Department of Philosophy

College of Arts and Humanities

108 Anderson Hall
610-436-2841
Department of Philosphy 
Matthew Pierlott, Chairperson

The Department of Philosophy offers two concentrations leading to the bachelor of arts degree.

  • The Philosophy concentration surveys the history of philosophy, explores its major disciplines, and focuses on selected topics of perennial interest. The purpose of the program is to develop the organizational, analytic, and expressive skills required for law school, graduate work in philosophy, and a wide range of careers in government, business, and industry.
  • The Religious Studies concentration is a valuable preparation for careers in fields where an understanding of religious/cultural background and diversity is crucial, such as education, public relations, international affairs, and business. Undergraduate work in religious studies can also enrich students' personal lives and may be used to prepare students for seminary study at the graduate level.

Minor Programs

Students may minor in either philosophy or religious studies. A minimum of 18 credits is required. Elective courses are selected in consultation with the student's minor advisor. Either of these minors may be taken as a concentration in the bachelor of arts in liberal studies general degree program.

All undergraduate students are held to the academic policies and procedures outlined in the undergraduate catalog.  Students are encouraged to review departmental handbooks for program tips, suggested course sequences, and explanations of procedures. When applicable, additional policies for specific department programs may be listed below.

Accelerated Program Policy

Refer to the Accelerated Programs page for more information.

Professor

Ruth Porritt (1991)

B.A., John Carroll University; Ph.D., Purdue University

Associate Professors

Matthew Pierlott (2006)

Assistant Director, Honors College

Chairperson, Philosophy

B.A., University of Scranton; Ph.D., Marquette University

Helen Schroepfer (2005)

B.A., College of St. Benedict/St. John's University; M.A., St. Mary's Seminar and University; Ph.D., Temple University

Cassie Ann Striblen (2010)

B.A., Ohio University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Cincinnati

Joan Woolfrey (2000)

Graduate Coordinator, Philosophy

B.S., North Dakota State University; M.A., The New School for Social Research; Ph.D., University of Oregon

Assistant Professors

Daniel Forbes (2007)

B.A., Dickinson College; Ph.D., University of Georgia

Steven Patrick James (2014)

B.A., University of Colorado; Ph.D., University of Texas

Dean J. Johnson (2013)

B.A., Manchester University; M.A., Bethany Theological Seminary; Ph.D., University of Denver

Robert Main (2016)

B.A., University of Washington; M.A., Ph.D., Temple University

Joshua Mason (2015)

B.A., University of Oregon; M.A., Loyola Marymount University; Ph.D., University of Hawaii

Jea Sophia Oh (2016)

M.A. Austin Presbyterian Seminary; S.T.M. Yale Divinity School; M. Phil Drew University; Ph.D. Drew University

Irwin Larry Udell (2011)

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Ohio State University

Rónké Òké (2016)

B.A., Spelman College; M.A., University of Memphis; Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University

PHI

PHI 100. Creating Meaning. 3 Credits.

This course is an introduction to existentialism, one of the most influential intellectual currents of the 20th century. Through film, literature, and the primary philosophical texts of existential philosophers, such as Frederick Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Simone de Beauvoir, we will explore basic existential themes such as the formation of values, "dread" and "alienation." Existentialism focuses less on what to think and more on how to live stark raving sane in the face of radical freedom and responsibility.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall, Spring & Summer.

PHI 101. Introduction to Philosophy. 3 Credits.

The chief problems and methods of philosophic thought, with a survey of some typical solutions. The place and influence of philosophy in life today.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall, Spring & Summer.

PHI 102. Introduction to Religious Studies. 3 Credits.

The role of religion in human life. Illustrations drawn from various traditions, rituals, and belief patterns, both ancient and modern.
Gen Ed Attribute: Interdisciplinary Requirement, Writing Emphasis.
Distance education offering may be available.
Typically offered in Fall, Spring & Summer.

PHI 125. Theology & Science: Enemies or Partners?. 3 Credits.

An inquiry into the relationship of theology to the natural sciences. Team taught by both a physicist and a philosopher, the course investigates how ideas of God have been affected by advances in physics and biology.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement, Science Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.
Cross listed courses PHI 125, PHY 125.

PHI 130. Religion in the United States. 3 Credits.

This course will explore the rich diversity of religions in the United States and the impact of religion on our culture.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

PHI 150. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. 3 Credits.

Introduction of the principles needed for effective thinking and evaluation of arguments in practical situations. Topics include procedures and guidelines for identifying and evaluating arguments, recognizing fallacies, ands writing/criticizing argumentative essays.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

PHI 174. Principles of the Arts. 3 Credits.

A critical examination of traditional and contemporary aesthetic theories from diverse cultural perspectives to extend students' thinking about the "concept" as well as the "experience" of art. Visual and literary arts are emphasized, as well as how to live a more artful life.
Gen Ed Attribute: Interdisciplinary Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 180. Introduction to Ethics. 3 Credits.

Introduction to major theories and contemporary work in moral philosophy. Offers tools for ethical decision making in our daily lives with emphasis on the influence of culture, power, privilege, diverse communities course.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement, Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall, Spring & Summer.

PHI 190. Logic. 3 Credits.

Introduction to deductive and inductive logic, with emphasis on classical syllogistic and symbolic logic. Topics include arguments, categorical propositions and classes, immediate inferences, Venn diagrams, rules of syllogism propositional functions, truth tables and predicate logic.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

PHI 201. Contemporary Issues. 3 Credits.

Discussion and analysis of contemporary philosophical issues. The topic varies from semester to semester.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 204. Philosophies and Religions of India. 3 Credits.

The religious and philosophical heritage of India, from Vedic times to the present. Examination of major classics, such as Rig Veda, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, and Yoga-sutras; recent writers such as Tagore, Gandhi, and Radhakrishnan.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 205. Philosophies and Religions of the Far East. 3 Credits.

A survey of Far Eastern philosophy, religion, and scientific thought. Confucianism, Taoism, and the various schools of Mahayana Buddhism, including Zen, are given primary emphasis.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 206. Religions of the West. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the three major traditions of the West: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Exploring their earliest heritage including founders , scriptures, early institutions and practices, it will then address how these traditions were preserved, re-invigorated, and sometimes transformed in response to social change and political upheaval.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 207. Philosophies of Non-violence. 3 Credits.

An examination of the concepts of violence and nonviolence, especially as seen by recent thinkers. The course attempts to link theory with practice by considering the contributions of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Thoreau, and other philosophers, religious thinkers, and activists.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 220. Introduction to Islam. 3 Credits.

A general introduction to Islam which will focus on the sources for Muslim belief and practices, the diversity within the Muslim community, and modern movements within Islam and the Muslim community in America.
Gen Ed Attribute: Arabic Culture Cluster, Foreign Language Culture Cluster, Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 270. History of Ancient Philosophy. 3 Credits.

A survey of the major figures of ancient philosophy, from the pre-Socratic period through Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, and Stoics, to the Skeptics and Neo-Platonists.
Gen Ed Attribute: Classical Civilizations Culture Cluster, Foreign Language Culture Cluster.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

PHI 271. History of Medieval Philosophy. 3 Credits.

The history of philosophy from the early Church fathers to the late Middle Ages. St. Augustine, St. Thomas, mysticism, Jewish and Islamic influences, humanism, and the rise of science.
Gen Ed Attribute: Classical Civilizations Culture Cluster, Foreign Language Culture Cluster.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 272. History of Modern Philosophy. 3 Credits.

From Descartes to Hegel. The social, political, and scientific impact of the philosophers.
Gen Ed Attribute: Foreign Language Culture Cluster, Germany Culture Cluster.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 273. 19th Century Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Hegel and German Idealism; decisive influences on European and American literature and thought. Survey of the chief themes of Schopenhauer, Comte, Mill, Spencer, Marx, Kierkegaard, Darwin, and Nietzsche.
Gen Ed Attribute: Foreign Language Culture Cluster, Germany Culture Cluster.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 280. Philosophy and Film. 3 Credits.

This course helps students understand and discuss philosophy, film, and how the two disciplines intersect. Students' critical thinking skills will improve as they use film theory and terminology to decipher key philosophical texts, and vice versa.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement, Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 282. Animal Ethics. 3 Credits.

An exploration of the religious, philosophical, and scientific perspectives on animals, animal treatment and animal use, including arguments for vegetarian/veganism and of activist groups.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 284. American Philosophies. 3 Credits.

Leaders in science, literature, religion, and government who have shaped American thought. Philosophers of Puritanism, the Revolution, Transcendentalism, and native schools of Realism, Idealism, and Pragmatism.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 301. Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. 3 Credits.

This class surveys some major ethical theories and applies them to 15 cases published by the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, in preparation for competing in the Northeastern Regional in November. Ethics Bowl cases are drawn from recent news stories and typically involve a wide spectrum of ethical concerns including environmental and sustainability issues, animal rights, economic justice, civil rights, and reproductive rights.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Typically offered in Fall.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 310. New Religious Movements. 3 Credits.

An examination of New Religious Movements, alternative spiritualities and "cults." This course will explore their main beliefs and practices as well as theoretical perspectives for understanding them.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 330. Introduction to Meaning. 3 Credits.

Discussion of the analysis of meaning given by various disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, linguistics, communication studies, and the arts.
Gen Ed Attribute: Interdisciplinary Requirement, Writing Emphasis.
Typically offered in Spring.
Cross listed courses LIN 330, PHI 330.

PHI 340. Contemporary Moral Issues. 3 Credits.

Philosophical examination of major social debates (e.g. abortion, human cloning, war, and violence) and their relation to race, class, gender, etc.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 349. Ideas of the Bible. 3 Credits.

This course will explore major themes in the Bible and their impact on Western Culture, including on constructions of gender. Particular attention will be paid to their influence on Western literature, religion and philosophy.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 350. Philosophical Topics: 20th Century and Beyond. 3 Credits.

A course in recent and current philosophies and philosophers from various traditions.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 355. Political Philosophy. 3 Credits.

What is the legitimate role of the state? How do we preserve liberty, equality, and produce a distribution of burdens and benefits in society? To begin to answer these sorts of questions, this course examines philosophical texts on politics from thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Thoreau, Mill and Marx.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 371. Medical Ethics. 3 Credits.

A case based approach to the study of philosophical concepts and ethical criteria as applied to health care practice and clinical research.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 371 requires prerequisite of junior or senior standing or department consent.
Gen Ed Attribute: Interdisciplinary Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

PHI 373. Business Ethics. 3 Credits.

The study of philosophical concepts and ethical criteria as applied to business practices. Through case studies and scholarly contributions, the course will cover issues such as the ethical nature of the free market system, foreign outsourcing, issues around environmental impact of business, consumer rights, worker rights and job discrimination, and more.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 390. Women and Religion. 3 Credits.

An exploration of how the beliefs and practices of major world religions have both hampered and enhanced women's lives. Particular attention will be paid to often marginalized voices of women from within these traditions.
Gen Ed Attribute: Diversity Requirement.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 401. Internship in Philosophy. 3 Credits.

This course provides a structured and supervised work experience in philosophy for upper-level students. Students must apply to the department Internship Director and receive approval to be admitted.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.

PHI 405. Feminist Theory. 3 Credits.

Designed to introduce and discuss basic questions in contemporary feminist theory, the course will explore different philosophies of feminism and include such issues as motherhood, intersections with other theories of oppression, and body politics:
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 405 requires a prerequisite of WOS 225.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Typically offered in Spring.
Cross listed courses WOS 405, PHI 405.

PHI 410. Independent Study. 1-3 Credits.

Topic to be approved by supervising faculty member. Requires approval of Department Chair.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 411. The Problem of War. 3 Credits.

An examination of war and the "war systems" including terrorism. Alternatives to war are considered.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 412. Ethical Theories. 3 Credits.

An inquiry into the meaning, interpretations and function of ethical theory in our lives. The course will explore some combination of classic, modern and contemporary ethical theories.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 412 requires prerequisites of PHI 101 or PHI 180 and an overall GPA of at least 2.00.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 414. Philosophy of Religion. 3 Credits.

Religion and religious experience as viewed by major western thinkers. Concepts of God, immorality, religious knowledge, evil, miracles, and science and religion.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 415. Existentialism. 3 Credits.

An exploration of important texts in 19th century and 20th century existentialism and their influence on contemporary currents in philosophy and social sciences.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 415 requires prerequisite of 2 PHI courses.
Gen Ed Attribute: Foreign Language Culture Cluster, France & Francophone Area Culture Cluster.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 421. Philosophy of Law. 3 Credits.

Consideration of the philosophical foundations of law. Topics may include the nature of law and its' relation to rights, liberties, duties, liability, and responsibility, and privacy; the nature of judicial reasoning; concepts of responsibility and liability; theories of punishment; causation in the law; discrimination and equality; the relation of law and morality; civil disobedience.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 421 requires prerequisite of 3 hours of Philosophy or permission of instructor.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 422. Philosophy of Science. 3 Credits.

The nature of scientific method and scientific theory, with reference to presuppositions, inference, explanation, prediction, applications, and verification.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 422 requires prerequisites of one 200 level PHI course and one other PHI course.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 436. Symbolic Logic. 3 Credits.

Principles and methods of symbolic logic. Practice in determining validity of sentential and quantificational arguments. The algebra of classes.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 436 requires prerequisite of PHI 190.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 451. Religion and Ecology. 3 Credits.

This course explores contemporary environmental issues from the perspectives of different religious traditions through a postcolonial interreligious lens. We will compare spiritual and religious views of the ecosystem, its meaning, and its relation to human beings. Students will be asked to critically examine these efforts and also explore issues of environmental injustice. Furthermore, this course introduces postcolonial ecocriticism that promises to make new contributions to the analysis of how imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism create basic conditions of inequality between the colonizer and the colonized. This high level online course is offered for both graduate and undergraduate students.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 451 requires prerequisite of one PHI course.
Distance education offering may be available.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 480. Environmental Ethics. 3 Credits.

Study of arguments and principles surrounding moral questions about the environment. Who and what dissolves moral consideration? What if our obligations to the environment and human beings conflict? Do animals have rights?.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 480 requires a prerequisite of 3 PHI credits or permission of instructor.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 481. Philosophy of Human Rights. 3 Credits.

An examination of theories of human rights and the bearing of these theories on public policy issues such as legitimacy of war and terrorism, economic justice, and whether future generations have rights. Topics include whether there are basic human rights, and if so, what they are, what is there nature or basis, and what arguments can be brought to bear upon these questions.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 481 requires prerequisite of 6 credits of Philosophy.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 482. Social Philosophy. 3 Credits.

The relationship between the individual and the social/political order. The good society and the just state as seen by modern and recent Western thinkers, such as Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Nozick, and Rawls. Cutting-edge issues of the present day are also explored. Course is conducted in seminar format.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 499. Philosophical Concepts and Systems. 3 Credits.

An intensive study of the major works of one philosophical system, emphasizing comparison with other views. Required of all philosophy majors.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 499 requires prerequisites of six hours of philosophy, senior standing, and an overall minimum GPA of 2.00.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.