Philosophy

Chair: Michael Forest, PhD

Introduction

Philosophy probes into some of the deepest questions of human life. What is the nature of reality? What is truth? What is happiness? What is justice? The philosophy curriculum explores these — and many other — fundamental questions and helps students to formulate reasonable answers to these questions.

A Cornerstone of Jesuit Education

Philosophy has been a cornerstone of Jesuit education since the founding of the first Jesuit colleges and universities in 17th century Europe. Educators at Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States continue to recognize the special province of philosophy to: Embrace our human powers to think abstractly and thus to cultivate models of mental discipline and to broaden our capacities to understand and to enjoy living. Raise critical questions and use reasoned argumentation to develop normative standards for guiding a person’s relationship to his/her community. Promote reasoning about human nature and human values to help provide bridges between religious belief and contemporary intellectual directions. Value integrity, commitment to truth, excellence and understanding with an aim to enhance our expressive powers, our knowledge, foresight and sense of direction. Philosophy is an especially ennobling discipline since it elevates what is common in being human while also nurturing individuality and self-esteem. Studying philosophy helps to cultivate responsible citizenship by promoting thoughtful reflection on contemporary cultural and intellectual currents, by critically assessing the discourse of public officials, and by identifying unfounded assertions and biased opinions with an aim to replace them with responsibly reasoned argumentation. Consequently, philosophy holds a special place in a liberal arts curriculum at a Jesuit college or university just in its capacity to objectify the human condition and to contribute to our becoming more fully human.

Department Mission

To fulfill its Ignatian mission, the Philosophy faculty provides programs of instruction to cultivate an abiding sense of responsibility as men and women for and with others by focusing on the service of faith and the promotion of justice. The faculty considers it crucially important that a good education addressing such concerns has a firm foundation in the history of philosophy and its principal branches, and the issues of moral philosophy, together with special attention to examining argumentation. Equally important is the Philosophy faculty’s interest cultivating discussion about the notions of the common good and social justice. For more information, please visit our Philosophy department website.

Qualifications

Students must maintain an overall 2.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies and a 2.0 average in their philosophy program to graduate with a degree in Philosophy.

Advisement

All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Major advisors are normally assigned in the sophomore year, but may be requested in the freshman year to supplement a student's freshman advisor (their GRIF 101 facilitator). Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Co-Curricular Activities

The Philosophy faculty encourages majors and minors to participate in the on-going activities of the Department. Students are invited to the regular colloquia at which faculty present their current research. Students are invited to make presentations to try out the results of their research. In addition there are the Philosophy Club and the Philosophy Honors Society, Phi Sigma Tau. All philosophy majors and minors are members of the Undergraduate Philosophy Association. Membership enables philosophy students to participate in department activities, such as reviewing semester course offerings and considering department policies that affect their undergraduate careers.

Dual Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a dual major. The decision may be based on career goals or planned graduate studies. Before a student declares a dual major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement. Some dual major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional course work may be required. In order to declare a dual major, the student must complete the appropriate dual major request form and get the signature of each department chairperson and the appropriate associate dean.

Minors

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. The minors page provides a complete list of minors and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.

Supplemental Study

The Philosophy faculty encourages each philosophy major to supplement his/her course of study by taking advantage of the large number of free electives available. We recommend that students advance their study of classical and modern languages, and to complement their history of philosophy sequence with appropriate history courses. There is a wide arrange of fine liberal arts courses in the various departments of the College of Arts and Sciences. Philosophy requires a breadth of knowledge in many disciplines.

Curricular Components of a Philosophy Major

Students desiring to major in philosophy might have scholarly interests to pursue graduate study in philosophy or to acquire competence in philosophy for a diversity of reasons including advanced study in other disciplines. To help students satisfy these interests, the Philosophy faculty offers two major programs that maintain intellectual and academic rigor while promoting the mission to educate for others with attention to the principle of cura personalis. Each curriculum combines a historical, a topic, and a fields approach to construct a unified program of instruction. Since our mission emphasizes concern with critical examination of values and principles of ethics and justice, each major curriculum requires one course in study and analysis of argumentation and two courses in the study of ethics, one of which is theoretical.

General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum.

Free Electives

Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum or Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum of 120 credit hours required for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.

Major Requirements

Students must choose one of two tracks.  The Ignatian Scholars Track prepares scholars specifically for advanced study in philosophy and the Hypatian Scholars Track prepares scholars for advanced study in disciplines other than philosophy.

Ignatian Scholars Track Requirements

This curriculum consists of 12 courses (36 credit hours) beyond PHI 101.

PHI 225Logic3
PHI 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHI 302Medieval Philosophy3
Modern Philosophy - Select at least one of the following:3
Early Modern Philosophy
19th Century Philosophy
Contemporary Philosophy - Select at least one more of the following:3
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Theory of Ethics - Select one of the following:3
Justice
Ethics: Traditions in Moral Reasoning
Happiness, Virtue and the Good Life
Philosophy of Law
Applied Ethics - Select one of the following:3
Ethical Issues in Business
Bio-Medical Ethics
Environmental Ethics
Animal Ethics
Ethics of Technology
Food and Agricultural Ethics
Contemporary Women Philosophers
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective at the 400 level3
PHI 451Senior Thesis3
Total Credits36

Hypatian Scholars Track Requirements

This curriculum consists of 10 courses (30 credit hours) beyond PHI 101.

PHI 225Logic3
PHI 301Ancient Philosophy3
PHI 302Medieval Philosophy3
Modern Philosophy - Select at least one of the following:3
Early Modern Philosophy
19th Century Philosophy
Contemporary Philosophy - Select at least one of the following:3
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Theory of Ethics - Select one of the following:3
Justice
Ethics: Traditions in Moral Reasoning
Happiness, Virtue and the Good Life
Philosophy of Law
Applied Ethics - Select one of the following:3
Ethical Issues in Business
Bio-Medical Ethics
Environmental Ethics
Animal Ethics
Ethics of Technology
Food and Agricultural Ethics
Contemporary Women Philosophers
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective at the 400 level3
Total Credits30

Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements

The following four-year schedule maps out a course of study that a philosophy major may pursue. However, this schedule is provided only to suggest one way among many that a student might design his/her program of undergraduate philosophy study.

Freshman
FallSpring
PHI 101PHI 225 (Core Field 2)
Sophomore
FallSpring
PHI History ComponentPHI History Component
PHI Ethics TheoryPHI Applied Ethics
Junior
FallSpring
PHI History ComponentPHI History Component
PHI Elective (Ignatian track only)PHI 400 Elective
Senior
FallSpring
PHI ElectivePHI Elective
 PHI 451 (Ignatian track only)

Learning Goals & Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

Majors will acquire a broad knowledge of major figures, branches, and terminologies in Western philosophy.

  • Objective A: Demonstrate knowledge of major figures in Western Philosophy.
  • Objective B: Demonstrate knowledge of major branches in Western Philosophy.
  • Objective C: Demonstrate knowledge of terminology particular to a branch or tradition within philosophy.

Student Learning Goal 2

Majors will develop a capacity for communicating philosophical ideas and arguments.

  • Objective A: Write cogent prose to communicate philosophical ideas effectively.
  • Objective B: Construct philosophical arguments.

Student Learning Goal 3

Majors will develop a capacity for thinking critically and for effectively assessing arguments.

  • Objective A: Analyze arguments in philosophical discourse.
  • Objective B: Identify underlying presuppositions of a philosopher's argumentative discourse.
  • Objective C: Raise questions and frame philosophical problems introduced by texts.

Student Learning Goal 4

Majors will become information literate as this applies to philosophical study and research.

  • Objective A:  Cite properly and work effectively with both primary and secondary sources.

Curricular Components of a Philosophy Minor

Philosophic Associates

A minor in philosophy consists of five (5) courses beyond PHI 101 that might complement another major or provide personal intellectual satisfaction.

PHI 301Ancient Philosophy3
or PHI 302 Medieval Philosophy
Select one of the following:3
Early Modern Philosophy
19th Century Philosophy
Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective3
Philosophy Elective3
Total Credits15

PHI 101 Introduction to Philosophy 3 Credits

Core Curriculum Foundation Course. A study of the major eras in the history of philosophy: Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary and also of principal branches in philosophy: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Theories of Ethics, Logic, Metaphysics, and Theories of Justice. Students study the Catholic/Jesuit tradition and become able to identify the elements of rational argumentation. PHI 101 is a prerequisite for PHI 200 courses.

PHI 211 Philosophy of Religion 3 Credits

A study of principal contemporary and classical discussions about the existence and nature of God, God's relationship to the world, the individual and society.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

PHI 225 Logic 3 Credits

An introductory study of logic treating such topics as: deduction, techniques for evaluating reasoning, language and meaning, various formal and informal fallacies, and the notion of implication.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 240 Justice 3 Credits

A study of enduring questions such as: What does it take to be a just person and to create a just society? Includes investigations of (1) theories of justice and (2) problems of justice relating to injustice and oppression due to race, class, species, and gender.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 241 Ethics: Traditions in Moral Reasoning 3 Credits

A survey of principal traditions in moral reasoning with attention to moral principles inclusive of utility, deontology and virtue, and their applications to contemporary social realities.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 242 Ethical Issues in Business 3 Credits

study of important concerns in business and market realities with special concern to applying moral principles in decision making.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 243 Bio-Medical Ethics 3 Credits

A study of important moral issues in relation to current concerns in medicine, medical technology, and the life sciences.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 244 Environmental Ethics 3 Credits

A study of classical and contemporary moral theories concerning the relationship of human beings to the manifold of their natural surroundings.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 245 Animal Ethics 3 Credits

What do we mean by classifying together all non-human animals as 'animals'? This course critically examines the traditional notion that animals are commodities or resources for human use. It questions whether all sentient beings have intrinsic value and should be respected and what form that 'respect' should take.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 246 Ethics of Technology 3 Credits

A study of how prominent technologies such as television, cellular phones, and medical breakthroughs affect individual persons and our society, and in what ways technological innovations make us better or worse.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 247 Food and Agricultural Ethics 3 Credits

A study of the moral implications of the current food system in connection with the production, distribution, and consumption of food and aims to examine what might constitute a reasonable position regarding the ethics of what we eat and what each of us can do to help bring about a more just food system.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 252 Happiness, Virtue and the Good Life 3 Credits

A study of the role of virtue and vice in the moral life, how they emerge from developments of personal character and relate to meaningful human happiness, fulfillment, and the good life.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Ethics, Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 261 Philosophy of Law 3 Credits

A study of the nature, sources and sanctions of law and legal theory, treating concerns of legal positivism, natural law theory, rights and justice, and the relationship between law and morality.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 264 Justice & the Environment: The Problem of Climate Change 3 Credits

An examination of differing views of justice and their impact on environmental action with special focus on the issue of climate change.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 267 Catholic Social Thought 3 Credits

A study of the legacy of Catholic social teaching from official papal encyclicals of Leo XIII to the present, from unofficial vehicles of independent social thinkers, and from social forces such as labor unions, journals, political parties, and spiritual social justice movements.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 271 Philosophy of Human Rights 3 Credits

A study of various issues of human rights in global perspective to ask if human rights transcend political orders, whether they are universally applicable to all human beings, or determined to be culturally relative.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 272 Gender and Philosophy 3 Credits

An investigation into feminist theories that analyzes the role that gender plays in society and in the formation of the masculine and feminine subjects; an examination of notions of power, structure and work; and gender as performance and representation.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 273 Race and Philosophy 3 Credits

A study of philosophical assumptions underlying concepts of race that treats designations of racial identities, the political effects of racial classification, the ethics of race and the metaphysical legitimacy and social reality of racial designations.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 274 Social and Political Philosophy 3 Credits

A study of foundational philosophical theories on how to organize the collective and social life of individual human beings, examining justifications for state authority, establishing citizen's rights and allocating resources for human well-being.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 285 Black Philosophy 3 Credits

A study of philosophical trends within the black diaspora with attention to the contributions of prominent black philosophers and social activists.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 286 Latin American Philosophy 3 Credits

A study of the various philosophical movements in Latin America with a focus on the way of practicing philosophy that is rooted in the lived reality of Latin American peoples.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy), Justice

PHI 291 Philosophy of Art 3 Credits

A study of various approaches to thinking philosophically about art and covering the history of aesthetics with special emphasis on contemporary arts including film and music.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 292 Philosophy of Beauty 3 Credits

A study of various approaches to thinking philosophically about beauty and covering the concept in the history of aesthetics with special emphasis on the problems of beauty in contemporary culture.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Field 2 (Philosophy)

PHI 301 Ancient Philosophy 3 Credits

An examination of principal trends in ancient philosophy in the West from the Preplatonic Greeks through Plato and Aristotle to the beginning of the Medieval period.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

PHI 302 Medieval Philosophy 3 Credits

An examination of principal trends in Medieval philosophy from St. Augustine in the fifth century to Renaissance philosophical explorations.

PHI 303 Early Modern Philosophy 3 Credits

An in-depth examination of major thinkers in the modern western philosophical tradition from Descartes to Kant, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

PHI 304 19th Century Philosophy 3 Credits

A study of principal trends of 19th century European philosophy beginning with Kant and leading up to developments in early 20th century thinking.

PHI 305 Contemporary Continental Philosophy 3 Credits

An examination of principle philosophic trends emerging in Europe after the 19th century, treating such traditions as phenomenology, critical theory, existentialism, feminism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, and postmodernism.

PHI 306 Contemporary Analytic Philosophy 3 Credits

An examination of principal philosophic trends in the Anglo-American world including logical positivism, linguistic analysis, and ordinary language philosophy.

PHI 379 Contemporary Women Philosophers 3 Credits

A study of the thinking of important women philosophers of the 20th century with special concern to address their responses to the enduring questions of ethics, especially for modern times.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

PHI 399 Ethics, Justice, & the Problem of Poverty 3 Credits

This is a Core Capstone course; students from all majors are welcome. The first half of the course focuses on ethics, justice, and diversity. The second half of the course is focused on economics and global awareness vis-à-vis the problem of poverty.

Prerequisite: PHI 101.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

PHI 401 Topics in Philosophy 3 Credits

A seminar style course offered by faculty in the Department of Philosophy on a rotating basis and focusing on a different topic each time it is offered. Check with the department to find out what will be offered in any given academic year.

PHI 451 Senior Thesis 3 Credits

An Ignatian Scholar successfully completes a senior thesis. This is a culminating experience in which a student expresses mature habits of self-directed study and critical analysis, with an ability to integrate knowledge beyond the expectations of a seminar paper. A senior thesis addresses a select philosophic topic and is especially concerned with philosophic argumentation. An Ignatian Scholar demonstrates ability to exercise appropriate research methods, to provide critical assessment of issues, to assess theoretical presuppositions underlying a discourse and to advance well-constructed argumentation. A senior thesis ought to exhibit the values of the department mission.

Prerequisite: PHI 101 & at least two 300-level philosophy courses.

PHI 499 Independent Study 1-3 Credits

A tutorial style course on a topic approved by the department and agreed upon between the student and a professor. Independent studies require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: PHI 101 & at least two 300-level philosophy courses.