Optional Areas of Emphasis

Philosophy majors may focus their studies on a particular area of philosophy by completing one of the following Optional Areas of Emphasis. Courses taken to complete an area of emphasis are counted toward the 10 courses required for the major. Completing an area of emphasis requires passing three courses from one area. The optional areas of emphasis are:

  • Ethics, Law, and Society
  • Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Science
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

Ethics, Law, and Society

This area of emphasis allows students to focus on issues in moral, legal, and political philosophy. It provides opportunities to explore fundamental questions of value, justice, responsibility, and the moral life, and also philosophical issues that are foundational in other fields, such as law, economics, and public policy. Students can choose from courses in ethical and political theory, in applied and practical ethics, and on specialized topics such as liberty, neuroethics, and philosophy of law. This area of emphasis is excellent preparation for law school, graduate study, and careers in public policy or public service.

PHIL 3371 – Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 3372 – Liberty
PHIL 3373 – Philosophy of Criminal Law
PHIL 3374 – Philosophy of Law
PHIL 3375 – Topics in Moral Philosophy
PHIL 3375 – Topics in Moral Philosophy: The Meaning of Life
PHIL 3375 – Topics in Moral Philosophy: Procreation and Parenthood
PHIL 3376 – Bioethics
PHIL 3377 – Animal Rights
PHIL 3379 – Environmental Ethics
PHIL 3380 – Ethics: Morality, Self-Interest, and Justice (formerly Ethical Theory)
PHIL 3381 – Neuroethics

Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Science

Philosophers have long been concerned with the nature of the mind and its place in nature. Increasingly, contributions from psychology, neuroscience, and computer science have informed age-old questions concerning consciousness, cognition, perception, and the nature of the self. At the same time, these new developments have also raised new philosophical problems. The Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Science emphasis provides a solid foundation both in traditional philosophical approaches to understanding the nature of mind and in perspectives from the various sciences of the mind. This area will especially appeal to students interested in careers in artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

PHIL 3312 – Introduction to Philosophy of Language
PHIL 3313 – Knowledge and Skepticism
PHIL 3315 – Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 3316 – Minds, Brains, and Robotics
PHIL 3317 – Philosophy of Perception
PHIL 3318 – Colors, Sounds, and Other Appearances
PHIL 3319 – Identity, Persons, and Other Objects
PHIL 3381 – Neuroethics
PHIL 33xx – Philosophy of Psychology

Science, Technology, and Medicine

Many philosophers have been concerned with our acquisition of scientific knowledge, the ways in which scientific advances affect our lives, and the many new ethical issues that these advances raise. Classes in this area involve conceptual issues that arise in particular sciences, questions about how science does and should work, and ethical issues involving scientific advances, especially in neuroscience, technology, and medicine. This track would be especially useful for students seeking a well-rounded background for careers in science, technology, or medicine.

PHIL 3316 – Minds, Brains, and Robotics
PHIL 3320 – Causation
PHIL 3321 – Time, Space, and Metaphysics
PHIL 3362 – Creativity, Discovery, and Science
PHIL 3364 – Philosophy of Biology
PHIL 3376 – Bioethics
PHIL 3377 – Animal Rights
PHIL 3381 – Neuroethics
PHIL 33xx – Philosophy of Psychology