Bucknell’s philosophy curriculum offers courses in a wide variety of subjects, figures, historical periods, traditions, movements and methodological perspectives. Some courses focus on general fields such as ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology and logic. Others raise philosophical questions about topics such as mind, language, art, music, science, religion, politics, gender, law and the status of animals. Historically oriented courses range from the earliest Greek philosophers up through revolutionary 20th century thinkers such as Heidegger and Wittgenstein. Still others span whole philosophical traditions (Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Jewish) or survey specific movements (German idealism, existentialism, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, feminist philosophy). For majors, we offer exclusive advanced seminars (capped at 15), taught by a different philosophy professor each semester. Bucknell’s philosophy faculty members also frequently mentor students in senior theses, honors theses and independent research projects.

Course Descriptions:

Introductory

    • 100.  Introduction to Philosophy (I or II; R; 3, 0)
      Multiple sections of this course are offered every semester, under a variety of specific titles: e.g., "Law, Morality and Society" (ethics, socio-political philosophy and philosophy of law), "Consciousness" (philosophy of mind), "Philosophy of Laughter" (the ethics, aesthetics, and socio-political implications of comedy), "World Philosophy" (a comparative examination of Greek, Indian and Chinese philosophical traditions), "Gods, Humans and Animals" (philosophical anthropology and the ethical status of animals), and "Philosophy and Film" (fundamental philosophical questions regarding the nature of reality, freedom, knowledge, art and value explored through film).

Logic

    • 103.  Logic (I or II; 3, 0)
      An introduction to informal and formal ways of reasoning. The structures and general forms of argument as well as the standards and criteria needed to evaluate arguments, and the historical development of logical reasoning, will be studied.
    • 201.  Symbolic Logic (I or II; 3, 0)
      This course will introduce the basic concepts and philosophical problems that arise in a study of 20th and 21st century symbolic logic. Careful work on the concepts and problems of modern logic will direct the course, with a concentration on the basic changes introduced to the discipline by the logical work of Frege and Russell. The course will investigate topics in propositional and quantificational logic and general logical theory (completeness, consistency, independence, rigor). It will conclude with a study of the system of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Prerequisite: PHIL 103 or permission of the instructor.

Core Historical Periods

    • 205.  Greek Philosophy (I; 3, 0)
      Studies of the ancient Greek notions of the kosmos or universe, society, and the soul, through readings of the Presocratics, Socrates and Plato, and Aristotle. Some attention will also be paid to the mythic/poetic background from which philosophy arises for the ancient Greeks. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or PHIL 103 or PHIL 201 or permission of the instructor.
    • 207.  History of Modern Philosophy (II; 3, 0)
      Philosophical thought in the classical modern age, including Continental Rationalism, British Empiricism, and Kant. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.

Axiology/Value Theory

    • 212.  Philosophy of Art (I or II; 3, 0)
      Analysis of the creative process, the work of art, natural beauty, aesthetic experience, and principles of criticism. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as ARTH 222.
    • 213.  Ethics (II; 3, 0)
      An attempt to formulate adequate criteria for the basic moral conceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, and duty, by a study of leading ethical view points from Plato to the present. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or PHIL 103 or PHIL 201 or permission of the instructor.
    • 214.  Social and Political Philosophy (II; 3, 0)
      Problems such as individual and state, freedom and organization, power and rectitude, philosophy of law, equity and differences, the sociomoral basis of rights. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 215.  Philosophy of Music (I or II; 3, 0)
      An exploration of the concepts and problems involved in a philosophical (self-reflective) investigation of music. Using two 20th-century musicians (Bernstein and Cage) as a guide, questions about the being and characteristics of music will be pursued. Learning to talk and ask questions clearly about the nature of sound and silence is a goal of the course. (Philosophers such as Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Thoreau, Camus, and Wittgenstein will provide direction for class discussion and lectures.) Crosslisted as MUSC 215.
    • 218.  Ecology, Nature, and the Future (I or II; 3, 0)
      An examination of the biological and philosophical underpinnings of ecology and environmental science. The course will consider such questions as: What is life? How are organisms and the environment connected? Is nature "in balance"? What is our relation to the natural world? Does nature have instrinsic value? How do our present actions and activities affect nature's future?
    • 228.  Contemporary Ethical Theory (I or II; 3, 0)
      Contemporary approaches to the problems of ethics: universality, moral vs. non-moral judgements, facts and values, etc. Readings in such thinkers as Hare, Rawls, Gilligan, Williams, MacIntyre, Nussbaum, and Rorty. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or PHIL 103 or PHIL 201 or permission of the instructor.
    • 246.  Philosophy of Law (I or II; 3, 0)
      Examination of some central philosophical issues relating to law, including law's relation to economics, literature, democracy, rules, integrity, and interpretation. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or PHIL 103 or PHIL 201 or permission of the instructor.
    • 265.  Controversies in Art (AI or AII; 3, 0)
      An investigation of philosophical issues related to various controversies in the art world and in aesthetics more generally. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as ARTH 265 and WMST 265.
    • 271.  Western Perspectives on Animals (I or II; 3, 0)
      Examines the conceptual and moral status of animals in our culture, as expressed in philosophy, religion, ethology (animal behavior), the law, and social policy. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.

Metaphysics and Epistemology

    • 204.  Scientific and Everyday Reasoning (I or II; 3, 0)
      An investigation of inductive and ordinary language forms of reasoning. The basic concepts and problems in inductive reasoning will be studied, and attention given to how our ordinary language influences traditional logical principles and criteria. A careful examination of fallacies and mistakes in reasoning will introduce the more formal aspects of the course. Prerequisite: PHIL 103 or permission of the instructor.
    • 220.  Philosophy of Science (I or II; 3, 0)
      An introduction to foundational metaphysical, epistemological, methodological, and ethical questions concerning science and scientific practice. Particular attention will be paid to theory confirmation, observation and experiment, explanation, scientific progress and revolution. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 223.  Philosophy of Religion (I or II; 3, 0)
      Problems for rational inquiry arising from the claims and practices of religious faith; the nature of religious experience and language, arguments for God's existence, evil. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as RELI 216.
    • 224.  Theory of Knowledge (I or II; 3, 0)
      Addresses topics related to the nature and acquisition of knowledge, such as belief, justification, evidence, perception, testimony, and skepticism. Readings may include both classic and contemporary authors, such as Plato, Descartes, Russell, Austin, Davidson, Goldman, McDowell, and Sosa. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 225.  Metaphysics (I or II; 3, 0)
      An inquiry into the nature of being/reality. Topics may include the ontological status of universals, mind, personal identity, freedom, time and God. Readings in such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Ockham, Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, Bergson and Heidegger. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 226.  Philosophy of Mind (I or II; 3, 0)
      A study of topics in the philosophy of the mind, such as the mind-body problem, thought, consciousness, perceptual experience, and artificial intelligence. Readings may include both classic and contemporary authors, such as Descartes, Hume, Ryle, Davidson, Fodor, Dennett, and Chalmers. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 227.  Philosophy of Language (I or II; 3, 0)
      An examination of philosophical problems concerning the nature of language, meaning, and communication. Readings may include both classic and contemporary authors, such as Locke, Mill, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Austin, Quine, Davidson, Dummett, Kripke, and Kaplan. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 268.  Topics in Metaphysics (I and II; 3, 0)
      Focused study of a specific topic in metaphysics, such as space and/or time, substance, possible worlds, the mind-body problem, truth, and abstract objects (propositions, universals, values, numbers, etc.). Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 272.  Philosophy of Biology (I or II; 3, 0)
      We will survey the central epistemological and metaphysical problems addressed in the 20th-century philosophy of biology. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.

Movements and Traditions

    • 206.  Medieval Philosophy (I or II; 3, 0)
      A comparative examination of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions in medieval philosophy. Questions will focus on the existence and nature of God, the structure of reality, free will, the problem of evil, the possibility and scope of human knowledge, the meaning of history, the fate of the soul, and the highest good for human beings. Readings in Augustine, Avicenna, Maimonides, Aquinas and others. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 219.  The Problem of False Consciousness (I or II; 3, 0)
      Examination of leading theories of individual and mass deception, as well as theories of self-deception, as these theories bear on the task of informed decision making. Philosophers to be studied may include: Freud, Marx, Sartre, Jung, Foucault, Lukacs, Habermas. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 222.  Analytic Philosophy (I or II; 3, 0)
      An introduction to the analytic style of philosophy by way of selected topics illustrating its subject matter, methods, and historical development. Readings may include Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Moore, Austin, Carnap, Quine, and others. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 230.  Feminist Philosophy (I; 3, 0)
      An examination of feminist philosophy primarily as it occurs in the U.S. from the late 18th century to the present. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or WMST 140 or WMST 150 or permission of the instructor. Crosslisted as WMST 230.
    • 233.  The Philosophy of Peace and Nonviolence (I or II; 3, 0)
      A course in peace studies that will investigate the arguments and spirit of Pacifism and nonviolent philosophies. Crosslisted as UNIV 233.
    • 256.  From Hegel to Nietzsche (AI or AII; 3, 0)
      The rise, fall, and reaction to German Idealism in 19th-century continental thought. Philosophers to be studied may include: Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 258.  Existentialism (I or II; 3, 0)
      Analysis of selected texts of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Camus, or Sartre. Special attention given to the relation of existentialism to problems of post-Cartesian thought. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or PHIL 103 or PHIL 201 or permission or the instructor.
    • 260.  Phenomenology (I or II; 3, 0)
      Analysis of selected texts of Husserl, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty. Some consideration of the interpretation of the history of philosophy offered by phenomenology. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 262.  Contemporary Continental Philosophy (I or II; 3, 0)
      A survey of some major currents and figures in twentieth-century philosophy. Philosophers to be studied may include: Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Benjamin, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Levinas. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 266.  Chinese Philosophy (AI or AII; 3, 0)
      Major philosophical schools of the classical age, Buddhist philosophy, Neo-Confucianism. Crosslisted as EAST 266 and HUMN 266. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 267.  Islamic Philosophy (I or II; 3, 0)
      A survey of major historical figures and movements in the Islamic philosophical tradition. Topics discussed include the good life for human beings, the question of death and the afterlife, the nature and existence of God, the function and value of organized religion, and the relation between reason, revelation and mystical knowledge. Philosophers to be studied include: al-Farabi, al-Razi, Avicenna, al-Ghazali, Ibn Tufayl, and Averroës, among others. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 269.  Indian Philosophy (I or II; 3, 0)
      A survey of the Indian philosophical tradition, from its beginnings in the Vedas and Upanishads through the development of the major philosophical schools. Multiple perspectives on topics such as the nature of reality, knowledge and freedom will be examined. Readings in the systems of Nyaya, Vaisesika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism, and Carvaka. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.
    • 270.  Jewish Philosophy (AI; 3, 0)
      This course focuses on key philosophers within the Judaic tradition who played a pivotal role in the development of Western philosophy overall. Figures studied include Philo of Alexandria, Maimonides, Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas. Topics considered include the existence, nature and knowability of God, human freedom, the Holocaust and the problem of evil, the ultimate basis of morality and the nature of our ethical obligations to one another, and potential conflicts between Jewish particularism and philosophical universalism. Prerequisite: PHIL 100 or permission of the instructor.

Senior Seminar/Culminating Experience Courses

    • 309.  Seminar in Historical Studies: Individual Philosophers (I or II; R; 3, 0)
      Intensive study of the works of a single philosopher chosen from the ancient, medieval, modern, or contemporary period of the history of philosophy. In recent years: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein. Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor.
    • 310.  Seminar in Historical Studies: Historical Periods (I or II; R; 3, 0)
      Study of a selected period in the history of ancient, medieval, modern, or contemporary philosophy. In recent years "Philosophy of Ordinary Language," "Habermas and (Post) Modernity," "Plato, Aristotle, Sophists." Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor.
    • 311.  Seminar in Philosophical Problems (I or II; R; 3, 0)
      A selected problem of philosophy as this occurs historically in the ancient, medieval, or modern periods, or in contemporary thought. In recent years: "Philosophy of Mind," "Environmental Aesthetics," "Perception," "Philosophical Heretics," "Friendship," "Doubt, Disagreement and Dogmatism." Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor.
    • 319.  320. Individual Studies in Philosophy (I and II; R)
      Open to advanced students who wish to pursue individual programs of study under the supervision of a professor, or of a committee of professors if the subject falls within two or more departments. May be conducted as a seminar for three or more students pursuing similar programs. Subjects may be chosen from any field of philosophy in consultation with the members of the department of philosophy.
    • 321.  322. Honors Thesis (I and II)
      Substantial independent work on some problem or topic approved by the department of philosophy as honors work.
    • 323.  Senior Thesis (I or II)
      Independent research on a philosophical issue, in consultation with staff members. The thesis should show integrative and creative abilities. Prerequisite: major in philosophy.
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