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Philosophy

  • James Gilman, department head
    Kenneth Beals, Roderic Owen, Edward Scott

    MBC offers a major and a minor in philosophy, and a major combining philosophy and religion. Some students develop independent majors, combining philosophy with other disciplines such as English, history, psychology, or political science.

  • Requirements for the Major in Philosophy

    34 semester hours
    PHIL 101
    PHIL 103
    PHIL 201
    PHIL 202
    PHIL 301
    PHIL 400
    PHIL 401
    Five additional courses in Philosophy
    One year of a foreign language

    Requirements for the Major in Philosophy/Religion

    34 semester hours
    PHIL 101
    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 Minor in Philosophy

    21 semester hours
    PHIL 101
    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: PHIL 201, PHIL 202, PHIL 203, PHIL 211, PHIL 232, and PHIL 234.

  • Civic Engagement Opportunities

    • Civic engagement component in PHIL 140 Community and Service Learning
    • Many programs and events jointly sponsored by Religion and Philosophy, such as Black Baby Doll Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight March and Memorial Service, Kwanzaa, others
    • Black History Month events: Oratorical Contest with community participation, Gospel Extravaganza, Praise House Service, Peace and World Religions Lecture
    • Participation in Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International
    • Internship opportunities: Katrina Relief, mediation and conflict resolution
    • International civic engagement: South Africa, India, Greece, and work with native Americans
  • 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 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. *Prerequisite: one Philosophy course or one English literature 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.

    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.)
    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. Required for the Leadership Studies minor.

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

    301 Contemporary Analytic Philosophy (3 s.h.) (R)
    Studies the analytic tradition in contemporary philosophy with readings selected from the writings of philosophers such as Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Ayer. Issues include the nature of realism, sense data and sensations, meaning and reference, the nature of language, and principles of verification and falsification. *Prerequisite: any other Philosophy course.

    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. 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.