The Program

Philosophy is the reflective study of values, the critical examination of the methods and results of the various disciplines, and a thoughtful encounter with questions of ultimate concern and foundational belief. Earlham's Philosophy Department serves these ends through a flexible array of courses that relate philosophy to basic human problems and a sequenced core devoted to the history of philosophy. The Department strives to maintain openness to diverse points of view, close personal contact with students, and high standards of rigorous and engaged thinking.

The Philosophy curriculum at Earlham is distinctive in its depth of coverage of the history of philosophy. The Department's emphasis on the living tradition and its continuity with contemporary movements shows that ancient philosophy is not obsolete and contemporary philosophy is not rootless. As students learn to be conversant with the ideas of the major figures of the Western tradition, they learn the vocabulary, methods, questions and standards of the discipline. At the conclusion of the four-course history sequence, majors in Philosophy spend most of their time in advanced courses and seminars examining a particular problem or the thought of a particular philosopher.

The Department's faculty members are not narrow specialists, but wide-ranging inquirers with interdisciplinary interests and skills. Their research interests include philosophies of race, postcolonial theory, feminist theories, Eastern philosophy and religion, the effectiveness of social programs, political philosophy and psychotherapy. The faculty teaches interdisciplinary courses drawing on anthropology, art, education, history, literature, politics, psychology and other natural and social sciences.

A major in Philosophy equips one to think well, both through abstract concepts and in the concrete details of everyday life. As such, it is useful for all careers, and Earlham Philosophy majors successfully pursue a wide variety of occupations and post-graduate studies. Every year, some go to graduate school in philosophy. According to HEDS data, Earlham is ranked 29th (in the 98th percentile) among 1,533 institutions of higher learning in the U.S. in the percentage of graduates who go on to receive Ph.D.s in the humanities. Many Earlham philosophy graduates go to law school or into seminary training, and many others go into secondary school teaching.

General Education Requirements

The Department offers nine courses that fulfill the Comparative Practices Requirement, PHIL 155, 180, 235, 250, 252, 330, 365 and 382; and one course that meets the Abstract Reasoning component of the Analytical Reasoning Requirement, PHIL 130. Philosophy provides two courses that fulfill Theoretical/Historical component of The Arts Requirement, PHIL 230 and 252; five courses that fulfill the Domestic component of the Perspectives on Diversity Requirement, PHIL 243, 255, 382 and 386; and one course that fulfills the International component of that requirement, PHIL 330. The Department also offers Earlham Seminars.

Courses with an asterisk fulfill the requirement only when the topic is appropriate. Students should check the course schedule for requirement designations.

The Major

Philosophy majors take a minimum of 10 courses designed to acquaint them with the history of Western philosophy, the branches and methods of philosophy, and a good variety of topics and contemporary problems.

The following courses are required:

  • PHIL 155 Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 250 Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 350 19th Century Philosophy
  • PHIL 480 Seminar
  • PHIL 488 Senior Capstone Experience I
  • PHIL 488 Senior Capstone Experience II
  • Five additional elective Philosophy courses: At least three of which must be numbered 300 or above.

The Minor

Minors in Philosophy must take at least six Philosophy courses. The following courses are required:

  • PHIL 155 Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 250 Modern Philosophy
  • PHIL 350 19th Century Philosophy
  • Three additional elective Philosophy courses: At least two of which must be numbered 300 or above.

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
  • (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (ES) = Earlham Seminar
  • (IE) = Immersive Experience
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

PHIL 120 INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Introduces students to philosophical thinking as well as to figures in the history of philosophy. Topics vary. Stresses careful reading of primary sources. Recent topics include philosophy and film, ethics and political life, and environmental ethics.

*PHIL 130 SYMBOLIC LOGIC (3 credits)
The study of formal, deductive logic emphasizing the methods for demonstrating the validity of arguments. Includes truth functional propositional logic and quantification theory through the logic of relations. Also listed as CS 130 and MATH 130. (A-AR)

*PHIL 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)

*PHIL 155 ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
An examination of Greek philosophy beginning with the pre-Socratic period and emphasizing the works of Plato and Aristotle. Reading is mainly in the primary sources. Also listed as CLAS 155. (WI)

PHIL 160 DIALECTIC AND DIALOGUE IN PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Explores a topic or set of related topics of current interest in philosophical communities. Primary texts, with commentary as appropriate, read and analyzed. Emphasizes developing the student's ability to read texts critically and to enter into careful dialogue with divergent points of view and opinions.

*PHIL 180 EXISTENTIALISM (4 credits)
Explores the question of the meaning of human existence as it has been discussed primarily from the late 19th century to the present day. Draws on a variety of resources, including plays, short stories, films and traditional philosophical texts in the existentialist tradition. Topics may include the notion of individuality, the nature of freedom and its limits, one's relationship to God, and one's responsibility to the community. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI)

PHIL 210 MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY (3 credits)
A study of the thinkers and topics in the Western, as well as non-Western, philosophical tradition between the 4th and 14th centuries of the Common Era. Includes careful reading from the texts of some of the following thinkers: Augustine, Boethius, Eriugena, Anselm, Abailard, Ibn Sina, AlGhazali, Ibn Rushd, Maimonides, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham. Prerequisite: One prior philosophy course or consent of the instructor.

PHIL 220 AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY (3 credits)
Covers the rise of distinctly American philosophy in 19th century: transcendentalism, pragmatism and liberalism and investigates the development of these movements in the 20th century. Emphasizes the connection between the philosophical growth and parallel movements in our political, legal, scientific, religious and literary history. Prerequisite: One prior philosophy course or consent of the instructor.

*PHIL 230 TOPICS IN AESTHETICS (3 credits)
Introductory course in aesthetics. Examines a topic or issue that is of importance to historical or contemporary philosophical aesthetics. Topics include the experience of art and the philosophical implications of its creation and reception; the relationship between politics and art; and the cultural impact of various art media, including but not limited to, literature, film and classical representational pieces. Depending upon the topic, readings chosen from works by classical and contemporary philosophers, art critics and artists themselves. (A-TH, RCH, WI)

*PHIL 235 SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Critically examines the history of philosophy as a social and political discourse in addition to studying ideas and theories on society, politics and culture. Addresses issues and themes such as justice, power, democracy, legitimacy, the politics of state, status of minorities, cosmopolitanism, class and equality. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI)

*PHIL 250 MODERN PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Focuses on European philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries. Readings from primary sources introduce students to traditional epistemological and metaphysical questions in the western philosophical tradition. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI)

*PHIL 252 PHILOSOPHY AND FILM THEORY (4 credits)
Investigates the relationship between philosophical ideas and visual narratives. Examines the philosophical foundations of various theories of film and interprets visual narratives in terms of philosophical ideas. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course. Also listed as FILM 252. (A-TH, WI)

*PHIL 255 AFRICAN AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Explores the emergent experience of being black in America, considering the nature of justice, thinking about the meaning of identity and questioning freedom. Investigates, interprets and criticizes theories of race and racism, social elevation, civil disobedience, black feminism and other African American cultural themes. Also listed as AAAS 255. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. (D-D)

PHIL 280 SEMINAR (4 credits)
An intermediate seminar on a single figure, topic or movement. Oral participation is as important as written work. Recent topics include feminist philosophies, skepticism, postcolonial theory, Heidegger and the ethics of belief. Prerequisite: One previous Philosophy course or consent of the instructor.

PHIL 310 PHILOSOPHY OF LAW (4 credits)
"What is Law" in the context of legal structure, power, rule and obligation. This course examines the relations between legal rules and the rules of ethics and custom, the case for civil disobedience, the difference between law and mere coercion, the social and ethical foundation of law and legitimacy, the limits of law and the state, citizens' rights against the state and one another, and the norms of our legal system, their beneficiaries and alternatives.  Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above. (WI)

PHIL 315 MARXISM (4 credits)
An examination of the Marxist intellectual traditions with an emphasis on the writings of Marx. Examines Marx's critique of capitalism and alienation in his early writing to his more formal analysis of capitalism in his work Capital. Looks at how later Marxists and critics of capitalism have used, criticized and reworked elements of the Marxian analysis to continue developing contemporary conceptions of a non-capitalist or classless society. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor. Also listed as ECON 315.

PHIL 320 PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION (4 credits)
A philosophical investigation into the phenomenon of religion, including an examination of the problems of meaning and truth in religious language and praxis. Also listed as REL 320.

*PHIL 330 POSTCOLONIAL THEORY (4 credits)
A study of selected topics in Postcolonial Theory. Investigates the philosophical presuppositions of these topics and the relationship between Modern philosophy and European Colonialism. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course and one prior Philosophy course. Also listed as FILM 330 and PAGS 330. (WI, D-I)

PHIL 350 19TH CENTURY PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Covers the movement of thought in Europe after Kant, focusing on such topics as the study of culture and the human sciences, the rise and fall of idealism, philosophy's turn to historicism, the concept and consciousness of modernity, and the fate of critical philosophy — or philosophy as critique — after Kant. Figures studied may include Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor.

PHIL 355 PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION (4 credits)
Examines a variety of historical and contemporary texts that present alternative views regarding the nature and goals of education. Topics include feminist pedagogies and contemporary education; interdisciplinary perspectives on multicultural education; the role of education in historical and modern democracies; and teaching toward social justice in the contemporary classroom. Prerequisite: One previous course in Education or consent of the instructor. Also listed as EDUC 355.

PHIL 361 WESTERN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY I (3 credits)
An examination of the central questions posed by major political philosophers of the classical and early modern periods. Attention to major primary works of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli and Hobbes. Also listed as POLS 361.

PHIL 362 WESTERN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY II (3 credits)
An examination of the central ideas of modern political philosophers. Attention to major primary works by Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche. Also listed as POLS 362.

PHIL 363 BIOETHICS (4 credits)
Introduces students to the major theoretical discussions and practical actions in the field of bioethics, with a focus on the implications that these discourses and practices have for a diverse and multicultural world. Includes an introduction to essential bioethical terminology and to a breadth of ethical theories and perspectives. Specific topics covered may include: human subject research, genetic technologies, justice and health care allocation, end of life alternatives, and so on. Prerequisite: Second-year standing or above. Also listed as ENST 363 and PAGS 363. (WI)

*PHIL 365 PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE (3 credits)
Examines current topics in the philosophy of language as discussed in both the continental and analytic traditions of philosophy. Topics include the origin of language, question of meaning, relationship of language and the world, relationship between language and human subjectivity, question of ambiguity in dialogue, evolution of language in community and feminist critique of linguistic philosophy. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. (WI)

PHIL 370 PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE (3 credits)
Investigates the philosophical foundations of the Social Sciences. Introduces students to questions of theory, method, interpretation, ideology and the intersection of subjectivity, modern society and Social Sciences. Prerequisite: Previous study in Social Sciences or Philosophy or consent of the instructor. Also listed as PAGS 370.

PHIL 375 TOPICS IN ETHICS (4 credits)
Examines ethical issues by drawing upon both historical ethical texts and the work of contemporary authors. Students are encouraged to explore how rigorous theoretical positions can be applied to real-life experiences and to evaluate critically their own ethical actions in the world. Topics vary. Recent topics include self-deception, feminist ethics and the justice/care debate. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor. (WI)

PHIL 380 SEMINAR (4 credits)
An advanced seminar on a single figure, topic or movement. Oral participation is as important as written work. Recent topics include feminist philosophies, skepticism, postcolonial theory, Heidegger and the ethics of belief. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor.

*PHIL 382 PHILOSOPHY, RACE AND RACISMS (4 credits)
Explores key moments in the history of western philosophy, disclosing the extent to which this history participates in the production of the concepts of race and racisms. Readings in classical, modern and contemporary discourses. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course and one Philosophy course. Also listed as AAAS 382. (WI, D-D)

*PHIL 386 FEMINIST PHILOSOPHIES (4 credits)
Examines feminist theorizing as a discipline and a cross-disciplinary methodology. Explores historical and contemporary feminist writings and researches such topics as feminist epistemologies, feminist ethics and feminist analyses of the philosophical traditions. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or above and either one Philosophy course or one Women's Studies course. (D-D)

PHIL 387 PHILOSOPHY, SEXUALITIES AND GENDERS (4 credits)
Investigates questions of identity, power, violence and the body in terms of the differences and intersections of sexualities and gender(s). Concentrates on the philosophical underpinnings of sexualities and gender(s) as constituted through such discourses as biology, technology, sociology, health, history and culture. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or above and one Philosophy course.

PHIL 410 PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY (4 credits)
An examination of the nature and structure of historical writing, the nature of evidence and selected philosophies of history. Conducted by close readings of the works of historians from ancient Greece to the present. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor. Also listed as HIST 410.

PHIL 460 CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
Covers a number of the main figures and movements in 20th- and 21st-century continental philosophy. Figures studied may include Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre and Wittgenstein. Movements studied may include classical phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism, feminism, critical theory, philosophy of language and contemporary epistemology. Some analytic philosophers may be read to explore the relationship between analytic and continental philosophy.

PHIL 479 METAPHILOSOPHY (4 credits)
An examination of the nature and value of philosophy, through study of specifically metaphilosophical works and rereading of selected classic texts from the history of philosophy. Prerequisite: PHIL 450.

PHIL 480 SEMINAR (4 credits)
An advanced seminar on a single figure, topic or movement. Oral participation is as important as written work. Recent topics include feminist philosophies, skepticism, postcolonial theory, Kant's second and third Critiques, Heidegger and the ethics of belief. Prerequisite: PHIL 250 or consent of the instructor.

PHIL 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES  (1-3 credits) (IE)

PHIL 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study.

PHIL 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)

PHIL 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.

PHIL 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive report prepared in the style of a thesis or research paper.

PHIL 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE I (3 credits)
Students in this course will develop their research and writing skills in preparation for writing a thesis length essay in PHIL 488 Senior Capstone II.  Participants will learn to do research and writing by way of library instruction, peer-review writing, and bibliographic development.  This teaching-learning process will necessarily involve "awakening the 'teacher within'" by requiring all participants to assume the role of teaching the seminar some aspect of their research.  The essays the students produce in this seminar will subsequently be evaluated by the Philosophy Department as a whole and not solely by the seminar's instructor of record. Prerequisites: PHIL 350 and Senior standing.

PHIL 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE II (3 credits)
The second semester seniors in this course extends the research begun in PHIL 488 Senior Capstone Experience I with a view toward  preparing the first semester's work for presentation at Earlham's Annual Research Conference and possibly for publication in an undergraduate philosophy journal.  Additionally, this course will provide instruction preparing students for an oral exam at the end of the semester in the subject area they have been researching.  If adjustments are needed to this schedule to allow for off-campus study or other reasons, students may petition the Philosophy Department in writing with a rationale supporting a proposal for a different schedule.  Prerequisites: PHIL 488 Senior Capstone Experience I.

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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Richmond, Indiana
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