The Program

The program develops analytical, critical, and oral and written communication skills, an excellent preparation for professional and other careers. Individuals acquire these skills partly because the courses involve in-class discussion and require the writing of numerous philosophical papers. Courses in Logic involve frequent exercises.

Students who major in philosophy typically teach at the college or university level, or continue their education at professional schools, such as schools of law and medicine; or in graduate programs in the humanities and social sciences.

Major Requirements

PHIL 100: Logic
A study of correct reasoning with emphasis on sentential logic, the informal fallacies and certain paradigms of inductive reasoning; topics involving the nature of language, artificial and natural.
PHIL 302: Environmental Ethics
Critiques various approaches to the relationship between human beings and the environment.
PHIL 303: Theories of Ethics
An examination of ethical theories of the Western philosophical tradition, e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Mill, which includes consideration of contemporary meta-ethical concerns of definition and justification.
PHIL 341: Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle
Critique emergence of Western philosophical inquiry. Interrelatedness of nature and human nature. Origins of world views from pre-Socratics through Plato and Aristotle.
PHIL 342: Descartes, Locke, Hume
Traces the development of the methodologies, epistemologies, and metaphysics of the most influential thinkers of the Rationalist and Empiricist traditions during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. [Rep once.]
PHIL 343: Kant & the 19th Century
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and two or more major thinkers from the 19th century, such as: Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, James, Dewey...[Rep once.]
PHIL 345. Philosophies of China
Classic texts in Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and I Ching. Focus on unifying concepts amid differences. Compare to Western philosophies. China encountering multiculturalism from within and without.
PHIL 346. Philosophies of India
Classic themes of Indian philosophy. Selections from Rig Veda, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, Buddhism, Jainism, and Shankara. India's approach to multiculturalism and gender issues.
PHIL 371: Contemporary Social & Political Philosophy
A critical study of the main contemporary Western theories of the ideal state and how these theories deal with such core political values as justice, liberty, equality and community.
PHIL 420: Contemporary Epistemology and Metaphysics
Explores questions like "What does it mean to know?", "Are there different kinds or sources of knowing?", "What exists and what are the basic categories of being?".
PHIL 425: Philosophy of Science
Critical examination of aims, assumptions, and norms of science. Nature of satisfactory explanations, nature of theories and their criteria of acceptability. Study of scientific progress, limits of science, reasoning of science & scientific method.

Two Philosophy 485 courses:

PHIL 485: Seminar in Philosophy
Intensive study of a philosophical movement, a philosophical problem, the writings of a philosopher, or a subdiscipline. Recent seminars have included Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Thomas Kuhn, Deconstruction, Emerson & Thoreau, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Death, Madness & Human Nature, Animal Ethics, and Analytic Philosophy.

Two electives chosen from the following: (Three units of PHIL 391 may be used in lieu of one of the electives and must be approved by the Department Chair for credit.)

PHIL 301: Reflections on the Arts
Various theories of art as they emphasize or suppress one or more of the varied dimensions of artistic creation and aesthetic experience: form, feeling, realism, fantasy; judgments of taste, style, and excellence.
PHIL 304: Philosophy of Sex & Love
Analysis of metaphysical and moral issues relating to sex and love, such as: What is love? What sexual activities are natural, moral, perversions? Friendship, adultery, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality & same-sex marriage.
PHIL 306: Race, Racism & Philosophy
A philosophical study of the conceptual, metaphysical, moral, social and political issues surrounding race and racism.
PHIL 309B: Perspectives: Humanities/ Science/Social Science
Critiques perspectives, modes of inquiry, and products of the humanities, biological and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and their relationships.
PHIL 351: 20th Century Philosophy: Selected Topics
Study of a major movement, school of thought, or philosopher of the 20th century, such as Logical Positivism, Pragmatism, Analytic, Postmodern, Continental, Process Philosophy, Dewey, Wittgenstein, Austin, Quine, Sartre.
PHIL 355: Existentialism
Principal existential philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Marcel, and Buber.
PHIL 391: Seminar in Philosophy (Must be approved by Department for credit)
Intensive study of a philosophical movement, philosophical problem, writings of a philosopher, or a subdiscipline (for example, philosophy of mind). Elective credit for philosophy majors requires prior departmental approval. May be repeated.
PHIL 415: Symbolic Logic
Quantifiable logic, including the logic of relations; properties of axiomatic systems; modal logic and its extensions; many-valued logic.
PHIL 485: Seminar in Philosophy
Intensive study of a philosophical movement, a philosophical problem, the writings of a philosopher, or a subdiscipline. Recent seminars have included Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Thomas Kuhn, Deconstruction, Emerson & Thoreau, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Death, Madness & Human Nature, Animal Ethics, Analytic Philosophy, Heidegger, Justice, War & Terrorism, and Philosophy v.s. Literature.

The foregoing course requirements total 45 semester units. A total of 120 units is needed to graduate, where approximately 48 of those units will be in general education and the remainder can be elective units, a second major, etc.

Independent reading groups ( PHIL 391's) with individual professors are common, giving students the opportunity to work closely with faculty on mutually interesting topics. Some topics of past independent studies are: Aristotle, Wittgenstein's The Blue and Brown Books, Modal logic, Meta-logic, Medical ethics, Study of the German text of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Eco-Feminism, Genetic Engineering & Ethics, Seinfeld & Philosophy.

Minor Requirements

Under the four options available for the minor, listed below, take the indicated courses and confer with members of the philosophy faculty for assistance in selecting suitable electives. Each minor is comprised of 12 units.

History of Western Philosophy

PHIL 341:
Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle
PHIL 342:
Descartes, Locke, Hume
PHIL 343:
Kant, Hegel, James

Plus one lower or upper division three-unit elective in philosophy.

Fundamental Aspects of Philosophy

PHIL 100:
PHIL 303:
Theories of Ethics
PHIL 420:
Contemporary Epistemology & Metaphysics

Plus one upper-division 3-unit elective in philosophy. {If pre-law, PHIL 415: Symbolic Logic, is recommended.}

Asian Aspects of Philosophy

Choose two of the following:

PHIL 104:
Asian Philosophy
PHIL 345:
Philosophies of China
PHIL 346:
Philosophies of India

Plus two other 3 unit Philosophy courses, one of which must be upper division.

Ethics and Values Minor

PHIL 303:
Theories of Ethics

Plus 6 units from the following courses:

PHIL 106:
Moral Controversies
PHIL 301:
Reflections on the Arts
PHIL 302:
Environmental Ethics
PHIL 304:
Philosophy of Sex and Love
PHIL 306:
Race, Racism and Philosophy
PHIL 371:
Contemporary Social & Political Philosophy
Plus one lower or upper division 3-unit elective in Philosophy.

Please see the HSU catalog for a complete listing of the Philosophy Department's offerings at HSU.

Student Resources

"Philosophy is a free inquiry into the limits of human knowledge and into the most general categories applicable to experience and reality."
– Stuart Hampshire

"What is your aim in philosophy? To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle."
– Wittgenstein

"Philosophy, like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge.. The knowledge it aims at is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system to the body of the sciences, and the kind which results from a critical examination of the grounds of our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs."
— Bertrand Russell

"Socrates: Now my art of midwifery is just like [the art of those who attend women in childbirth] in most respects. The difference is… that I watch over the labor of souls, not bodies. And the most important thing… is the ability to apply all possible tests to the offspring, to determine whether [it] is an error or a fertile truth."
– Plato

"An idea is a putting truth in checkmate."
– Jose Ortega Y Gasset.

"[Philosophy] is an adventure in the clarification of thought, progressive and never final. But it is an adventure in which even partial success has importance."
– Alfred North Whitehead