PHL - Philosophy
Studies what it is to say that human beings are persons and have freedom and subjectivity; the different powers of the human person, including the powers of understanding, willing, feeling, and loving; the difference between body and soul in human beings, and the unity of the two; and the question of the immortality of the soul. Some classic texts from the tradition of Western philosophy are read. This is a particularly fundamental course that underlies many of the other courses.
Begins by asking what metaphysical questions are. One then poses selected metaphysical questions, such as what becoming is, what time is, what goodness is, what it means for a thing to exist, what the transcendental properties of being are, and, as the supreme question of metaphysics, whether God exists. Some classic texts from the tradition of Western philosophy are read.
Inquires into the significance of moral good and evil in the life of the human person; into moral virtue and vice (or moral character); into moral obligation; right and wrong actions; moral laws and the problem of exceptions; and the place of conscience in the moral life. One also studies the con- temporary debate between consequentialist and deontological ethics, and the claims of ethical relativism. Some classic texts from the tradition of Western philosophy are read.
Inquires whether is it possible for the human mind to know anything as it really is, and studies the philosophers who have affirmed and those who have skeptically denied this possibility. One inquires into the place of knowledge in the existence of the human person, asking what it is about persons that enables them to know; one also inquires into the social and historical conditions of knowing. One proceeds to distinguish different kinds and degrees of knowledge, as well as different sources of error. Attention is given throughout to the role of the senses in knowing. Classic texts from the tradition of Western philosophy are read.
One studies first the metaphysics of beauty, which involves issues such as beauty and being, beauty and good, and divine beauty. Then one studies beauty in the fine arts, in literature, and in nature as well as the place of beauty in the life of the human person. The course also includes questions that do not directly concern beauty, such as the essence of the tragic and of the comic.
One asks what it means to say with Aristotle that man is a social animal, and then studies how modern philosophies of intersubjectivity (Hegel, Scheler, Levinas, von Hildebrand) have contributed to our understanding of the relation of each person to others. One also inquires into the structure of communities, such as the family, the state, mankind, and how the individual can participate in these communities in a manner appropriate to their personhood.
One studies questions first raised by Aristotle in his Physics, such as the questions regarding space, time, matter, and number. One is also introduced to the philosophical problems arising from contemporary science, such as from the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution. The philosophical assumptions of some of the sciences are explored. Questions of scientific method are raised.
One inquires whether the existence of God can be proved, and studies some of the main attempts to prove it (including the cosmological, the teleological, the ontological, and the moral proofs). One studies the problems of speaking about God without anthropomorphism (that is, speaking in such a way as not to reduce God to a finite being). One comes to grips with the main objections to traditional theism, such as those of Kant and Hume, and those of process theology, and with the attempt to disprove the existence of God on the basis of the evil in the world.
One studies the different orders of law, especially the natural moral law and the positive law of the state, and their interrelations; this involves issues such as justice, authority, the is-ought distinction, the common good, and state punishment. Aquinas' Treatise on Law is typically read, as are modern authors such as Hegel, Kelsen, and Reinach.
One studies this special area of the philosophy of the human person, looking closely at the personal response of love and the interpersonal relationship constituted by love. One studies the role both of the will and of the emotions in the act of loving. The relations between love and happiness, love and unity, and love and morality are explored. Different types of love may be examined, such as eros, agape, love of friendship, and familial loves. Betrothed love and its expression in and through the body sexually are also discussed. Both classical (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Scotus, Bernard of Clairvaux) and modern (e.g., Kierkegaard, Buber, Marcel, von Hildebrand, Pieper, Wojtyla) sources are utilized.
One inquires into what the meaning of a word is, and into the kind of reality that meaning has. One studies the "performative" functions of language that philosophers have only recently noticed, and also the emotive and prescriptive force of language; one is introduced to recent philosophical studies of grammar, and also to the function of language in religion. One inquires into the place of language in the existence of person, asking whether language is only an instrument of communication and action, or a realm in which the human person dwells.
A treatment of selected issues in bioethics, such as: the dignity and identity of the human person, problems in end-of-life decisions, reproductive technology, the professional-patient relationship, theory of action and the principle of double effect, conscience and the health-care professional.
Examination and analysis of basic health care law, including that regarding beginning and end of life, reproductive issues, informed consent, confidentiality, right to refuse medical treatment, standard of care, malpractice, genetics, definition of death and organ transplantation.
3 A clinically based practicum course in bioethics consists of supervised placement in ethics rotations in Pittsburgh-Steubenville area hospitals and hospices, and reading, writing, and discussion regarding clinical issues.
Previous courses in ethics and bioethics are prerequisites, and admission requires prior arrangement with the instructor.
One studies closely some classic texts of ancient or medieval philosophy, such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Metaphysics, St. Augustine's De Trinitate, the works of St. Anselm, some part of the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas, or some major work in the Franciscan tradition. The intent is to study the great works of philosophy more seriously than is possible when they are dealt with in other courses. This closer textual study will enable the students to deepen their understanding of the philosophical tradition in which they stand. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary from semester to semester.
3 One studies closely some classic texts of modern or contemporary philosophy, such as Descartes' Meditations, Kant's Critiques, the works of Nietzsche, Husserl's Logical Investigations, Sartre's Being and Nothingness, Scheler's Formalism in Ethics, Wittgenstein's Tractatus, Maritain's Degrees of Knowing, or Longergan's Insight. The intent is to appropriate critically the philosophical tradition in which we stand. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary from semester to semester.
One studies not some main period of philosophy such as the medieval period. Rather this course introduces the student to a serious study of a specific school of philosophical thought, philosophical tradition within the history of philosophy, or philosophical problem within a historical setting. Examples include the influence of Neo-Platonism on medieval philosophy, analytic philosophy, the Muslim medieval tradition, contemporary Thomism, phenomenology, the influence of Scholastic philosophy on modern philosophy, existentialism, pragmatism, and the impact of Christian revelation on philosophy, or the concept of the agent intellect in medieval philosophy. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
One studies in depth a particular issue in philosophical anthropology. Examples include the problem of individuation, the nature of subjectivity, the relation between the soul and body, the immortality of the person, and issues involving acts of the human person such as love, freedom, or aesthetic enjoyment. Possible issues also include some topics that fall within social philosophy or the philosophy of community such as the nature of intersubjectivity, types of social acts, the nature of marriage and the family, the nature of the common good, and the relation between human beings and the state. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
This course examines in depth a particular topic in metaphysics. Examples include the transcendental properties of being, the relation between substance and accident, the problem of universals, what time is, and the relation between being and value. Possible topics include those that fall within the area of natural theology such as the cosmological arguments for the existence of God, the problem of God and evil, and the various attributes of God. This course also encompasses questions of ontology such as the ontology of certain aesthetic objects and the ontology of relations. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
This course focuses on a particular topic in epistemology. Examples include the role of sense perception in knowledge, the nature of error, the difference between knowledge and opinion, the various forms of evidence in knowledge, and the social and historical conditions of knowledge. This course also encompasses issues in the philosophy of religion such as the relation between faith and knowledge and revelation as a source of religious knowledge. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
In this course one studies in depth a specific question or area of ethics such as sexual or environmental ethics, the nature of moral virtue and vice, the nature of conscience, and what natural law is. This course encompasses some topics that fall within the scope of political philosophy such as the nature of rights, the forms of justice, and the relation between moral obligation and duty. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
This course focuses on the specific topic in philosophical logic. Examples include principles of probability, tense logic, the nature of reference, set theory, the nature of conditional propositions, principles of modal logic, propositions and states of affairs, negative states of affairs, the status of logical laws, and logical atomism. This course can be taken more than once since its content will vary.
A critical study of ethical principles for choices in health care issues: including natural law, other influential ethical theories, beginning of life, the health care professional-patient relationship, informed consent, truth-telling, issues surrounding procreation, genetic choices, end of life issues.
This course deals with issues such as informed consent, physician paternalism, terminating life- support, artificial reproduction, genetic engineering, cloning, stem-cell research. Catholic teaching on these issues is presented and examined.
A thesis of 45 to 75 pages, which is to be orally defended, is required of all MA Philosophy students. The permission of the Director of MA Philosophy is needed in order to enroll in PHL 910. Students should consult the Director of MA Philosophy for further information regarding the conditions that must be met before they can enroll in Thesis Research and the guidelines for writing the thesis.
Registration for this optional non-credited course indicates that the student is involved in studies necessary for the completion of the MA degree in philosophy. At the end of each extension period the student must demonstrate progress toward the completion of the thesis. Master's students are allowed to register for PHL 999 no more than two (2) times. A matriculation fee is required. This fee entitles the student to the use of the library and other basic services.