Philosophy

Philosophy can be dangerous. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death for, among other things, corrupting the youth of Athens. We will not be corrupting you, but we will help you think about things you take for granted in your everyday life and explore their foundations.

Other areas of inquiry often ask "how" questions.  Students of philosophy usually ask "why" questions, questions that ask for reasons or justifications. These “why?” questions might be directed to such issues as the existence of God or ethical obligations toward strangers who live in other parts of the world. What do we mean by ‘God?’ Can we know God exists? What reasons can we give for the way we answer this question?

Similarly, do we have the same moral obligations to our best friend as we do to people who live in other parts of the world? What is the difference, if there is one, and how would we justify it? 

Our particular strengths are in the philosophical exploration of values (ethical, political, legal, economic, professional and theological) and in the history of philosophy from the ancient Greeks to the present. Join us in our quest! We can assure you that you’ll not meet Socrates’ fate.

Philosophy, B.A.

Philosophy emphasizes critical thinking, careful reading and reflection on the nature and purpose of human existence. Graduates are prepared for graduate study in philosophy and for a diverse range of careers, including education, social service and law. More importantly, they are prepared for a life of critical self-reflection and responsible citizenship.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Philosophy and Religious Studies.

A minimum of 32 credit hours, with at least three Philosophy courses at the 300-level or above, including:

Required Courses

History of Philosophy

Two of the following:

Normative Theory

One of the following:

Metaphysics/Epistemology

One of the following:

Electives

Two additional courses in Philosophy.

Note:

Students must demonstrate elementary competence in a foreign language. For more information, see the B.A. Degree Requirements within the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

Philosophy, Law and Society Track, B.A.

The Law & Society track of the philosophy major couples a broad grounding in philosophy with an emphasis on legal, political and social theory. It is an excellent major for students considering law school.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Philosophy and Religious Studies.

A minimum 36 credit hours, with at least three Philosophy courses at the 300-level or above, including:

Required Courses

History of Philosophy

Two of the following:

Legal, Political or Social Theory

One of the following:

Electives

  • Two additional courses in Philosophy

Note:

Students must demonstrate elementary competence in a foreign language. For more information, see the B.A. Degree Requirements within the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

Ethics Minor

Ethics explores fundamental questions about right and wrong and ultimately asks what it means to live a good life. Students use critical thinking skills to apply ethical theories to real life dilemmas. An ethics minor can be integrated with any major and benefits graduates seeking to understand the ethical dilemmas in their personal and professional lives.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Philosophy and Religious Studies.

A minimum of 20 credit hours, including:

Required Courses

History of Philosophy

One of the following:

Applied Ethics

Two of the following:

Philosophy Minor

Philosophy emphasizes critical thinking, careful reading, and reflection on the nature and purpose of human existence. A philosophy minor is an excellent compliment to any major, from business to science to art.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Philosophy and Religious Studies.

A minimum of 20 credit hours, with at least one Philosophy course at the 300-level or above, including:

Required Courses

History of Philosophy

One of the following:

Ethics

One of the following:

Electives

Two additional courses in Philosophy

Note:

Philosophy

PHIL 100 - Introduction to Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of basic questions in philosophy, such as how we can know anything, whether God exists, how moral judgments can be justified, whether people have souls and whether people have free will. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Engaging Civic Life, Being Human.

 

PHIL 110 - Ethics

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of alternative bases for morality and the arguments by which moral claims are justified. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, Community Engaged Learning.
iCon(s): Being Human, Engaging Civic Life.

 

PHIL 210 - Professional Ethics

4.00 credit hoursProfessional ethics in selected career fields including law, business and biomedicine. Students may apply basic concepts to the career of their choice, relate their personal ethics to professional ethics and become better informed consumers of professional services. This course begins with an examination of the alternative bases for making moral judgments. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Innovating World.

 

PHIL 213 - Health Care Ethics

4.00 credit hoursConsiders fundamental ethical questions concerning health care and applies ethics to contemporary debates such as aborton. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Examining Health.

 

PHIL 225 - Environmental Ethics

4.00 credit hours(Same as: ENVI 225.) After a brief examination of philosophical ethical frameworks, the following will be considered: the history of environmental ethics; the problem of the “moral status” of nonhuman animals and other aspects of nature: the environment and “the good life,” ethical issues related to population growth, sustainability, diminishing/vanishing resources and the use of cost benefit analysis in environmental policy. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.

 

PHIL 230 - Logic & Critical Thinking

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of inductive and deductive reasoning, formal and informal fallacies and rules and procedures for evaluating arguments. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Quantitative Analysis.

 

PHIL 235 - Existentialism

4.00 credit hoursAn introduction to existentialism as a 19th and 20th century philosophical and literary movement. Authors discussed typically include Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 240 - Philosophy of Law

4.00 credit hoursAn introduction to the concept of law, including such topics as the nature of law, liberty and law, justice, legal responsibility, punishment and theories of legal interpretation. 

Prerequisite(s): POLS 203 or one Philosophy course. 
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity.

 

PHIL 250 - Philosophy of Mind

4.00 credit hoursAn introduction to the philosophy of mind, including such topics as the mind/body problem, the nature of consciousness, perception, and theories of mental content. Special attention is paid to philosophical questions that arise in psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities.
iCon(s): Being Human, Examining Health, Innovating the World.

 

PHIL 260 - Ancient & Medieval Phil.

4.00 credit hoursPart one of the History of Philosophy sequence; Ancient Greece through the 16th century. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, Global Understanding.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 265 - Modern Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursPart two of the History of Philosophy sequence; 17th through 19th centuries. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Being Human, Engaging Civic Life.

 

PHIL 270 - Aesthetics

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of aesthetic experience, the norms which govern aesthetc judgment and the significance of the idea of beauty in our experience of art and nature. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Arts, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Being Human, Examining Health, Experiencing Place.

 

PHIL 280 - Philosophy of Science

4.00 credit hoursAn inquiry into the nature of scientific evidence, laws, explanations and theories, as well as the nature of the relationship between the natural and social sciences. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities.
iCon(s): Being Human, Innovating the World.

 

PHIL 290 - Topics in Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of questions or issues of contemporary philosophic interest. Check course schedule for current topic. 

 

PHIL 299 - Independent Study

1.00-12.00 credit hours

 

PHIL 310 - Ethical Theory

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of topics in contemporary and/or classical ethical theory. Course may focus on key figures in ethical theory or issues in normative ethics and metaethics. Topics have included virtue ethics, feminist ethics and relationships between normative ethical theory and social or natural sciences. 

 

PHIL 320 - Feminist Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursExamines feminist contributions to and criticisms of philosophy. Students are exposed to both historical and contemporary figures in feminist philosophy, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone DeBeauvoir, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Judith Butler. Topics include women’s rights, feminist politcal and ethical theory, the role of gender in identity formation, and gender at the intersection of race and class. 

Prerequisite(s): One Philosophy or Gender and Sexuality course. 
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, U.S. Power Structures.
iCon(s): Challenging Inequity, Engaging Civic Life.

 

PHIL 340 - Social and Political Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursAn investgation of political philosophy in the Western philosophical tradition. Students question how we ought to live together, organize social life, and structure our political institutions. Topics covered include individual freedom, the distribution of property, ideal forms of government, race, gender, and class. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions, U.S. Power Structures.

 

PHIL 360 - Philosophy of Religion

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of the basic issues in the philosophy of religion, including the relation of faith and reason, the problem of the existence and nature of God. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 363 - Science and Religion: Conflict or Dialogue

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of the contemporary dialogue between science and religion in relation to different Western and Asian religious traditions. The course considers the implications of recent scientific theories for understanding and assessing the belief systems of various theistic and non-theistic religions. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 370 - 20th Century Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursPart three of the history of philosophy sequence; the analytical & continental traditons from the 20th century through the present day. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Ethical Dimensions.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 380 - Knowledge and Reality

4.00 credit hoursAn examination of such topics as theories of knowledge, truth and justfication of belief, the problem of skepticism, the mind-body problem, the problem of universals and theories of being. 

Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHIL 390 - Topics in Philosophy

4.00 credit hoursAn advanced examinaton of questons or issues of contemporary philosophic interest. Check course schedule for current topic. 

 

PHIL 399 - Independent Study

1.00-12.00 credit hours

 

PHIL 490 - Philosophy Capstone Seminar

4.00 credit hoursExaminaton of a major philosopher or central problem in one of the areas of philosophy such as philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology or value theory. 

Prerequisite(s): One 200-level Philosophy course; Junior standing. 
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Humanities, Writing Intensive.

 

 

PHIL 497 - Internship

0.00-12.00 credit hours

 

PHIL 499 - Independent Study

1.00-12.00 credit hours

 

 

 

Faculty Emeriti

David H. Fisher
Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus
B.A., Carleton College, 1965; M.A., Columbia University-Union Theological Seminary, 1967; M.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1976, Vanderbilt University
dhfisher@noctrl.edu

Timothy P. Morris
Professor of Philosophy Emeritus
B.A., University of Iowa, 1973; A.M., 1976, Ph.D., 1984, University of Chicago
tpmorris@noctrl.edu

Extra-curricular and professional activities that will enrich your philosophy education.

Maybe you’ll pursue philosophy simply for its own sake, through a major or a minor, but you might also take philosophy to support other professional options. Some of our graduates have gone on to graduate school in philosophy, while others have found it to be invaluable preparation for careers in law, medicine and other professions.

As you take up your education in philosophy, you might want to

  • choose an Independent Study course, where you pick a topic of your own in consultation with a member of the philosophy faculty and pursue it in a one-on-one tutorial arrangement with that faculty member
  • select a course topic of interest to you that isn’t offered on a regular basis and pursue it, as a Directed Study course, in a tutorial arrangement with a member of the faculty
  • put together an internship proposal for an employer in the Chicagoland area that’s related to some area of philosophy and/or to some professional or career path you’re following
  • apply for a Richter Independent Study Fellowship, which allows you to engage in a sustained research project that may involve travel within the United States or abroad. You’ll work with a faculty member in advance to craft a proposal that will be read and evaluated by a committee outside the department. This is an excellent opportunity to connect, in a meaningful way, the classroom with real life experiences!
  • get involved in the College Scholars program, the College’s honors program. Specifically, you want to participate in the History of Ideas curriculum, a program in which you’ll read classical texts in the Western intellectual tradition, texts coming from philosophy, religious studies, history, the arts, the social sciences, and some of the natural sciences. This program supplements the study of philosophy very nicely no matter what you decide to do in terms of your career or professional path, and it’s been shown to be very helpful in certain professional or career paths.

News