College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Course Descriptions

Philosophy Courses

More information about each course can be found on CPP's Course Catalog Page

Members of Dr. Cholbi's Ethics Bowl Team
Dr. Cholbi's Ethics Bowl Team (PHL 4820)

Course Descriptions

PHL 2000 Special Study Lower Division Students 1 units min / 3 units max

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems. Proposals to be initiated by student(s) with guidance from faculty. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 3 units per semester.

Independent Study


PHL 2010 Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (3 units)

Investigation into the big questions of philosophy (Does God Exist? Can I Know Anything? Who Am I? How Should I Live? Am I Free); emphasis on how philosophers propose to answer such questions and their relevance for intelligent living. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2a. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 2010H Introduction to Philosophy Honors (3 units)

Investigation into the big questions of philosophy (Does God Exist? Can I Know Anything? Who Am I? How Should I Live? Am I Free); emphasis on how philosophers propose to answer such questions and their relevance for intelligent living. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2a. 3 hours lecture/discussion. Class restricted to Honors Program students only.


PHL 2020 Critical Thinking (3 units)

Examination of formal and informal reasoning processes in everyday and scientific reasoning; emphasis on detection and avoidance of informal fallacies with examples from contemporary social issues. 3 hours lecture/problem-solving. Fulfills GE requirement for Area A3.


PHL 2020H Critical Thinking Honors (3 units)

Examination of formal and informal reasoning processes in everyday and scientific reasoning; emphasis on detection and avoidance of informal fallacies with examples from contemporary social issues. 3 hours lecture/problem-solving. Fulfills GE requirement for Area A3. Class restricted to Honors Program students only.


PHL 2030 Philosophy Proseminar I: Introduction to Philosophical Issues (3 units)

Introduction to and investigation of basic concepts and methods of philosophy; in-depth survey of selected topics in metaphysics, epistemology, value theory, and logic, with emphasis on preparing majors for further coursework in philosophy. 3 hours seminar. Prerequisite: declaration of major in Philosophy.


PHL 2040 Ethical Problems in Contemporary Life (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2a.


PHL 2050 Business and Professional Ethics (3 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 C2a. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 2060 Philosophy Through Children's Literature (3 units)

Introduction to philosophical questions and exploration/evaluation of answers to such questions using children’s stories and classic philosophical texts. Topics include the mind/body problem, the structure of a just society, the problem of evil, personal identity. Stories from different ethnic, national, and religious traditions will be introduced and critically examined. Fulfills GE requirement for Area C2a. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 2180/CS 2180 Logic and Computing (3 units)

Introduction to formal techniques for analyzing and evaluating natural language arguments; discussion of relation between these formal techniques and computer gates and computer programming. 3 hours lecture/problem solving. Fulfills GE requirement for Area B4.


PHL 2200 Religions of the World (3 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 C2a. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 2900 Philosophy Proseminar II: Philosophical Methods (3 units)

Develops skills necessary for proficiency in philosophical reading, research, and written and oral presentation. 3 hours seminar. Prerequisite(s): PHL 201, PHL 2010 or PHL 2030; or instructor permission.


PHL 2990 Special Topics for Lower Division Students 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. Corequisites may be required. Instruction is by lecture and seminar. Consent of instructor is needed to enroll in course. 

Independent Study 


PHL 2990A Special Topics for Lower Division Students Activity 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. Corequisites may be required. Instruction is by activity. Consent of instructor is needed to enroll in course. 

Independent Study 


PHL 2990L Special Topics for Lower Division Students Laboratory 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. Corequisites may be required. Instruction is by laboratory. Consent of instructor is needed to enroll in course. 

Independent Study 


PHL 3010 Philosophy of the Arts (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3030 Philosophy of Religion (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3040 Philosophy and Religion of Japan (3 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." 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3050 Philosophy and Religion of China (3 units)

Development of religious thought in China with special reference to Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhist schools of thought. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3060 Philosophy and Religion of India (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3090 Moral Philosophy (3 units) 

Investigation of central traditions in moral theory, including utilitarianism, virtue theory, Kantianism, contract theories, feminism. Inquiry into the justification and implications of moral principles and claims. Analysis of moral obligation, interests, happiness. Skeptical challenge to morality’s presumed authority. Skeptical challenges to the authority of morality. 3 hours lecture/discussion. Prerequisite(s):  PHL 201, PHL 2010, PHL 204, PHL 2030, or PHL 2040; or instructor permission.


PHL 3100 Social and Political Philosophy (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3110 Philosophical Issues in Law (3 units)

Exploration of 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 C3 or D4. 3 hours lecture/discussion. Prerequisite(s): Completion of GE Area A; GE Sub-areas C2a and C2b; and GE Sub-areas D1 and D2.


PHL 3120 History of Ancient Philosophy (3 units)

Examination of the philosophical ideas of the Greek and Roman worlds, from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the Hellenistic schools. Critical investigation of metaphysical, epistemological and ethical disputes among ancient thinkers. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3130 History of Medieval Philosophy (3 units)

Examination of the philosophical ideas of the medieval and Renaissance worlds, from St. Augustine to Descartes. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3140 History of Modern Philosophy (3 units)

Great philosophical ideas and thinkers from Galileo to the 18th century. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3160 Nineteenth-Century Philosophy (3 units)

Philosophical trends during the 19th century, the Kantian heritage, Idealism, Genealogy.  3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3170 Twentieth Century Philosophy (3 units)

Philosophical movements of the 20th century, including modern idealism, positivism, logical empiricism, post-positivism, pragmatism, ordinary language analysis, phenomenology, post-structuralism, post-modernism, and critical theory. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3200 American Philosophy (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3220 Existentialism (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3280 Philosophy of Asian Martial Arts and Meditation (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3330 Bioethics (3 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. 3 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), C2a and C3a.  Meets General Education requirement as an Interdisciplinary Synthesis course fulfilling Area B5 or C3. 


PHL 3330H Bioethics Honors (3 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. 3 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), C2a and C3a.  Meets General Education requirement as an Interdisciplinary Synthesis course fulfilling Area B5 or C3. Class restricted to Honors Program students only. 


PHL 3400 Current Debates About Sexuality (3 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. Prerequisites: Completion of GE Area A, and GE Sub-areas C1, C2a, and C2b. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area C3. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3450 Confrontations with the Reaper (3 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. Prerequisites: Completion of GE Area A, and GE Sub-areas C1, C2a, C2b. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area C3. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3500 Philosophy of Mind (3 units)

Examination of problems in the philosophy of mind including knowledge of other minds, and the nature of mental states and their properties, in particular, consciousness and representation. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3530 Cognitive Science (3 units)

Interdisciplinary empirical study of the mind. Topics include mental representation, reasoning, perception, consciousness, and learning. Prerequisites: Completion of GE Area A; and two of GE Sub-areas B1, B2 or B3; and two of GE Sub-areas C1, C2a, or C2b. Interdisciplinary GE Synthesis course for Area B5 or C3. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3590 Epistemology (3 units)

An investigation into the nature, scope, and limits of human knowledge. Survey of major topics such as foundationalism, coherentism, reliabilism contextualism and skepticism. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3600 Metaphysics (3 units)

Fundamental problems that have been central to philosophy throughout its history: substance and attributes, identity and change, personal identity, causality, determinism, free will, and the nature of time. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 3810 Race and Racism (3 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. Prerequisites: Completion of GE Area A; and GE Sub-areas C2a and C2b; and two of GE Sub-areas D1, D2, or D3. Interdisciplinary GE Synthesis course for Area C3 or D4. 3 hours lecture/discussion. 


PHL 3830/STS 3830 Philosophy of Science (3 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. Prerequisites: Completion of GE Area A; and GE Sub-areas B1, B2, and B3. Fulfills GE Synthesis requirement for Area B5. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 4000 Special Study for Upper Division Students 1 units min / 3 units max

Individual or group investigation, research, studies, or surveys of selected problems at advanced level. Proposals to be initiated by student(s) with guidance from faculty. Total credit limited to 6 units, with a maximum of 3 units per semester.

Independent Study


PHL 4050 Great Works in Philosophy (3 units)

Study in depth of a historically significant work of philosophy with attention devoted to primary source materials. May be taken up to two times for a total credit of 6 units. 3 hours seminar. Prerequisite: any upper division course with PHL prefix.


PHL 4090 Contemporary Moral Theory (3 units)

An examination of central questions in moral theory from the early twentieth century to the present. Disputes regard the metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological properties of moral claims and attitudes. Developments in contemporary consequentialist, Kantian, feminist, intuitionist, contract, and virtue ethical theories. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 4300 Ethics, Environment & Society (3 units)

An examination of the moral and social philosophical aspects of the environmental crisis and the ecological movement. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 4350 Clinical Ethics Practicum (3 units)

Hospital-based internship supervised by a clinical ethicist. Exposure to moral dilemmas in patient care and to procedures for addressing them. Field work. 3 units. Prequisites: PHL 3330 or permission of Instructor.


PHL 4400 Seminar in Law and Values (3 units)

Investigation of a central area of inquiry in moral, political, or legal philosophy, with special emphasis on contemporary texts and thinkers. Content varies as offered. May be taken unlimited times only with different topics. Prerequisites: PHL 309 or PHL 3090; or PHL 310 or PHL 3100; or PHL 311 or PHL 3110; or instructor permission.


PHL 4610 Senior Seminar in Philosophy (3 units)

Development and writing of a thesis in philosophy on the basis of extensive research. May only be taken once for a total credit of 3 units.


PHL 4750 Global Justice (3 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. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 4820 Ethics Bowl (3 units)

Development of oral presentations in response to case studies on current ethical controversies. Preparation for regional Ethics Bowl competitions. Maybe taken unlimited times. Prerequisite: instructor permission.


PHL 4850 Comparative Philosophy (3 units)

A comparative study of Eastern philosophy and Western philosophy. The study will include metaphysics, epistemology, methodology and socio-political values and ideals. Designed for strong interest in multicultural studies. 3 hours lecture/discussion.


PHL 4890 Seminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology (3 units)

Examination of central controversies or recent developments in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, or epistemology, with special emphasis on contemporary texts and thinkers. May be taken up to two times for a total credit of 6 units. 3 hours seminar. Prerequisite: PHL 359 or PHL 3590; and PHL 360 or PHL 3600; or instructor permission.


PHL 4990 Special Topics for Upper Division Students 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study at an advanced level of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. May be taken multiple times only with different topics. Total credit limited to 6 units applicable to a degree, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. 3 hours lecture/seminar.


PHL 4990A Special Topics for Upper Division Students Activity 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study at an advanced level of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. May be taken multiple times only with different topics. Total credit limited to 6 units applicable to a degree, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. 3 hours activity.


PHL 4990L Special Topics for Upper Division Students Laboratory 1 units min / 3 units max

Group study at an advanced level of a selected well-defined topic or area not covered by a regularly offered course. May be taken multiple times only with different topics. Total credit limited to 6 units applicable to a degree, with a maximum of 2 sections per semester. 3 hours laboratory.