Minor in Philosophy
Creighton Rosental, Chair/Associate Professor of Philosophy
Kevin Honeycutt, Assistant Professor
David Ritchie, Professor
Rosalind Simson, Associate Professor
Charlotte Thomas, Professor
Philosophy is a part of nearly every area of study. Many of the great intellectual movements, theories, and belief systems in our society owe something to philosophy. Subjects covered by philosophy courses include aspects of many other disciplines: ethics (applied and theoretical), logic, the nature and scope of human knowledge, art, film, literature, politics, law, gender, medicine, mind and body, and religion. Students explore these areas by reading classic works of philosophy that constitute some of the most important works in the Western intellectual heritage, but may also study views expressed by virtually any culture, ethnic group, or worldview, including ideas extracted from today’s news. Philosophy is both personal and communal; each student must seek his or her own understanding and perspective, but learning comes through communication of ideas, critical analysis, and making your case to others.
Minor in Philosophy
A minor consists of a minimum of 15 hours in Philosophy and includes at least two upper-division courses.
15 semester credit hours
One course from:
• PHI 311. Ancient Greek Philosophy
• PHI 314. Early Modern Philosophy
One additional PHI course numbered 300 or above
Three additional PHI courses
PHI 176 (3 hours)/PHI 176R (4 hours). American Founding Principles
(Same as HIS 176 and POL176)
Prerequisite for PHI 176R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101
This course will study the major intellectual currents and ideas that informed the creation of the American republic. It will be divided into two main parts. First, the course ranges across the Western tradition in order to elucidate the elements most important to the American Founders. These elements include the classical traditions of Greece and Rome, the modern Enlightenment tradition, the Protestant tradition, and the British republican tradition. Second, the course examines the American Founding itself, focusing on the major issues and debates (from 1765-1800) that shaped the institutions and character of the regime. Throughout, emphasis will be placed on the discussion of primary texts and documents. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every year)
PHI 180 (3 hours)/PHI 180R (4 hours). Logic and Language
Prerequisite for PHI 180R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
A study of the principles used in distinguishing correct from incorrect reasoning, employing both formal and informal methods. Special emphasis will be placed upon the application of these principles to everyday language and reasoning. Topics to be studied include: informal fallacies, definitions, categorical propositions and syllogisms, elementary truth functional logic, truth and validity, and induction. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every year)
PHI 190 (3 hours)/PHI 190R (4 hours). Introduction to Philosophy
Prerequisite for PHI 190R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
An introduction to reading, writing, and thinking about the important issues and intellectual figures in the history of Western thought. The Western tradition of philosophical thought will define the subject matter of the course: Major elements of the Western tradition are understood in terms of important theories and ideas; “development of the West” is parsed in terms of the evolution and influence of those ideas; the influence of ideas from past cultures on later thinkers from disparate environments is carefully studied; and the influence of past thinkers in shaping the students’ own self-understanding and perspective will be explored. Emphasis will be placed on the cultivation of a philosophical attitude and the development of the arts of conceptual analysis and synthesis. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every year)
PHI 195 (3 hours)/PHI 195R (4 hours). Introduction to Ethics
Prerequisite for PHI 195R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
A study of the principal ethical traditions and theories of Western culture and their application to contemporary moral issues and social problems. This course provides a solid basis for anyone who wants training in the rational analysis of difficult and complex moral issues and decisions. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every year)
PHI 198. Special Introductory Topics in Philosophy (Subtitle) (3 hours)
Study of an introductory topic in Philosophy not covered in any of the departmental offerings. This course may be applied to the Philosophy major or minor. (Occasionally)
PHI 230 (3 hours)/PHI 230R (4 hours). Political Philosophy
Prerequisite for PHI 230R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
Provides an introductory examination of fundamental political issues in Western intellectual history, such as the contrast of individual rights versus political authority; freedom and equality; the origin and purpose of political institutions; and whether the human race demonstrates political progress over time. The course is executed via historical study of influential philosophical texts. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every year)
PHI 235. Philosophy of Law (3 hours)
This course introduces students to legal reasoning and the various theories regarding law and legal systems. In addition to discussing the traditional schools of jurisprudence, we will examine particular issues in legal theory such as obligation (social and economic), paternalism and the role of the judiciary. (Every two years)
PHI 237 (3 hours)/PHI 237R (4 hours). Gender, Philosophy, and Law
(Same as WGS 285)
Prerequisite for PHI 237R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
This course will examine two basic questions: 1) What does it mean for a society to treat men and women justly? 2) How close do American society and the American legal system come to this ideal? The course will consider these questions through readings in philosophy, social science, and law on topics such as: wage disparities between men and women; marriage, divorce, and child welfare; pregnancy, abortion, and reproductive technologies; and rape, prostitution, and pornography. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every two years)
PHI 240 (3 hours)/PHI 240R (4 hours). Philosophy of Religion
Prerequisite for PHI 107R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
A study of some of the major philosophical and theological issues that arise in the careful application of reason to the philosophical study of religion. The course examines important issues grounded within direct scriptural readings of the Judeo-Christian Heritage from a philosophical perspective and grounds those issues in religious scripture. Topics will be discussed and considered guided by reason, using the methods of philosophical theology giving particular emphasis to relevance in relation to the students’ own religious experiences and beliefs. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every two years)
PHI 247. Eastern Philosophy (3 hours)
A study of some of the major traditions of Eastern Philosophy. This course attempts to introduce students to the rich breadth and remarkable depth of some of the oldest philosophical schools of thought extant. The philosophies of India, in particular, may be traced back to poetic scriptural traditions originating in the 3rd millennium; and these traditions continue to inform lively contemporary schools of Indian philosophical thought. The humanism of Confucius and the schools of Chinese Philosophy that take their bearings from his ancient wisdom are both rich in their own terms and illuminating for students immersed in the intellectual traditions of the west. Readings will vary. No background in Western or Eastern philosophy presumed. (Every two years)
PHI 250. Mind, Brain and Behavior (3 hours)
This course is an introductory survey in topics in the philosophy of mind. Topics that will be covered in the course include theories of the nature of mind (dualism, behaviorism, functionalism, etc.), theories of personal identity, and puzzles and problems relating to role and nature of consciousness. Other topics may include philosophical treatments of: mental causation, perception, mental content and/or artificial or non-human intelligence. (Every two years)
PHI 260 (3 hours)/PHI 260R (4 hours). Philosophy of the Arts
Prerequisite for PHI 260R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
This course is a survey of the philosophy of the arts. Subjects may include, but are not limited to the nature of beauty, art as representation, aesthetics and the aesthetic experience, art and ethics, art as evoking or expressing emotions, the formal qualities of art, the relation between form and content, the intention of the artist, the art world, art in context, and the nature of the art object. Any of the arts may be studied, including but not limited to music, fine art, folk art, public art, film, architecture, dance, and performance. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every two years)
PHI 265 (3 hours)/PHI 265R (4 hours). Philosophy and Film
Prerequisite for PHI 265R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
An introduction to philosophy and creative visual art through study of the discursive and aesthetic aspects of film. The course combines film criticism and appreciation with philosophical analysis in order to articulate the philosophical dimensions of art objects and the specific way film functions as a philosophical artistic medium. Materials of study include philosophical texts and seminal examples of both domestic and international film. The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every two years)
PHI 267. Philosophy and Literature (3 hours)
An examination of the relationship between philosophy and literature, including reading classic and contemporary literary texts as philosophy, and reading representative philosophical texts as literature. Commonalities and distinctions between these two modes of discourse, as well as their historical influence on one another, will be considered. (Every two years)
PHI 269 (3 hours)/PHI 269R (4 hours). Human Nature and Art: (Location)
Prerequisite for PHI 269R: C or better in INT 101 or GBK 101.
This summer course is a study of the changing notions of the human condition in the Western tradition as discerned in great works of visual art and architecture studied in situ. Students in the course experience directly the works of art and architecture in question, since the course is only taught as a part of a study abroad program. (May be repeated once for credit if offered in a different location). The four-hour, R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Occasionally)
PHI 280. Formal Logic (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or; six semester hours in mathematics or computer science. This course is a formal study of inference. Subject matter may include the syllogism, modal logic, consequences, truth functions, and quantification theory.
Recommended, but not required: PHI 180. (Offered two years out of every three)
PHI 290. Special Topics in Philosophy (3 hours)
A study of some significant topic in philosophy. Suitable for students with no background in philosophy. May be repeated with a different topic. (Occasionally)
PHI 293 (3 hours)/PHI 293R (4 hours). Bioethics
This course addresses a variety of ethical issues relating to healthcare and biotechnology. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the use of animals in scientific research; the use of humans as research subjects; the meaning of “informed consent”; the extent and limits of patients’ rights to privacy; euthanasia; abortion; organ transplants; genetic testing; reproductive technologies; and human embryonic stem cell research. The four-hour R-designated course satisfies the writing instruction (WRT) requirement. (Every two years)
PHI 295. Topics in Applied Ethics (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHI 195 or consent of instructor.
A study of some topic or topics in applied ethics, this course builds off of theoretical ethics studied in PHI 195. Topics that may be offered are diverse, but may include: business ethics; ethics, law, and international affairs; decision theory; environmental ethics; professional ethics; and leadership and organizational ethics. May be repeated with a different topic. (Every year)
PHI 301. Junior Seminar (1 hour)
Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, Junior status, declared major in philosophy
This course is a workshop in philosophical skill development, including essay writing, thesis and argumentation development, critical thinking, and presentation. Students will work together, with faculty, and with seniors from the Senior Seminar (see PHI 401) to complete at least one advanced philosophical project by the end of the semester. Junior seminar also will involve preparing for and attending talks by guest lecturers and/or attending off- campus philosophy-related events. By the end of the course, students will have selected a topic for senior essay and been assigned a faculty advisor for PHI 302. (Every fall semester)
PHI 302. Thesis Research and Development (1 hour)
Prerequisite: PHI 301
At the end of PHI 301, each student will have selected a topic for their senior essay and will be paired with an appropriate faculty member to serve as advisor. In PHI 302, students will work with their advisors in researching and developing the main elements of the senior essay. During the course, students will deliver a public oral presentation of their essay to the philosophy department. (Every spring semester)
PHI 311. Ancient Greek Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, including the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle. (Every fall semester)
PHI 312. Hellenistic and Early Medieval Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 311 or GBK 202.
A survey of Hellenistic and early Medieval philosophy, which can include the Epicurean, Stoic, Skeptical, and Neo-Platonist schools of the Hellenistic world, as well as early Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius, and Anselm. (Every three years)
PHI 313. Scholastic and Humanistic Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 311 or GBK 202, or GBK 203, or GBK 204.
A survey of late Medieval philosophy, which can include Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophers (Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Ockham), and the rise of humanism, possibly including new approaches to ethics and politics (Machiavelli, Montaigne) and new approaches to nature (Bacon, Galileo). (Every three years)
PHI 314. Early Modern Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
A survey of early modern philosophy, including figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Rousseau. (Every spring semester)
PHI 315. Kant and 19th Century Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 314 or GBK 305.
A survey of Kant and nineteenth century philosophy, including figures such as Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche. (Every three years)
PHI 316. Late 19th and Early 20th Century Philosophy (3 hours)
Prerequisite or Corequisite: PHI 314 or GBK 305, GBK 306, or GBK 407.
A survey of late nineteenth and early twentieth century philosophy, which can include the schools of existentialism, phenomenology, pragmatism, and analytic philosophy. Possible figures to be covered include Peirce, James, Husserl, Dewey, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Sartre. (Every three years)
PHI 325. Existentialism and Phenomenology (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.
A study of the major themes of existentialism and phenomenology with some attention to their historical roots in the nineteenth century. (Every two years)
PHI 360. Great Philosophers (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHI 311.
An intensive study of the works of one or more major figures or schools from the history of philosophy. The course is designed to acquaint the student with the principles of philosophical research, as well as to provide an extensive knowledge of the philosopher(s) selected. The philosopher(s) selected will appear in the annual schedule of courses and be recorded on the student's transcript. May be repeated with a different topic. (Occasionally)
PHI 390. Special Topics in Philosophy: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy and junior or senior status; or consent of the instructor.
An intensive study of some significant topic in philosophy, not otherwise covered in departmental course offerings. May be repeated with a different topic. (Occasionally)
PHI 393. Advanced Topics in Ethics: (Subtitle) (3 hours)
Prerequisite: PHI 195.
An intensive examination of the relation of philosophical ethics to human morality. Questions to be examined may include: the history and development of morality as a distinct form of judgment and action; the scope, authority, and force of moral obligation; the role of reason and justification in moral choice and action; the impact of ethical theories and practice on human choice, value, and meaning; and the relation of morality to human psychology and evolutionary biology. May be repeated with a different topic. (Occasionally)
PHI 398. Internship in Philosophy (1-3 hours)
Prerequisites: junior or senior status
An intensive practicum experience at an approved business, organization, or academic institution. Senior-level students, under the direction of a faculty member and an on-site supervisor, are required to engage in projects or assignments requiring at least three on- site hours per week for every hour of credit. Students will learn through observation, regular discussions with the on-site supervisor and Mercer faculty member, and written reflection. In addition, students may be required to attend training events, workshops or weekly seminars. This course may be repeated for a total of 9 hours and does not count towards a major or minor in Philosophy. Graded S/U. (Occasionally)
PHI 401. Senior Seminar (2 hours)
Prerequisite: PHI 302, PHI 311, and two additional Philosophy courses, Senior status, declared major in philosophy
This course is a workshop in philosophical skill development, including essay writing, thesis and argumentation development, critical thinking, and presentation. Students will work together, with faculty, and with juniors from the Junior Seminar (see PHI 301) to complete their senior essay in philosophy. Senior seminar also will involve preparing for and attending talks by guest lecturers and/or attending off-campus philosophy-related events. (Every fall semester)
PHI 420. Directed Independent Research (1-3 hours)
Prerequisite: One course in philosophy, junior or senior status, and consent of the instructor.
This course is intended to provide the student with the opportunities to do guided reading in a field of interest. At least one substantial paper is required, and the student must have the project approved by the end of the third week of the semester. Students are required to engage in projects or assignments requiring at least one contact hour, or equivalent, per week for every hour of credit. The course is available each semester. Credit not to exceed 3 hours total. (By special arrangement)