2017-18
Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

Philosophy (PHI)

Philosophy

135 Park Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-4150
Ph: 716-645-2444
F: 716-645-6139
W: www.philosophy.buffalo.edu
Professor Neil E. Williams
Chair

The Learning Environment

Philosophy courses include both large introductory-level lectures and smaller lectures on more advanced topics. Online versions of some introductory-level courses are offered regularly, especially in the summer and winter semesters. 

About Our Facilities

The philosophy department is housed on the first floor of Park Hall. Most philosophy courses are held in centrally-scheduled classrooms and lecture halls near Park Hall on the north campus.

About Our Faculty

The philosophy department includes 13 full-time faculty with specializations in ethics, aesthetics, social, and political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, the history of philosophy, logic, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of science. In addition to the full-time faculty, the philosophy department has 5 affiliated faculty, 5 emeritus faculty, and about 8 teaching assistants.

Faculty List Directory

Please visit our department website for additional information about our faculty.

Courses


  • PHI 101LEC Introduction to Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines general topics in various areas of philosophy showing different sides of issues; develops critical thought and philosophical method.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 105LEC Contemporary Moral Problems
    Lecture

    This course will philosophically examine contentious moral issues of the day. Among the topics that may be discussed are abortion, capital punishment, affirmative action, obligations of wealthy nations to poor nations, duties to non-human animals, vegetarianism, sex workers, pornography, legalized gambling and lotteries, gun control, drone warfare, human enhancements through drugs and prostheses, homosexual marriage, racial profiling, and legalization of currently illegal drugs.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
  • PHI 107LEC Ethics
    Lecture

    Introduces value theory, good and bad, justification of obligations to others, relationship of free choice and determinism, and contemporary moral problems analyzed by ethical principles.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 108LEC Knowledge and Reality
    Lecture

    Introduces epistemology, metaphysics, knowledge as a reflection of the real world's properties and its relation to different viewpoints, the world as material objects, the mind and matter, and the role of scientific and technical knowledge in today's world.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 110LEC Philosophy of Human Nature
    Lecture

    Introduces philosophical views of being human and consequences of these for thought, action, and emotion.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 115LEC Critical Thinking
    Lecture

    Examines techniques of problem solving, decision making, and evaluating pros and cons of an issue; organizing data; forming strategies and giving reasons; perceptual, cultural, emotional, intellectual, and expressive blocks to thinking; and simple inductive reasoning and statistical fallacies.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 129SEM Special Topics
    Seminar

    Provides for the study of various philosophical topics not covered in other 100-level courses.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 138LEC Topics in Ethics
    Lecture

    Studies selected issues of obligations and values: what are the bases of judgments of right, wrong, good and bad, and what are the applications of these?

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 154SEM Asian Wisdom
    Seminar

    Explores spirit, thought, and action of Asians culled from the contemporary relevance of classical readings. Texts include Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 162LEC Law, Morality, Authority
    Lecture

    Enforcement of morals by law, the proper authority of the state or society over the individual.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 175LEC Introduction to Deductive Logic
    Lecture

    Covers definitions, formal and informal errors of reasoning, and principles of deductive reasoning; also examines the Aristotelian tradition.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 198SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The one credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps transition to UB through an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 198 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Other Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the UB seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • PHI 199SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Other Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the first year seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • PHI 212LEC Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
    Lecture

    In this course, we will survey several issues in philosophy of religion: arguments for the existence of God, concepts of God/the divine, divine attributes, language about God/the divine, the problem of evil, the nature of religious belief, evidence for religion, miracles, the relationship between science and religion, and the status of religious experience. Primarily we will focus on the religious beliefs and traditions of the five major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism), but we will occasionally make forays into other religious traditions as well. No prior knowledge of philosophy is required. One textbook is required. Coursework will include: readings from classic and contemporary articles on philosophy of religion, open-book/take-home reading quizzes, an essay (approx. 1,400 words), a midterm exam, and a final exam.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 213LEC World Religions
    Lecture

    Surveys major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 215LR Symbolic Logic
    Lecture

    Introduces the formal techniques of deductive reasoning.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 217LEC Professional Ethics
    Lecture

    Introduces ethical issues encountered in such professions as medicine, engineering, public service, the media, business, social work, accounting, law, and manufacturing with an environmental impact, as well as the central concepts of professionalism.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 221LEC Science and Religion
    Lecture

    Explores the relations of science and religion and the extents to which they agree, differ, or are independent and separate realms.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 234LEC Environmental Ethics
    Lecture

    Examination of how humans should interact with the environment, both as individuals and as members of groups or organizations.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 236LEC Business Ethics
    Lecture

    Examines current ethical positions and their applications to problems in business.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 237LEC Medical Ethics: Social & Ethical Values in Medicine
    Lecture

    Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 238LEC Philosophy of Law
    Lecture

    An introductory class in jurisprudence and legal theory, covering general issues such as legitimacy, authority, validity, obligation, interpretation, economics, and the relation to morality, and/or specific issues such as criminal responsibility, punishment, promises, privacy, civil rights, accidents, property, etc.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 244LEC Topics in Aesthetics
    Lecture

    Selected issues in aesthetics, appreciation and evaluation of art, literature and drama.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 246LEC Philosophy in Literature
    Lecture

    Studies philosophical issues in literature and literatures presentation of these.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 248LEC Philosophy and Popular Culture
    Lecture

    Study of philosophical issues, ideas and questions presented or raised by fiction, plays, music and other components of popular culture.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHI 252LEC Eastern Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines selected views, traditions or issues in Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Southeast Asian philosophies.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 256LEC Topics in History of Philosophy
    Lecture

    Studies a selected position, tradition or issue in the history of philosophy.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 260LEC Ancient Philosophy
    Lecture

    Reviews the history of Greek philosophy from Pre-Socratic philosophers to the Hellenistics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 266LEC Medieval Philosophy
    Lecture

    Studies the history of philosophy from Plotinus to the end of the Middle Ages.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 270LEC Early Modern Philosophy
    Lecture

    Reviews the history of metaphysics and epistemology from the Renaissance to Kant.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 280LEC Nineteenth Century Enlightenment from Kant to Freud
    Lecture

    The 19th century Industrial Revolution (steam engine, railroad, mass production) is not yet the 20th century Communications Revolution (phone, radio, movies, TV, computers, internet, Wi-Fi, cell phones, cable). The last thoughts and outlooks of a three thousand year old spiritual-intellectual heritage in the West reach their fruition and open new prospects, such as the spread of democracy, the rise of liberal religion, the growth of metropolitan culture, and the prospect of general prosperity. Seeking these breakthroughs at their sources, we will explore the old and the new in the prose and poetry of Kant, Mendelsohn, Hegel, Feuerbach, Schopenhauer, Marx, Melville, Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Comte, Darwin, Bergson, Nietzsche and Freud, among others.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 288LEC Twentieth-Century Philosophy
    Lecture

    Three independent schools of philosophy developed across the twentieth century: (1) Continental European phenomenology and social-political thought; (2) Anglo-American linguistic and logical analysis and (3) American pragmatism and process philosophy. Some major figures of each are: (1) Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Levinas,Frankfurt School, Derrida and Deleuze; (2) Frege, Russell, Moore, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Quine, Rawls, Austin, Searle; (3) Dewey, Mead, Whitehead, Buchler, Randall Jr., Hartshorne and Neville. Depending on the Instructor, an introduction to the development and key ideas of one or more of these schools will be taught.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 298LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Provides for the study of various philosophical topics not covered in other 200-level courses.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHI 301SEM Writing Philosophy
    Seminar

    This course is a writing-intensive undergraduate seminar-style course designed to provide detailed guidance in the construction of philosophical essays. Developing this skill is of central importance to anyone interested in serious work in philosophy, but is useful for anyone in disciplines or trades that seek written work with clearly articulated argumentative structure. We will work through all the parts of the philosophical essay, from the title to the bibliography, in discrete sections, before combining them in complete essays. This will take us through the full process of developing a paper, from research to presentation, and onto final revisions. Final papers will be prepared for blind review, with an eye to submission to an undergraduate journal of philosophy. The final paper will be uploaded to your ePortfolio.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: Completion of Communication Literacy 1 or completion of Writing Skills 1 (ENG 101 or placement into ENG 201)
  • PHI 314LEC Philosophy of Religion
    Lecture

    Analyzes selected concepts in religious thought.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 320LEC Philosophy of Mind
    Lecture

    Introduction to the philosophy of mind, emphasizing both historically significant and contemporary discussion of the relationship between mind and the material world.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 321LEC Philosophy of Science
    Lecture

    Examines the nature of theories in the sciences and the philosophical issues associated with them, explores causation, explanation, and induction.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 322LEC Philosophy of Social Sciences
    Lecture

    Considers theories within the social sciences and the issues of how, if at all, they are fundamentally different from the theories of physical sciences.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 328LEC Philosophy of Language
    Lecture

    Words and sentences in English and other languages are meaningful. So, it seems that words and sentences have meanings. But what are meanings ? Are meanings entities of some sort ? Are they physical objects ? Mental objects ? Abstract objects ? What are the meanings of such words as Barack Obama, dog, red, run, and, and the? How are meaning, reference, truth, thought, and communication related ? And how do words and sentences get their meanings and referents ? We will begin this course by considering several theories about the nature of meaning and reference. We will then consider the use of language in communication and other speech acts. We will end with applications of philosophy of language to law, ethics, and metaphor. Pre-requisite: One prior course in philosophy, preferably in analytic.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 329LEC Metaphysics
    Lecture

    Explores theories of reality; freedom and determinism; and the reality of the self, the mind, and the body.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 333LEC Epistemology
    Lecture

    Considers epistemology: The nature, sources, kind, scope, and certainty and validity of knowledge.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 335LEC Contemporary Ethical Theory
    Lecture

    Examines attempts in moral philosophy to find a justification for the basic ethical principles; also considers conception of an ethics based on natural law.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 336LEC History of Ethics
    Lecture

    Studies the history of ethics from ancient times through the Enlightenment. Also covers ancient Hebrew, Greek, medieval, and modern moral theories.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 338LEC Law and Morality
    Lecture

    Explores the moral status of legality and the legal status of morality, the status of unjust laws, and the role of moral judgments of lawmakers. Is a good law one that does good?

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 340LEC Law and Responsibility
    Lecture

    Explores the legal notion of liability for actions, events, or states of affairs. On what basis does the law assign blame? Does this notion of blame accord with our moral or scientific notions of responsibility?

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: One prior PHI course
  • PHI 341LEC Social Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines conceptions of the good society and programs for improving contemporary societies; also explores democracy, equality, discrimination, civil disobedience, revolution, liberalism, conservatism, communism, capitalism.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 342LEC Political Philosophy
    Lecture

    Surveys political theories in a systematic or historical way.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 344LEC Aesthetic Theory and Criticism
    Lecture

    Surveys theories of art and their evaluation of works of art.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 345LEC Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
    Lecture

    Considers artistic creativity and expression, beauty and the sublime, the role of art in society.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 347LEC Gender and Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines the degree to which fundamental concepts that lead philosophical investigation are affected by gender prejudice, and perhaps also by other cultural blinders such as those related to race or nationality.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHI 356LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Critically considers a selected philosophical issue.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 359LEC American Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines early development of American philosophical thought; considers leading movements and thinkers, such as idealism, pragmatism (Peirce, James, Dewey), and realism.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 391LEC Existentialism/Phenomenlgy
    Lecture

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 398LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Provides for the study of various philosophical topics not covered in other 300-level courses.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 401TUT Philosophy Honors Tutorial
    Tutorial

    Credits: 1 - 8
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 402TUT Philosophy Honors Tutorial
    Tutorial

    Credits: 1 - 8
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 412LEC Philosophy of Religion
    Lecture

    Performs advanced critical analysis of selected issues in religious belief.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 415LEC Logical Theory I
    Lecture

    Reviews modern studies in propositional logic, formal techniques that can be used to analyze inferences, and philosophical topics and problems related to propositional logic. Some acquaintance with logic desirable.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 416LEC Logical Theory II
    Lecture

    Continuation of PHI 415. Considers predicate logic, generalization, and related philosophical issues.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 417LEC Modal Logic
    Lecture

    Studies logical systems designed to express concepts of necessity and possibility. Develops semantic accounts employing systems of possible worlds. Examines philosophical topics and problems related to necessity and possibility.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 418LEC Philosophy of Mathematics
    Lecture

    Explores philosophical topics and problems of mathematics and its logical foundations.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 419LEC Philosophy of Logic
    Lecture

    Reviews philosophical topics and issues of logic, both historical and contemporary.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 420LEC Topics in Philosophy of Science
    Lecture

    Involves an in-depth critical examination of selected issues in philosophy of the natural or social sciences.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHI 438SEM Topics in Ethics
    Seminar

    Addresses selected issues in ethics from a historical, contemporary, or thematic perspective.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 442SEM Contemporary Issues of Social Philosophy
    Seminar

    Examines strengths and weaknesses of current social philosophy positions.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 443SEM Topics in Legal Philosophy
    Seminar

    Considers philosophical issues in law, including theories of law, evidence, argument, punishment and penalties.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 444SEM Aesthetics
    Seminar

    Considers in-depth selected theories of art.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 452SEM Eastern Philosophy
    Seminar

    Examines selected views, traditions or issues in Chinese, Japanese, Indian, or Southeast Asian philosophies.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 454LEC Chinese Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines selected views, traditions or issues in Chinese philosophy.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 462SEM Plato
    Seminar

    Involves detailed consideration of central issues in Plato's philosophy.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 463SEM Aristotle
    Seminar

    Involves detailed consideration of central issues in Aristotle's philosophy.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 465SEM Ancient Philosophy
    Seminar

    Considers selected issues in ancient philosophy, including comparison of major positions.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 469LEC Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
    Lecture

    Examines selected traditions or issues in philosophy from 500 to 1600 AD.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHI 489SEM Special Topics
    Seminar

    Provides for the study of various philosophical topics not covered in other 400-level courses.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 490LEC Introduction to Wittgenstein
    Lecture

    Studies Wittgenstein's philosophical development and positions.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHI 497TUT Honors Thesis or Project
    Tutorial

    Credits: 1 - 8
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 498TUT Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity
    Tutorial

    Credits: 1 - 8
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHI 499TUT Independent Study
    Tutorial

    Credits: 1 - 8
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring

Philosophy

135 Park Hall
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-4150
Ph: 716-645-2444
F: 716-645-6139
W: www.philosophy.buffalo.edu
Professor Neil E. Williams
Chair
Published: June 23, 2017 10:20:10 AM