College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Course Descriptions

Philosophy Courses

Listing of Current Courses for Philosophy Majors and Fellow Travelers (XLS)

Ethics Environment and Society Spring 2013
Dr. Gendreau's Ethics, Environment, and Society course, PHL 430, visits the Lyle Center

Course Descriptions

PHL 200 Spec Study LD Students 1 units min / 2 units max

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems. Total credit limited to (4 units), with a maximum of 2 units per quarter.

Independent Study


PHL 201 Introduction to Philosophy (4 units)

Investigation of basic concepts and methods of philosophy; selected metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, aesthetic, and logical problems and issues traditional to philosophy, with emphasis on their relevance for intelligent living. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 201H Introduction to Philosophy Honors (4 units)

Investigation of basic concepts and methods of philosophy; selected metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, aesthetic, and logical problems and issues traditional to philosophy, with emphasis on their relevance for intelligent living. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion. Class restricted to Honors Program students only.


PHL 202 Critical Thinking (4 units)

An examination of informal reasoning processes in everyday and scientific reasoning. Emphasis on detection and avoidance of informal fallacies with examples from contemporary society.  4 hours lecture/problem-solving. Fulfills GE requirement for Area A3.


PHL 202H Critical Thinking Honors (4 units)

An examination of informal reasoning processes in everyday and scientific reasoning. Emphasis on detection and avoidance of informal fallacies with examples from contemporary society.  4 hours lecture/problem-solving. Fulfills GE requirement for Area A3. Class restricted to Honors Program students only.


PHL 204 Ethical Problems in Contemporary Life (4 units)

Investigation and application of central theoretical traditions in philosophical ethics. Analysis and appraisal of ethical arguments. Development of ethical reasoning skills. Critical consideration of controversial topics in personal, professional, social, and global ethics. 4 hours lecture/discussion.  Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2.


PHL 205 Business and Professional Ethics (4 units)

An analysis of major ethical traditions with a focus on the nature of obligations, right action, responsibility and altruism. Applications to issues concerning business and society. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 206 Philosophy Through Children's Literature (4 units)

Introduction to philosophical ideas and issues using children's stories and classic philosophical texts. Topics include the mind/body problem, the structure of a just society, the problem of evil, and the criteria of rationality. Stories from different ethnic, national, and religious traditions will be introduced. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 218/CS 218 Logic and Computing (4 units)

Introduction to formal techniques for analyzing and evaluating natural language arguments.  Background for historical development of the use of logic in computing.  4 lecture/problem solving.  Fulfills GE requirement for Area B5.


PHL 220 Religions of the World (4 units)

Thematic analysis of religious life: practice, belief, history; relationships between religion, society, and culture. Religions include Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, Confucianism, Archaic and Nonmissionary traditions, among others. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 221 Introduction to Religious Studies (4 units)

Basic structural categories of religions: myth, ritual, space, time, gods, ethics, prayer, scripture, iconography, communities, religious leaders. Basic beliefs: sin, pollution, purity, salvation, harmony, transformation, enlightenment. Basic world-views: sacred, profane, good, evil, heaven, hell. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 290 Philosophy Proseminar (4 units)

Support philosophy majors in developing the skills necessary for proficiency in philosophical reading and writing, and for proficiency in oral presentation and argument. 4 hours seminar. Prerequisite: declaration of major in Philosophy.


PHL 299 Spec Topics LD Students 1 units min / (4 units) max

Group study of a selected topic, the title to be specified in advance. Total credit limited to 8 units, with a maximum of (4 units) per quarter. Corequisites may be required. Instruction is by lecture, laboratory or a combination. Consent of instructor is needed to enroll in course. 

Independent Study 


PHL 301 Philosophy of the Arts (4 units)

Investigation of the nature of art, aesthetic experience, beauty, and the standards upon which aesthetic judgments are based. Concepts common to the various artistic disciplines; problems in specific areas in architecture, the graphic arts, music, and literature. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area C4. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 303 Philosophy of Religion (4 units)

Topical introduction to the philosophy of religion. Topics may include: faith and reason debates of the 17th and 18th centuries; religion and political philosophy in the Reformation; philosophical issues in debates over evolution; issues in the cognitive science of religion. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 304 Philosophy & Religion of Japan (4 units)

Traditional ways of thought in Japan. Modifications in Shinto from its beginnings through the impacts of Buddhism and Confucianism; its re-emergence in the 19th century. Twentieth-century developments and the emergence of the "new religions."4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 305 Philosophy & Religion of China (4 units)

Development of religious thought in China with special reference to Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhist schools of thought. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 306 Philosophy & Religion of India (4 units)

The diversity of the philosophy and religion of India from Rig Vedic times to the 20th century. Development of the Upanishads, Yoga systems, the great epics, the bhakti movements; emergence of Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Indian Islam. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 308 Myth Symbol and Ritual (4 units)

Major mythic themes in both Eastern and Western cultures. Ritual practices and symbolic transformation as part of humanity's search for orientation. Contemporary relevance of mythic and symbolic factors. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 309 Moral Philosophy (4 units) 

Investigation of prominent moral theories, including utilitarianism, virtue theory, religious theories, Kantian and deontological theories. Inquiry into the justification and implications of ethical principles and claims. Analysis of moral obligation, interests, justice, happiness. Skeptical challenges to the authority of morality. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 310 Social & Political Philosophy (4 units)

Major ideas and figures in social and political philosophy. Topics may include democratic and other models of political legitimacy; limits of governmental power; citizenship rights and responsibilities; and theories of justice, equality, and freedom. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 311 Philosophical Issues in Law (4 units)

This course explores the basic value and policy assumptions that structure the foundations of the law. Statutory language, judicial rulings, and constitutional controversies are examined. The writings of legal theorists from a variety of disciplinary perspectives are studied, including political scientists, legal academics, ethicists, historians, and economists. Interdisciplinary GE Synthesis course for Area C4 or D4. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 312 History of Ancient Philosophy (4 units)

Examination of the philosophical ideas of the Greek and Roman worlds, from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the Hellenistic schools. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 313 History of Medieval Philosophy (4 units)

Examination of the philosophical ideas of the medieval and Renaissance worlds, from St. Augustine to Descartes. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 314 History of Modern Philosophy (4 units)

Great philosophical ideas and thinkers from Galileo to the 18th century. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 316 Nineteenth-Century Philosophy (4 units)

Philosophical trends during the 19th century, including the Kantian heritage, the idealism of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel; utilitarianism as introduced by Bentham and revised by Mill; and the positivism of Comte. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 317 Contemporary Philosophy (4 units)

Philosophical movements of the 20th century, including modern idealism, positivism, logical empiricism, post-positivism, pragmatism, and ordinary language analysis. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 320 American Philosophy (4 units)

The lively and varied growth of American thought, from the Puritans through the personalists to the pragmatists: Edwards, Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, Dewey, Whitehead. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 322 Existentialism (4 units)

Basic ideas of existentialist philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries; a comparison of theistic and atheistic existentialism; existentialist ideas of anxiety, freedom, and responsibility. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 328 Philosophy of Asian Martial Arts and Meditation (4 units)

Examination of various styles of Asian martial arts and meditation, and of the philosophical traditions from which they have developed.  Emphasizes both theory and practice. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 340 Current Debates About Sexuality (4 units)

Current public controversies over sexual morality examined in the context of historical, legal, and philosophical research on sexual practices. Focus on stigmatized, nonviolent sexual expression, such as: voyeurism and pornography, paid sex, polygamy, gay marriage, intergenerational relationships, and "leather" culture. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area C4. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 345 Confrontations with the Reaper (4 units)

Examination of the nature and meaning of death in literature and philosophy. Topics include defining death, understanding what, if anything, makes death something to fear, immortatility, and the morality of issues pertaining to death; killing, abortion, and suicide. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area C4. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 390 Symbolic Logic II (4 units)

A study of first-order predicate logic with identity.  Focus on symbolization from natural language into formulas, and proofs.  4 hours lecture/recitation.  Prerequisite PHL/CS 218.


PHL 400 Spec Study UD Students 1 units min / 2 units max

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems. Total credit limited to (4 units), with a maximum of 2 units per quarter. 

Independent Study


PHL 405 Great Philosophers (4 units)

Study in depth of a great philosopher or the relation between two great philosophers, with attention devoted to primary source materials. May be repeated for credit for a maximum of 8 units. 4 hours seminar. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy.


PHL 412 Philosophy of Education (4 units)

A critical investigation of the moral, political, and philosophic underpinnings of education in a democratic society. Application of theoretical knowledge to particular contemporary problems facing educators today. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 430 Ethics, Environment & Society (4 units)

An examination of the moral and social philosophical aspects of the environmental crisis and the ecological movement. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 433 Bioethics (4 units)

Critical examination of the moral implications of biomedical research, clinical practice, and biotechnology. Exploration of emerging issues in biomedicine, including questions of life and death, reproduction, genetics, and the allocation of biomedical resources. 4 hours lecture/discussion. Prerequisites: Completion of General Education lower division requirements in Area A (A1, A2, and A3), and in Area B (Mathematics and Natural Sciences), B2 and B3, and in Area C (Humanities), C2 and C3.  Meets General Education requirement as an Interdisciplinary Synthesis course fulfilling Area B or C. 


PHL 433H Bioethics Honors (4 units)

Critical examination of the moral implications of biomedical research, clinical practice, and biotechnology. Exploration of emerging issues in biomedicine, including questions of life and death, reproduction, genetics, and the allocation of biomedical resources. 4 hours lecture/discussion. Prerequisites: Completion of General Education lower division requirements in Area A (A1, A2, and A3), and in Area B (Mathematics and Natural Sciences), B2 and B3, and in Area C (Humanities), C2 and C3.  Meets General Education requirement as an Interdisciplinary Synthesis course fulfilling Area B or C. Class restricted to Honors Program students only. 


PHL 435/436 Clinical Ethics Practicum (2/2 units)

Hospital-based internship supervised by a clinical ethicist. Exposure to moral dilemmas in patient care and to procedures for addressing them.  2/2 field work.  Prerequisite: PHL 433 or permission of instructor.


PHL 440 Seminar in Law and Values (4 units)

Examination of central controversies in moral, political, or legal philosophy, with special emphasis on contemporary texts and thinkers. May be repeated for credit for a maximum of 8 units. 4 hours seminar. Prerequisites: PHL 309 or PHL 311 or permission of instructor.


PHL 450 Philosophy of Mind (4 units)

Examination of the traditional problems in the philosophy of mind. Topics include dualism, materialism, philosophical behaviorism, functionalism, the nature of conscious experience and the possibility of artificial intelligence. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 453 Cognitive Science (4 units)

Interdisciplinary empirical study of the mind. Topics include mental representation, learning, emotion, perception, and consciousness. Interdisciplinary GE Synthesis course for Area B4 or C4. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 459 Epistemology (4 units)

The nature, scope, and limits of human knowledge: the relationship
between knowledge and certainty, the conduct of inquiry in the sciences and humanities, rationalism, empiricism, the relationship of the knower to the known. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 460 Metaphysics (4 units)

Speculative issues that have been central to philosophy throughout its history: the mind-body problem, the nature of the self, the reality of permanence and change, freedom versus determinism. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 475 Global Justice (4 units)

Explore philosophical conceptions of justice, human rights, the state and human nature which affect contemporary questions in global justice in five areas: war, immigration and refugees, gender, development, and democracy. Students will intern with local social/global justice organizations.  4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 481 Race and Racism in Western Thought (4 units)

Historical origins of the concept of race, development of race science and racialist thought in Western culture, alternative explanatory theories of racism, differences and similarities among racist societies, critical consideration of contemporary social policies concerning race, competing Western visions of a non-racist society. Interdisciplinary GE Synthesis course for Area C4 or D4. 4 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 482 Ethics Bowl (4 units)

Development of oral presentations in response to case studies on contemporary ethical controversies.  Students will prepare for regional and national Ethics Bowl competitions.  May be repeated for credit for a maximum of 8 units. 4 hours seminar. Prerequisites: PHL 204 and PHL 309 or permission of instructor.


PHL 483 Philosophy of Science (4 units)

Introduction to epistemological and metaphysical issues specifically pertaining to science, such as: the nature of scientific explanation, the nature of theoretical entities, and scientific objectivity. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area B4. 4 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 485 Comparative Philosophy: The East & West (4 units)

A general comparative study of Eastern and Western philosophy. Topics studied may include metaphysics, epistemology, methodology, theories of human nature, the nature of religious belief, and socio-political values and ideals. 4 hours seminar. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy.


PHL 490 Senior Seminar in Philosophy I (4 units)

Development of a detailed proposal for a thesis in philosophy on the basis of extensive research.  4 hours seminar.  Prerequisite:  senior standing.


PHL 491 Senior Seminar in Philosophy II (4 units)

Writing of a thesis in philosophy under faculty supervision.  Formal report required.  4 hours seminar.  Prerequisite:  PHL 490.


PHL 499 Spec Topics UD Students 1 units min / (4 units) max

Group study of a selected topic, the title to be specified in advance. Total credit limited to 8 units, with a maximum of (4 units) per quarter. Corequisites may be required. Instruction is by lecture, laboratory, or a combination. Consent of instructor is needed to enroll in course. 

Independent Study