Philosophy Courses

PL 070 Philosophy of the Person I (Fall/Spring: 3)

Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
Two-semester, six-credit course
This course introduces students to philosophical reflection and to its history through the presentation and discussion of the writings of major thinkers from ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary periods. The course is designed to show how fundamental and enduring questions about the universe and about human beings recur in different historical contexts. Emphasis is given to ethical themes, such as the nature of the human person, the foundation of human rights and corresponding responsibilities, and problems of social justice.
The Department

Last Updated: 16-JAN-12

PL 071 Philosophy of the Person II (Spring: 3)

Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
Two-semester, six-credit course
See description under PL 070.
The Department

Last Updated: 16-JAN-12

PL 088 Person and Social Responsibility I (Fall: 3)

Corequisite: TH 088
Satisfies Theology Core Requirement
Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement

Enrollment limited to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors

The course requirements include ten to twelve hours per week of community service. In light of classic philosophical and theological texts, students in this course address the relationship of self and society, the nature of community, the mystery of suffering and the practical difficulties of developing a just society. PULSE students are challenged to investigate the insights offered by their readings in relationship to their service work. Places in the course are very limited.
The Department

Last Updated: 25-SEP-12

PL 089 Person and Social Responsibility II (Spring: 3)

Corequisite: TH 089
Satisfies Theology Core Requirement
Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
See description under PL 088.
The Department

Last Updated: 16-JAN-12

PL 090 Perspectives on Western Culture I/Perspectives I (Fall: 6)

Corequisite: TH 090
Satisfies Theology Core Requirement
Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement

Freshmen only.

The course introduces students to the Judeo-Christian Biblical texts and to the writings of such foundational thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, and Kierkegaard. The first semester considers the birth of the self-critical Greek philosophic spirit, the story of the people of Israel, the emergence of Christianity and Islam, and concludes with a consideration of medieval explorations of the relationship between faith and reason. Attention will also be paid to non-Western philosophical and theological sources.
The Department

Last Updated: 25-SEP-12

PL 091 Perspectives on Western Culture II/Perspectives II (Spring: 6)

Corequisite: TH 091
Satisfies Theology Core Requirement
Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
See description under PL 090.
The Department

Last Updated: 16-JAN-12

PL 116 Medieval Religions and Thought (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH116
Satisfies the Cultural Diversity Core requirement.
The medieval world of philosophy and theology was a multicultural world: Arabian, Jewish, and Christian thinkers, representing the world's three great religions, adapted and shared the philosophical riches of the classical world and the religious resources of the biblical heritage. This course introduces students to the great Arabian thinkers Alfarabi, Avicenna, Algazel, and Averroes; the respected Jewish authors Saadiah Gaon, Moses Maimonides, and Gersonides; and the famous Christian writers Anselm, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas; as well as the intellectual challenges from the Greek intellectual world that they met and faced in the Middle Ages.
Stephen F. Brown

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 160 The Challenge of Justice (Fall/Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH160
This course satisfies the introductory requirement for students taking the minor in Faith, Peace, and Justice Studies. Other students interested in examining the problems of building a just society are welcome.
This course introduces the student to the principal understandings of justice that have developed in the Western philosophical and theological traditions. Care is taken to relate the theories to concrete, practical and political problems, and to develop good reasons for choosing one way of justice rather than another. The relationship of justice to the complementary notion of peace will also be examined. Special attention is paid to the contribution of Catholic theology in the contemporary public conversation about justice and peace. Problems discussed may include human rights, hunger and poverty, and ecological justice.
Matthew Mullane
Meghan Sweeney

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 216 Boston: An Urban Analysis (Spring: 3)

This course is intended for PULSE students who are willing to investigate, analyze, and understand the history, problems, and prospects of Boston's neighborhoods. With the exception of the fourth session, class meetings in the first half of the semester will meet on campus. Class number four will meet in the Skywalk Observation Deck at the Prudential Center. For the second half of the semester, as snow banks give way to slush and sun and blossoms, we will meet in the South End of Boston for a case study of a most intriguing and changing inner-city neighborhood.
David Manzo

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 233 Values in Social Services and Health Care (Fall: 3)

Through readings, lectures, discussions, field placements, and written work, we will attempt the following: to communicate an understanding of the social services and health care delivery systems and introduce you to experts who work in these fields; explore ethical problems of allocations of limited resources; discuss topics that include violence prevention, gangs, homelessness, mental illness, innovating nursing initiatives, economy inequality, community wealth ventures, and the law; and consider possibilities for positive changes in the social service and health care system.
David Manzo

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 259 Perspectives on War, Aggression, and Conflict Resolution I (Fall: 3)

Cross Listed with SC250, TH327
The Faith, Peace, and Justice Program at Boston College sponsors this course as an introduction to the field of Peace Studies.
This course develops an interdisciplinary approach to the study of war and conflict and investigates alternatives to their resolution in contemporary global society. The course is organized along multidisciplinary lines, with faculty members from various academic departments responsible for each topic of discussion. This interdisciplinary approach demonstrates the varied and complex perspectives on the causes of war and conflict and attempts to develop, out of the resources of these respective disciplines, intelligent insights into the resolution of conflicts and the development of alternatives to war.
Matthew Mullane

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 261 Telling Truths I: Writing for the Cause of Justice (Fall: 3)

This PULSE elective will explore writing as a tool for social change. Students will read and experiment with a variety of written forms, including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and journalism, to tell the "truth" as they experience it in their own direct encounters with social injustice. This workshop is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to the range of literary strategies that social prophets and witnesses have used, and are using today, to promote the cause of justice.
Kathleen Hirsch

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 262 Telling Truths II: Depth Writing as Service (Spring: 3)

This PULSE elective will enable students to produce a portfolio of writings that engage a serious social concern. Class will be run as a writing workshop. Students early on will identify an issue they wish to pursue in-depth through the course of the semester. At the same time, they will want to develop and to work in non-fiction, fiction, journalism, or poetry. Students may expand on an issue that has affected them personally or which they have observed in their service work while at BC.
Kathleen Hirsch

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 264 Logic (Fall/Spring: 3)

This course will consider the principles of correct reasoning together with their application to concrete cases.
The Department

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 281 Philosophy of Human Existence I (Fall: 3)

Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
Offered Periodically
Human existence is a matter of fact in the world that calls for a twofold critical reflection, one on the theory of selfhood and one on the practice of selfhood. In this course we undertake reflection on the theory of selfhood, starting from our common experience as selves in the world and from what we are as embodied souls and spirits and going on to how we exercise our own proper activities of knowing and willing as selves in an historical culture.
Oliva Blanchette

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 282 Philosophy of Human Existence II (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: PL 281: Philosophy of Human Existence I
Satisfies Philosophy Core Requirement
Offered Periodically
Human existence is a matter of fact in the world that calls for a twofold critical reflection, one on the theory of selfhood and one on the practice of selfhood. In this course we undertake reflection on the practice of selfhood, starting from our common conscience or sense of responsibility and going on to reflect on how we reason from the good in deliberating about what we do as selves and in determining what is called for by justice and friendship in a community of selves.
Oliva Blanchette

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 293 Culture and Social Structures I: Philosophy of PULSE (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Membership on PULSE Council.
This course focuses on examining the cultural foundations that underlie the contemporary ways in which people choose to structure—literally, figuratively, and symbolically—the way they live together. Our study centers on questions about how our cultural and social structures are the concrete expression in politics, city planning, architecture, literature, etc., of what we value and of the things we consider meaningful and important.
David McMenamin

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 294 Culture and Social Structures II: Philosophy of PULSE (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Membership on PULSE Council
This course is a continuation of the themes developed in Culture and Social Structures I, with the focus on American culture in particular and on more specifically contemporary issues.
David McMenamin

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 299 Readings and Research (Fall/Spring: 3)

By arrangement.
The Department

Last Updated: 16-JAN-12

PL 394 Senior Honors Seminar (Fall: 4)

Restricted to departmental honors students only.
The senior honors seminar will support the development of a senior thesis. Topics will include methods for strong research, writing workshops, and contemporary philosophical readings and discussion.
Marina B. McCoy

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 395 Senior Honors Thesis (Spring: 4)

Restricted to senior departmental honors students.
Students will write a senior thesis of approximately 75 pages under the guidance of a faculty advisor.
The Department

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 398 Senior Thesis (Fall/Spring: 3)

By arrangement.
The Department

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 405 Greek Philosophy (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Philosophy of the Person I & II or Perspectives I & II
This course is organized around the central philosophical questions asked and answered, in various ways, by philosophers in the ancient Greek-speaking world. We will consider the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, and, more briefly, some Hellenistic authors such as Plutarch, Epictetus, and Plotinus. Topics include theories of material bodies and of change; whether anything immaterial or immutable exists, and if so whether it is single or multiple and its relation to this changing world; the human soul; and the question of the criterion of truth, and the process by which humans may come to know; the question of the criterion of ethics.
Sarah Byers

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 406 History of Modern Philosophy (Fall: 3)

The course presents in a synthetic but not superficial manner the major philosophies, from Descartes to Kant, which have punctuated the emergence of the modern mind, the development of scientific knowledge and transformations of Western societies, during a period in which conquering rationality asserted its autonomy and gave rise to the idea of Enlightenment, but at the same time reflected on its own limits. This comprehensive survey will cover metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and political thought. We will analyze representative sources, paying attention to their argumentative structures, and highlighting the logic in the unfolding of problems and answers. Syllabus on http://www2.bc.edu/~solere/pl406.html
Jean-Luc Solere

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 407 Medieval Philosophy (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Ancient Philosophy
Far from being monolithic and repetitive, the Middle Ages were a creative period during which multiple solutions were proposed to make sense of the world and of human life. The legacy of Antiquity, the philosophic and scientific knowledge of the time, and religious views were combined in original syntheses. The aim of the course is to provide a precise picture of this diversity, through a study of the main problems that a wide range of authors (Christian thinkers from St. Augustine to Ockham, but also Islamic and Jewish philosophers) faced. Syllabus on https://www2.bc.edu/jeanluc-solere/pl407.html
Peter J. Kreeft

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 408 Nineteenth- and Twentieth- Century Philosophy (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Some background in Kant, although not mandatory, is strongly recommended.
This class will be devoted to some of the most important issues in philosophy in the past two centuries. In particular, we will study the development of Kantian transcendental philosophy in German Idealism, Neokantianism, and Husserlian Phenomenology. In the last section of the class we will consider the rise of analytic philosophy in the works of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein.
Andrea Staiti

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 414 Race and Philosophy (Spring: 3)

This course employs methods of recent Anglophone philosophy to examine such topics as the bases and justification of racial solidarity; whether races are real and, if so, what they are (social constructions? natural categories?) and how they come to exist; racial identity; and the nature, preconditions, loci, subjects, and targets of racism.
Jorge Garcia

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 423 Spanish-American Philosophy (Fall: 3)

Satisfies Cultural Diversity Core Requirement
This course is designed to give the student an opportunity to look at some fundamental philosophical issues regarding human nature and the origins and development of human thought from a fresh perspective. Unamuno's Tragic Sense of Life presents a critique of the rationalism of modern European thought by focusing on human life as dream, theater, and struggle. Octavio Paz, in The Labyrinth of Solitude, explores the meaning of human existence through the lens, or perhaps the mask, of the Mexican quest for identity at the end of the present century.
Gary M. Gurtler, S.J.

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 429 Freud and Philosophy (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Philosophy Core
This introductory course for the interdisciplinary minor in psychoanalysis (open to all interested) is designed to acquaint students with the scope and evolution of Freud's thinking and with significant developments in psychoanalysis since his time. Students will study and assess Freud's and Breuer's first formulation of the nature and etiology of hysteria; Freud's groundbreaking work in dream interpretation and the nature of unconscious processes; Freud's attempt to apply his novel theory of unconscious mechanisms to cultural anthropology as well as individual psychology; and the implications of the ongoing revisions in Freud's classification of the drives.
Vanessa P. Rumble

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 440 Historical Introduction to Western Moral Theory (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
The course introduces, contextualizes, explains, and critiques representative writings by such Western philosophical thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Aquinas, T. Hobbes, D. Hume, I. Kant, J. Bentham, J.S. Mill, K. Marx, F. Nietzsche, and F.H. Bradley.
Jorge Garcia

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 442 German Romanticism and Idealism (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Philosophy Core and preferably some exposure to Kant's thought.
Offered Periodically
Kant's transcendental idealism has been charged with divorcing the subject of understanding from the subject of moral experience. We shall examine the basis of this claim as well as the attempts by Romantic writers and German Idealists to provide a fresh account of the integrity of human experience. We begin examining Kant's attempt, in The Critique of Judgment, to bridge the moral and natural realms through aesthetics. We then trace the progressive emancipation of the imagination in the later development of German Idealism and Romanticism.
Vanessa P. Rumble

Last Updated: 03-JUL-13

PL 447 Fascisms (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
We shall investigate the birth and development of fascism as political cultures.
James W. Bernauer, S.J.

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 448 Buddhist Thought and Practice (Fall: 3)

Cross Listed with TH548
See description under Theology Department: TH 548.
John J. Makransky

Last Updated: 31-JAN-13

PL 453 Gandhi, Satyagraha, and Society (Spring: 3)

Satisfies Cultural Diversity Core Requirement
Well known as a freedom fighter for India's independence, Gandhi's deep concern regarding the impact of industrialization and injustice on the social fabric is not as well known. His analysis of the effects of technological civilization on society was not provincial (limited to what is sometimes called the third world) but universal. We will examine Gandhian thought through his own writings, explicate their relevance to the contemporary society, and examine selections from classical and contemporary literature on the philosophy and ethics, which will help us understand Gandhi's integrated vision of the citizen as a reflective and active individual.
Pramod B. Thaker

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 456 The Holocaust: A Moral History (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
The tragic event that ruptured modern western morality will be examined from a variety of perspectives. We shall study the testimony of both its victims and its perpetrators. Special attention will be given to consideration of the intellectual and moral factors which motivated resistance or excused indifference. We shall conclude with interpretations of its meaning for contemporary morality and of its theological significance for Christians and Jews.
James W. Bernauer, S.J.

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 468 Introduction to Asian Philosophy (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course has no prerequisites and does not assume any background in Asian philosophy, but a final research paper will be required.
This course examines the three streams of thought that make up the core of East Asian philosophy: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. In the wisdom literature of these three "Ways," one finds the critical articulation of views about the nature of reality and about how one ought to live. An important theme common to all three teachings in this regard is the emphasis on learning as a process of self-transformation through self-effort in ordinary existence.
David W. Johnson

Last Updated: 27-SEP-13

PL 476 Classical Chinese Philosophy (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course is an introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy and designed to introduce students to the major philosophical schools of classical China, including the Confucian, Mohist, Daoist, and Buddhist schools. Through lectures, discussions, and reading of select primary and secondary sources, we will explore the formulations and subsequent transformations of key beliefs, doctrines, practices, and institutions that characterized specific cultural, educational, spiritual and philosophical traditions.
Joseph Jiang, S.J.

Last Updated: 17-JUL-13

PL 477 Ethical Principles in Comparative Perspectives (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
The course will explore the major concepts of and current trends in Eastern and Western values, beliefs, and practices. It will also illustrate the diversity of their social, cultural and philosophical life by means of a cross-cultural perspective in order to communicate to students the importance of global changes, dialogue and exchanges.
You Guo Jiang, S.J.

Last Updated: 25-JUL-13

PL 492 Spiritual Exercises:Philosophers&Theologians (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH493
Offered Periodically
See course description under Theology Department: TH493
Brian Robinette

Last Updated: 31-JAN-13

PL 493 Bioethics: Ethical Issues in Healthcare (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
Should doctors ever be allowed to help their patients die? How much healthcare are we entitled to receive? What, if anything, is wrong with cloning human beings? Is abortion morally wrong? May parents be allowed `designer babies"? What moral obligations do doctors have toward disadvantaged populations? In this course, we will examine some philosophical answers to these pressing questions of modern societies. Topics include justice and health-care, stem-cell research, euthanasia, human cloning, abortion, ethics and medical research in underdeveloped countries.
Marius Stan

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 500 Philosophy of Law (Fall: 3)

Cross Listed with LL669
Offered Periodically
This course is intended for both pre-law students and those interested in the contemporary interface of philosophy, politics, and law. The course will cover the following four topics: (1) brief overview of the history of interrelation between law and philosophy (Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel); (2) constitutional legal theory (Dworkin, Ackerman, Michelman, Breyer); (3) political liberalism, public reason, and international law (Rawls, Habermas); and (4) human rights and globalization. The course is intended both to provide an overview of these various positions and to enable students to take a critical stance toward current debates.
Jonathan Trejo-Mathys

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 507 Ancient Philosophy East and West (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course is organized around a comparative focus on ancient China and India and classical Greece, and, to a lesser extent, ancient Rome. It will explore the meaning of the affinities and differences between the notions of self-cultivation, on the one side, and care of the soul, on the other, in Confucius, Mencius, Chuang-tzu, the Buddha, Plato, Epicurus, and the Stoics.
David W. Johnson

Last Updated: 10-MAY-13

PL 509 Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy & Practice (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH506
Offered Periodically
Philosophical ideas and meditative and ritual practices of the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet (Vajrayana). Includes early Buddhist and Mahayana philosophical foundations of Tantric Buddhism, connections between philosophy and sacred story, nature of mind and the transformative potential of the human being, visionary practices, concepts of mandala, meditation theory, inner yogas, unities of wisdom and means, and the feminine divine in cultural context. We explore Tibetan philosophy and praxis through writings of modern Buddhist studies scholars and Tibetan lamas. Weekly writing, midterm, final papers.
John J. Makransky

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 512 Philosophy of Existence (Fall: 3)

Offered Biennially
An introduction to the main questions of existentialist philosophy from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. The major issues dealt with include freedom and determinism, desire and death, anxiety and the search for the absolute.
Richard M. Kearney

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 514 Philosophy of Love and Friendship (Spring: 3)

In this course we will examine a number of works on the philosophy of friendship and romantic love from authors both ancient and modern. The course will include readings in philosophy as well as literary works that encourage philosophical reflection on love, friendship, and marriage.
Marina B. McCoy

Last Updated: 18-JUN-13

PL 516 Epistemology (Spring: 3)

An exploration of course core issues in contemporary theory of knowledge emphasizing questions about the justification and rationality of belief. Topics to be considered include the analysis of knowledge, skepticism and the sources of knowledge, theories of justification, rationality, and evidence. Our treatment of the reliability of perception, common sense realism, fallibilism, varieties of ampliative inference (such as inference to the best explanation, induction, and the use of probabilistic reasoning in decision theory), naturalized epistemology, recent trends in social epistemology, and the scope and limits of science will attend to intersections between epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.
Daniel McKaughan

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 523 Nietzsche on Ethics & Virtues of Philosophy (Spring: 3)

This class will explore the central ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially his ethical thinking. We will consider his notorious attacks on traditional ethics but pay special attention to the positive ethical ideal Nietzsche advocates instead: the "free spirit," ▄bermensch, or "sovereign individual." This will involve a detailed discussion of Nietzsche's alternative conceptions of conscience, freedom, responsibility, and autonomy. We will also consider how philosophy is important here, exploring Nietzsche's critiques of traditional forms of philosophy and his hopes for a new "philosophy of the future," including the character traits of thinkers and their thinking that he believes constitute philosophical excellence.
Thomas Miles

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 527 Philosophy of Language (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Philosophy core fulfilled.
This course will consider major texts and movements in 20th century philosophy of language in both the analytic and continental traditions, reading the work of Russell, Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Quine and Davidson as well as Ricoeur and Derrida . Our goal will be to bring together these very different approaches to what has been a central concern of philosophy in the 20th century.
Eileen C. Sweeney

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 529 Metaphysics (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
The course begins with classical modern philosophers. Their problems concern the relation of mind and body, the possibility of objective knowledge, and cause and effect. Their method is that of science, combining both empirical and logical elements. After these modern thinkers, giving our cultural assumptions, we turn to Ancient and Medieval philosophers. Their problems concern the relation of spirit and matter, the analogy of being and truth, and causal explanation. Their method is one of dialogue. With this different of these different philosophical positions.
Gary M. Gurtler, S.J.

Last Updated: 12-MAR-13

PL 530 Social Theory: Hegel to Freud (Spring: 3)


Vanessa P. Rumble

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 534 Environmental Ethics (Spring: 3)

Offered Biennially
This course will examine major themes in and approaches to environmental philosophy with a particular focus on the idea of nature as it developed in the United States and how current approaches (such as deep ecology and ecofeminism) challenge existing normative attitudes toward the domain of non-human beings. The course will consider some classic texts in the history of American nature writing by Thoreau, John Muir, and Rachael Carson before turning to topics-based discussions on such issues as environmental justice and animal rights.
Holly VandeWall

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 536 Philosophies of Dissent (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This seminar will explore the philosophical ideas behind the practice of dissenting against power and authority. Drawing from the history of political philosophy and social theory, the readings will explore philosophical perspectives on the just use of power and authority, as well as philosophical perspectives that seek to legitimize dissent against unjust governments. Beyond mere politics, furthermore, the existential aspects of dissent will be explored within works concerned not only with the colonization of cities by unjust governments, but also with the unjust colonization of the individual by society and politics
Aspen Brinton

Last Updated: 26-APR-13

PL 537 Contemporary Metaethics (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course examines work in ethical constructivism, anti-realism, projectivism, quasi-realism, scientific reductionism, definism, neo-expressivism by considering writings selected from those of J.L. Mackie, S. Blackburn, Darwall, P. Pettit, F. Jackson, J. Rawls, T.M. Scanlon, and/or other (mostly Anglophone) philosophers. Students will write two take-home examinations and give oral presentations in class.
Jorge Garcia

Last Updated: 12-MAR-13

PL 538 Capstone: Journey to Self-Discovery (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Core
Cross Listed with UN542
See course description in the University Courses section.
Brian J. Braman

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 541 Philosophy of Health Science: East and West (Spring: 3)

Satisfies Cultural Diversity Core Requirement
This course will explore the underlying ethical suppositions of health care practice. Starting from concrete clinical problems such as the care of the elderly and the influence of technology, the course will attempt to draw out the philosophical assumptions of health care practice and show the necessity of an appropriate philosophical perspective in the resolution of day-to-day ethical dilemmas in health care. A close examination of medical practice, from Hippocratic regimen to high-tech medicine, will be undertaken. As a counterpoint, another ancient medical tradition from India, of about 500 B.C., will be studied.
Pramod B. Thaker

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 550 Capstone: Building A Life (Fall: 3)

Cross Listed with UN550
See course description in University section of the catalog.
David McMenamin

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 552 God, Ethics and the Sciences (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH552
Offered Periodically
This course examines some important questions regarding relationships between belief in God and scientific approaches to humanity and the natural world. We explore both the arguments for the incompatibility between science and theism, as well as constructive ways of understanding their potential relationships. We will examine major historical contributors to the discussion including Aquinas, Galileo, and Darwin. Central methodological questions focus on forms of naturalism, reductionism, and evolution. Other course topics include the ethical significance of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, particularly concerning the relation between brain and mind, the meaning of responsibility, and the natural basis of moral decision-making.
Patrick Byrne
Daniel McKaughan

Last Updated: 26-FEB-13

PL 553 Capstone: Poets, Philosophers, and Mapmakers (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with UN553
See description in the University Courses section of the catalog.
Paul McNellis, S.J.

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 563 Ethics, Religion and International Politics (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: This course is an examination of the role of religion and ethics in international politics. We will explore how theological and philosophical texts from the past and present
Cross Listed with IN600, TH563
Offered Periodically

Aspen Brinton

Last Updated: 31-JUL-13

PL 577 Symbolic Logic: Theory and Practices (Fall: 3)

An introduction to the powerful ways the logical forms woven into deductive reasoning and language can be analyzed using abstract symbolic structures. The study of these structures is not only relevant for understanding effective reasoning, but also for exploring the Anglo-American analytic philosophical tradition and foundations of mathematics, computer science, and linguistics. Philosophically interesting properties about logical systems will be explored, including the task of proving whether a logical system is complete and consistent. A number of interesting topics of twentieth-century logic will be briefly considered, such as set theory, Russell's paradox, and Goedel's theorems.
The Department

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 578 Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (Spring: 3)

This course will introduce students to Kant┐s masterpiece, the Critique of Pure Reason. It is aimed at seniors majoring in philosophy and at master┐s students. No previous knowledge of Kant┐s theoretical philosophy is required, but a solid background in philosophy is expected.
Marius Stan

Last Updated: 26-FEB-13

PL 584 C.S. Lewis (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Completion of Philosophy core courses
Lewis wrote poetry, literary criticism, science fiction, fantasy, philosophy, theology, religion, literary history, epics, children's stories, historical novels, short stories, psychology, and politics. He was a rationalist and a romanticist, a classicist and an existentialist, a conservative and a radical, a pagan and a Christian. No writer of our century had more strings to his bow, and no one excels him at once in clarity, moral force, and imagination: the true, the good, and the beautiful. We will consider a sampling of Lewis' fiction and non-fiction.
Peter J. Kreeft

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 586 Platonic Dialogues (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Philosophy Core
Offered Periodically
In this course, we will read a range of Platonic dialogues as an introduction to the epistemological, moral, and political content of Plato's work. Special consideration will be given to his understanding of the nature of philosophical practice as exhibited in the dialogue form.
Marina B. McCoy

Last Updated: 25-SEP-12

PL 593 Philosophy of Science (Fall: 3)

An introduction to the central themes of twentieth-century history and philosophy of science. Topics to be discussed include the classic and contemporary problems of demarcation, explanation, confirmation, laws of nature, inter-theoretic reduction, social and historical critiques of neo-positivism, and the realism/anti-realism debate. We will examine some philosophical perspectives sometimes thought to be closely associated with science including empiricism, pragmatism, naturalism, and physicalism. We will also discuss a number of other issues, including questions about objectivity and the role of values in science, the methods, scope, and limits of science, and whether science provides anything like a worldview.
Patrick Byrne

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 621 Anti-Moralism (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
We explore some ways of rejecting morality as represented by Sextus Empiricus, K. Marx, F. Nietzsche, S. Freud, A. Rosenberg, and/or other thinkers. Students will write two take-home examinations and give oral presentations in class.
Jorge Garcia

Last Updated: 12-FEB-13

PL 622 Philosophy and Music (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course will explore the way in which various philosophers from Plato to Heidegger have understood the nature of music, its relation to the other arts, and its significance outside the aesthetic sphere, especially for political life. Attention will also be given to the way in which music and reflections on music have, in such cases as Nietzsche, played a major role in shaping philosophical thought.
John Sallis

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 625 The Problem of Self-Knowledge (Fall: 3)

A human being is more than a rational animal. We are symbolic beings with a polymorphic consciousness and have language and a relational existence to others, the cosmos, and transcendence. Insights from the selected readings and pedagogy will serve both as a maieutic and a heuristic; inspiring us to articulate who we are, how we ought to live with others, and how we are to collaborate with others and transcendence in originating creative and healing insights in response to challenges of humanity at the dawn of our twenty-first century. This course is inspired by Socrates' imperative and dictum: "Know Thyself."
Brian Braman

Last Updated: 01-FEB-13

PL 626 Hermeneutics of God (Spring: 3)

This seminar explores recent debates in continental philosophy of religion about the "God who comes after metaphysics." Beginning with the phenomenological approach of Husserl, Heidegger, and Levinas, the course will proceed to a discussion of more recent retrievals of the God question in hermeneutics and deconstruction—Ricoeur, Derrida, and Caputo. Key issues explored include the critique of omnipotence, God as possible/impossible, theism/atheism/posttheism, and the question of interreligious dialogue and pluralism. The seminar invites class presentations from students.
Richard M. Kearney

Last Updated: 01-NOV-11

PL 631 Science, Brains and Ethics (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course examines recent work in psychology and neuroscience to determine what, if any, relevance this work has for moral philosophy. We will read works by Alva Noe, Jonathan Haidt, Christian Miller, Daniel Khaneman, and others. Some of the questions we will consider include: Can images of the brain tell us something important about moral decision making? Do empirical studies undermine the idea of stable character traits? Is it possible for empirical research to justify one normative theory over another? Might the empirical sciences one day replace traditional moral theorizing?
Micah Lott

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 634 Cosmic City:Hellenistic&Early Christian Philosophy (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
A study of Hellenistic and early Christian theories of normativity and community. Focuses particularly upon: (1) Augustine's attempt to synthesize the Stoic theory of natural inclinations as normative (`natural law theory') with a Platonic (proximately Plotinian and Victorine) account of transcendent moral standards (`eternal law theory'); and (2) the ways in which Augustine's account of the `two cosmic cities' is developed critically from the Stoic claim that the entire cosmos is one city (polis) and from middle- and neo-Platonic models of how the cosmos is structured and inhabited. Some comparisons/contrasts will be made with ostensibly similar contemporary theories
Sarah Byers

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 670 Technology and Culture (Fall: 3)

Cross Listed with SC670
This interdisciplinary course will first investigate the social, political, psychological, ethical, and spiritual aspects of Western cultural development with a special emphasis on scientific and technological metaphors and narratives. We will then focus on the contemporary world, examining the impact of our various technological creations on cultural directions, democratic process, the world of work, quality of life, and especially on the emergent meanings for the terms "citizen" and "ethics" in contemporary society. Students will explore technologies in four broad and interrelated domains: (1) Computers, Media, and Communications and Information Technologies, (2) Biotechnology, (3) Globalization, and (4) Environmental Issues.
William Griffith

Last Updated: 11-FEB-13

PL 700 Ancient & Medieval Theories of the Passions (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
We will consider the view of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and the Stoics on the nature and role of the passions, their relationship to reason, the definitions of the particular passions. We will move, then, to a reading of selections from Aquinas' treatise on the passions (Summa theologiae I-II) as well as the views of Ockham and Scotus, in terms of influences on their views and the way in which they hand on the tradition of thought into the late Medieval and Modern period.
Eileen Sweeney

Last Updated: 11-FEB-13

PL 703 Aristolte's Ethics: Plotinus, Ennead I (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
The purpose of this course will be twofold: 1) An analysis of the moral and intellectual virtues in relation to happiness as the goal of ethics. Aristotle understands human nature as social, so how do individuals attain virtue, especially as member of society and as friends? 2) Plotinus reacts to Aristotelian eudaimonism, which he finds deficient in relation to the Platonic goal of the ascent of the soul. Despite Plotinus' critique, he incorporates ideas from both Plato and Aristotle into a more complex understanding of human nature that includes, among other things, the first explicit theory of the unconscious.
Gary M. Gurtler, S.J.

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 704 Plato's Republic (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
In this course, we will explore in depth Plato's Republic, with particular attention to parallels between the Republic and the literary works of Plato's predecessors, including Homer, the tragedians, and Aristophanes. The focus of our reading will be on the role of poetry, imagination, and narrative in the dialogue.
Marina B. McCoy

Last Updated: 08-FEB-13

PL 707 Habermas: Law and Politics (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
Between Facts and Norms, the recent work by Jurgen Habermas, is thought by some to be one of the most comprehensive works in political philosophy and law in recent decades. The book with its original thesis about the co-relation between private and public autonomy can be read in the great tradition of the philosophy of law inaugurated by Kant and continued by Fichte, Hegel, and Weber. Habermas has written essays on religion and politics, globalization and human rights, cosmopolitanism and international law. We will read key chapters of Between Facts and Norms and Habermas' writings on law and politics.
David M. Rasmussen

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 712 Medieval Metaphysics (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
We will study how Neo-Platonism and Aristotelism dialogued, argued, merged, parted in medieval metaphysics, especially in Aquinas', Scotus' and Ockham's thought, during the 13th and 14th centuries. We will analyze fundamental concepts, such as participation, causality, creation, being, essence and existence, form and matter, substance and accident, etc. The class is especially designed for giving graduate students a strong and in-depth presentation of medieval thought, an essential moment of the development of western philosophy.
Jean-Luc Solere

Last Updated: 20-JUN-13

PL 716 Kant's First Critique (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course will introduce students to Kant┐s masterpiece, the Critique of Pure Reason. It is aimed at seniors majoring in philosophy and at master┐s students. No previous knowledge of Kant┐s theoretical philosophy is required, but a solid background in philosophy is expected.
Marius Stan

Last Updated: 20-JUN-13

PL 717 Aquinas and God (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
An intensive seminar examining Aquinas' arguments for the existence and nature of God--as found in the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiae.
Ronald K. Tacelli, S.J.

Last Updated: 25-FEB-13

PL 719 Aquinas on Virtue & Law (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: This course is open to graduate students only.
Offered Periodically
Ethics has become once again a central concern for the understanding of human life. Before After Virtue thee was Virtue. For "Legitimation Theory" thee has to be Law. This course will study Aquinas' systematic approach to ethics in the framework of the Summa Theologiae. After a discussion of the structure of the Summa, it will focus on the concepts of "Virtue and Law" in Part II.1 and on the "Particular Virtues" as elaborated in Part II.2.
Oliva Blanchette

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 727 Consequentialism and Its Critics (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course examines utilitarian and, more broadly, consequentialist approaches to ethics. Our goals will be: (1) to understand the structure and appeal of consequentialist theories (2) to articulate the strongest possible version of consequentialism and (3) to consider the most serious objections to consequentialism. We will begin with two classical texts: Mill's Utilitarianism and Moore's Principia Ethica. We will also examine contemporary re-formulations of consequentialism, including Brad Hooker's Ideal Code, Real World: A rule-consequentialist theory of morality. In addition, we will read essays by various critics of consequentialism, including Bernard Williams, Philippa Foot, David Lyons, and Anselm Mueller.
Micah Lott

Last Updated: 12-MAR-13

PL 732 Husserl's Ideas: Book I (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Some background in Kant, although not mandatory, is strongly recommended
Offered Periodically
In this class we will examine Husserl's groundbreaking work Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and a Phenomenological Philosophy primarily from a systematic perspective. An effort will be made to connect Husserl's phenomenology with the broader tradition of transcendental philosophy. The goal of the class is to learn Husserl's phenomenological method and to understand key notions of phenomenology such as reduction, intentionality, pure consciousness, noesis-noema.
Andrea Staiti

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 734 The Idea of Community (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course examines the origin and development of the concept of community in the history of philosophy in relation to the renewed discussions of community in recent French philosophy (e.g., J.-L. Nancy, M. Blanchot).
John Sallis

Last Updated: 11-FEB-13

PL 740 Global Justice and Obligation (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
Also open to upper-level undergraduates (who are highly encouraged to contact the professor if interested in enrolling).
It has become clear to all informed observers that we are in an age of rapid change in the global order, evident in phenomena such as the Arab Spring, the rise of China, the EU crisis, and talk of a "post-American" or "multi-polar" world, to name only a few. We will explore the question, "What, if any, specifically political obligations do individuals have and how is this impacted by these global transformations?," through a close, critical reading of four important recent works by noted political philosophers and theorists.
Jonathan Trejo-Mathys

Last Updated: 14-FEB-13

PL 758 Empathy & Social Cognition (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
During the course, we will look at the classical phenomenological accounts of empathy that we find in Husserl, Stein and Scheler and then compare these accounts with some of the proposals that can be found in the cognitive science literature. One of the basic questions we will explore is whether the phenomenologists jointly offer a distinct account of empathy that differs from the standard options found in the scientific debate and if so whether such an account makes for an important and relevant contribution to the contemporary debate on social cognition.
Dan Zahavi

Last Updated: 12-FEB-13

PL 762 Soren Kierkegaard (Spring: 3)

Prerequisite: Undergraduates require permission.
Offered Periodically
This course will deal primarily with the early pseudonymous writings of Soren Kierkegaard. The following topics will be emphasized: (1) the function of irony and indirect communication in the pseudonymous works, (2) Kierkegaard's conception of freedom and subjectivity, and (3) the nature of the relationship which Kierkegaard posits between reason, autonomy, and faith.
Vanessa P. Rumble

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 780 Readings in Theory (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with EN780, RL780
This course is organized as an introduction to the reading of literary theory for graduate students in various disciplines. Its aim is to develop in students an awareness and sensitivity to the specific means and ends of interpreting literary and extra-literary language today. The course seeks to provide students with a basic familiarity with some of the most formative linguistic, anthropological, philosophical, and literary antecedents of the diverse and often contentious theoretical models occupying—some would say plaguing—the contemporary literary critical scene. Readings are from Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, Jakobson, Barthes, Lacan, Ricoeur, Geertz, Austin, Derrida, and de Man, among others.
Kevin Newmark

Last Updated: 20-JUN-13

PL 794 Philosophy and the Church Fathers (Spring: 3)

Cross Listed with TH794
Introduction to the major Church Fathers and their varying attitudes towards philosophy. Topics include the role of philosophy in the development of patristic theology; particular influences of Aristotle, Epicurus and the Stoa; and the reception and transformation of Platonism and the reciprocal influence of Christianity upon Greek thought.
Margaret Schatkin

Last Updated: 31-JAN-13

PL 799 Readings and Research (Fall: 3)

By arrangement.
The Department

Last Updated: 10-JUL-12

PL 801 Master's Thesis (Fall/Spring: 3)

A research course under the guidance of a faculty member for those writing a master's thesis.
The Department

Last Updated: 20-JUN-13

PL 802 Thesis Direction (Fall/Spring: 3)


The Department

Last Updated: 20-JUN-13

PL 809 Arendt & Foucault: A Dialog (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This seminar will bring these two thinkers into conversation on such major themes as power, ethics, war and violence and philosophical spirituality.
James W. Bernauer, S.J.

Last Updated: 07-FEB-13

PL 820 Hegel, Kierkegaard, Blondel (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
Reason and religion converge in the question of how we relate to the true Infinite. We will examine how the problem of the infinite arises in our consciousness according to these authors, how we try to resolve it immanently, and how it has to give way to absolute transcendence. We shall explore not only how these three authors converge around the question of the infinite but also how they diverge radically in handling the question as it affects the relation between reason and religion.
Oliva Blanchette

Last Updated: 12-MAR-13

PL 821 Democratic Ethos and Renewal of Political Liberalism (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
In many regions of the world, democracy has become the one legitimate form of government while in the longer established democracies processes of de-democratization are underway. What distinguishes real democracies? How can a democratic ethos, distinctive of real democracies, be reconstructed? How can the traditional view of the democratic ethos be updated in order to respond to today's new challenges? How can such reconfigured democratic ethos be made compatible with the moral cultures of all the major civilizations? How can the view of the democratic ethos implicit in Rawls' political liberalism, once enriched and revisited, help us meet these challenges?
Alessandro Ferrara

Last Updated: 01-OCT-12

PL 825 Seminar on Law & Politics (Spring: 3)

Offered Periodically
Is it possible to interpret the global political order from a democratic point of view? This seminar will examine that question from two complimentary perspectives. First, we will consider the emerging domain of the political, contrasting realist (Schmitt) and liberal (Rawls) points of view. Second, we will consider the relatively new area of the constitutionalization of international law, which takes up the old problem of mixed constituent power and applies it to the international scene. This reconstruction of the idea of divided sovereignty (Habermas) has potential for understanding international law beyond the nation state from a democratic point of view.
David M. Rasmussen

Last Updated: 22-OCT-13

PL 833 Carnal Hermeneutics (Fall: 3)

Prerequisite: Graduate and advanced Undergraduate Students
Offered Periodically
This course will explore how a phenomenology of embodiment and a hermeneutics of the flesh may offer new ways of interpreting our senses. Particular attention will be paid to the primary senses of taste, smell and touch with a view to showing how these neglected senses of western philosophy (which privileged sight and hearing) may be rehabilitated in a new key. Readings will include texts by Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Nancy and Kristeva.
Richard M. Kearney

Last Updated: 12-MAR-13

PL 848 Plato's Dialogues (Fall: 3)

Offered Periodically
This course is devoted to an in-depth study of a major Platonic dialogue.
John Sallis

Last Updated: 11-FEB-13

PL 888 Interim Study (Fall/Spring: 0)

Required for master's candidates who have completed all course requirements but have not taken comprehensive examinations. Also for master's students (only) who have taken up to six credits of Thesis Seminar but have not yet finished writing their thesis.
The Department

Last Updated: 31-OCT-11

PL 990 Teaching Seminar (Fall/Spring: 0)

This course is required of all first- and second- year doctoral candidates. This course includes discussion of teaching techniques, planning of curricula, and careful analysis of various ways of presenting major philosophical texts.
The Department

Last Updated: 31-OCT-11

PL 998 Doctoral Comprehensives (Fall/Spring: 1)

Required for doctoral candidates who have completed all course requirements but have not taken their doctoral comprehensive examination.
The Department

Last Updated: 31-OCT-11

PL 999 Doctoral Continuation (Fall/Spring: 1)

All students who have been admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree are required to register and pay the fee for doctoral continuation during each semester of their candidacy. Doctoral Continuation requires a commitment of at least 20 hours per week working on the dissertation.
The Department

Last Updated: 31-OCT-11