Skip Navigation

University Bulletin: Undergraduate Programs The George Washington University  



Professors W.B. Griffith, R.P. Churchill, D. DeGrazia, G. Weiss (Chair)

Associate Professors J.C. Brand-Ballard, T. Zawidzki

Assistant Professors M. Friend, E.J. Saidel, M. Ralkowski

Adjunct Professors C. Venner, T. Romanovskaya, M. Sigrist, A. Pedeferri

Professorial Lecturers R. Carr, L. Eby

Two options are offered for the major in philosophy, both designed to give a broad background in philosophy but with somewhat different emphases. The first option reflects the traditional structure of the discipline and its subfields; it is especially (but not exclusively) recommended for those considering the possibility of graduate study in philosophy. The second option is designed for those primarily interested in philosophy in its relationship to public affairs.

Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy (traditional option)—The following requirements must be fulfilled:

1. The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

2. Recommended courses—Phil 1051, 2045.

3. Required courses in the major—a minimum of 30 credits, including Phil 2111, 2112; six upper-division philosophy courses chosen in consultation with a departmental advisor; and either 6 credits of Phil 4198 or 3 credits each of Phil 4198 and 4199 and an honor thesis.

Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy (public affairs focus)—The following requirements must be fulfilled:

1. The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

2. Recommended courses—Phil 1051, 2045.

3. Required courses in the major—a minimum of 30 credits, including Phil 2111 or 2112 and Phil 2131 or 2132; six upper-division philosophy courses chosen in consultation with a departmental advisor; and either 6 credits of Phil 4198 or 3 credits each of Phil 4198 and 4199 and an honor thesis.

Combined Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy (public affairs option)/Master of Arts in the field of public policy with a concentration in philosophy and social policy—Students interested in this program should consult the director of graduate studies as soon as possible.

Special Honors—In addition to the general requirements stated under University Regulations, in order to be considered for graduation with Special Honors, a student must (1) have at least a 3.7 grade-point average in the major and a 3.25 average overall; (2) submit an honors paper prepared under the supervision of a faculty advisor in the department. Only if a committee of three faculty members in the department approves the honors paper will Special Honors be recommended.

Minor in philosophy—Required: a minimum of 18 credit hours of philosophy courses, including two courses chosen from Phil 2111, 2112, 3113, 3172, 4192, 4193 and four elective courses, of which not more than one may be at the 1000 level.

Minor in logic—Required: 18 credit hours of logic-focused courses, of which 12 credits must be upper-division, with at least one course in philosophy and one course in mathematics. Courses are chosen with approval of the advisor from lists of designated courses in philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics. No more than two courses may count toward both the student’s major and the minor in logic.

Minor in applied ethics—Required: 18 credit hours of philosophy courses, including Phil 1051, 2131, and 2132, plus Phil 2133, 2135, 3142, or with permission of the instructor, seniors may select from Phil 6230, 6231, 6238, 6242, 6250, 6262, which are listed in the Graduate Programs Bulletin.

Minor in mind–brain studies—Required: a minimum of 18 credit hours, including Phil 3153 and Psyc 3122, plus four electives chosen from designated courses in anthropology, philosophy, psychology, and speech and hearing science, with no more than two electives drawn from any one department.

The green leaf indicates that the course addresses environmental, social or economic sustainability.
1051 Introduction to Philosophy (3) Staff
  Readings from major philosophers and study of their positions on the most basic questions of human life. Topics include such issues as: What is justice? What is knowledge? What is reality? Does God exist? What is the mind? Do humans have free will? (Fall, spring, and summer)
1062 Philosophy and Film (3) Staff
  Philosophical problems and theories of perception, meaning, personal identity, and moral agency and their illustration in the context of cinema. Cinema and its derivatives (TV, video) as prime routes to experience of the natural and social worlds in an age of communication. Readings in classical and contemporary philosophy and in film theory; screening of a series of films. (Spring)
1153 Meaning of Mind (3) Zawidzki
  The nature of the human mind is one of the oldest questions of philosophy. Students with no background in philosophy or the sciences of the mind are introduced to the central questions, assumptions, and hypotheses about the human mind.
1193 Introduction to Existentialism (3) Weiss, Ralkowski, and Staff
  The philosophical themes of selfhood, mortality, authenticity, and ethical responsibility from an existentialist perspective, including the writings of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre. The place of existentialism in the history of philosophy.
2045 Introduction to Logic (3) Friend, Saidel, Romanovskaya, and Staff
  Introduction to informal logic, scientific argument, and formal logic. The informal logic component focuses on fallacies of reasoning and practical applications of logic. The formal logic component focuses on translation from English into propositional logic, truth tables, and proofs in propositional logic. (Fall, spring, and summer)
2111 History of Ancient Philosophy (3) Ralkowski
  History of Western philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Stoics (6th century BCE to 1st century CE). Major emphasis on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. Among themes to be covered: knowledge and reality, political and moral philosophy. (Fall and spring)
2112 History of Modern Philosophy (3) Churchill, Ralkowski
  History of Western philosophy of the 16th through 18th centuries; Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism from the scientific revolution through the Enlightenment; major emphasis on Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Prerequisite: Phil 1051 or equivalent. (Fall and spring)
2124 Philosophies of Disability (3) Weiss and Staff
  Disability presents an intense and interesting challenge to traditional philosophical presuppositions and principles. This course examines various philosophical approaches to disability—historical, individual, and medical paradigms as well as those that rely on frameworks of social or human rights.
2125 Philosophy of Race and Gender (3) Weiss and Staff
  A theoretical examination of the bodily, social, discursive, and political effects of patriarchy, racism, and classism. (Fall and spring)
2131 Ethics: Theory and Applications (3) Brand-Ballard, DeGrazia, and Staff
  Examination of leading ethical theories (e.g., utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics), and methodology in ethics. Engagement with contemporary problems. (Fall and spring)
2132 Social and Political Philosophy (3) Brand-Ballard, Churchill, and Staff
Philosophical theories about how economic, political, legal, and cultural institutions should be arranged. Topics include the meaning and significance of liberty, the legitimate functions of government, the nature of rights, the moral significance of social inequality, and the meaning of democracy. (Fall and spring)
2133 Philosophy and Nonviolence (3) Churchill
Violence and nonviolence in the personal and social struggle for meaningful, just, and peaceful existence; philosophical foundations of pacifism and nonviolent resistance in the thought of Tolstoy, Gandhi, King, and others; philosophical inquiry into war, terrorism, genocide, and ethnic conflict, as well as human rights, humanitarian intervention, and just war theory. (Fall)
2135 Ethics in Business and the Professions (3) Staff
Ethical theories and basic concepts for analysis of moral issues arising in business and in professional practice. (Fall and spring)
2281 Philosophy of the Environment (3) Friend
Three models of environmental sustainability: the current paradigm in economic and cultural thinking (neoclassical economics); redistribution of resources toward greater global equity (a macroeconomic perspective); and de-growth in the developed economies (ecological economics). The models offer different perspectives on what environmental sustainability means and how it can impact the cultural, religious, moral, metaphysical, and existential situation.
3113 19th-Century Philosophy (3) Carr and Staff
  European philosophy of the 19th century, with major emphasis on Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Prerequisite: Phil 1051 or equivalent. (Fall)
3121 Symbolic Logic (3) Friend, Romanovskaya, and Staff
  Analysis and assessment of deductive arguments, using propositional, predicate, and other logics; philosophical basis and implications of logical analysis; metatheory of logic; modal and non-standard logics. Prerequisite: Phil 1045 or permission of instructor. (Fall and spring)
3142 Philosophy of Law (3) Brand-Ballard
  Systematic examination of fundamental concepts of law and jurisprudence; special emphasis on the relationship between law and morality. (Fall)
3151 Philosophy and Science (3) Zawidzki
  Analysis of the structure and meaning of science, including scientific progress and theory change, objectivity in science, the drive for a unified science, and ways science relates to everyday understandings of the world. Attention given to various sciences, including physics, biology, and neuroscience. Prerequisite: Phil 1051 or two semesters of college-level science. (Fall)
3152 Theory of Knowledge (3) Zawidzki
  Inquiry into the basis and structure of knowledge, the problems of skepticism and justification, the relations between subjectivity and objectivity, and the contributions of reason, sense experience, and language. Prerequisite: Phil 1051 or equivalent; Phil 2112 also recommended. (Spring)
3153 Mind, Brain, and Artificial Intelligence (3) Zawidzki, Saidel
  Investigation of the nature of mind from a variety of perspectives, including neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence, as well as traditional philosophy of mind. Possible additional topics include consciousness, mental disorders, animal minds, and the nature and meaning of dreams. (Spring)
3161 Philosophy and Literature (3) Weiss
  Critical investigation of the sociopolitical commitments that inform the practices of reading and writing as discussed by Sartre, Barthes, Foucault, and others. Focus on the development of existentialist themes, including authenticity, freedom, temporality, and death in the work of Kafka, Tolstoy, Mann, Woolf, and others. (Fall, alternate years)
3162 Aesthetics (3) Weiss and Staff
  The problem of artistic representation and the nature of aesthetic experience as related to the creation, appreciation, and criticism of art. Special emphasis on nonrepresentational works of art and their interpretation. Prerequisite: Phil 1051 or 2111 or 2112 or 3113. (Fall)
3172 American Philosophy (3) Carr
  A survey of American philosophical thought, focusing on the late 19th through mid-20th centuries. Covers American Pragmatism (Peirce, James, Dewey) in depth; other authors may include Thoreau, Emerson, Royce, Santayana, Mead, Quine, and Rorty. (Spring)
3251 Philosophy of Biology (3) Saidel, Zawidzki
  An introduction to conceptual and methodological issues raised by contemporary biology, including teleology, reductionism, units of selection, the structure of evolutionary theory, genetics, taxonomy, and the nature of scientific explanation. Other issues may include the nature–nurture debate, creationism/intelligent design, the evolution of altruism, and the relevance of evolutionary theory to ethical questions.
4192 Analytic Philosophy (3) Saidel, DeGrazia
  The dominant movements of 20th-century Anglo-American philosophy, including logical positivism, British ordinary language philosophy, and neopragmatism, as represented by Russell, G.E. Moore, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Quine, Kripke, et al. Prerequisite: one other upper-division philosophy course (Phil 2112 and 3121 recommended). (Fall)
4193 Phenomenology and Hermeneutics (3) Weiss, Ralkowski
  An intensive, systematic introduction to the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions in philosophy through some of their best-known representatives: Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Merleau-Ponty. Central topics of discussion include consciousness, anguish/anxiety, discourse, interpretation, the Other, death, and ambiguity. Prerequisite: Phil 2112 or 3113.
4195 Topics in Value Theory (3) Staff
  Variable topics in ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and other subfields in normative philosophy. Prerequisite: one upper-division course on related subject matter or permission of the instructor.
4196 Topics in Theory of Knowledge (3) Staff
  Variable topics in epistemology, philosophy of science and mathematics, philosophy of mind, and similar subfields. Prerequisite: one upper-division course on related subject matter or permission of the instructor.
4198 Proseminar (3) Staff
  Variable topics; preparation and presentation of a major research paper. Open only to philosophy majors in the junior and senior year as approved by major advisor. May be repeated for credit. (Fall and spring)
4199 Readings and Research (1 to 3) Staff
  (Fall and spring)

The George Washington University

© 2013 University Bulletin
The George Washington University All rights reserved.

Information in this bulletin is generally accurate as of fall 2012. The University reserves the right to change courses, programs, fees, and the academic calendar, or to make other changes deemed necessary or desirable, giving advance notice of change when possible.