Skip to main content
Academics / Courses / Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

UK Department of Philosophy
Course Descriptions for Fall 2024

Click here for PDF Version


PHI 100 001-009, 011, 013-014   Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality-

An introduction to philosophical studies with emphasis on issues of knowing, reality and meaning related to human existence. This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 100-010 Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality- (Honors) –  Batty TR 9:30-10:45


PHI 111-001 Introductory Topics in Philosophy: Philosopher's Guide to Conspiracy Theories

Designed as an introduction to philosophical inquiry by way of conspiracy theories, this course will aim to equip students with the tools they need to seek out the truth in a “post-truth” world. The course will include a survey the basics of epistemology (the study of knowledge), philosophical argumentation, and good research practices. As a class, we will address two major conspiracy theories [fill in the blank]. In conjunction with each conspiracy theory, the class will read pivotal thinkers from the history of philosophy, and we will address the following questions: How do my beliefs affect others? What is an echo chamber and how is it similar to the psychological practices of cult leaders? What is required to thoroughly test and research a claim? What is a conspiracy theory? Is the world around me exactly as it appears? What can I know about events for which I was not present? How can I question the “official story” in a sophisticated, logically responsible way?


PHI 120 001-005, 201 Introduction to Logic-

This course will provide an introduction to several topics related to logic and critical thinking. We will discuss the kind of mindset that makes a person better at evaluating their own beliefs, and a range of more specific topics related to this ideal, including the nature of entailment, evidence, different kinds of generalizations, the nature of causation, and the notion of “echo chambers”.  Credit is not given to students who already have credit for PHI 320.This class satisfies the UK Core: Quantitative Foundations requirement. This class satisfies the Logic requirement for philosophy minors.


PHI 130 001-008, 201 Introduction to Philosophy: Morality and Society- Chambers

An introduction to philosophical studies with emphasis on a critical study of principles of moral action and social and political values. This course fulfills the UK General Education Requirement:  Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA.


PHI 135-001 The Ethics of a Human Life- Chambers TR 12:30-1:45PM

Ethical questions arise at every stage of a human life, from before a person is born until after she dies. This course will explore the ethical questions that arise at familiar stages of a person's life: her conception, childhood, adulthood, death, and what happens after death. We will consider some surprising ways philosophers have tried to answer these questions, and we will think about how the arguments they make can help us better understand the ethical shape of a human life as a whole. This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 205 001-003 Food Ethics-

An examination of philosophical issues about food, including whether taste is subjective or objective, why different foods are acceptable to eat in some cultures but not in others, the moral permissibility of eating animals and animal by-products, and the impact of food production on the environment.

You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. Implicitly, then, food consumption and food habits express values. This course aims to give students an understanding of the ethics of our acts of eating as well as an understanding of the nature and structure of the food systems which condition these actions. Most significantly, we seek in this class to understand how our individual food choices define us as responsible members of local communities existing in broader national and global contexts. By the end of the semester, students will be able to explain how to evaluate ethically individual food choices and actions and analyze moral, social, and, even, political concerns which govern our food practices.  Food ethics, thus, lays a foundation for effective and responsible participation in a diverse society by preparing students to make informed choices in the complex or unpredictable cultural contexts that can arise in U.S. communities.This course fulfills the UK General Education Requirement:  Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA.


PHI 260-001 History of Philosophy I:  From Greek Beginnings to the Middle Ages –         Sanday TR 9:30- 10:45AM

This course is a survey of leading thinkers and ideas in western philosophy from the early Greeks to the Middle Ages. Although we will read broadly across a wide range of authors, the lion’s share of attention will be devoted to Plato and Aristotle, whose work was foundational for the entire period and continues to be important today. We will also devote several weeks at the end of the semester to the conflict between pagan and Christian thought and the transition from ancient to medieval philosophy. This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 270-001   History of Philosophy II: Renaissance to the Present- Farr TR 2:00-3:15PM 

This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition of the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of four of its major thinkers: Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant. During the semester, we will examine the major theoretical texts of these thinkers, examining how they understand the fundamental structures of all reality and how—or whether—we can come to know them This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities. 


PHI 300-001 Special Topics in Philosophy: Phi of Cognitive Science – Batty TR 2:00-3:15PM

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of cognitive science. Cognitive science is the study of how organisms acquire, represent, manipulate, and use information. It is an interdisciplinary field that employs theories and methods from psychology, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy. The philosophy of cognitive science is the field of philosophy that is concerned with foundational questions that arise in cognitive science. 

· Is the mind a computer? · If the mind is like a computer, can we understand it without investigating underlying ‘hardware’ of the brain? · Could a robot or artificial intelligence ever really have beliefs, emotions, or conscious experiences? · Is your phone, and all that it can do, an extension of your mind? In this class, we will look at the origins of questions like these, as well as their answers.This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 305- 001-006 Health Care Ethics- Bursten

In the Old Testament, the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything that happens, happens in its own time: a time to be born, a time to die. A time to kill, a time to heal. A time to keep silence, a time to speak. This advice, handed down from a traditional source of moral authority, suggests a contextual response to ethical questions, such as "Is it ever alright to kill someone for medical reasons?" "Do healthcare providers ever have an obligation to share a patient's secrets with their family members or authorities?" and "Is it ever alright to violate someone's religious beliefs if you believe that in doing so, you are saving their life?" We turn to a wide variety of sources of moral authority to answer these sorts of questions, from religious texts to the laws of a country, the rules of a hospital, and the values of an individual or family. These moral compasses that we use greatly influence the ways that we think about people's rights when it comes to health care and biomedical research.

Our aim in this course is to examine the ways that we make decisions about moral and ethical dilemmas in health care, and how these decisions affect health care providers and beneficiaries, as well as their families and the public at large. We will examine cases from a variety of clinical and research settings. By comparing cases of conflict between individual and group rights, provider and patient rights, and intercultural conflicts of values, students will develop basic moral concepts such as what constitutes a right and a moral obligation, analyze the relative importance of values across a variety of cultural and clinical contexts, and formulate a self-reflective picture of their own moral compasses in health care settings. This course has no prerequisites.


PHI 310-001 Philosophy of Human Nature- Bradshaw TR 2:00-3:15PM

What does it mean to be a human being? Are we animals that have evolved the capacity to reason? Or creatures made in the image of God? Or both, or neither? Perhaps there is no such thing as human nature, and human existence has no intrinsic meaning apart from whatever we choose to give it? 

We will consider some of the most prominent answers to these questions. We will begin with luminaries such as the Buddha, Moses, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Nietzsche and continue with a range of contemporary views. Along the way we will consider issues such as the nature of morality, the methods and limitations of science, the role of social categories such as race and gender, and the increasing domination of human life by technology. As always in philosophy, the value of our inquiry will lie not just in the answers we find but in learning to think about difficult questions with depth and rigor. This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 315-001, 201 Philosophy and Science Fiction-

An examination of fundamental questions in metaphysics and epistemology through a comparison of works of philosophy and science fiction. Questions will be discussed such as: Can there be time travel? Can computers think? Can there be non-human persons, and if so, how would we identify them? Can there be ways of knowing that are radically different from our own, and what might they be like? How much can a person change while remaining the same person. This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in Arts and Creativity.


PHI 320-001 Symbolic Logic I-

A systematic study of sentential logic, elementary quantification, and the logic of identity. The student will acquire specific skills in symbolic methods of analysis which are necessary for further study in logic as well as useful for addressing complex issues in philosophy and other areas.


PHI 334-001-002, 201 Business Ethics-

An introduction to moral problems that arise in contemporary business practice and the ethical frameworks proposed to resolve them.  Topics will include areas such as truth-telling and integrity; social responsibility; property rights and their limitations; and justice in personnel and labor practices.


PHI 335-001- The Individual and Society -Sanday TR 12:30-1:45PM

This course is an intermediate introduction to topics in political philosophy. We will examine the claims that individuals can make on one another in society. We will begin by asking what the foundational values of a well-ordered society are. We will then ask how we should balance conflicts between these values. How, for example, should we adjudicate conflicts between freedom and equality? We will then look at some of the obstacles to justice involving work, the family, and racial oppression. To address these questions, we will examine both historical and contemporary accounts of justice.

PHI 336-001-002 Environmental Ethics- Sandmeyer MWF 1-1:50PM, 2-2:50PM

In Environmental Ethics, we study the theory of our ethical relation to the nonhuman world, the social and political contexts in which these ethical theories function, and the idea of sustainability.  Some basic questions we ask include the following: How does an environmental ethic differ from traditional ethical theories? Do nonhuman animals or ecosystems have moral worth, and if so, how can competing moral claims between distinct moral entities be adjudicated? What is the human place in nature? How ought we to conserve the natural world? What is sustainability, and in what sense is this an ethical theory?


PHI 337-001 Introduction to Legal Philosophy – Bird-Pollan TR 3:30-4:45PM

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of the emergence of the philosophy of law out of political philosophy in the 18th and 19th Centuries. To this effect we will look at classics in the history of political philosophy from Hobbes to Kant and Hegel. We will then turn to Anglo-American legal positivism. The course concludes with a survey of some critical responses to this tradition from Foucault, Critical Legal Theory, Feminism and Critical Race Theory.


PHI 340-001 Introduction to Feminism and Philosophy– Superson TR 11:00-12:15PM

This course offers an introduction to basic feminist thought from a philosophical perspective explored through topics such as oppression and privilege, gender roles, intersectionality, images of women in society, violence against women (woman battering and rape, transgender violence), and male socialization. The main goal is to explain the oppression of women through these issues, though a subsidiary goal is to offer ways to examine ways to overcome women’s oppression. The course emphasizes gender and issues affecting all women. This course fulfills the UK General Education Requirement: Community, Culture, and Citizenship in the USA.


PHI 343-001 Asian Philosophy – Leaman TR 11:00-12:15PM 

Asian philosophy is taken to include theories and arguments derived from Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese, and Islamic culture. The focus will be on a number of philosophical questions such as the nature of personal identity, reality, death and the afterlife, morality, the role of society, and meditation. We shall explore notions such as Buddha nature, compassion, creation, emptiness, evil, karma, love, maya, nirvana, shari`a, yoga, and zen. Although this is not a course on religion, it will be necessary to know something of the religious context within which much of Asian philosophy operates, and so there will be some discussion of Asian religions also. Material will be drawn from the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Changes, and the Qur’an.


PHI 350-001 Metaphysics and Epistemology – Willard-Kyle TR 12:30-1:45PM

An examination of fundamental issues in metaphysics and epistemology, such as causation, the nature of space and time, personal identity, free will, the existence of God, the nature and types of knowledge, the character of human existence, skepticism, and rationality. This course is a Graduation Composition and Communication Requirement (GCCR) course in certain programs, and hence is not likely to be eligible for automatic transfer credit to UK.


PHI 380-001-002 Death, Dying and Quality of Life

One thing we can be sure of is that we are going to die, and there are various ways to understand this fact. This course will examine a range of issues that arise when we reflect on our mortality. We will consider some of the understandings of death in a variety of religious philosophies both Eastern and Western, including immortality, rebirth, the nature of the soul and so on. What attitude should we adopt to death and how far can it be said to be evil? Are suicide, euthanasia and abortion wrong, and in what circumstances is it acceptable to kill someone? Is there are a quality of life so low that it would be better not to be alive, or not to have lived? We shall also examine some of the cultural features of death and dying. The course will be assessed through examination, essay and presentation


PHI 506-001: Medieval Philosophy- Bradshaw TR 11:00-12:15PM

Medieval philosophy is a vast ocean that one can swim in for a lifetime without ever coming to the end. It encompasses much of the most profound and creative thought in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions over a thousand-year span, from roughly 400 to 1400 A.D. Although like all philosophy it can be difficult, the effort is repaid well through the understanding it provides of values and assumptions that continue to shape western culture.

Our aim will be to acquire a basic understanding of the major movements, figures, and controversies of medieval philosophy. Readings will be drawn from authors such as Augustine, Dionysius the Areopagite, Anselm, Avicenna, al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Hildegard of Bingen, and Thomas Aquinas. As always in reading philosophy, we will approach these authors as living interlocutors who are wrestling with problems that still concern us today, however much the terms in which they are framed may have changed.This class DOES NOT satisfy the Contemporary Course requirement for Graduate students in Philosophy.



PHI 509-001: Topics in the History of Modern Philosophy: Kant’s Critique of Judgement-  Bird-Pollan TR 12:30-1:45PM                                                                                                    Prereq: PHI 270 or the consent of the instructor.

This course will focus on a careful reading of Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790), a central text in the history of aesthetics as well as in the philosophy of science, especially biology. Kant’s text has often been read as closing the gap between the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason. Investigating the text will allow us to understand the shape and structure of Kant’s system as a whole. This class DOES NOT satisfy the Contemporary Course requirement for Graduate students in Philosophy.


PHI 520-001 Symbolic Logic II- Willard-Kyle TR 2:00-3:15PM                                              Prereq: PHI 320 or consent of instructor.

An intermediate course in symbolic logic which reviews sentential logic, develops further the logic of quantification, and introduces metalogical issues such as the construction, consistency, and completeness of deductive systems.


PHI 531-001: Advanced Topics in Ethics: Bodily Autonomy- Superson TR 9:30-10:45AM      Prereq: One of the following: PHI 130, 305, 330 or 530 or graduate standing.

This is a course on bodily autonomy, a topic that spans many areas of philosophy, including normative ethics, medical ethics, feminist philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of law, and social and political philosophy. It is a philosophy course and will focus on arguments. It is expected that students have the goal of making progress on the important issue of bodily autonomy as it figures into issues such as abortion, maternal/fetal conflicts, and euthanasia, among others. We will aim to cover topics such as abortion, good Samaritanism/duties to the fetus, the self in relation to the body, objectification, rape, autonomy and bodily autonomy, deformed desires, maternal/fetal conflicts, and women’s bodies and the law. Readings will be contemporary articles posted on Canvas. Students will be responsible for the daily readings and will be expected to contribute meaningfully to class discussion on these important issues. Grading will be based on class participation and papers.This class satisfies the Contemporary Course requirement [in Value Theory] for Graduate students in Philosophy.


PHI 630-001 Seminar in Value Theory – Farr- R 4:00-6:30PM 

A specialized graduate course in value theory that treats the history of value theoretic issues and doctrines, or emphasizes contemporary methodological discussions, or examines the concrete societal implications of major theories, or combines these approaches. May be repeated to a maximum of fifteen credits under different subtitles. This class satisfies the Contemporary Course requirement [in Value Theory] for Graduate students in Philosophy.



PHI 710-001 Seminar in Modern Philosophy: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit-                   Look - M 4:00-6:30PM

This semester has a very simple goal:  to read and understand Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.  Particular attention will be paid to Hegel’s relationship to Kant, that is, to the question of whether or how he completed the ‘Copernican Revolution’ in philosophy that Kant is thought to have begun. In other words, we will focus on the nature of knowledge and the nature of Hegel’s idealism.  We will also consider Hegel’s Phenomenology as a foundational text in the birth of modern European thought.  And we will follow Hegel in the discussion of politics, history, religion and morality.  Students will be expected to be active participants in seminar sessions, to give one presentation on a topic agreed upon by the instructor, to comment on a peer’s presentation, and to write one substantial essay (18-25pp.).  There are no prerequisites, but a solid understanding of the history of modern philosophy prior to Hegel would be helpful. This class DOES NOT satisfy the Contemporary Course requirement for Graduate students in Philosophy.


PHI 715-001 Seminar in Recent Philosophy: Edmund Husserl's Ideas Project-            Sandmeyer- T 4:00-6:30PM

In this seminar we will read texts fundamental to Edmund Husserl's Ideas project. The central pillar of this project is his 1913 publication, Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (translated by Daniel Dahlstrom). Yet Husserl meant for this to be the first of a three-volume series. The second volume, Studies in the Phenomenology of Constitution, and the third, Phenomenology and the Foundations of the Sciences remained unpublished during Husserl's lifetime. So, the Ideas project en toto stands as something of a failure, even though his 1913 general introduction remains as one of his best known and most thoroughly documented introductions into the method of phenomenology. Our ambition in this seminar will be to understand what Husserl meant to achieve with the complete three-volume publication series. Consequently, the works we will read range beyond the 1913 general introduction text to include:

Writing published or lectures presented during Husserl's lifetime:

1. His 1907 lecture, "Idea of Phenomenology" (translated by Lee Hardy)

2. The 1910-11 Logos essay, "Philosophy as Rigorous Science" (translated by Marcus Brainard) and the Dilthey-Husserl correspondence (translated by Jeffner Marie Allen)

3. The 1913, Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (translated by Daniel Dahlstrom)

4. His 1917 lecture, "Pure Phenomenology, its Research Domain and its Method" (translated by Bob Jordan)

5. The 1931 "Nachwort" essay, "Epilogue to my Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy" (translated by Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer)

6. His 1931 lecture, 'Phenomenology and Anthropology' (translated by Thomas Sheehan and Richard E. Palmer)

7. The 1931, Cartesian Meditations (translated by Dorion Cairns)

Writings published posthumously:

1. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Second Book: Studies in the Phenomenology of Constitution. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer.

2. Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy, Third Book: Phenomenology and the Foundations of the Sciences. Translated by Ted E. Klein and William E. Pohl.

The only book you need to purchase for this seminar is Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy, First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (translated by Daniel Dahlstrom) – ISBN: 978-1-62466-126-6.


PHI 740-001 Proseminar in Teaching Methods – Sanday

An introduction to teaching methods for graduate students.


PHI 741-001 Proseminar in Metaphysics & Epistemology –                                             Bradshaw/Look/Bursten - W 4:00-6:30

First-year graduate course in Metaphysics and Epistemology in the ancient, modern, and contemporary periods.