Philosophy and Religious Studies

  • Roderic Owen, department head
    Kenneth Beals, Andrea Cornett-Scott, Katherine Low, Amy Miller, Edward Scott

    MBC offers both a major and minor in philosophy; a major combining philosophy and religion; a minor in religious studies; and a minor in religious leadership and ministry.

  • Requirements for the Major in Philosophy and Religious Studies

    34 semester hours
    PHIL 101 or PHIL 102
    PHIL 103
    PHIL 201 or PHIL 202
    One philosophy course at the 300-level
    REL 101 or REL 102
    REL 202 or AS/REL 212
    One religion course at the 300 level
    REL 400 or PHIL 400
    REL 401 or PHIL 401
    Additional courses to total 34 s.h.

    Requirements for the Major in Philosophy

    34 semester hours
    PHIL 101 or PHIL 102
    PHIL 103
    PHIL 201
    PHIL 202
    PHIL 400
    PHIL 401
    Six additional courses in Philosophy

    Requirements for the Minor in Philosophy

    21 semester hours
    PHIL 101 or PHIL 102
    PHIL 103
    PHIL 201 or PHIL 202
    Additional courses to total 21 s.h.

    Note: The following Philosophy courses may be taken at the 300 level by declared majors: PHIL 201, PHIL 202, PHIL 203, PHIL 211, PHIL 232, and PHIL 234.

    Requirements for the Minor in Religious Studies

    21 semester hours
    REL 101
    REL 102
    AS/REL 212
    Four additional courses in Religion

  • Civic Engagement Opportunities

    • Civic engagement focus: PHIL 140 Community and Service Learning
    • Many programs and events jointly sponsored by Religion and Philosophy, such as Black History Month events — Black Baby Doll Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight March and Memorial Service, Kwanzaa
    • Annual Peacebuilding and World Religions presentations and campus guest speakers
      • Support for diverse Spencer Center and student club civic activities
    • Internship opportunities: mediation and conflict resolution, peacebuilding, interfaith programs
    • International civic engagement: South Africa, India, Haiti and Native America
  • 101 Introduction to Philosophy (3 s.h.) (H, W)
    Involves the activity of philosophizing by practicing skills and methods of philosophical inquiry and critical analysis. Issues examined include free will and determinism, ethical decision-making, theories of knowledge, the existence of God, political philosophy, and theories of human nature.

    102 Introduction to Ethics (3 s.h.) (H)
    Provides theoretical tools for ethical decision-making; examines basic concepts of ethical decision-making and several theories including those of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Mill and Bentham. Application is made to contemporary moral issues.

    103 Introduction to Logic (3 s.h.) (Q)
    Acquaints the student with basic terminology and develops her analytic and logical reasoning abilities. Topics include distinctions between truth and validity, induction and deduction, recognizing fallacies, testing the validity of arguments in concrete situations, and understanding the importance of logic for the sciences.

    110 Ethical Issues in Business (3 s.h.)
    A philosophical introduction to ethical inquiry and moral judgments in corporate and business contexts. Ethical issues include advertising, profit margins, environmental responsibility, and worker’s rights, and moral issues in business that concern the student. Online ADP only.

    140 Community and Service Learning (3 s.h.) (C, O)
    Students encounter practical community needs and goals, develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, and reflect on the relationship between theory and practice. They explore their commitment to community-oriented values, practice skills that enhance citizenship, and learn how to care for those in need. Combined course and internship includes hands-on experience in an approved community agency or religious or humanitarian organization, and critical reading, discussion, and written reflection about service work. Students make connections between personal and professional goals, their roles as liberal arts students, and their evolving commitment.

    201 Greek and Medieval Philosophy (3 s.h.) (H)
    Retraces the original steps taken by the philosophical imagination in the history of metaphysics; includes a careful interpretation of seminal works determinative for the unfolding of that history, with particular attention to the play of logos and the formation of metaphor for expressing thought and being. Related themes include the existence of God, theories of ethics, refutation of skepticism, and the nature of persons.

    202 Modern Philosophy (3 s.h.) (H)
    An inquiry into the intellectual origins of modern thought, the rise of modern science, and its development to the 19th century. Students examine issues regarding human knowledge and the nature of reality. Philosophers include Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Kant, and Hegel. This course is relevant to the study of history, literature, science, and political science.

    203 The Literature and Thought of Existentialism (3 s.h.) (W)
    Explores the growth of existentialism as a major modern literary and philosophical movement. Besides philosophical literature, the student reads novels, poetry, and drama selected from the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Hesse, Kafka, Tillich, and Buber. Occasionally offered as a global honors course.

    211 Modern Political Thought (3 s.h.)
    Inquiry into the origins and development of modern political theories, especially democracy, communism, and fascism. Students will examine ideas and values underwriting these theories, including modern conceptions of freedom, equality, individualism, social contract, and sovereignty. Readings include works of thinkers such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mussolini, Hitler, and Rawls.

    225 Martin Luther King and a Philosophy of Civil Rights (3 s.h.) (D)
    Students will read King’s writings and speeches to discover how his intellectual precedents grounded his arguments politically, morally and spiritually. One overarching goal of the course is to see how King’s African-American journey as a quintessentially American journey reconfigures the relationship of religion, politics, and metaphysics into a meditation on what it means to be human. Cross listed as REL 225; Ethics option for the Leadership minor.

    230 Medical and Health Care Ethics (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see HCA 230 in the Health Care Administration listing.

    231 Contemporary Feminisms and Gender Studies (3 s.h.) (G)
    For course description, see WS 200 in the Women’s Studies listing.

    232 African-American Thought (3 s.h.) (D)
    Focuses on various intellectual resources created by African Americans in response to a series of crises that shaped their history. Students explore these responses as modes of black consciousness and culture and as viable options for the American experience. Includes discussion of issues such as freedom, voice, community, history, worship, literature, and music as expressions of black experience.

    234 Philosophy and the Arts (3 s.h.) (A)
    This course examines perennial questions concerning beauty in art and nature, the attribution of value, the relation of aesthetic judgment and imagination to cognition and moral duty, and the implications of these questions for inquiries in related disciplines, i.e. linguistics, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. A primary theme will be the truth-value of aesthetic objects and their ontological status as expressive entities or “spiritual objects.” Cross listed as ARTH 234.

    235 Ethics, Community, and Leadership (3 s.h.) (O)
    Students learn about the moral dimensions of leadership and develop a critical understanding of the ethical relationships among character, leadership style and skills, community values, and the aims of leadership. Students examine the nature and function of leadership in the context of humanitarian causes, advancement of social justice, and the peaceful conflict resolution. Includes analysis of major forms of moral reasoning and of classic leadership case studies. Ethics option for the Leadership minor. 

    277 Colloquia in Philosophy (3 s.h.)
    Topics not included in regularly scheduled philosophy courses. Interests of students and faculty determine the subject matter.

    305 Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (3 s.h.) (T)
    An Honors inquiry into the domains and methods of the sciences and religion. Introduces methodologies of Western science in their historical, philosophical, religious, and institutional contexts. A parallel examination of theological thought focuses on models of inquiry, views of nature, language, and symbols, and the relationship between the divine and the natural. Modern cosmology, human genetic engineering, and developments in quantum physics are topics for examining the interactions between religion and science. Cross listed as REL 305.

    306 Morality: Human Nature and Nurture (3 s.h.) (T)
    For course description, see PSYC 306 in the Psychology listing.

    320 Peacemaking: Gandhi and Nonviolence (3 s.h.) (T, R)
    An examination of the life, writings, and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and those influenced by him who are powerful contemporary advocates of nonviolent social change. Topics include the emergence of peace activism and peace studies and their roots in the philosophy of non-violent social change; sources of violent conflict; alternatives to violence; and cultural models of conflict management and transformation that aim at resolving conflict in non-violent ways. Cross listed as REL 320 and AS 320.

    390 Directed Inquiry
    The student and supervising faculty member undertake an advanced study of a selected topic in philosophy.

    400 Major Colloquium (2 s.h.) (M)
    Students participate in a community of peer and faculty scholars, for the purpose of developing independent research, writing, and oral communication skills. Every major develops her own philosophical portfolio to document and critically reflect upon her learning in Philosophy. Each year the colloquium focuses on a different selected topic.

    401 Senior Thesis (2 s.h.) (M)
    Each major completes an independent research project of her choice, meeting regularly and working closely with a faculty advisor. Each student presents and defends her senior thesis before a faculty member.

    Note: Directed inquiries, teaching assistantships, and internships in philosophy are available on an individual basis.