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Philosophy

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College of Humanities

Staff

  • Takisha R. Blacklock

Faculty

  • Timothy Black
  • Abel Franco
  • Robert Gressis
  • Jacob Hale
  • Bonnie Paller
  • Richard Rodewald
  • Cindy Stern
  • Weimin Sun
  • Adam Swenson
  • Gregory Velazco y Trianosky
  • Takashi Yagisawa

Emeritus Faculty

  • Narayan Champawat
  • Charles Crittenden
  • James Kellenberger
  • Ronald McIntyre
  • Donald Salter
  • Daniel Sedey
  • Jeffrey Sicha

Programs

  • B.A., Philosophy
  • Minor in Philosophy

The Major

The characteristic activity of philosophy, from its beginning to the

present day, has been reasoned reflection about ourselves, our world, the good life, and our relations with one another. Philosophy deals with issues of fundamental human importance: e.g., the scope and limits of human knowledge, the nature of reality and truth, what it means to be a person, the relation of mind to body, the sources of value and obligation, the evaluation of social institutions and practices, and the nature of logic and correct reasoning.

The philosophy major is designed to acquaint students with the distinctive nature of philosophical activity and to help them think critically about such matters of fundamental philosophical concern.

Department Programs

The department offers a major and a minor. The Major provides a well-rounded background in the traditional areas of Western philosophy. It is appropriate for students who plan to do post-graduate work in philosophy, law, or related fields, as well as for students who wish to double-major or to combine in other ways the study of philosophy with their other interests. The Minor is a traditional minor in philosophy.

Awards

The Sidney A. Luckenbach Memorial Award, established by the family and friends of former philosophy professor Sidney A. Luckenbach, Sr., is a cash award presented each year to one or more academically outstanding philosophy majors. Recipients are selected by a faculty committee, with preference given to students interested in logic and philosophy of science and to students with need.

Careers

Teaching at a university or college is the long-term career goal of most students who wish to pursue philosophy as a profession, and the skills and training one receives in philosophy are also valuable in many other careers. A degree in philosophy can be evidence to prospective employers that one is capable of creative and analytic thinking and is proficient in reasoning, problem-solving, and written and oral communication.

Philosophy students have successfully transferred their philosophic backgrounds and skills to many fields, including business, law, politics, theology, secondary education, social work and counseling, the health professions, computer technology, journalism, editing and publishing, and government service.

A major or minor in philosophy can be especially useful to students seeking entry into professional programs in these areas and many others. (Philosophy majors tend to do well on such pre-professional tests as the Graduate Record Exam and the Law School Admissions Test.) The study of philosophy can also be intensely satisfying for its own sake: it enhances one’s ability to enjoy and pursue a lifetime of learning, self-expression, and exchange and debate of ideas concerning ourselves and the meaning of our existence.

Academic Advisement

Advisement is required of philosophy majors each year prior to fall semester registration. The Academic Advisor helps students select the program and courses that best satisfy their individual needs and interests, and the advisor reviews students progress to insure that the requirements of a major or minor in philosophy are fulfilled. Contact Timothy Black at (818) 677-2757 for an appointment.

Student Learning Outcomes of the Undergraduate Program

The Department of Philosophy has adopted the following program goals for the Philosophy Major:

  • 1. Students will develop a critical understanding of the work of central thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition.
  • 2. Students will read and comprehend philosophical texts.
  • 3. Students will respond critically and analytically to philosophical positions, arguments, and methodologies, including positions,
  • arguments, and methodologies involved in the investigation of
  • significant issues in epistemology, metaphysics, and value theory.
  • 4. Students will defend their own philosophical positions and arguments.
  • 5. Students will write well-organized philosophical essays in which they clearly articulate philosophical positions and arguments.
  • 6. Students will write well-organized philosophical essays in which they clearly and effectively present and defend their own philosophical positions and arguments.
  • 7. Students will apply the basic concepts essential to a critical examination and evaluation of argumentative discourse, where this includes learning how to determine whether an argument is valid and whether it is sound.

Honors in Philosophy Program

The purpose of the Honors in Philosophy Program is to identify exceptional philosophy students and to encourage and recognize the development of their potential.

  • To be eligible to participate in the program, a student must:
  • 1. Be a declared philosophy major.
  • 2. Have completed a minimum of 9 units of upper division philosphy courses at CSUN.
  • 3. Maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or above in courses counting toward completion of the Major and a grade point average of 3.3 or above in all courses taken at CSUN.
  • 4. Obtain the recommendation of a full-time faculty member.
  • To graduate with Honors in Philosophy, a student must:
  • 1. Complete a minimum of 45 units in letter-graded courses taken at CSUN.
  • 2. Complete the requirements for a B.A. in Philosophy with a grade point average of 3.5 or above in courses counting toward completion of the Major and a grade point average of 3.3 or above in all courses taken at CSUN.
  • 3. Complete successfully an honors thesis consisting of a minimum of 5,000 words. To undertake an honors thesis, students must enroll in either PHIL 497 (Senior Research Seminar) or PHIL 499 (Independent Study) during their senior year and declare to their instructor by the end of the second week of instruction their intention to undertake an honors thesis. (Those who choose to write an honors thesis in PHIL 499 are not exempt from PHIL 497.) Theses must earn an A or A- from the instructor of record in order to count as satisfactorily completed.

Students who successfully complete the above requirements are graduated with Honors in Philosophy and receive a special certificate from the Department. The designation “Honors in Philosophy” is noted on the student’s transcript and academic record.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree Major in Philosophy

1. Required courses (20 units)

  • PHIL 201 Ancient Philosophy (3)
  • PHIL 202 Modern Philosophy (3)
  • PHIL 230 Introduction to Formal Logic (3)
  • PHIL 497 Senior Research Seminar (3)
Choose one of the following courses:
  • PHIL 360 Ethical Theory (4)
  • PHIL 365 Social and Political Philosophy (4)
Choose one of the following courses:
  • PHIL 350 Epistemology (4)
  • PHIL 352 Metaphysics (4)
  • PHIL 355 Philosophy of Mind (4)

2. Electives (24 units)

  • Choose eight courses (24 units), subject to the following conditions:
  • a. At least four courses (12 units) must be 400 level philosophy courses (other than PHIL 497 and PHIL 499).
  • b. Other eligible electives include all philosophy courses numbered 210 and higher, excluding those taken as requirements in 1-6 above.
  • c. Up to 6 elective units may be in closely related upper division courses outside department (subject to the approval of the department advisor and the department chair).

Minor in Philosophy

1. Required Courses (10-11 Units)

Choose one of the following courses

  • PHIL 100 General Logic (4)
  • PHIL 200 Critical Reasoning (3)
  • PHIL 210 Reasoning in the Sciences (3)
  • PHIL 230 Introduction to Formal Logic (3)
Choose one of the following courses:
  • PHIL 201 Ancient Philosophy (3)
  • PHIL 202 Modern Philosophy (3)
Choose one of the following courses:
  • PHIL 350 Epistemology (4)
  • PHIL 352 Metaphysics (4)
  • PHIL 355 Philosophy of Mind (4)
  • PHIL 360 Ethical Theory (4)
  • PHIL 365 Social and Political Philosophy (4)

Electives (9 Units) Choose three additional philosophy courses (9units) other than PHIL 499, at least three of which are upper division courses.

Course List

PHIL 100. General Logic (4)
Prerequisite: Completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing); either GE Mathematics or MATH 210. Study of deductive and inductive inferences. Attention to formal and informal fallacies and the relations of logic and language. Emphasis on critical thinking and the attainment of skill in it. Not open to students who have completed PHIL 200. (Available for General Education, Critical Thinking)
PHIL 150. Introduction to Philosophical Thought (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher, or credit in Developmental Writing 098, or completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing. Introduction to philosophy emphasizing the concepts of knowledge, reality and mind with attention to such topics as skepticism, dogmatism, common sense, materialism, mind-body dualism, the existence of God and free will. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 160. Introduction to Philosophy: Society and Values (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher, or credit in Developmental Writing 098, or completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing. Introduction to philosophy emphasizing questions concerned with evaluations of human conduct, social institutions, and works of art. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 165. Today’s Moral Issues (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher, or EPT and a credit in 098.Philosophical examination of a range of today’s moral issues, such as, abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the environment, war, and world hunger. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities) (IC)
PHIL 200. Critical Reasoning (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing; either GE Mathematics or MATH 210. Not open to students who have completed PHIL 100. Examination of the relationship between logic and language. Accelerated introduction to the concepts essential to the identification, analysis and evaluation of arguments, with attention to deduction, induction and common fallacies. Emphasis on the application of these concepts. (Available for General Education, Critical Thinking)
PHIL 201. Ancient Philosophy (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher, or credit in Developmental Writing 098, or completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing.Critical examination of selected topics in ancient Western philosophic thought, with attention to the pervasive influence of Plato and Aristotle. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 202. Modern Philosophy (3)
Prerequisite: EPT score of 151 or higher, or credit in Developmental Writing 098, or completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing.Critical examination of topics in modern philosophic thought, selected from the writings of such figures as Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 210. Reasoning in the Sciences (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing; either GE Mathematics or MATH 210.Concepts, methods, and limitations involved in the systematic procedures of empirical inquiry in the sciences and in ordinary thought, e.g., probability, measurement, causal relations, statistical inference, the concepts of law and theory. (Available for General Education, Critical Thinking)
PHIL 230. Introduction to Formal Logic (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of GE Analytical Reading/Expository Writing; either GE Mathematics or MATH 210. Introduction to modern deductive logic; includes propositional logic and theory of quantification. (Available for General Education, Critical Thinking)
PHIL 296A-Z. Experimental Topics in Philosophy (3-4)
Selected topics in philosophy with course content to be determined.
PHIL 303. Sexual Ethics (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of lower division writing requirement.Examination of some of the moral issues in sexual conduct.
PHIL 305. Business Ethics and Public Policy (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Application of the insights and methods of moral philosophy to a practical examination of contemporary moral problems and normative issues of public policy concerning the conduct and responsibilities of individuals and firms in business and the organization and role of business and economic institutions in society. Regular written assignments are required. (Available for General Education, Lifelong Learning)
PHIL 310. Philosophical Problems (3)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement; 3 units of philosophy. Introduction for upper division students to such central philosophic problems as knowledge, truth, reality and mind. Regular written assignments will be required. Not open to students who have completed PHIL 150. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 313. Philosophy of Film and Literature (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Investigation of philosophical concepts and problems relating to and expressed through film and literature. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 319. Medieval Philosophy (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. An introduction to medieval European philosophy through some of its most important texts and through an examination of some of the forces that helped to shape it, including the interaction of classical Greek philosophies, for example, those of Plato and Aristotle, with Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions.
PHIL 325. Philosophy and Biology (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. The course addresses philosophical issues central to biological sciences, including the creation/evolution debate and other social implications of contemporary biological theories. It also introduces basic concepts in philosophy of science, such as demarcation, scientific explanation, and the scientific method, which are necessary for examining the above issues. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
PHIL 330. Philosophy of Science (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Analysis of the concepts reality, knowledge, mind and theory which attempts to answer the question: What is the character of the scientific picture of human beings and nature? (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities)
Phil 331. Intermediate Formal Logic (3)
Prerequisite: Philosophy 230. Continuation of Philosophy 230. Preliminary examination of various extensions of classical formal systems such as theory of identity, theory of descriptions and modal logic, and an introduction to the methods of appraising formal systems (consistency and semantic completeness).
PHIL 338. Philosophy of Religion (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Examination of the conceptual problems religious claims pose and arguments regarding knowledge of God, evil, miracles, death and survival, religious experience, religion and morals, faith and reason. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 339. Philosophical Issues in Religion (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Philosophical examination of issues relating to religion, for instance, whether religion requires belief, how drugs relate to religious experience, the nature of mysticism, and the relation between religion and ethics.
PHIL 341. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Examination of some of the main issues in the thought of Kierkegaard and the thought of Nietzsche, such as subjective and objective truth, the logic of faith, the category of transvaluation and the death of God.
PHIL 342. Existentialism (3)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement; 3 units of philosophy. Study of some representative works of the major existentialists, with the aim of discovering the fundamental tenets of existentialism. Emphasis placed on existentialism’s influence on and relevance to contemporary thought. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 343. Indian Philosophy (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Survey of Indian philosophy from the Vedic period to the modern era with attention to relationships between India=s philosophies, history and culture. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies)
PHIL 344. Chinese Philosophy (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Survey of Chinese philosophy from Confucius to the People’s Republic with attention to relationships between China’s philosophies, history and culture. Regular written assignments required. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies)
PHIL 348. Philosophy and Feminism (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Philosophical analysis of the concept woman in contemporary U.S. culture, and other central concepts in feminist thought; for example, the nature of oppression, equality and justice, and relationships between sex, gender, and sexuality. A critical study of philosophical issues in feminism. Regular written assignments will be required. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies)
PHIL 349. Contemporary Social and Political Issues (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Philosophical examination of the concepts, values, and arguments relevant to understanding and evaluating practical social and political issues central to current public debates concerning such matters as civil and political rights, social and economic inequality, the environment, biotechnology, economic policy and global trade, and the national defense. Regular written assignments will be required. (Available for General Education, Arts and Humanities) (IC)
PHIL 350. Epistemology (4)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement and 3 units of philosophy. An examination of traditional epistemological problems with attention to major positions such as empiricism and rationalism and with attention to related metaphysical topics such as causality, space and time, substance, and possible worlds. Will also include regular sessions on philosophical writing and methodology. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 352. Metaphysics (4)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement and 3 units of philosophy. An examination of traditional and contemporary views concerning major issues in metaphysics, such as continued existence through change, universals and particulars, realism, causation, necessity and possibility, possible worlds, and time and space. Will also include regular sessions on philosophical writing and methodology. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 355. Philosophy of Mind (4)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement and 3 units of philosophy. An examination of traditional and contemporary views concerning the mind, such as the nature of consciousness and intentionality, the prospects and limitations of artificial intelligence and psychological explanation, the nature of mental causation, and the relationship between mind and body. Will also include regular sessions on philosophical writing and methodology. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 360. Ethical Theory (4)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement and 3 units of philosophy. A survey of classical and contemporary theoretical approaches to moral philosophy. Covers such theories as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, ethical relativism, and the divine command theory. Will also include regular sessions on philosophical writing and methodology. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 365. Social and Political Philosophy (4)
Prerequisites: Completion of the lower division writing requirement; 3 units of philosophy. A survey of classical and contemporary theoretical approaches in social and political philosophy. Covers theories such as anarchy, absolutism, liberalism, libertarianism, communism, communitarianism, and socialism, as well as topics concerning justice, liberty, equality, pluralism, and democracy. Will also include regular sessions on philosophical writing and methodology. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 380. Aesthetics (3)
Prerequisites: 3 units of philosophy and completion of the lower division writing requirement. An examination of issues in aesthetics such as the nature of art, the paradox of fiction, the role of censorship, the idea of ineffability, the concepts of beauty and genius, and the relationship of art to morality, cognition, aesthetic experience and theory.
PHIL 390. Philosophy of Law (3)
Prerequisite: Completion of the lower division writing requirement. Philosophical questions arising from the analysis and evaluation of concepts and theories connected with law: law and morality, justice, freedom and responsibility, and the nature of judicial reasoning. Regular written assignments will be required.
PHIL 396A-Z. Selected Topics in Philosophy (3-4)
Selected topics in philosophy with course content to be determined.
PHIL 401. Advanced Ancient Philosophy (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 201; PHIL 350, 352, 355, or 360, or 365 is also strongly recommended. A detailed study of selected works by Ancient philosophers, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle.
PHIL 402. Advanced Modern Philosophy (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 202; PHIL 350, 352, 355, 360, or 365 is also strongly recommended. A detailed study of selected works by modern philosophers from Descartes to Mill.
PHIL 403. Contemporary Philosophy (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 350, 352, 355, 360, or 365. An examination of selected contemporary philosophical writings.
PHIL 406. Philosophy of Sex, Gender, Sexuality (3)
Prerequisites: PHIL 303, PHIL 348, QS 301, or QS 302. An examination of issues in philosophy of sex, gender or sexuality, with emphasis on non-normative sex, gender, or sexuality.
PHIL 431. Philosophical Topics in Logic (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 230; PHIL 350, 352, 355, 360, or 365 is also strongly recommended. An examination of philosophical issues in logic, such as the nature of and choices between logical systems and the relation of logic to traditional philosophical issues.
PHIL 435. Seminar in Philosophy of Biology (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 325, 330, 350, or 355. An advanced study of key concepts and issues in philosophy of biology, including adaptation, complexity and self-organization, fitness, function, species, unit of selection, evolutionary development; examination of the nature of biological sciences and its relation to other sciences and theories. Regular writing assignments required.
PHIL 439. Phenomenology (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 350, 352, or 355. A study of the phenomenological approach to issues such as the nature of consciousness, the role of intentionality and meaning in experience, and our experiential relations to others and the world around us. The focus will usually be on one or more historically significant phenomenologists, e.g., Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre.
PHIL 445. Philosophy of Language (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 350, 352, or 355. An examination of selected topics concerning the nature of language, such as sense and reference, theories of meaning, pragmatics and speech acts, meaning skepticism, the analytic/synthetic distinction, and metaphor.
PHIL 446. Advanced Social and Political Philosophy (3)
Prerequisites: six units of philosophy including PHIL 360 or 365. An advanced analysis and evaluation of selected topics in social and political philosophy, such as the nature of justice, equality, liberty, political rights, and the law.
PHIL 450. Advanced Epistemology and Metaphysics (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 350, 352, or 355. An advanced study of selected topics in epistemology, such as internalism and externalism, rationalism and empiricism, theories of knowledge, and skepticism.
PHIL 452. Advanced Metaphysics (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including PHIL 350, 352, or 355. An advanced study of selected topics in metaphysics, such as continued existence through change, universal and particular, realism, causation, necessity and possibility, possible worlds, and time and space.
PHIL 455. Advanced Philosophy of Mind (3)
Prerequisites: 6 units of philosophy including 350, 352, or 355. Recommended Preparatory courses: Phil 355. An advanced study of selected topics concerning the mind and its relations to reality, such as the nature of consciousness, intentionality, mental causation, psychological explanation, artificial intelligence, and the mind/body problem.
PHIL 460. Advanced Ethical Theory (3)
Prerequisites: six units of philosophy including PHIL 360 or 365. An investigation of advanced topics in ethical theory such as moral responsibility, justice, human rights, intrinsic values, and the justification of punishment.
PHIL 495. Advanced Philosophy of the Sciences (3)
6 units of philosophy including PHIL 330, 350, 352, or 355. An Advanced study of one or more key issues in the philosophy of science or philosophical issues in the special sciences, such as explanation, causality, laws and theories, theory evaluation, realism and anti-realism, and relations between the physical and social sciences.
PHIL 496A-Z. Selected Topics in Philosophy (3-4)
Selected topics in philosophy with course content to be determined.
PHIL 497. Senior Research Seminar (3)
Preparatory: Senior standing and at least 21 units in philosophy courses.Extended research project on a topic of the student’s choice. Collaborative learning is required. Team projects are encouraged. Focus is on formulating a thesis and pursuing appropriate means of developing it in a research project. Class meetings focus on research methodologies and on students discussion of their projects.
PHIL 499A-C. Independent Study (1-3)
Course may be repeated for credit.