Bulletin--Philosophy Program


College of Humanities
Dean: Nancy McDermid

Department of Philosophy
HUM 388
Chair: James Syfers

Graduate Coordinator: J. Glanville

Professors—Anton, Bach, Glanville, Needleman, Provence, Radcliff, Royse, Silvers, Syfers

Associate Professors—Harrison, Warren

B.A. in Philosophy

B.A. in Philosophy and Religion

Minor in Philosophy

Minor in Philosophy and Religion

M.A. in Philosophy

Graduate Certificate in Teaching Critical Thinking

Program Scope

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
Philosophy is traditionally defined as the love of wisdom, the ability to think well about the foundations of human action, the nature of reality, and the purposes and priorities of life. The department offers the opportunity for a systematic study of the philosophies of past and present, of East and West, a study that deepens and broadens one's outlook on the world and on human affairs, and thus provides a more secure basis on which to develop one's own philosophy.

The enterprise of philosophy requires sharpening the skills necessary for clarifying premises, uncovering presuppositions (one's own and those of others), weighing the pros and cons of conflicting values, and analyzing concepts and issues. Courses in philosophy are frequently designed in part to help develop or increase these skills, a task that is sometimes more manageable if a restriction of attention is placed to a limited area of thought. Many of the courses therefore concentrate on specific issues. Others are designed to provide an analytic and scholarly overview of an entire area or period. The department welcomes students from other majors or programs who wish to examine their own personal philosophy, investigate the philosophies of others, or sharpen their skills as independent thinkers.

Many of the courses offered are not only appropriate as part of a philosophy major but are of special interest to students in other fields. These courses are designed to help students understand the theoretical frameworks, methodological presuppositions, and more abstract dimensions of major areas of knowledge, from the arts to the sciences. Students interested in either the philosophical understanding of a field, or in philosophy for a personal reason should feel free to consult the department chairperson or an adviser on appropriate courses.

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion
The philosophy and religion program has the same general aims as those of the philosophy program given above; in addition, the program is designed to assist students in the exploration of the origin, nature, and structure of the quest for human meaning. This entails the study of the thought and practice of diverse groups, communities, and individuals throughout the ages. Courses emphasize the central importance of reading and analyzing texts, integrating diverse areas of knowledge and experience into wider visions of human community, and developing skills for disciplined self-reflection and contemplation. Majors will gain basic knowledge about diverse religious traditions and develop concentrated knowledge about a chosen special area of interest. The goal of this program is to provide students with the skills and discipline required for a rigorous examination of the issues, experiences, and concerns which arise from religious quests for certainty, community, social justice, and self-understanding.

Graduate Program
The Master of Arts in Philosophy is designed for students wishing to extend their knowledge of, and competence in, philosophy; for students seeking teaching credentials where the master's degree is required; and for students who are planning to do further study elsewhere. The program is wide ranging and flexible, enabling students to concentrate on a number of different areas within philosophy.

A Certificate in Teaching Critical Thinking is available through the Department of Philosophy. The certificate program should be useful to anyone interested in teaching critical thinking courses or incorporating a critical thinking or informal reasoning emphasis in other kinds of courses in elementary, secondary, or post-secondary institutions. The certificate program is open to any post-baccalaureate student. Graduate students in philosophy are invited to complete the program as an adjunct to the M.A. degree. It should be noted that a graduate certificate is not the equivalent of a teaching credential. The certificate attests only to the successful completion of this sixteen unit program.

Career Outlook

A principal reason for the study of philosophy and/or religion is the enrichment of one's own life and understanding. However, the study of philosophy is an excellent preparation for a variety of post-baccalaureate professional studies. These range from law and policy planning through the helping professions to computer science. Philosophy and religion offers preparation for the helping professions, the ministry, and advanced studies in theology. In addition, the broader outlook and the ability to think critically about larger issues that are fostered by the systematic study of philosophy and religion are often highly valued by commercial firms in their management level personnel.


Undergraduate advisers are authorized by the department to designate units obtained in other departments as satisfying unit requirements in philosophy for application to both the philosophy and the philosophy and religion programs. Neither students nor advisers should view this as an escape clause which enables a student who has not quite satisfied the major requirements in philosophy to do so. Units outside the department are to be designated for use in the major on the basis of their contribution to the student's major program. In order to avoid confusion on this point, it is highly recommended that the student obtain written approval from an adviser either immediately before or immediately after obtaining non-department units to be utilized in the major. Decisions of advisers may be appealed to the department as a whole.

Courses for this discipline are listed in alphabetical sequence (see Philosophy discipline in the Announcement of Courses section).

PHIL 110, Critical Thinking, or its equivalent, is required of all students as a prerequisite to the B.A. in Philosophy; students who have not met this requirement may begin the program but must satisfy the requirement at the earliest opportunity. Equivalencies must be approved by a departmental adviser.

The Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy requires a minimum 39-unit major, with at least 30 of these units being upper division. PHIL 320, Philosophical Analysis, should be taken as early as possible.

The program includes nine units of elective courses in philosophy, permitting individualized emphases in specific areas. Students majoring or minoring in philosophy are urged to lay out a tentative program of courses with their advisers early in their tenure at the university. Depending upon the student's area of specialization, up to six units of courses outside the Department of Philosophy may be approved by a department adviser as elective units for the B.A.

The following courses are required of all majors in philosophy, except those taking the emphasis in classics.

Program Requirements				Units
PHIL 205	Formal Logic I			 3
PHIL 320	Philosophical Analysis		 3
PHIL 450	Ethics				 3
PHIL 610	Theory of Knowledge		 3
Six units in the history of philosophy from the 
following:					 6
	PHIL 301	Ancient Philosophy
	PHIL 302	Medieval Philosophy
	PHIL 303	Modern Philosophy
	PHIL 400	Presocratic Philosophy
	PHIL 401	Plato
	PHIL 402	Aristotle
	PHIL 410	Topics in the History of 
	PHIL 430	Topics in Contemporary 
	PHIL 470	Selected Works in 
	PHIL 475	Selected Problems in 
Six units in the core areas of the discipline 
from the following:				 6
	PHIL 350	Philosophy of Science: 
			The Natural Sciences
	PHIL 605	Metaphysics
	PHIL 620	Philosophy of Mind
	PHIL 630	Philosophy of Language
Six units in normative issues from the 
following:					 6
	PHIL 380	Philosophy of Law
	PHIL 330	Political Philosophy
	PHIL 335	Law and Society
	PHIL 382	Women and Philosophy: 
			Selected Topics
	PHIL 383	Ethics in Medicine
	PHIL 440	Ethics at Work
	PHIL 460	Philosophy of Art
	PHIL 435	Human Rights in Global 
Elective units in philosophy			 9
		Total				39
*Counts toward the six-unit history requirement only when the topic concerns the history of philosophy; check with an undergraduate adviser.

Emphasis in Classics

Through cooperation between the Departments of Philosophy and Classics, it is possible for the student to obtain a major in Philosophy with an Emphasis in Classics.

Program Requirements				Units
Latin or Greek					15
Classics courses selected from a number of 
	courses dealing with ancient thought 
	and civilization			 9
Philosophy courses selected from a number of 
	courses dealing with ancient and 
	medieval philosophy			12
Units from the following philosophy courses:	 9
	PHIL 160	Introduction to Philos-
			ophy of the Arts
	PHIL 205	Formal Logic I
	PHIL 320	Philosophical Analysis
	PHIL 450	Ethics
	PHIL 605	Metaphysics
	PHIL 610	Theory of Knowledge
		Total minimum for emphasis	45
Emphasis in Philosophy and Law

Required courses				Units
	PHIL 205	Formal Logic		    3
	PHIL 320	Philosophical Analysis	    3
	PHIL 450	Ethnics			    3
	PHIL 380	Philosophy of Law	    3
	PHIL 610	Theory of Knowledge	    3
Two courses in history selected from the 
following:					    6
	PHIL 301	Ancient Philosophy
	PHIL 302	Medieval Philosophy
	PHIL 303	Modern Philosophy
	PHIL 330	Political Philosophy
Four courses selected from the following:	12-14
	PHIL 335	Law and Society
	PHIL 375	Peace Law and Human 
			Rights in the U.S.
	PHIL 435	Human Rights in Global 
	PHIL 455	Sex and the Law
	WOMS 534	Women and the Law
	PLSI 552	Individual Rights in 
			the Constitution (4)
	SPCH 461	Issues in Free Speech(4)
Two courses selected from the following or on 
advisement:					  6-8
	AIS 205		American Indians and 
			U.S. Laws
	BLS 375		Law and the Black 
	IR 330		World Law (4)
	CJ 500		Criminal Law (4)
	JOUR 305	Mass Communication Law
	LABR 251	Know Your Work Rights
	PLSI 561	Jurisprudence (4)
	PLSI 553	Legal Issues (4)
	SOC 459		Criminal Law and Social 
			Process (4)
	SOC 457		Sociology of Law (4)
	URBS 513	Politics, Law, and the 
			Urban Environment (4)
		Total				39-43


The B.A. in Philosophy and Religion requires a minimum of 39 units of which at least 30 must be upper division units.

PHIL 105	Introduction to Philosophy and 
		Religion			 3
PHIL 500	Philosophy of Religion		 3
PHIL 502	World Religions			 3
PHIL 525/RELS 300 The Nature of Religious 
		Experience			 3
PHIL 696 	Directed Reading: Philosophy 
		and Religion			 3
Units selected from the following:		 3
	PHIL 605	Metaphysics
	PHIL 610	Epistemology
Units in history selected from the following:	 6
	PHIL 301	Ancient Philosophy
	PHIL 302	Medieval Philosophy
	PHIL 303	Modern Philosophy
	PHIL 504	History of Christian 
Elective units from the 500's			 6
Elective units from related fields on 
	advisement				 9
		Total				39


Each student minoring in philosophy must take at least 21 units in philosophy, at least fifteen (15) of these being upper division units.


Units in philosophy and religion (all courses 
	in the 500's) 				12
Units in philosophy
	Upper division				 6
	Lower division				 3
		Total				21


Admission to Program
To enter this program with classified graduate status, students should have completed the following upper division courses: two courses in the history of philosophy chosen from PHIL 301, 302, or 303 (or their equivalents); one course in ethics; PHIL 205, Formal Logic I, or the equivalent; one course in the theory of knowledge or the philosophy of science; and one course in the philosophy of language or philosophy of logic. Those who have not completed these prerequisites may begin the program with the approval of the graduate major adviser in philosophy, but they will be required to make up any deficiencies. A GPA of at least 3.0 is expected for both (1) the last 60 undergraduate units and (2) all philosophy courses. An applicant who does not meet this expectation but shows promise in other respects may be given special consideration for admission.

Applicants must submit a Philosophy Department application, obtained from the department office, as well as the general university application form.

Written English Proficiency Requirement
Level One: satisfactory completion of written assignments and examination in PHIL 896. Level Two: satisfactory completion of the master's thesis.

Advancement to Candidacy
Besides meeting all requirements, applicants must in addition have completed with grades of B or better two graduate seminars in philosophy. A Graduate Approved Program should be filed with the Graduate Division when approximately 50 percent of the required course work is completed.

Courses for this discipline are listed in alphabetical sequence (see Philosophy discipline in the Announcement of Courses section). All upper division courses offered by Philosophy may be considered for the master's degree, upon approval of the graduate adviser.

Program						Units
Five graduate seminars in philosophy		15
Upper division or graduate units in philosophy 
	or in a related field with the approval 
	of the graduate major adviser		 9
PHIL 896	Directed Reading*		 3
PHIL 898	Master's Thesis			 3
		Minimum total			30
and Oral Examination in Defense of Thesis 
(a failed examination may be repeated once)
*PHIL 896 is a mandatory CR/NC course. It may be repeated once if NC is earned the first time. Upon admission to the graduate program, students must consult with the graduate adviser in regard to this course. It must be completed with a CR before the student may officially begin work on the master's thesis.


Admission to the Program
Before being considered for acceptance to this certificate program, the student must first be eligible in accordance with all university requirements as outlined in the section Certificate Programs. This same section also includes university program guidelines and procedures to be followed in filing for the award of the certificate when it is completed.

In addition to the requirements specified in this Bulletin for admission to graduate study or graduate certificate programs, applicants must have completed:

Students who have not completed these courses may be admitted conditionally. Further information about the program and about equivalent courses may be secured from the program coordinators.

Written English Proficiency Requirement
This university requirement is met by examination in PHIL 777, Seminar in Teaching Critical Thinking.

PHIL 717	Projects in Teaching 
		Philosophy*			 3
PHIL 777	Seminar in Teaching Critical 
		Thinking			 3
ENG 419		Advanced Composition for 
		Teachers			 3
One of the following:				 3
	PHIL 810	Seminar in Theory of 
	PHIL 830	Seminar in Philosophy of 
	PHIL 850	Seminar in Philosophy of 
Units in Applied Philosophy, on advisement	 3
PHIL 899	Special Study			 1
		Total for certificate		16
*Limited to projects in teaching critical thinking.

NOTE: The unit in Special Study is to be taken in conjunction with the course chosen to fulfill the Applied Philosophy requirement; the unit is for the purpose of developing classroom materials on that subject to be used in teaching critical thinking. The Applied Philosophy requirement may be met by PHIL 330, 335, 340, 375, 380, 382, 383, 395, 435, 440, 445, 455, or 460. For other courses, consult a program coordinator.

Bulletin 1994-96 Table of Contents, SFSU Home Page

last modified August 2, 1995

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