Head: K. Trogdon
Professors: J. C. Klagge, D. Lind, L. Patton, W. Parker
Associate Professors: B. Jantzen, and K. Trogdon
Assistant Professors: D. Hoek, K. Kovaka, J. MacKenzie, P. Yaure
Collegiate Assistant Professors: J. Horn, G. Novak
Full-time Instructor: H. Wildman Short
Emeritus: R. Burian, J. Pitt, H. B. Miller, and D. Mayo
Courses in philosophy aim at critical understanding and rigorous evaluation of the concepts underlying our views concerning the nature of reality, what sorts of things there are, what can be known, what is of value, and what people ought to do and to aim at. The department offers programs leading to the B.A. and to the M.A. Philosophy majors receive a strong liberal arts education and are prepared for careers that require a broad perspective and independent judgment. They are prepared for graduate work in a variety of scholarly and professional fields. An undergraduate philosophy major is especially appropriate for the student considering law school, medical school, or other professional schools. In addition, philosophy may be chosen as a minor.
Philosophy majors must complete the college core and the Curriculum for Liberal Education or Pathways. Students entering fall 2018 must complete Pathways and successfully complete at least 36 hours in philosophy, including two courses in the History of Philosophy, Philosophy 3505 (Symbolic Logic), two Core Analytic Philosophy courses, two Value Theory courses, and an additional 15 credit hours of philosophy courses currently offered by the Department of Philosophy. Students must take at least six Philosophy courses at the 3000-4000 level for fulfillment of the "Philosophy Major Requirements". The department has recently added a new Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) major in Philosophy. See Philosophy Department website for specific details. A double major is possible with any of several other curricula.
Philosophy minors must complete at least 18 hours of philosophy, including one of 1504 or 3505, two courses at the 3000-4000 level, an additional course from either the 3000-4000 level or in the history sequence (2115, 2116, 2125, 2126), and two elective courses in Philosophy (at any level).
University policy requires that students who are making satisfactory progress toward a degree meet minimum criteria toward the General Education (Curriculum for Liberal Education) (see "Academics") and toward the degree in philosophy.
Satisfactory progress requirements toward the B.A. in philosophy can be found on the major checksheet by visiting the University Registrar website at http://registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/index1.html.
1204: KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY Examines historical and contemporary approaches to such issues as: the nature of reality and the self, the relationship between mind and body, the existence of God, the nature of knowledge and illusion. Application to ethical questions about the fear of death, and the meaning of life. (3H,3C)
1304: MORALITY AND JUSTICE A critical survey of theories concerning human nature, the meaningful life, and the moral evaluation of actions, persons, and institutions. Theories will be applied to such issues as abortion, justice, and moral problems faced by professionals. (3H,3C)
1304H: MORALITY AND JUSTICE A critical survey of theories concerning human nature, the meaningful life, and the moral evaluation of actions, persons, and institutions. Theories will be applied to such issues as abortion, justice, and moral problems faced by professionals. (3H,3C)
1504: LANGUAGE AND LOGIC Basic concepts in logic and critical thinking: argument, validity, deduction and induction, logical form, formal and informal fallacies. Introduction to the logic of truth functions and of categorical statements. Critical analysis of arguments in ordinary language. (3H,3C)
1604: HOW SCIENCE WORKS Introduction to scientific methods and reasoning. Foundation for interpreting scientific information and conducting research across a range of fields, especially natural sciences. Topics: use of theories, experiments and models; hypothesis testing and confirmation; deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning; descriptive and inferential statistics; causation; influence of societal values on science; diversity and objectivity in science. Examples from physics, astronomy, geology, environmental science and other fields. (3H,3C)
2115,2116: ANCIENT THROUGH MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY A critical survey and analysis of the history of Western philosophical thought from its beginnings through the Medieval Period. Addresses and assesses historical theories about issues involving the nature of justice, virtue, ethics, knowledge, and reality. Key concepts analyzed include that of the soul, human flourishing, form and matter, the human function and God. 2115: Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics; 2116: late Greek and Roman philosophy, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and William of Ockham. (3H,3C)
2125,2126: HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY Philosophical thought from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, integrating intercultural analysis and comparisons. 2125: Global traditions in 17th and 18th century natural philosophy, including theories of mind, value, and knowledge. 2126: Global traditions in 18th and 19th century philosophy, including theories of science, knowledge, and value. (3H,3C)
2304: GLOBAL ETHICS Ethical issues in international context. Application of the principles of moral theory to such issues as the obligations of richer nations toward poorer ones, cultural and other forms of relativism, emigration and immigration, nationalism, war, deterrence, intervention, environmental degradation, preservation of natural diversity, and responsibilities toward future generations. (3H,3C)
2314: PHILOSOPHY OF SEX, GENDER, AND RACE Critical survey of contemporary themes in the philosophy of race and feminist philosophy in the United States. Topics in metaphysics (what is race? what is sex? what is gender?), ethics and political philosophy (oppression, solidarity, and social justice), and epistemology (narrative, standpoint, and white ignorance). Emphasis on situating contemporary philosophical views in social and historical contexts. (3H,3C)
2605,2606: REASON AND REVOLUTION IN SCIENCE Study of philosophical approaches to understanding and justifying modes of human reasoning both in science and everyday life. 2605: nature of theory confirmation and falsification; 2606: justifying changing paradigms of human inquiry. (3H,3C)
2894 (ECON 2894) (PSCI 2894): INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS Integrated study of philosophy, politics, and economics. Trains students to make decisions that are not only economically sound, but also socially, ethically, and politically informed. Topics include: models of human nature, rational choice theory, social cooperation, distributive justice, markets, and democracy. (3H,3C)
2964: FIELD STUDY Pass/Fail only. Variable credit course.
2974: INDEPENDENT STUDY Variable credit course.
2974H: INDEPENDENT STUDY Variable credit course.
2984: SPECIAL STUDY Variable credit course.
3015,3016 (PSCI 3015, 3016): POLITICAL THEORY Analysis of the fundamental ideas in the history of political theory. 3015: The thought and ethical implications of philosophers from the ancient Greeks to early modern times. Analysis of writings from Plato through medieval theorists to those of the Seventeenth Century. 3016: The thought and ethical implications of philosophers from the late Seventeenth Century to the present. Analysis of key concepts in the thought of theorists from the early modern period until the present. Pre: PSCI 2014. (3H,3C)
3024: TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHICAL MOVEMENTS Focus on the assumptions, methods and ethical dimensions of one or more contemporary or historically important philosophical movement, such as Pragmatism, Feminism, Existentialism, Islamic Philosophy, Philosophy and African-American Thought, or Philosophy and Literature. May be repeated 2 times with different content for a maximum of 9 credits. (3H,3C)
3314: ETHICAL THEORY Careful examination of some important historical or contemporary ethical theories. Includes coverage of such topics as the assessment of character and action, the foundations of ethical theories, their justification, their relationship to scientific theories, and their objective or subjective status. 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
3324: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS Philosophical analysis of ethical issues in medicine and biotechnology, such as problems arising in connection with the relations between physicians and patients, the challenges of cultural diversity, practices surrounding human and animal research, decisions about end of life care, embryonic stem cell research, genetic engineering, biotechnological human enhancement, and social justice in relation to health-care policy. (3H,3C)
3334: ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Critical examination of ethical concepts and theories, such as utilitarianism, deontology and virtue theory, applied to issues that arise in artificial intelligence, including applications in smart design & construction, energy, ubiquitous mobility, and robotics & autonomous systems. Addresses questions such as: How much should privacy be protected in the digital future? How can energy be equitably transported and consumed in relation to poor regions and future generations? Who should autonomous vehicles be programmed to protect or sacrifice in emergency situations? How should we evaluate the effects on family and society of smart technology? Should we fear that robots will take over? (3H,3C)
3414: AESTHETICS Critical survey and analysis of key concepts in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Historical and contemporary theories concerning natural beauty, aesthetic experience and properties, the nature and interpretation of artworks, their representational and expressive features, the relationship between artistic value, the value that attaches to nature, and moral value. (3H,3C)
3454 (RLCL 3454): PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION A consideration of religious belief and its justification with attention to such philosophical issues as the nature and existence of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, proofs for the existence of God, the problem of evil, a religious basis for ethics, the nature of faith, and the variety of religious beliefs. (3H,3C)
3505-3506: MODERN LOGIC AND ITS DEVELOPMENT Logic and logical theory and the history of its development. 3505: Validity of arguments. Syllogistic logic from Aristotle to modern times. Deductive methods in truth functional and quantificational logic through the theory of identity. Translation from English into symbolic form. 3506: Metalogic and the history and philosophy of modern logical theory. Decidability and undecidability, completeness and incompleteness of formal systems. Developments from Cantor to Goedel. Must have 3505 to take 3506. (3H,3C)
4014: SPECIAL TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY Critical examination of special issues or figures of current philosophical interest at an advanced level. Sample topics: Philosophy and Race; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Origins of Analytic Philosophy; and Animals, Minds and Morality. May be repeated 2 times with different content for a maximum of 9 credits. Pre: 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4204: PHILOSOPHY OF MIND Current issues in the philosophy of mind such as relation of mind and body, status of the mental, knowledge of ones own and other minds, personal identity, consciousness, mentality of animals and machines, topics in the philosophy of psychology. 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4214: METAPHYSICS Examination of some of the central problems of metaphysics. Topics may include: existence, necessary truth, the problem of universals, causation, the identity of the self through time, free will. Attention will be given both to the historical development of these problems and to contemporary philosophical responses to them. 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4224: EPISTEMOLOGY Theory of knowledge. Is all knowledge based on experience? Does knowledge have a foundation? Can knowledge of the present and the nearby give us reasons for beliefs about the future, the past, or about events far away? 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4304: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY Study of fundamental topics in political philosophy, such as distributive justice, equality, individual rights, constitutional government, and the justification of political authority. 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4324 (MGT 4324): BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS An inquiry into the fundamental norms of conduct in business and other professions and their justification in relation to the most important ethical theories. Special attention will be given to moral problems such as the ethics of hiring and firing, bribery, and professional responsibility to society. (3H,3C)
4334: JURISPRUDENCE An examination of the nature of law and legal systems with attention to traditional theories of law and to such topics as judicial decision and discretion, law and morality, the justification of legal coercion. 3 Philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4514: SPECIAL TOPICS IN LOGIC Topics that build upon a knowledge of classical deductive logic: extensions of classical logic, alternatives to classical logic, philosophy of logic, and philosophy of language. Topics to be announced each semester course is offered. Pre: 3505. (3H,3C)
4604: PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY This course is designed primarily for students of biology or philosophy students with a strong interest in biology. Topics vary from year to year, but include the changing character of biology as a science, the special character of biological explanations and methods, and the place and value of reduction (e.g., of Mendelian to molecular genetics) in biology. (3H,3C)
4614: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE An examination of the structure and methodology of science as well as key concepts such as explanation, confirmation, realism, and instrumentalism. One year of science and 3 philosophy credits required. (3H,3C)
4884 (ECON 4884) (PSCI 4884): ADVANCED TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS Advanced topics at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics. Core methods and concepts: utility theory, game theory, social choice theory, public choice theory, markets, justice, and democracy. Senior research project. Advanced discourse. Pre: Senior standing. Pre: 2894 or PSCI 2894 or ECON 2894. (3H,3C)
4964: FIELD STUDY Pass/Fail only. Variable credit course.
4974: INDEPENDENT STUDY Variable credit course.
4974H: INDEPENDENT STUDY Variable credit course.
4984: SPECIAL STUDY Variable credit course.
4994: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH Variable credit course.
4994H: UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH Variable credit course.