Selecting Courses

Current Courses

Spring 2017
PHIL 103   Comparative Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 202  Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Modern Period
PHIL 225  Symbolic Logic
PHIL 249  Women and Philosophy
PHIL 250  Topics: History of Analytic Philosophy
PHIL 260 (01) Topics in Applied Philosophy: Medical Ethics
PHIL 260 (02) Topics in Applied Philosophy: Problems in Global Ethics: Climate Change, War, and Poverty
PHIL 260 (03) Topics in Applied Philosophy: Ethics in Entrepreneurship and Business
PHIL 270 Topics in Ethics: Epistemology
PHIL 350 (01) Topics in Philosophy: Freedom and Responsibility
PHIL 350 (02) Topics in Applied Philosophy: Mind and Action

Fall 2017
PHIL 101 (01) Introductions to Philosophy
PHIL 201 (01) The Greek Period
PHIL 210 (01) Logical Thought
PHIL 260LW (01) Philosophy of Law
PHIL 260ME (01) Medical Ethics
PHIL 272 (01) Metaphysics
PHIL 273 (01) Philosophy of the Arts
PHIL 327 (01) Advanced Logic
FYSEM-110 God, Free Will, and Morality
PHIL 469 Reasons for Belief in Action**
**This course meets at Amherst College-Register through the five college catalog

For first-years or students new to philosophy

Students who are completely new to philosophy can take Phil 101 or 103, which offers a broad introduction to the subject. Phil/FYS 102 offers a smaller seminar setting with a variety of topics for beginning students. If you've done some philosophy and enjoyed it, we encourage you to take a 200 level course with a number lower than 220 such as 201 (Ancient Greek Philosophy), 202 (Modern Philosophy), 205 (Ethics), 208 (Knowledge and Reality), or 210 (Logical Thought). Courses at this level require no previous knowledge, but offer more useful background for other philosophy courses, and can be used to satisfy a possible minor.

We also offer a number of special interest courses that are accessible to beginning students and have no prerequisites, such as Symbolic Logic, Medical Ethics, Women and Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of the Arts and you can also take Five College Philosophy courses.

History of Philosophy

To become proficient in philosophy it is essential that one become familiar with the historical roots of philosophy: After all, the discussion has been going on for over 2,300 years!

To facilitate this goal, the department requires that all majors complete at least two courses in historical philosophy. Possible courses include:

  • 201 - Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Greek Period.
  • 202 - Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Modern Period.
  • 252 - Philosophical Foundations of Western Thought: The Nineteenth Century.
  • 255 - Existentialism.

More information on these courses is available on MyMountHolyoke.

Ethics and Value Theory

One of the most important areas of philosophy concerns morality and value, and any student of philosophy must have some knowledge of the philosophical debates surrounding these concepts. With this in mind, the department requires that majors in philosophy complete at least one course in ethics or value theory. Possible courses include:

  • 205 - Ethics
  • 242 - Social and Political Philosophy
  • 248 - Philosophical Issues in Race and Racism
  • 249 - Women and Philosophy
  • 260 - Topics in Applied Ethics
  • 273 - Philosophy of the Arts
  • 275 - Philosophy and Film

More information on these courses is available on MyMountHolyoke.


Philosophy involves thinking critically - the student of philosophy must be able to identify theses, identify premises offered in support of those theses, and to develop alternative arguments and interpretations. The department requires that majors develop their critical thinking skills by completing at least one course in logic. Possible courses include:

  • 210 - Logical Thought
  • 225 - Symbolic Logic

Logical Thought focuses on basic critical thinking skills, including the identification of arguments, premises and conclusions, as well as strategies for distinguishing between good and bad arguments. Symbolic Logic delves more deeply into the philosophical analysis of argumentation.

Philosophy majors are highly encouraged to take Symbolic Logic (225), as the tools introduced in that course appear frequently in contemporary and past philosophic debates.

After Symbolic Logic, there is a wide array of additional courses in logic available for those students who find philosophical logic interesting.

Theoretical Philosophy

"Theoretical" or "analytic" philosophy is characterized by the careful and logical consideration of philosophical problems, with an emphasis on epistemology (the study of knowledge) and metaphysics (the study of existence). An understanding of the concepts and tools of analytic philosophy is indispensable for participation in contemporary philosophical debates, and the department meets this need by requiring majors to take at least one course in theoretical philosophy. Candidate courses include:

  • 208 - Knowledge and Reality
  • 209 - Probability and Causation
  • 264 - Philosophy of Mind
  • 271 - Philosophy of Language

More Advanced Courses

More advanced courses draw upon the writing skills and content of these courses. We offer, on a regular basis, topics in the systematic study of one philosopher, advanced logic, meta- and normative ethics, and the Philosophy of Art. We also offer a course on Philosophy for Children, in which students introduce and teach philosophical topics to school children.