College of Liberal Arts USC


 Graduate Index

Davis Whitney Baird, Chair of the Department


    Davis Whitney Baird, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1981
    Jeremiah M. Hackett, Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1983
    R.I.G. Hughes, Ph.D., University of British Columbia, 1979

    Eugene Thomas Long III, Ph.D., Glasgow University, 1964
    Jerald T. Wallulis, Ph.D., Notre Dame University, 1978
    Undergraduate Director

Associate Professors

    Anne L. Bezuidenhout, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1990
    Michael J. Costa, Ph.D., Ohio State University, 1981
    Graduate Director
    Martin John Donougho, Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1980
    George Khushf, Ph.D., Rice University, 1993
    Alfred Nordmann, Ph.D., Universität Hamburg, 1986

Assistant Professors

    F. Thomas Burke, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1994
    Jan P. Opsomer, Ph.D., University of Leuven 1994
    Christopher Preston, Ph.D., University of Oregon, 1999
    James Leroy Stiver, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, 1972
    Christopher O. Tollefsen, Ph.D., Emory University, 1995

Professors Emeriti

    Louisa Shannon DuBose, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 1958
    James Willard Oliver, Ph.D., Harvard University, 1949
    Foster Eliott Tait, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1965

Distinguished Professors Emeriti

    Robert Joseph Mulvaney, Ph.D., Emory University, 1965
    Ignas Kestutis Skrupskelis, Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1967
    Rosamond Kent Sprague, Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 1953
    Roger Joseph Sullivan, Ph.D., University of Texas, 1973


The Department of Philosophy offers programs of study in several areas. It has special strengths in the history of philosophy, from ancient Greek thought to contemporary analytic and European philosophy; in the history and philosophy of science and technology; and in normative and interpretive philosophy (ethics, social and political theory, aesthetics). Faculty also teach philosophy of language, and there is an interdisciplinary link with the linguistics program. Other interdisciplinary links exist with the Center for Bioethics, the comparative literature program, School of the Environment, and the Departments of Religious Studies and Physics and Astronomy, among others.

The department prepares master’s students for further study in the discipline, offering a broadly historical approach few departments can match. It also prepares doctoral students and places them both locally and nationally. Students are encouraged to give conference papers, and the department sponsors a well-regarded speakers series.

The department offers the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.


To be admitted with full standing into either program, a student must have completed 18 hours of course work in philosophy above the introductory level and must also have met the general admission requirements of The Graduate School. Scores on the GRE are required from all applicants. Students whose undergraduate major was not philosophy will be considered for admission on a conditional basis, and special programs may be arranged to provide them with the background necessary for graduate study. Applicants must arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent to The Graduate School providing appraisals both of undergraduate work and of prospects for success at the graduate level. In addition, applicants should send to the department a sample of philosophical writing (maximum length 6,000 words) and a brief (400 words) statement of purpose. Unsuccessful applicants to the Ph.D. program will automatically be considered for admission to the M.A. program.

Degree Requirements

The requirements for degrees include those stated in the Graduate Studies Bulletin for all M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The following requirements are specific to the Department of Philosophy.

1. Course requirement. Students in the M.A. program are required to take eight courses prior to the thesis; those in the Ph.D. program must take 16 courses that satisfy the department’s distribution criteria.

2. Proseminar requirement. All Ph.D. students must take a proseminar in their first term in the program.

3. Logic requirement. Successful completion of a course in symbolic logic, taken either as an upper-level undergraduate or as part of the graduate program, is required of all students.

4. Language requirement. A reading knowledge of one foreign language is required of all students; when a Ph.D. student’s research area demands knowledge of a particular foreign language, the student will be expected to be proficient in that language.

Course Descriptions (PHIL)

  • 501–British Empiricism. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202, or consent of the instructor) A historical and critical survey of the British philosophers of experience. Principal concentration is on Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.
  • 502–Continental Rationalism. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) A critical and historical study of the 17th-century European philosophers. The works of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz are emphasized.
  • 503–Analytic Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) A critical study of recent and contemporary works in philosophical analysis, and an evaluation of the purposes, methods, and results of this movement.
  • 504–Phenomenology and Existentialism. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or 301, or consent of the instructor) A critical study of some fundamental themes in phenomenology and the philosophy of existence. Emphasis is placed on an intensive study of selected works of such writers as Kierkegaard, Jaspers, Husserl, and Heidegger.
  • 505–Plato. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 201 or consent of the instructor) An intensive study of selected Dialogues.
  • 506–Aristotle. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 201 or consent of the instructor) An intensive study of some of the more important of Aristotle’s works.
  • 507–Medieval Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 201 or consent of the instructor) An historical and critical study of the works of the leading medieval philosophers.
  • 508–Hume. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) An intensive study of the philosophical writings of Hume, especially A Treatise of Human Nature.
  • 509–Kant. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) An intensive study of the work of Kant, especially the Critique of Pure Reason.
  • 510–Theory of Knowledge. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) An examination of some representative theories of truth, meaning, probability, and perception.
  • 511–Symbolic Logic. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 110 or consent of the instructor) A presentation and philosophical examination of the fundamentals of modern symbolic logic.
  • 512–Philosophy of Science. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) A critical examination of methods and concepts of the sciences. Topics include scientific revolutions, the unity of science, experimentation, explanation, and evidence.
  • 513–Philosophy of History. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) A philosophical examination of historical inquiry. Theories of historical development. The logical problems of historical explanation.
  • 514–Recent Ethical Theory. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 311 or consent of the instructor) Recent developments in ethical theory with special emphasis on the meaning of ethical language and the forms of reasoning employed in discussing moral values.
  • 515–Philosophy of Religion. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) A critical study of selected problems in the philosophy of religion. Emphasis is placed on problems relating to the existence of God, religious knowledge, and the language of religion.
  • 516–Advanced Aesthetics. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 313 or consent of the instructor) Detailed examination of the literature on aesthetics.
  • 517–Philosophy of Language. {=LING 565} (3) (Prereq: PHIL 202 or consent of the instructor) An examination of concepts and problems such as meaning, reference, analyticity, definition, and the relation between logic and philosophy.
  • 518–Philosophy of the Social Sciences. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) The goals of inquiry and problems such as objectivity, reduction, value freedom, and ideology.
  • 519–Metaphysics. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) Major issues in classical and modern metaphysics. Topics include the idea of first philosophy, being, substance, the problem of universals, essentialism, causation, time and space, and metaphysical method.
  • 521–Mathematical Logic. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 511) Axiomatic development of logic and the set-theoretic foundations of mathematics.
  • 523–Advanced Topics in Logic. (3) (Prereq: PHIL 511 or consent of instructor) Philosophical problems about logic, the development of philosophical logics, and the problems surrounding them.
  • 528–Concepts of Evidence. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) Systematic approaches to data analysis–Bayesian, Fisherian and decision theoretic–will be critically appraised. Applications of these theories to some problems of inductive logic: the paradoxes of confirmation, the role of simplicity, and the probability of inductive generalizations.
  • 532–Social Justice. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) Recent theories of distributive justice and their application to such issues as redistribution of wealth, reverse discrimination, and the conflict between liberty and equality. Authors include Rawls, Nozick, Hayek, and Popper.
  • 534–Contemporary European Social Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) An examination of European social philosophy associated with either the Frankfurt School of Social Research or contemporary French Poststructuralism.
  • 535–Ecofeminism. {=WOST 535} (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or instructor’s consent) An exploration of the connections between oppression of women and oppression of nature.
  • 536–Language and Interpretation in Contemporary European Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) Selected contemporary European philosophical movements, their views on language, and their approach to interpretation: hermeneutics, structuralism, poststructuralism.
  • 540–Renaissance Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) Humanism (e.g., Petrarca), Platonism (e.g., Pico and Ficino), Aristotelianism (e.g., Pomponazzi), philosophies of nature (e.g., Telesio, Campanella, and Bruno), and Nicholas of Cusa, Erasmus, Montaigne, and Suarez.
  • 550–Health Care Ethics. (3) (Prereq: 3 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level or consent of the instructor) An exploration of the ethical dimensions of patient care in the clinical setting.
  • 571–Philosophies of India. (3) (Prereq: 6 credits in philosophy or consent of the instructor) Six classic systems of Hinduism and the "heterodox" schools of Jainism and Buddhism, with emphasis on the analysis of the concept of the self.
  • 573–History of Traditional Chinese Thought. {=HIST 573} (3) An introduction to the development of Chinese thought in relationship to the political and socioeconomic institutions of early China (6th century B.C. to 3rd century A.D.), with emphasis on Confucianism and Taoism.
  • 598–Readings in Philosophy. (3) (Prereq: 6 hours in philosophy beyond the 100 level).
  • 701–Studies in Ancient Philosophy. (3)
  • 705–Studies in 17th- and 18th-Century Philosophy. (3)
  • 706–Studies in Continental Philosophy. (3) Study of the works of one or more major contemporary continental philosophers.
  • 707–Studies in 19th-Century Philosophy. (3)
  • 709–Studies in 20th-Century Philosophy. (3)
  • 710–Ethics and the Health Sciences. {=NURS 794, DMED 620, SOWK 753, PUBH 710} (1—4) Students are introduced to formal and informal codes of professional conduct of various health science disciplines and understand the implications of these distinctions for interdisciplinary research, clinical practice, and administration.
  • 711–Studies in Ethics. (3)
  • 712–Studies in Theory of Knowledge. (3)
  • 714–Philosophy of Science. (3)
  • 716–Philosophy of Mind. (3) Topics and problems arising in the philosophy of mind.
  • 718–Studies in Philosophy of Language. {=LING 765} (3) Examination of concepts such as meaning, reference, analyticity, and translational indeterminacy; evaluation of accounts of speech acts, the semantics of propositional attitudes, metaphor, and other pragmatic phenomena.
  • 720–Studies in Philosophy of Religion. (3)
  • 721–Pragmatism. (3)
  • 723–Hegel. (3)
  • 724–Speculative Metaphysics. (3)
  • 760–Special Topics in Philosophy. (3)
  • 761–Special Topics in Philosophy. (3)
  • 765–Proseminar. (3) Critical reading of a philosophical text or series of related texts. Required of all doctoral degree candidates during the first year of course work.
  • 767–Case Study in the Philosophy of Science. (3) Introduction to the method of studying historical cases in the philosophy of science. This course revolves around the sustained treatment of one or two such cases.
  • 769–Jurisprudence. {=LAW 769} (2—3) An examination of a number of philosophical problems about the law: the nature and function of rules, the difference between legal rules and other rules, the nature of reasoning from legal rules, the concept of a legal system, and the relation of law and morals.
  • 790–Teaching Philosophy. (1) Materials, techniques, and problems of teaching philosophy. Repeatable for credit. (Pass-Fail Grading)
  • 797–Independent Study. (3)
  • 799–Thesis Preparation. (1—9)
  • 847–Modern Philosophies of Education. {=EDFN 847} (3) (Prereq: EDFN 744, the equivalent, or consent of instructor) Critical comparison of present-day schools of thought on the nature, objectives, and functions of American education.
  • 899–Dissertation Preparation. (1—12)

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