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|This page was last updated: 07/04/01 04:00:14 AM|
Chair, Associate Professor Jill Gordon
Professors Robert McArthur, Cheshire Calhoun, and Daniel Cohen; Associate Professor Gordon; Visiting Assistant Professor Jeffrey Kasser; Faculty Fellow Walter Ott
"Philosophy," as William James put it, "is an attempt to think without arbitrariness or dogmatism about the fundamental issues." One of the core disciplines of the liberal arts, philosophy provides a unique perspective on human and social problems. As a critical and an integrative discipline, it collects and analyzes the questions that arise from the basic principles of all areas of knowledge. Colby's program features a sequence of courses dealing with intellectual and philosophical history, as well as courses treating the major philosophical issues.
Requirements for the Major in Philosophy
Requirements for the Major in Philosophy-Mathematics
In mathematics: 121 or 161; 122 or 162; 274, 333, and 338.
Physics 141, 142 is recommended for the major.
The point scale for retention of each of the above majors applies to all courses that count toward the major.
Honors in Philosophy
Requirements for the Minor in Philosophy
111f Central Philosophical Issues: Self and Society An introduction to philosophy by consideration of two of its central branches: social and political philosophy and ethics. Issues addressed are: moral absolutes, the social contract, political power, individual rights, economic justice, the good society. Readings from Plato, Locke, Mill, Marx, Malcolm X, and Orwell. Four credit hours. S. GORDON
114fs Central Philosophical Issues: Nature and God An introduction to philosophy focusing on epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and metaphysics (the theory of the basic nature of the universe). What is knowledge and why, exactly, does it matter (assuming it does)? What, if anything, constitutes the data of metaphysics, and how, if at all, does that data justify metaphysical positions? These issues approached with attention to the philosophy of religion. How strong are the arguments for and against the existence of God, and what is one to do if the arguments seem inconclusive? Readings from Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, and James. Four credit hours. L. KASSER
119j Plato: Philosophy, Poetry, Rhetoric What is philosophy? Plato was the first to make a sustained answer to this question and his efforts have had enormous influence on subsequent thinkers. As we read several of Plato's dialogues including Apology, Gorgias, and Phaedrus, we will ask how these works seek to define what it means to do philosophy. We will consider the figure of Socrates as a model for the philosophical life; how and why the dialogues distinguish philosophy from poetry and from rhetoric; whether there is such a thing as philosophical rhetoric; and what Plato's own use of the dramatic dialogue suggests about the relationship between philosophy and literature. Offered January, 2000, as Philosophy 197. Three credit hours. S. BARRETT
126f Philosophy and the Environment Application of philosophical ideas to pressing questions about the environment. Does it make sense to talk about moral obligations to nature? Does an ecosystem have rights? Preserve biodiversity or refrain from polluting--are these obligations to future generations? Part of Integrated Studies program; requires concurrent enrollment in English 126 and Government 126. Four credit hours. S. KASSER
128s Philosophy and Film An introductory treatment of philosophical issues raised by film as a medium, supplemented by an examination of traditional philosophical issues through that medium. How do we get so involved in events that we know are fictional? Do enjoyment and terror coexist in the experience of a horror film? Are there aesthetic features peculiar to films? How does "film space" differ from "real space"? How is it possible to learn things about the "real world" from a "film world"? Do vivid, powerful films bypass reflection and judgment in a way that we should find troubling? Also listed under "Integrated Studies"; requires concurrent enrollment in English 128. Four credit hours. S. KASSER
135j Puzzles and Paradoxes An introduction to some of the central concepts, problems, and methods of contemporary philosophy by engaging with an assortment of perplexing problems that inevitably arise when thought turns in on itself. Dilemmas of decision theory and paradoxes of rationality are among the topics covered. Two credit hours. COHEN
136f Philosophy in the Post-War Era, 1945-70 An introductory, interdisciplinary survey of philosophy using themes from the post-war period, including existentialism and the meaning of life, the intellectual foundations of religion, scientific "truth" and the responsibilities of scientists, war and pacifism, social justice, civil disobedience, and free speech. Also listed under "Integrated Studies"; requires concurrent enrollment in History 136. Four credit hours. S. MCARTHUR
151f Logic and Argumentation A survey of the theory and practice of rational argumentation. Diagramming, fallacy identification, and propositional logic, the formal and critical tools needed for argument analysis, are developed in order to enhance the ability to understand, construct, and critically evaluate arguments. Not open to students with credit for Philosophy 152 or 158. Three credit hours. Q. COHEN
 Logic The techniques of formal reasoning in a symbolic context and their application to argumentation in natural language. No longer offered; replaced by Philosophy 151 and 158. Prerequisite: Three credit hours. Q.
155s Feminist Philosophies Whether one views feminism as a philosophical school of thought, an interpretive strategy, a political movement, or a way of understanding culture and ideas, it has many faces; feminism is neither unified nor monolithic. Students examine several feminist frameworks (structures of political thought that shape feminism), their relationship to and difference from one another, and feminist issues that lie outside of those frameworks. Four credit hours. S, D. GORDON
158s Formal Logic A survey of the techniques of formal reasoning, and the nature of logic systems, with applications in ordinary language. Propositional logic, predicate logic, and Boolean systems. Not open to students with credit for Philosophy 151 or 152. Three credit hours. Q. MCARTHUR
 Philosophical Anthropology: The Philosophy of Human Nature An introduction to philosophy through a comparative study of theories about human nature and destiny. Readings from great philosophers, scientists, and literary figures such as Plato, Rousseau, Skinner, Freud, the Sociobiologists, Sartre, Camus, and Tillich. Also listed as Anthropology 174. Four credit hours. S, D.
 Plato: Philosophy, Poetry, Rhetoric Three credit hours.
201f, 202s Philosophy Colloquium A year-long colloquium series of presentations from faculty and invited speakers on topics of current philosophical interest. Students are expected to attend all the colloquia, read the papers beforehand, and, with mentors, prepare questions to be asked of the presenters. One credit hour for completion of two semesters of the series. Noncredit. FACULTY
211f Moral Philosophy An introduction to the three major philosophical approaches to ethics--utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and virtue ethics. Consideration of such questions as: Why be moral? Are moral claims relative to one's culture or community? Do they actually mean anything, or are they merely eructations of sentiment or prescriptions? Is there a correct moral theory? Does life have meaning, and if so, what is it? Four credit hours. S. OTT
212s Philosophy and Technology An exploration of the causes and social effects of technology, principally during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics will include the human tendency toward control, the ethics of technological development and implementation, and the relationships between technology and social organization. Emphasis on communications, military, information, biological, and medical technologies. Four credit hours. MCARTHUR
218f Philosophy of Law An introduction to philosophy by a consideration of the interrelations between law, philosophy, and logic. Topics include the nature and foundation of legal systems, the relation of law to morality, the limits of law, punishment, justice, and legal reasoning. Formerly listed as Philosophy 118. Four credit hours. S. MCARTHUR
231f History of Ancient Philosophy A survey of ancient thought that also examines the social and cultural contexts in which that thought arises. Study of the Greek world through the ideas of the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the Skeptics, and the Stoics. Four credit hours. H. GORDON
232s History of Modern Philosophy Central philosophical issues in the modern period, from Descartes to Kant, with emphasis on metaphysics and epistemology. Four credit hours. H. OTT
 Philosophy of Sport A survey of several philosophical issues in sport: the nature of competition and friendship, peak experiences, sport as art, race and sports, and ethical issues in sports. Areas of philosophy covered include mind-body dualism, social theory, aesthetics, ethical theory, and Eastern philosophy. Four credit hours. S, D.
236s Social and Political Philosophy Readings from traditional and non-traditional sources focusing on social contract theories; theories of human nature and their connection to political theory, racism, and feminism in contemporary society; and economic justice. Four credit hours. S. GORDON
239s Epistemology An introduction to basic philosophical positions regarding Skepticism, knowledge versus belief, knowledge and the world, and epistemic justification as well as topics such as the nature of certainty, "naturalized epistemology," and the ethics of belief. Three credit hours. COHEN
 Indian Philosophy The development of Indian philosophy and intellectual history from the beginning of the Indian Renaissance in the late 18th century to the present. Readings from such thinkers as Gandhi, Tagore, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and Radhakrishnan. Three credit hours. L, D.
 Advanced Logic Further investigations into symbolic logic and its extensions, with special attention to modal logic and some attention to metatheoretic results. Prerequisite: Philosophy 151 or 158. Four credit hours.
 Applied Ethics An examination of philosophical approaches to contemporary debates about affirmative action, euthanasia, gay rights, environmental ethics, abortion, workfare, prostitution, speech codes, and capital punishment. Special attention to the structure of philosophical arguments on these issues and the key theoretical frameworks and concepts used by philosophers. Four credit hours. S, D.
 Philosophy of Religion Some of the principal philosophical problems concerning the nature and justification of religious belief and experience, problems such as the nature of God, arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, mysticism, and the relation of faith and reason. Formerly listed as Philosophy 372. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or religious studies. Four credit hours. S.
277f Singer: Life and Death Faculty-student reading groups arranged for the purpose of informal, but regular and structured, discussions of philosophical texts. May be repeated for additional credit. Fall, 2000: Peter Singer's Rethinking Life and Death: The Collapse of Traditional Ethics." Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Nongraded. One to three credit hours. FACULTY
278s Environmental Ethics One to three credit hours. GORDON
298s Relativism An examination of various doctrines of "relativism," from the view that reality itself is a cultural construct to one that there is no right or wrong, no moral standard at all apart from the beliefs of various groups or persons. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours. S. OTT
 Contemporary Currents in Ethical Theory Rotating topics. Contact Philosophy Department for the current description. Fall 1999: Responsibility, Character, and the Emotions. An examination of free will, personhood, virtue, and the moral emotions. Prerequisite: Philosophy 211. Four credit hours.
 Philosophical Topics in Feminist Theory An in-depth investigation of feminist philosophers' critiques and reconstructions of contemporary themes in ethics, political theory, and theory of knowledge. Prerequisite: Six credit hours in philosophy and/or women's studies. Four credit hours. S, D.
 Philosophy of Science A consideration of some major 20th-century conceptions of what scientists aim to do, what theoretical structures they employ in pursuing their aims, and what legitimates these structures. Science seems to be constrained by experience in distinctive ways, but it also ventures far beyond experience in pursuing its theoretical and explanatory aims. These issues approached historically by examining the rise and fall of the project known as logical empiricism (or logical positivism). Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours.
338s Philosophy of Language Philosophy has taken a linguistic turn in the 20th century: philosophers have come to suppose that reflection on the nature of language and the linguistic representation can help solve long-standing philosophical problems. The development of the philosophy of language and its success, with special attention to the role of metaphor. Prerequisite: Philosophy 151, 152, or 158. Three credit hours. COHEN
352f American Philosophy A survey of American philosophy from Puritan times to the present, with special attention to the supposedly "practical" character of American thought. Accordingly, the main focus is on pragmatism in its classical (C.S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey) and contemporary (Richard Rorty) forms, although such thinkers as Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, R.W. Emerson and W.E.B. Du Bois are also considered. Formerly listed as Philosophy 252. Four credit hours. H. KASSER
353f Contemporary Analytic Philosophy Analytic philosophy in this century is the product of philosophical analysis and foundational empiricism. On occasion, they have appeared as complementary, but there is a deep tension between them as to the nature of philosophy itself. An exploration of the transformations of philosophy that have resulted. Formerly listed as Philosophy 453. Prerequisite: Philosophy 232. Four credit hours. COHEN
 19th-Century Philosophy A consideration of some varieties of two major movements in 19th-century philosophy: idealism and naturalism. English and American philosophers (Emerson, Mill, Whewell) will figure in the course along with such European thinkers as Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. Topics include the limitations of human reason, the relation between theoretical and practical reason, the theory of scientific method, and some connections between epistemology and politics. Four credit hours. H.
 History of Medieval Philosophy The evolution of philosophical debate in the Latin West from Augustine to Ockham, with particular focus on the problems of the reconciliation of faith and reason, of the metaphysics of universals, and of the sources and possibilities of human knowledge. Prerequisite: Philosophy 231. Four credit hours. H.
 Existentialism An examination of such issues as absurdity and meaning, the individual, the nature of being, and choice and responsibility. Readings from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Buber, and black existential philosophy. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Four credit hours. L.
 Philosophical Psychology A focus on philosophical accounts of the nature of mind and psychological phenomena, including the relation of mind to body, the significance of consciousness to having a mind, theories of emotion, and the problem of determining personal identity over time. Authors studied include Descartes, William James, Freud, Skinner, and Ryle. Prerequisite: Six semester hours in philosophy. Four credit hours. S.
 Contemporary Continental Philosophy An examination of the main currents of contemporary European philosophy with special emphasis on its connections to the works of Marx and Freud. Readings may include selections from Habermas, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Baudrillard, Lacan, Irigaray, and others. Four credit hours.
 Philosophy Seminar Seminars in selected areas of philosophy. Three credit hours.
392s Philosophy Seminar: Plato A close reading of several of Plato's dialogues, working toward a holistic understanding of his philosophical project. The focus is primarily on the interpretive strategy that treats philosophically the dialogues' dramatic and literary elements. Prerequisite: Philosophy 231. Four credit hours. GORDON
397f Philosophy and Literature An introduction to what Plato called "the ancient quarrel between philosophy and literature," asking "What can philosophy learn from literature?" Topics include the nature of rationality, the nature of the self, and the relation between imagination and moral development, focusing in particular on the issue of love. Prerequisite: Two courses in Philosophy. Four credit hours. L. OTT
483f, 484s Philosophy Honors Program Research conducted under the guidance of a faculty member and focused on an approved topic leading to the writing of a thesis. A 3.25 major average at the end of the senior year is a condition of successful completion of this program. Prerequisite: Senior standing, a 3.0 major average at the end of the junior year, and permission of the department. Three credit hours. FACULTY
491f, 492s Independent Study Individual projects in areas where the student has demonstrated the interest and competence necessary for independent work. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. One to four credit hours. FACULTY
 Seminar: Public Philosophy in America, 1950-2000 An interdisciplinary examination of philosophical topics and issues that have been discussed in the semi-popular press during the past half century. Topics include individualism and conformity, social justice, computer intelligence and consciousness, objectivity and relativism, rights and liberties, the relation of law and morality, the so-called culture wars, and the just war theory. Readings are from journals of opinion such as The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Nation, The National Review, Signs, Foreign Affairs, The American Scholar, and Harper's, plus fiction and non-fiction mass-market books, and films. Individual research projects require delving into the philosophical literature, per se. Offered conjointly with American Studies 493 as part of an "Integrated Studies" advanced cluster. Four credit hours.
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Colby is a four-year, residential, liberal arts college in Waterville, Maine. Colby offers undergraduate courses during fall and spring semesters and grants bachelors of arts degrees.