Philosophy

The undergraduate degree in philosophy emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

  • some of the principal philosophical texts in the history of western philosophy, from its beginnings in Greece to the late 19th century;
  • some of the main currents in 20th century philosophy, including some acquaintance with contemporary philosophical issues and modes of inquiry;
  • a single major author or a single philosophical movement; and
  • elementary formal logic.   

In addition, students completing the ­degree in philosophy are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • form reasoned opinions about the issues—moral, religious, political, etc.—that educated people debate;
  • understand, analyze, and evaluate complex arguments and theories;
  • distinguish between the main thrust of an argument or position and what is ancillary to it;
  • discover and critically examine the underlying presuppositions of major systems of ideas or programs for action;
  • see important connections between different systems of ideas or programs for action;
  • explain difficult ideas and concepts in an informed, effective, and coherent manner;
  • develop a thesis and present a coherent argument for it;
  • write a clear and coherent essay; and
  • engage in rational and productive discussion of issues and arguments.

Course code for this program is PHIL.

Bachelor's Degree Program(s)

Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy

For the undergraduate degree in philosophy, students must take 33 to 45 credit hours in philosophy, no fewer than 18 of which must be upper division, earning 33 hours with a grade of C- or better in each course in philosophy and a C (2.00) average for all work attempted in philosophy. No fewer than 12 of those credit hours must be completed on the Boulder campus. No more than 8 hours of independent study may count toward the minimum requirement.

Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.

The Department of Philosophy offers three distinct ways of completing the philosophy major.

General Track

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

History (three courses)—9

  • PHIL 3000 History of Philosophy: Ancient
  • PHIL 3010 History of  Philsophy: Modern
  • One course of the following:
    PHIL 4010 Single Philosopher
    PHIL 4020 Topics in the History of Philosophy
    PHIL 4030 Medieval Philosophy
    PHIL 4040 20th Century Philosophy
    PHIL 4070 Existentialist Philosophy
    PHIL 4250 Marxism

Logic (one of the following courses)—3

  • PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic
  • PHIL 4440 Topics in Logic (Math Logic)
  • PHIL 4460 Modal Logic

Philosophical Writing (one course)—3

  • PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking and Writing in Philosophy (prereq. or coreq., PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic)

Values (two courses)

  • The following required course: PHIL 3100 Ethical Theory—3
  • One of the following additional courses—3
    PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice
    PHIL 2200 Major Social Theories
    PHIL 2220 Philosophy and Law
    PHIL 2270 Philosophy and Race
    PHIL 2290 Philosophy and Women
    PHIL 3110 Feminist Practical Ethics
    PHIL 3140 Environmental Ethics
    PHIL 3160 Bioethics
    PHIL 3190 War and Morality
    PHIL 3200 Social and Political Philosophy
    PHIL 3260 Philosophy and the International Order
    PHIL 4110 Contemporary Moral Theory
    PHIL 4120 Philosophy and Animals
    PHIL 4200 Contemporary Political Philosophy
    PHIL 4250 Marxism

Metaphysics and Epistemology (two courses)

  • The following required course: PHIL 4340 Epistemology (prereqs. PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic and PHIL 3010 History of Modern Philosophy; prereq. or coreq. PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking and Writing in Philosophy)—3
  • One of the following additional courses—3
    PHIL 3600 Philosophy of Religion
    PHIL 4300 Philosophy of Mind
    PHIL 4360 Metaphysics
    PHIL 4400 Philosophy of Science
    PHIL 4490 Philosophy of Language

Electives (two courses) (includes all courses that are at the 2000 level or above, and are not taken to satisfy any of the above requirements)—6

NOTE: The department offers topically oriented majors that are interdisciplinary in nature, including law and society, and values and social policy. These majors require two semesters in the history of philosophy, as well as a series of core courses that vary according to the topic. A student intending to complete a topical major in philosophy should see the departmental undergraduate advisor as soon as possible.

Values and Social Policy Track

Group I: Required courses

  • PHIL 1440 Introductory Logic or PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic Philosophy
  • PHIL 2200 Major Social Theories
  • PHIL 3000 History of Philosophy: Ancient
  • PHIL 3010 History of Philosophy: Modern
  • PHIL 3100 Ethical Theory
  • PHIL 3200 Social and Political Philosophy

Group II: Choose any four courses

  • PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice
  • PHIL 2220 Philosophy and the Law
  • PHIL 2270 Philosophy and Race
  • PHIL 2290 Philosophy and Women
  • PHIL 3110 Feminist Practical Ethics
  • PHIL 3140 Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 3160 Bioethics
  • PHIL 3190 War and Morality
  • PHIL 3260 Philosophy and the International Order
  • PHIL 3930 Internship in Social Philosophy
  • PHIL 4110 Contemporary Moral Theory
  • PHIL 4120 Philosophy and Animals
  • PHIL 4200 Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 4250 Marxism
  • PHIL 4260 Philosophy of Law
  • Other courses with advisor’s approval

Group III: 15 of approved courses in allied fields

For further information, see the Department of Philosophy advisor.

Law and Society Track

Group I: Required courses (27 hours)

  • PHIL 1440 Introductory Logic or PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic
  • PHIL 2200 Major Social Theories
  • PHIL 2220 Philosophy and the Law
  • PHIL 3000 History of Philosophy: Ancient
  • PHIL 3010 History of Philosophy: Modern
  • PHIL 3100 Ethical Theory
  • PHIL 3180  Critical Thinking: Contemporary Topics or PHIL 3480 Critical Thinking and Writing
  • PHIL 3200 Social and Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 4260 Philosophy of Law

Group II: Recommended courses

  • PHIL 2140 Environmental Justice
  • PHIL 2290 Philosophy and Women
  • PHIL 3110 Feminist Practical Ethics
  • PHIL 3140 Environmental Ethics
  • PHIL 3160 Bioethics
  • PHIL 3260 Philosophy and the International Order
  • PHIL 4110 Contemporary Moral Theory
  • PHIL 4200 Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 4250 Marxism

Group III: Required Courses

Twelve hours of approved courses from other departments. For further information, see the Department of Philosophy advisor.

Graduating in Four Years

Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in philosophy, students should meet the following requirements:

  • Declare major by the beginning of the second semester.
  • Complete an average of 6.7 credit hours of required philosophy courses in each of the next five semesters.
  • Meet with an undergraduate advisor at the time the major is declared.
  • Complete PHIL 2440, PHIL 3480, PHIL 3000, and PHIL 3010 by the end of the fifth semester of study.

Minor Program

A minor is offered in philosophy. Declaration of a minor is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder, regardless of college or school.

For the minor in philosophy, students must take 18 credit hours in philosophy, earning 18 hours with a grade of C- or better and a 2.00 (C) average for all work attempted in philosophy. Also, students must take 9 hours of upper-division work in philosophy with grades of C- or better. Minor students may apply no more than 9 credit hours, including 6 upper-division credit hours of transfer work, toward a minor.

Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours

Logic (one course)—3

  • PHIL 1440 Introduction to Logic
  • PHIL 2440 Symbolic Logic
  • PHIL 4440 Topics in Logic (prereq., 12 hours PHIL course work, including PHIL 2440 or equivalent)

History of Philosophy—6

One course from the following:

  • PHIL 1010 Introduction to Western Thought: Ancient
  • PHIL 1020 Introduction to Western Thought: Modern
  • PHIL 3000 History of Philosophy: Ancient (prereq., 6 hours PHIL course work)
  • PHIL 3010 History of Philosophy: Modern (prereq., 6 hours PHIL course work)

And one course from the following:

  • PHIL 1100 Ethics
  • PHIL 1200 Philosophy and Society
  • PHIL 3100 Ethical Theory (prereq., 6 hours PHIL course work)
  • PHIL 3200 Social and Political Philosophy (prereq. 6 hours PHIL course work)

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Graduate Study in Philosophy

Applicants for admission to the Graduate School for work toward a master’s or doctoral degree with a major in philosophy are expected to have had 18 or more credit hours in undergraduate courses in the subject.

Through its MA and PhD programs, the department offers three areas of concentration in graduate study: history of philosophy, contemporary metaphysics, and moral theory and practical ethics.

Beyond the required course work and examinations for the PhD, a diversified faculty provides opportunity for a wide range of specialization in the dissertation project. The department makes available a limited number of teaching assistantships and assists with job placement. Descriptions of all degree programs are available from the Department of Philosophy.

Students wishing to pursue graduate work in philosophy should note requirements for advanced degrees in the Graduate School section and should obtain a copy of the Graduate Program Rules from the department.

Descriptions of all degree programs are available from the Department of Philosophy.