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Philosophy Master Course List with Descriptions

Below is a complete list of the courses that are currently active in the Department of Philosophy at Purdue. Many of the introductory level undergraduate courses are taught every semester, including during the summer. Other courses listed below, including the upper level undergraduate and graduate courses, are taught at regular intervals. You can also find  information on the courses being taught in the current or upcoming semester.

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100 Level Courses

11000 - The Big Questions: Introduction to Philosophy

The basic problems and types of philosophy, with special emphasis on the problems of knowledge and the nature of reality.

11100 - Introduction to Ethics

A study of the nature of moral value and obligation. Topics such as the following will be considered: different conceptions of the good life and standards of right conduct; the relation of nonmoral and moral goodness; determinism, free will, and the problem of moral responsibility; the political and social dimensions of ethics; the principles and methods of moral judgment. Readings will be drawn both from contemporary sources and from the works of such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Butler, Hume, Kant, and J. S. Mill.

11400 - Global Moral Issues

A systematic and representative examination of significant contemporary moral problems with a focus on global issues such as international justice, poverty and foreign aid, nationalism and patriotism, just war, population and the environment, human rights, gender equality, and national self-determination.

11500 - Philosophy: What Are You Going to Do with That?

A 1 credit course for philosophy majors designed to help them navigate their progress toward the PHIL degree and what they will eventually apply it to doing. Students will gain an understanding of what the different branches of philosophy explore, plan a path of study through the major requirements, and develop a portfolio of professional documents toward applying to internships and jobs. PHIL majors are encouraged to take this course in the spring of their first year.

12000 - Critical Thinking

This course is designed to develop reasoning skills and analytic abilities, based on an understanding of the rules or forms as well as the content of good reasoning. This course will cover moral and scientific reasoning, in addition to ordinary problem solving. This course is intended primarily for students with nontechnical backgrounds.

15000 - Principles of Logic

A first course in formal deductive logic; mechanical and other procedures for distinguishing good arguments from bad. Truth-tables and proofs for sentential (Boolean) connectives, followed by quantificational logic with relations. Although metatheoretic topics are treated, the emphasis is on methods.

200 Level Courses

20600 - Philosophy of Religion

The course encourages critical reflection on traditional and contemporary views about God and other religious ideas. Topics include arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, understanding the divine attributes, miracles, religious pluralism, and life after death.

20700 - Ethics for Technology, Engineering, And Design

This course is designed to increase your understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities in national, international, and cross-cultural environments, helping you to anticipate, understand, and navigate issues that will likely arise in your working life as an engineer or designer. The focus of the course is on developing the ability to apply a general ethical framework to new and unique situations, including those arising from the global cultural context of modern engineering. The course covers how this ethical framework should be constituted, and provides practice in applying this framework to specific, concrete cases. Together, these components work toward your development as a better engineer and a more responsible global citizen. The readings, case studies, and exercises are geared towards the development of a well-researched original case study that you will present to the class, which is informed by your past experiences and future aspirations related to engineering.

20800 - Ethics of Data Science

As applications of data science permeate more aspects of our lives, new and important ethical issues are arising. However, especially because we’re entering uncharted territory, reasoning clearly about the ethical implications of data science isn’t easy. This course provides students with the tools for doing so, including a conceptual framework for ethical reasoning in professional settings, as well as a procedure for case-study analysis that allows students to practice employing this conceptual framework. Together, these components help prepare students to be ethical professionals and responsible global citizens.

21900 - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life

A survey of both the philosophical and more literary writings of the existentialist movement. Readings will be chosen from among the following writers: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Marcel, Heidegger, Camus, Sartre, Jaspers, de Beauvoir, Ortega, and Merleau-Ponty.

22100 - Introduction to Philosophy of Science

An introduction to the scope and methods of science and to theories of its historical development. Topics include scientific revolutions, theories of scientific method, the nature of scientific discovery, explanation, and the role of values in scientific change.

22300 - Fate and Free Will

This course encourages critical reflection on the nature and possibility of human freedom in a world like ours that appears to be determined by unchanging causal and physical laws. Topics include the compatibility of free will and determinism, the possibility of moral responsibility without free will, and the incentives (if any) for future planning if our future fate is already sealed.

22500 - Philosophy and Gender

An examination of the beliefs, assumptions, and values found in traditional and contemporary philosophical analyses of women. A range of feminist approaches to knowledge, values, and social issues will be introduced.

22700 - Science and Religion

Are science and religion irrelevant to each other? Or can one of them challenge, support, shape, presuppose, explain—or explain away—the other? This course examines how science in general, as well as specific scientific disciplines such as evolutionary biology, physical cosmology, and cognitive science, are related to religion in general, and to particular religious traditions.

23000 - Religions of the East

(cross-listed w/ REL 23000) A study of the history, teachings, and present institutions of the religions of India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. This will include Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Zoroastrianism.

23100 - Religions of the West

(cross-listed w/ REL 23100) A comparative study of the origins, institutions, and theologies of the three major Western religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

24000 - Social and Political Philosophy

A study of some major social and political philosophers from Plato to contemporary authors. Issues such as justice, rights and freedom, community, and the "globalized" future will be considered.

24200 - Philosophy, Culture, and the African American Experience

The purpose of this course is to consider African American based or inspired conceptions of Western philosophy and new visions of what it is to do philosophy sensitive to culturally rooted diversity.

26000 - Philosophy and Law

A discussion of philosophical issues in the law: a critical examination of such basic concepts in law as property, civil liberty, punishment, right, contract, crime and responsibility; and a survey of some main philosophical theories about the nature and justification of legal systems. Readings will be drawn from both law and philosophy.

27000 - Biomedical Ethics

An examination of the moral problems raised by developments in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Topics include abortion, reproductive technologies, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, experiments involving human subjects, and health care delivery.

27500 - Philosophy of Art

A survey of the principal theories concerning the nature, function, and value of the arts from classical times to the present.

28000 - Ethics and Animals

An exploration through the study of major historical and contemporary philosophical writings of basic moral issues as they apply to our treatment of animals. Rational understanding of the general philosophical problems raised by practices such as experimentation on animals or meat-eating will be emphasized.

29000 - Environmental Ethics

An introduction to philosophical issues surrounding debates about the environment and our treatment of it. Topics may include endangered species, “deep ecology,” the scope and limits of cost-benefit analyses, and duties to future generations.

29300 - Selected Topics in Philosophy

A critical examination of some special topic or topics in philosophy. Details concerning topics selected for treatment in a given semester will be posted with that semester's course descriptions. Sections of this course may sometimes be initiated by students upon petition to the department.

300 Level Courses

30100 - History of Ancient Philosophy

A survey of Greek philosophy from its beginning in the Milesian school through the Presocratics to Plato and Aristotle.

30200 - History of Medieval Philosophy

A survey of the main trends and figures of medieval philosophy, with an emphasis on metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Readings (in English translation) may include Augustine, Boethius, Avicenna, Anselm, Abelard, Maimonides, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham and Suarez.

30300 - History of Modern Philosophy

Concentrates on the major philosophical writers from the Renaissance to the beginning of the nineteenth century: Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant. Some in other areas, e.g., Galileo, Newton, Calvin, are also considered.

30400 - 19th Century Philosophy

A study of the major movements and directions of nineteenth-century philosophy, including such figures as Hegel, Comte, Mach, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Mill, Royce and Peirce.

30600 - 20th Century Philosophy

A critical examination of the main currents of contemporary philosophical thought, such as pragmatism, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, and existentialism, and other recent developments. The course will cover selected works of such philosophers as Russell, Wittgenstein, Peirce, Whitehead, Heidegger, and Sartre.

31000 - Classical Chinese Philosophy

A survey of classical Chinese philosophy (c. 600-200 BCE), focusing on seven major philosophers (and their followers): Kongzi (Confucius), Mozi, Mengzi (Mencius), Zhuangzi, Laozi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. Topics of consideration include: the nature and value of morality, the proper role of ritual in human life, whether human nature is good or bad, how one becomes a moral person, and the proper role and function of government. No knowledge of Chinese is expected.

32200 - Philosophy and Technology

A philosophical examination of the nature and history of technology, as well as its complex impact on humans and the world.

35000 - Philosophy and Probability

This course introduces the student to mathematical probability and its philosophical applications. Topics may include theories of probability, Hume's problem of induction, Goodman's paradox, and the foundations of scientific reasoning.

400 Level Courses

40200 - Studies in Medieval Christian Thought

A survey of some of the main trends and figures of the Christian Middle Ages, with an emphasis on the way thinkers from this period make use of philosophy in theology. Readings (in English translation) may include Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham.

40300 - Moral Psychology And Climate Change

This course investigates the ethical challenges posed by climate change in conjunction with the deep cognitive and motivational factors that shape our individual and collective responses to it. Current research on human moral psychology is examined, drawing on work from a range of disciplines. Ethical theories concerning the unique moral challenges posed by a threat that spans national borders and human generations are considered. Strategies for addressing climate change that try to avoid our common cognitive foibles, and to leverage what we know about human moral capacities for collective action, are examined.

40600 - Intermediate Philosophy of Religion

An intensive study of some important problems such as the existence of God, the problem of evil, immortality, or the nature of religion. Or the religious philosophy of some significant thinkers such as Buber, Berdyaev, Tillich, Barth, Maritain, or Chardin may form the content of the course. Subject matter may vary.

41100 - Modern Ethical Theories

An examination of the major controversies in the history of modern ethics, including: the place of reason in ethics, the basis of moral obligation, and the relation between science and morals.

41500 - Philosophy Practicum and Internship Program

For philosophy students who are pursuing internship opportunities and professional experience in various fields, industries, and sectors. Students can take the course up to two times for no more than 6.00 total credits. Internships can be offered remotely or on site. This course does not apply toward Area D requirements of the philosophy major.

42100 - Philosophy of Science

An examination of central issues in philosophy of science. Topics include theories of explanation, confirmation, reduction, laws, the status of theoretical entities, and the epistemological foundations of scientific theories.

42400 - Recent Ethical Theory

A philosophical examination of significant issues in recent ethical theory and metaethics, such as the nature of value, obligation, virtue, rationality, moral knowledge, the status of ethical sentences, practical applications, and the relationship between ethics and science or religion.

42500 - Metaphysics

A concentrated investigation of some of the basic problems concerning essence, existence, time, space, substance, causality, permanence, and change. Readings and discussions will center on representative metaphysical thinkers.

43200 - Theory of Knowledge

An analysis of selected texts on knowledge and rationality. Topics such as the following will be considered: foundationalism, coherentism, internalism, externalism, skepticism, contextualism, empiricism, rationalism, analyses of epistemic concepts, and the Gettier problem.

43500 - Philosophy of Mind

An examination of some central issues in the philosophy of mind. Attention is given to such topics as the knowledge of other minds, the relation between mind and body, the nature of persons, and the analysis of certain relevant concepts such as action, emotion, and perception. Readings are selected primarily from the writings of contemporary philosophers.

45000 - Metalogic

An introduction to metatheoretic studies of formal axiomatic systems. Basic set theory is developed for use as a tool in studying the propositional calculus. Further topics include many-valued logics and metatheory for modal or predicate logic.

46500 - Philosophy of Language

An examination of some of the central issues in the philosophy of language, such as meaning, reference, truth, propositions, and speech acts.

500 Level Courses

50100 - Studies in Greek Philosophy

The subject-matter will alternate between the intensive study of some fairly specific topic in Greek philosophy (e.g., Plato's theory of knowledge, Aristotle's ethics, etc.) and a general study of either the philosophy of Plato or the philosophy of Aristotle.

50200 - Studies in Medieval Philosophy

An intensive study of some central topics in the thought of major medieval philosophers. Subject matter will vary. Philosophers most often studied are Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Ockham.

50300 - Studies in Early Modern Philosophy

A detailed study of either: 1) one or more central philosophical themes or 2) one or more major figures (typically, but not restricted to, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and/or Kant) in the early modern period. Offered in alternate years.

50500 - Islamic and Jewish Philosophy and the Classical Tradition

A study of representative texts and issues in medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy. Possible topics include the commensurability of philosophy and (revealed) law, the creation or eternity of the world, the nature of prophecy, the human good, the nature of God, and divine language.

50600 - Advanced Philosophy of Religion

A detailed critical investigation of some central problems in a philosophical approach to religion. Readings will be selected from leading representatives of traditional theism and various contemporary schools. The thought of the representative thinkers will be analyzed, discussed, and critically evaluated. The problems discussed will be selected from the existence of God, the problem of evil, freedom and determinism, the problem of immortality, and the nature of religious language. Variable content.

51000 - Phenomenology

A detailed, critical examination of some major issue(s) in phenomenology. Attention will be given to either the historical development or contemporary relevance of phenomenological philosophy. Readings will be drawn from the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and others.

51400 - 20th Century Analytical Philosophy

The origins of contemporary philosophical analysis. An examination of the most important philosophical writings of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, as well as the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Need not be followed by PHIL 515.

51500 - 20th Century Analytical Philosophy II

The development of philosophical analysis through logical positivism and the various forms of linguistic philosophy. An examination of some of the important writings of Moore, Ayer, Ryle, Wisdom, Austin, and the later Wittgenstein. Need not be preceded by PHIL 514.

52000 - Existentialism

A detailed exploration and examination of the existentialist movement in modern thought, including its historical roots, its philosophical formulations, and its influence and expression in and relation to art, literature, psychology, social criticism, and religion. Readings will be from at least some of the major existentialists: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre. In addition, texts from existentialist thinkers in other areas will be used.

52400 - Contemporary Ethical Theory

A critical review of twentieth-century developments in ethical and value theory, with particular reference to the dispute between utilitarianism and deontological theories, and to the problem of justification.

52500 - Studies in Metaphysics

An intensive and critical examination of one or more of the basic problems of ontology and cosmology, such as substance, existence, causality, change, time, space, teleology, freedom, and universals. Variable content.

53000 - Deconstructionist & Postmodernist Philosophy

An examination of the main currents of deconstructionist and postmodernist thought in the latter part of the twentieth century. Texts to be studied will be selected from the writings of Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray, Deleuze, Guattari, Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Rorty.

53200 - Studies in Theory of Knowledge

An intensive examination of selected problems concerning the nature of human knowledge, its scope and limits, its relation to sense-perception and memory. Variable content.

53500 - Studies in Philosophy of Mind

An intensive study of select topics in the philosophy of mind such as the explanation of human behavior, knowledge of other minds, the relation between mind and body, and the nature of persons. Variable content.

54000 - Studies in Social and Political Philosophy

A detailed study of one or more important concepts in social or political philosophy, such as natural rights, revolution, law, freedom, justice, or political obligation. Variable content.

55100 - Philosophy of the Natural Sciences

A survey of issues and theories in contemporary philosophy of science. Variable content.

55200 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences

An exploration of the nature of the concepts in the social sciences, and a study of the ways in which they have been and are employed.

55300 - Mathematical Logic

This class is an introduction to various logical foundations of mathematics as well as the basics of logical metatheory.

55500 - Critical Theory

An analysis of either the historical development or the contemporary relevance of critical theory. Primary texts may be selected from the "old" Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, Fromm) or from "new" critical theory (Habermas, Wellmer, Honneth, Benhabib, and others).

56100 - Reading Philosophy: Skills and Strategies

Academic philosophy demands both the ability to read large amounts of texts fluently, carefully, and closely. Furthermore, the abstract nature of philosophical discourse places a large cognitive demand upon readers. This course prepares non-native English speakers philosophy students for these intensive reading demands. The course has three major learning areas: the language skills that students need to read fluently (i.e., the efficient processing of language for general comprehension of meaning); reading strategies that students can use to improve comprehension and learning; and communication about readings, as the close reading of texts is essential to communicating one's ideas both orally and in writing.

Students are also supported in their regular philosophy courses. This course is linked to one or more 500+ level philosophy seminars that students in this course are enrolled in. Reading materials, writing activities, and projects for the course are designed to complement tasks and projects required in the linked philosophy seminar. Permission of department required.

56200 - Reading to Argue

Closely and critically reading philosophical arguments is the first step to composing your own arguments in philosophy. In addition, developing these skills will help you to orally discuss philosophical ideas, both in classroom discussions as well as when giving presentations. This class aims to prepare students for these tasks by developing the skills of close and critical reading in philosophical discourse. All the while, students will continue improving their reading, writing, and speaking skills in the English language through specifically designed language learning components for non-native English speakers.

Students are also supported in their regular philosophy courses. This course is linked to one or more 500+ level philosophy seminars that students in this course are enrolled in. Reading materials, writing activities, and projects for the course are designed to complement tasks and projects required in the linked philosophy seminar. Permission of department required.

56400 - Walk-Along Language Lab

A 1 credit course for 2LMA students. This course is a co-requisite, language-focused class linked to a philosophy seminar. Walk-along courses provide opportunities to shift focus from content to language form and use. Activities and projects for the course are designed to complement tasks and projects required for the seminar. Thus, the purpose of the walk-along course is to help you develop linguistic abilities required to succeed in your coursework. In addition, because of the centrality of writing for philosophy, walk-along courses will predominantly focus on developing your writing skills.

57100 - Writing Philosophy: Skills and Strategies

Writing on a higher academic level can be especially challenging for non-native English-writers. Thus, this course aims to develop students’ graduate-level skillsets in philosophical practices in an English language environment to help them gain confidence and become productive members of the philosophical community. Students will learn writing processes that will aid their ability to effectively compose in English, including developing a thesis statement, outlining, drafting, formatting, and editing. As all four chief skillsets in second-language proficiency development work in tandem and enhance each other, the course will rely on writing, reading, speaking, listening, and presenting work for learning and further developing these advanced language skills.

Students are also supported in their regular philosophy courses. This course is linked to one or more 500+ level philosophy seminars that students in this course are enrolled in. Reading materials, writing activities, and projects for the course are designed to complement tasks and projects required in the linked philosophy seminar. Permission of department required.

57200 - Writing to Argue

Writing is a primary mode of communication in philosophy. This course aims to prepare students for the writing demands of philosophy by having students develop their ability to analyze, interpret, and critique philosophical arguments through written works and, in the process, construct their own philosophical arguments. Students will also learn writing processes that will aid their ability to effectively and clearly compose philosophical arguments, including outlining, drafting, and editing. Finally, the class will also pay attention to genre and rhetorical features of philosophical discourse, such as how philosophers enact criticism and write introductions to research papers. All the while, students will continue improving their writing and speaking skills in the English language through specifically designed language learning components for non-native English speakers. Students can use their course paper as a draft of a writing sample for PhD programs.

Students are also supported in their regular philosophy courses. This course is linked to one or more 500+ level philosophy seminars that students in this course are enrolled in. Reading materials, writing activities, and projects for the course are designed to complement tasks and projects required in the linked philosophy seminar.

58000 - Pro-seminar in Philosophy

Designed primarily for majors in philosophy who have already successfully completed six hours in philosophy. Other students may be admitted to the course with the special consent of the instructor in charge. Topic to be selected by the department.

59000 - Directed Reading in Philosophy

A reading course directed by the instructor in whose particular field of specialization the content of the reading falls. Approval of each reading project must be secured from the department.

600 Level Courses

60100 - Special Topics in Ancient Philosophy

A detailed critical analysis of special problems or texts in ancient philosophy. (Prerequisite: PHIL 50100)

61000 - Seminar in Recent Continental Philosophy

An intensive, critical examination of some of the current modes of thought in recent continental philosophy, including phenomenology, critical theory, hermeneutics, deconstruction, and postmodernism. Selected writings from representative figures. Topics and texts will vary from semester to semester. (Prerequisite: PHIL 51000 or 52000)

62400 - Seminar in Ethics

An intensive study of some persistent problems of ethics, metaethics, and theory of action such as: intrinsic goods, ends and means, the concepts of utility, justice, and duty; facts and values, justification, ethical relativism, free will and blame-worthiness, belief, and action. Emphasis will be on contemporary discussions. Variable subject matter.

66500 - Philosophy of Language

An introduction to some of the main concepts and problems in the philosophy of language, such as meaning, reference, and private languages, through readings in the chief contributors to the field. (Prerequisite: 6 credit hours in Philosophy)

68000 - Seminar in Philosophy

An intensive course for graduate students majoring or minoring in philosophy. The content of the seminar will be determined in accordance with the needs and interests of the students. (Prerequisite: 6 credit hours at the graduate level in Philosophy)

68300 - Studies in Continental Rationalism

An intensive study of Descartes, Spinoza, or Leibniz, or of certain themes and ideas that played an important role in the development of their philosophies. Variable subject matter. (Prerequisite: PHIL 30300)

68400 - Studies in British Empiricism

An intensive study of Locke, Berkeley, or Hume, or of certain themes and ideas that played an important role in the development of their philosophies. Variable subject matter. (Prerequisite: PHIL 30300)

68500 - The Philosophy of Kant

This course will be concerned with the critical philosophy as a whole. Primary emphasis, however, will be on the theories of knowledge and metaphysics as developed in the Critique of Pure Reason. Lesser attention will be paid to Kant's ethics and the principles of judgment as time permits.

69800 - Research in MA Thesis

Research MA Thesis. Permission of instructor required.

69900 - Research in PhD Thesis

Research PhD Thesis. Permission of instructor required.