Department of Philosophy

College of Arts and Humanities

50 Sharpless St
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Department of Philosophy
Dr. Pierlott, Chairperson
Dr. James, Graduate Coordinator

Programs of Study

The Department of Philosophy offers a program leading to the Master of Arts in Philosophy, with or without an applied ethics concentration. This degree will serve as a foundation for studies leading to a Ph.D. in Philosophy or prepare students for positions in industry, government, or college teaching.

Master's Programs in Philosophy

Certificates in Philosophy

Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's

All applicants to one of West Chester University’s graduate programs will be held to the graduate admissions requirements. When applicable, additional requirements for admission into specific department program(s) may be listed below.

In addition to meeting general requirements for admission to a degree program at West Chester, applicants must provide two letters of reference (preferably from undergraduate philosophy professors), as well as a writing sample or GRE scores, and must present a minimum of 12 semester hours of undergraduate philosophy, including courses in history of ancient philosophy, history of modern philosophy, ethics, and logic. Admission to the graduate certificate program does not require a background in philosophy.

All graduate students are held to the academic policies and procedures outlined in the graduate 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.

Preliminary and Comprehensive Examination Requirement

One preliminary examination on one central area of philosophy (e.g., philosophy of science or moral philosophy) is required of all students after completing half of their coursework (i.e., after 15 credits). Students not doing a thesis will be required to take two additional comprehensive examinations in central areas of philosophy after completing their coursework.

Undergraduate Courses for Graduate Credit (Applied Ethics Concentration - Nonthesis)

Students are limited to one of the following courses that can be taken for graduate credit.

PHI 405Feminist Theory3
PHI 480Environmental Ethics3


Ruth Porritt (1991)

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

Joan Woolfrey (2000)

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

Associate Professors

Matthew Pierlott (2006)

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

Assistant Professors

Daniel Forbes (2007)

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

Steven James (2014)

Graduate Coordinator, Philosophy

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

Dean J. Johnson (2013)

Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Program

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

Robert Main (2015)

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

Jea Sophia Oh (2015)

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

Ronke Oke (2016)

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

Irwin Larry Udell (2011)

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


PHI 501. Graduate Proseminar. 3 Credits.

An introduction to graduate work in Philosophy, emphasizing philosophical methodologies and current professional practices in the field.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 502. History of Western Ethics. 3 Credits.

This course involves the study of the branch of philosophy called ethics, and will pay specific attention to the development of ethical ideas and approaches in Western thought throughout its' history. The course will cover some of the major contributions to moral thought by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Mill, as well as other vital figures. These figures will cover the four major ethical approaches of Virtue Theory, Natural Law Theory, Deontology, and Consequentialism. Restricted to those with minimal preparation in Philosophy.
Distance education offering may be available.
Typically offered in Summer.

PHI 512. Ethical Theories. 3 Credits.

An inquiry into the meaning, interpretations, and function of ethical theory in our lives. The course will explore some combinations of classic, modern, and contemporary ethical theories.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 513. Aesthetic Theories. 3 Credits.

History of aesthetics, as seen in classic interpretations. Psychological and sociological origins of art; the role of art works in the enrichment of life.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 514. Philosophy of Religion. 3 Credits.

Dominant trends in religious philosophy of the Western world. Religious language, reason and faith, science, the nature of man, the existence of God, and mysticism.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 515. Existentialism. 3 Credits.

Background and themes of current existentialism, as reflected in Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Marcel, Heidegger, and Sartre. Evaluation of existentialism and its impact on contemporary literature, drama, art, and society.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 520. Philosophy of Mind. 3 Credits.

The human mind, according to representative views. Presuppositions and implications, both scientific and philosophic, traced and analyzed. The mind-body problem, perception, memory, and the implications of depth psychology.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 521. 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 521 requires a prerequisite of 3 hours of Philosophy or permission of instructor.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 522. Philosophy of Science. 3 Credits.

The course begins with case studies in science and derives general principles from them. Scientific law, analogy, models, variant theories, confirmation, and interpretation.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 525. Epistemology. 3 Credits.

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the major issues in contemporary analytic epistemology. Though epistemology has a long history in philosophy, contemporary epistemology has brought the modern scientific worldview and psychological accounts of the mind to bear on articulating the nature and justification of knowledge and belief. Moreover, in the 20th century many philosophers began to investigate the social factors (including race and gender) and values on our understanding of knowledge. Among the topics we will examine are skepticism, epistemic contextualism, defining knowledge, foundationalism, and coherentism, epistemic externalism, naturalized epistemology, and feminist and social epistemology.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 531. Asian Philosophy. 3 Credits.

Central figures and classic teachings of Eastern philosophy and religion: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism; naturalistic and humanistic elements of decisive influence on the culture of the Orient.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 536. Symbolic Logic. 3 Credits.

Basic principles and methods of symbolic logic. Practice in determining validity of sentential and quantificational arguments. The algebra of classes.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 551. 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 551 requires a prerequisite of one PHI course.
Distance education offering may be available.
Typically offered in Fall.

PHI 570. Bioethics. 3 Credits.

Philosophical analysis of ethical issues in medicine, research and biotechnology.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 580. Business Ethics. 3 Credits.

Examination of ethical theory and its application to issues in business and management.
Pre / Co requisites: PHI 580 requires a prerequisite of PHI 512.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 581. 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.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 582. Social Philosophy. 3 Credits.

The relation between man and the state, especially as seen by recent thinkers. Justice, natural rights, political obligation, freedom, and equality.
Typically offered in Spring.

PHI 590. Independent Studies in Philosophy. 3 Credits.

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

PHI 599. Philosophical Concepts and Systems. 3 Credits.

Basic concepts of the philosophic enterprise: form, matter, the categories, cause, and purpose. Relation of premises to method and conclusions. Rival theories are compared for justification and adequacy.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 600. Thesis I. 3 Credits.

This course is intended to guide a student through the early stages of writing a graduate thesis. Under the direction of their faculty adviser, the student completes the requirements to establish the necessary research foundation. This course will include 1) selection of a appropriately narrow topics, 2) a comprehensive literature review, and 3) drafting a formal thesis proposal.

PHI 610. Thesis. 3-6 Credits.

Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.

PHI 640. Seminar. 3 Credits.

Study and evaluation of the major works of one philosopher, such as Plato, Aquinas, Kant, or Wittgenstein.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.