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Carthage will continue to offer courses in philosophy in the 2020-21 academic year, though Carthage no longer offers a major or minor in philosophy. Scroll down to read descriptions of the philosophy courses offered at Carthage, or click on the following links for additional resources.


  • PHL 1000

    Introduction to Philosophy (HUM)

    The course introduces the student to major problems discussed by key figures in the history of Western philosophy. Problems, such as the proof of God's existence, the nature of reality, and what counts as knowledge, are examined through a careful study of selected writings of Plato, Hume, and others. Basic skills of careful reading, critical analysis, and argumentative writing and discussion are stressed.

  • PHL 1100

    Contemporary Ethical Issues (HUM)

    This course introduces the student to methods of ethical thinking by applying them to specific issues such as abortion, human sexuality, nuclear weaponry, and preservation of the environment, among others. The course also examines the nature of morality itself and the central role that moral character plays in making moral decisions.

  • PHL 1200

    The Art of Thinking (HUM)

    This course aims at sharpening the critical thinking skills of the student by examining in some depth the nature of inductive reasoning, the fallacies that may be committed, and the nature of certain classical and contemporary forms of deductive argument.

  • PHL 1300

    Philosophy and Literature (HUM)

    This course, taught by a philosopher and a member of a language department when possible, examines philosophical concepts, insights, and positions as they emerge from the study of selected literary works. Issues such as the relationship between literary form and philosophical content also will be examined.

  • PHL 2000

    Studies in the History of Philosophy (HUM)

    This variable content course covers major epochs and figures in the history of philosophy. Courses offered on a periodic, rotating basis include surveys of ancient and medieval philosophy, modern philosophy, recent continental philosophy, and courses on major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. This course satisfies the Humanities or a second Religion requirement.
    Prerequisite: 1000-level philosophy course

  • PHL 2010

    Introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy (HUM)

    This course will engage the history of Ancient Greek Philosophy. Students will read and interpret classic works by such philosophers as the Pre-Socratics (e.g., Heraclitus and Parmenides), Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. The course will give students an opportunity to think through a number of classic philosophical questions as they were posed by the thinkers who originated philosophy as we know it. Such questions could include: What is good? What is just? What is beautiful? What is human nature? What is knowledge?

  • PHL 2100

    Topics in Ethics (HUM)

    This class will feature a close reading of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, after a mini-course in elementary reasoning techniques and logic.
    Prerequisite: One ethics course

  • PHL 2110

    Business Ethics (HUM)

    In this course, students explore major ethical issues arising in the practice of business and learn to apply various methods of ethics in solving these problems. Whistle-blowing, insider trading, employees' rights, multinational corporations, and other topics are discussed. Course offered as BUS 2110 and PHL 2110.

  • PHL 2400

    Philosophy of Religion (HUM)

    A philosophical examination of the traditional issues raised by the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, e.g., the proofs for God's existence, the question about knowing the nature of God, the meaning of religious language, the problem of evil, etc. The course will also briefly examine what philosophical problems arise in a non-Western religion, e.g., Hinduism or Buddhism. This course satisfies the Humanities or a second Religion requirement.

  • PHL 2750

    Research Methods

    An introduction on how to conduct research through the focus on one topic from the following disciplines: Philosophy, Religion, or Classics. The class will focus on learning how to distinguish and evaluate primary and secondary sources, write a researched paper, recognize different approaches (theoretical) to a given topic, and become familiar with the work of representative classicists/philosophers/theologians/historians.

  • PHL 3400

    Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as Literature and Philosophy (HUM)

    The Iliad and the Odyssey are the earliest texts of the Western tradition. Though everyone recognizes the sophistication of their poetic style and the breadth of their epic vision, too many readers have assumed that Homer composed in an oral tradition that had no conscious interest in philosophy or cultural critique. This course will investigate the philosophy that is embedded, implied, and elaborated in each epic as well as through a comparison of the two. Why is each story told so differently? How do Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, and Helen compare to Odysseus, Telemachos, and Penelope? We will especially study Penelope for what she reveals about the Homeric view of ethics and epistemology, of what should be done, and of what can be known.

  • PHL 3420

    Socrates: Then and Now (HUM)

    This course will investigate Socrates from three points of view. First, it will investigate the historical Socrates and his profound but vexed relationship to Athenian history in the fifth century. Next, the course will look at the philosophical Socrates, concentrating on the innovations that he brought to philosophy before people began to write about him: ethics, elenchus, irony, self-examination, independence, inwardness, and rationality. It will then study what subsequent classical philosophers made of the innovations and to what extent Socrates was eclipsed by their writings. Finally, it will look at the cultural Socrates beginning in the Renaissance rediscovery of him and continuing through the great reinvigoration of his significance for the problems of modernity.

  • PHL 3440

    Herodotus and Thucydides: History, Philosophy, or Literature? (HUM)

    Unlike previous writers, Herodotus and Thucydides attempted to explain human nature and human institutions through humanistic inquiry, not divine revelation. In this, they earned the claim to be the first historians. But is reading them as though they privileged the reporting of fact over imaginative interpretation to blind ourselves to much of what is best in them? Were they not also artists strongly influenced by the poets who had gone before? Herodotus, who traveled Greece entertaining people with his colorful stories, patterned himself on Homer and the Homeric bards. Thucydides, though scornful of romantic escapism, seems to have been bent on outdoing the tragic dramatists. And both seem to anticipate the philosophical concerns of Plato and Aristotle.

  • PHL 3460

    Thoreau's Walden: the Practical, Poetic Life (HUM)

    Few have ever tried so hard to lead as sincere and integrated a life as Thoreau, as well as one that could be open to all who make the effort. In Walden: or Life in the Woods, the great American writer Henry David Thoreau does not report wonders that only a few lucky people could experience, but the wonders that are around every man or woman who is awake to the world. If you are interested in philosophy that can be applied to your life, are keen to study the writing of one of the best American writers, or are passionate about nature and environmentalism, this is a course for you. We will be spending most of our time on a careful and thorough reading of Walden, but students will be asked to become authorities in some aspect of the text that most interests them. Students from all disciplines are encouraged. Class time will be devoted to discussion, and grades will rest on the writing of four or five short papers.

  • PHL 4000

    Senior Seminar in Philosophy (HUM)

    This course is the thesis seminar in philosophy. Students should register for this course when completing their Senior Thesis.

  • PHL 4990

    Senior Thesis Completion

    Students should register for PHL 4990 during the semester that they intend to complete their Senior Thesis.