?
  • How can we know we’re not dreaming?
  • What is the best way to live?
  • What is justice?

If you’ve ever asked yourself questions like these, you’ve already discovered an interest in philosophy. Philosophy includes many different areas of study. It investigates questions about reality that are not addressed by the sciences, such as “What is real?” and “Does God exist?” This area of philosophy is called “metaphysics.” Philosophy also investigates what knowledge is and how we can obtain it. This part of philosophy is called “epistemology.” Another set of philosophical topics concern what is right, good, fair, or beautiful. This third area of philosophy can be called “value theory,” and it covers ethics, politics, and aesthetics. The fourth area investigates reliable and unreliable ways of thinking. It includes logic and other topics in critical thinking. Finally, philosophy also explores foundational issues in many branches of science. There are philosophers working on philosophy of physics, philosophy of linguistics, philosophy of cognitive science, etc.

Why do philosophy?

There are many reasons for studying philosophy.

  • Philosophy is fun and challenging.
  • It helps you reflect on the deeper issues in life.
  • It helps you improve your critical thinking and creativity.
  • It offers a firm foundation for further studies in philosophy and other subjects such as literature, law, politics, etc.
  • Studying philosophy is good for your career prospects. It enhances your communication and problem-solving skills, which are crucial in the modern job market.
  • Many employers prefer students with broad intellectual experience and skills. Philosophy is useful in this regard because it helps us look at the world from different perspectives. This is particularly true of students who study philosophy in combination with other subjects.
  • The study of philosophy will greatly benefit at least the following careers: business, management, public administration, journalism, law, communication, public relations, teaching and publishing.

Our syllabus enables you to take a small amount of philosophy (in any year of study, usually without prerequisites), to major in philosophy, to take a double major, combining philosophy with another Arts or Social Sciences discipline, or to take a minor in philosophy. We recommend that students complete PHIL1012 or PHIL1034 before enrolling in upper-level courses, but students who have not done so may enroll with the permission of the instructor. Philosophy majors and minors are required to take one of these courses as a prerequisite for the major and minor.


Courses in the coming year

First semester

  • PHIL1012 Mind and knowledge: An Introduction to philosophy (Dr Deutsch)
  • PHIL2315 Value theory (Dr McCarthy)
  • PHIL2451 Philosophers' views of China in early-modern Europe (Dr Cook)
  • PHIL2000 Tools for Philosophers (Dr Johnson)
  • PHIL2011 Aristotle (Dr Wildish)
  • PHIL2610 Philosophy of language (Dr Johnson)
  • PHIL2355 Theories of justice (Dr Chin)
  • PHIL2443 Xunzi (Ms Suzuki)
  • PHIL2340 Moral Problems (Dr Clark)
  • PHIL2220 The Mind (Dr Wildish)

Second semester

  • PHIL1034 Ethics and politics, East and West: An Introduction to philosophy (Dr Chin)
  • PHIL1068 Elementary logic
  • PHIL2800 Buddhist philosophy (Dr Robins)
  • PHIL2410 Mind and language in Chinese thought (Dr Robins)
  • PHIL2312 Probability, epistemology and ethics (Dr McCarthy)
  • PHIL2100 Paradoxes of decision (Dr McCarthy)
  • PHIL2362 Liberal democracy (Professor Ci)
  • PHIL2345 Social contract theories (Dr Cook)
  • PHIL2077 Habermas (Professor Ci)
  • PHIL2511 Paradoxes (Dr Johnson)
  • PHIL2005 Hellenistic philosophy (Dr Wildish)
  • PHIL2390 Philosophy of Religion (Dr Clark)
  • PHIL2039 Kierkegaard (Dr Wildish)

Capstone courses

Philosophy majors in the four-year curriculum must take a "capstone" course giving them the opportunity to apply disciplinary knowledge and methods learned in their previous years of study.

  • PHIL3920 Senior essay (6 credit units, one semester course, offered in both semesters)
  • PHIL4810 Senior seminar (6 credit units, semester 2)
  • PHIL4920 Senior thesis (full year course, 12 credit units)

See here for detailed information about capstone courses - Please note the new regulations!