Department of Philosophy


Distinguished Professors

Simon Blackburn, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Psychology, Metaethics

Geoffrey Brennan (23) Political Philosophy, Economics, Rationality

Thomas E. Hill Jr. (24) Ethics, Political Philosophy

Marc Lange (44) Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Epistemology

William G. Lycan (22) Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology

Alan Nelson (36) History of Modern Philosophy

Gerald J. Postema (20) Legal Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Ethics

C. D. C. Reeve (39) Ancient Philosophy, Metaphysics, Moral Psychology, Ethics

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (25) Moral Theory, Metaethics, Epistemology, History of Modern Philosophy

Susan Wolf (40) Moral Theory and Moral Psychology


Thomas Hofweber (42) Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Philosophy of Mathematics

Ram Neta (43) Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind

Douglas MacLean (38) Moral Theory, Social and Political Philosophy

L.A. Paul (45) Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind

John T. Roberts (37) Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Metaphysics

Gillian Russell (??) Philosophy of Language, Logic, Epistemology

Russ Shafer-Landau (??) Ethics, Philosophy of Law

Distinguished Associate Professor

Matthew Kotzen (46) Epistemology, Philosophy of Science

Associate Professor

Mariska Leunissen (41) Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Science

Assistant Professor

Carla Merino-Rajme, Metaphyics, Philosophy of Mind

Ryan Preston-Roedder (31) Political Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion

Adjunct Professors

James Lesher (21) Ancient Greek Philosophy

Rebecca Walker, Bioethics, Ethical Theory

Professors Emeriti

Edward M. Galligan

Douglas C. Long

Stanley Munsat

Michael D. Resnik

Robert D. Vance

The graduate program in philosophy is designed to equip students to engage with both perennial and cutting edge philosophical enquiry. The program is intended to prepare students for college and university positions in philosophy.

The Department of Philosophy offers a program of study leading to the Ph.D. in philosophy. Prerequisite for admission to graduate work in the department is a B.A. degree or equivalent, typically with a major in philosophy, with a broad range of courses. Students earn an M.A. as part of the Ph.D. program.

Candidates for the master's degree must satisfactorily complete 30 semester hours of graduate work. They are normally required to participate in a first-year program including PHIL 700 and PHIL 455; there may be adjustments with the consent of the department. Successfully completing an M.A. thesis is a condition for receiving the degree of master of arts.

Candidates for the doctoral degree must satisfactorily complete 60 semester hours of graduate work, including six hours of Ph.D. dissertation credit.

The candidate for the degree of doctor of philosophy must pass two examinations. First, there is the Admission to Candidacy examination, which itself has two parts–a written general portion and a special oral portion. The written portion, normally taken in the spring term of the third year, is in the student's field of specialization. The oral portion tests the feasibility of the dissertation proposal and is normally taken in the fall term of the fourth year. Second, there is an oral defense of the completed dissertation. For further details on degree requirements, see the Graduate Degree Requirements section of this catalog.

The department offers several nonservice fellowships. These include the Graham Kenan Fellowship and the Horace Williams, Mary Taylor Williams, and Bertha Colton Williams Fellowships. The department has available teaching assistantships with stipends of over $15,000. In addition, The Graduate School offers a variety of fellowships and assistantships with stipends up to $22,000 that are open to students in philosophy.

The department maintains close relations with the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. Graduate students in either institution may register for credit in graduate courses or seminars at the other institution and may have faculty from either on their dissertation committees. Library facilities are available to students at each institution.

More information about our program can be found on our department Web site,

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


411 Aristotle (3). An examination of some representative works of Aristotle, with reference to common emphases and basic problems, together with an analysis of their philosophic content.

412 Plato (3). An examination of some representative works in the context of contemporary scholarship.

415 Medieval Philosophy (3). An intensive study of some medieval philosophical author (e.g., Aquinas, Scotus, or Ockham) or topic (e.g., arguments for the existence of God, universals, knowledge of individuals).

421 Rationalism (3). An in-depth study of the Continental rationalist philosophers Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.

422 Empiricism (3). An in-depth study of the British empiricist philosophers, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

423 Kant (3). An intensive introduction to Kant's accounts of space, time, concepts, perception, substance, causation, and the thinking self through a careful study of his masterwork, The Critique of Pure Reason.

427 Hegel (3). In-depth study of Hegel's systematic philosophy emphasizing its roots in Kant's critical philosophy. Primary focus on Phenomenology of Spirit, supplemented by selections from the Encyclopedia and Philosophy of Right.

428 History of American Philosophy (3). An in-depth study of American contributions to philosophy, including for example the transcendentalists, the pragmatists, Quine, Rorty, and others.

432 The Beginnings of Analytic Philosophy (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein among others are considered.

433 Current Issues in Analytic Philosophy (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. Recent work in epistemology and metaphysics.

440 Philosophy of Mind (3). At least two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 340, strongly recommended. An examination of dualism, behaviorism, the identity theory, and forms of functionalism with special focus on the problems of mental aboutness and the problems of consciousness.

445 Philosophy of Language (LING 445) (3). At least two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 345, strongly recommended. A study of important contemporary contributions in philosophy of language. Topics include meaning, reference, and truth.

450 Philosophy of Natural Sciences (3). An in-depth survey of general issues in contemporary philosophy of natural science intended for advanced philosophy students. Topics include confirmation, explanation, theory-choice, realism, reduction.

451 Philosophy of Physics (3). Topics may include the nature of space and time, the ontological status of fields and energy, or causation and locality in quantum physics.

452 Philosophy of Biology (3). The logical structure of evolutionary theory, fitness, taxonomy, the notion of a living thing, reductionism, evolutionary explanations, teleology.

453 Philosophy of Psychology (3). Topics may include reasoning, the relationship between language and thought, concepts, moral cognition, and emotions.

454 Philosophy, History, and the Social Sciences (3). The nature of historical explanation, structural and functional explanation, the weighing of historical testimony, the concept of meaning, normative judgments, and predictions in the social sciences.

455 Symbolic Logic (LING 455) (3). Introduction for graduates and advanced undergraduates not taking the PHIL 155–356 sequence.

456 Advanced Symbolic Logic (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 455. Presupposes propositional and quantificational logic as a basis of further deductive development with special attention to selected topics: alternative systems, modal and deontic logic, inductive logic, the grammar of formalized languages, paradoxes, and foundations of mathematics.

457 Set Theory and Logic (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 455. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Natural and real numbers. Infinite cardinal and ordinal numbers. Alternative axiom systems and their consistency problems.

459 Philosophy of Mathematics (3). Philosophical problems concerning logic and the foundation of mathematics.

460 History of Moral Philosophy (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 360, strongly recommended. Examination of classic texts of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Kant, and Mill. Selections may vary from year to year.

462 Contemporary Moral Philosophy (3). Required preparation, two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 362. Advanced discussion of moral issues such as fact and value, reason and morality, the nature of morality.

463 Contemporary Moral and Social Problems (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. A detailed examination of one or more of the following contemporary issues: environmental ethics, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, racism, sexism, public versus private morality.

465 Justice in Health Care (3). One course in philosophy strongly recommended. Medical students welcome. The course will focus on the question of how scarce health care resources ought to be distributed in order to meet the demands of justice.

468 Risk and Society (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 155. One additional course in philosophy strongly recommended. The course examines attitudes toward risk and how they affect our preferences for different public policies in the areas of environmental protection, technology regulation, and workplace and product safety.

470 Political Philosophy from Hobbes to Rousseau (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 170 or 370, strongly recommended. Explores the foundations of justice and authority in the idea of contract or covenant, the nature of law, rights, liberty, and democracy in the work of Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau.

471 Hegel, Marx, and the Philosophical Critique of Society (3). An examination of central issues in social and political philosophy as they figure in the work of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and others.

473 American Political Philosophy (3). One course in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. Juniors and seniors only. The issue of unity and diversity in America is analyzed through the writings of Jefferson, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Calhoun, MacKinnon, DuBois, and Rawls.

474 Foundations of Modern Political Philosophy (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 170. This course traces the emergence and development of central themes of modern political philosophy from the 13th through the 17th century.

475 Philosophical Issues in Gender, Race, and Class (WMST 475) (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 275 or WMST 101. Examines in greater depth and complexity one or more of the issues addressed in PHIL 275, investigating issues of gender, race, and class within the dominant theories of philosophy.

476 Recent Developments in Political Philosophy (3). Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 370, strongly recommended. Investigation of major contemporary contributors (Rawls, Nozick, Dworkin, Cohen, Waldron, Arrow) to philosophical debate concerning justice, equality, liberty, democracy, public reason, or rights versus community.

480 Philosophy of Law (3). An exploration of whether and under what conditions the state has the right to control crime by punishment of past crimes and preventive detention to prevent future crimes.

482 Philosophy and Literature (CMPL 482) (3). Philosophical readings of literary texts, including novels, plays, and poems.

485 Philosophy of Art (3). Competing theories of art and art criticism. The relationship between art and emotional expression, the formal character of art, and standards of taste.

491 Health Care, Science, and Philosophy (3). Interdisciplinary course to develop critical thinking capacities through philosophical study of the nature of scientific presuppositions and concepts, including events, causality, and determinism, with specific application to health care issues.

494 Existentialism and Phenomenology (3). A study of one or two major systematic works by Sartre, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty.

496 Advanced Directed Studies (1–3). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Advanced independent work in philosophy.

562 Ethics, Responsibility, and Justice (1). Ethics explores obligations to act in the interest of others as well as ourselves. Justice explores the ways people should organize and govern themselves. Course addresses such questions as, What principles govern our relationships with other people? What do we owe others and ourselves? How should we treat other people?

691H Courses for Honors (3). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. See the director of undergraduate studies of the department.

692H Courses for Honors (3). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. See the director of undergraduate studies of the department.

698 Philosophy, Politics, and Economics II: Capstone Course (ECON 698, POLI 698) (3). Prerequisite, PHIL 384. Permission of the department. This capstone course advances PHIL 384, focusing on such theoretical and philosophical issues as the analysis of rights or distributive justice and the institutional implications of moral forms.

Courses for Graduate Students


700 Proto-Seminar in Philosophy (3).

705 Advanced Studies in Systematic Philosophy (3).

710 Advanced Studies in Ancient Philosophy (3).

715 Advanced Studies in Medieval Philosophy (3).

720 Advanced Studies in Modern Philosophy (3).

725 Advanced Studies in 19th-Century Philosophy (3).

730 Advanced Studies in Metaphysics (3).

735 Advanced Studies in Epistemology (3).

740 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Mind (3).

745 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Language (LING 712) (3).

750 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Science (3).

755 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Logic (3).

760 Advanced Studies in Moral Theory (3).

765 Advanced Studies in Value Theory (3).

770 Advanced Studies in Political Philosophy (3).

775 Advanced Studies in Feminism (WMST 775) (3).

780 Advanced Studies in Philosophy of Law (3).

790 Colloquium Series Seminar (3).

800 Pre-Dissertation Seminar in Philosophy (3).

805 Research Seminar in Systematic Philosophy (3).

810 Research Seminar in Ancient Philosophy (3).

815 Research Seminar in Medieval Philosophy (3).

820 Research Seminar in Modern Philosophy (3).

825 Research Seminar in 19th-Century Philosophy (3).

830 Research Seminar in Metaphysics (3).

835 Research Seminar in Epistemology (3).

840 Research Seminar in Philosophy of Mind (3).

845 Research Seminar in Philosophy of Language (3).

850 Research Seminar in Philosophy of Science (3).

855 Research Seminar in Philosophy of Logic (3).

860 Research Seminar in Moral Theory (3).

865 Research Seminar in Value Theory (3).

870 Research Seminar in Political Philosophy (3).

880 Research Seminar in Philosophy of Law (3).

901 Readings in Philosophy (3).

990 Current Research Group Seminar (3).

993 Master's Research and Thesis (3).

994 Doctoral Research and Dissertation (3).