Undergraduate Courses


Below is a list of upcoming undergraduate courses with full descriptions (when available) and other specific information. For a full listing of undergraduate-level courses offered by the Department, please see the course catalog. For a complete listing of courses offered in the current and upcoming semester see the schedule of classes.

Please note the following regularities as you plan for upcoming semesters, but be aware that there will be exceptions in some semesters. Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Academic Advisor for Philosophy for help planning your Major or Minor in Philosophy.

  • Every Fall and Spring semester we typically offer 1100, 2120, 2450, 2465 and 2500, as well as a wide variety of other elective courses at the introductory level. 
  • Every Fall and Spring semester we offer 3000, the Gateway Seminar for Majors, as well as at least two courses from each category of courses required for the Major (i.e. at least 2 history of philosophy courses at the 3000 level; at least 2 topics courses at the 3000 level; and at least 2 advanced electives at the 5000 level, in addition to a variety of other electives.)
  • Every Summer we offer a variety of courses at the introductory level.

Upcoming Undergraduate Courses


Spring Semester 2020

1100 Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: R. Samuels
PA 20, MW 10:20-11:15

GE Culture and Ideas

1300 Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Staff

The nature of right and wrong, good and evil; the grounds of moral choice and decision; the resolution of moral conflicts.  

GE Cultures and Ideas

1332 Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff

An examination of contemporary issues in engineering ethics in the context of major ethical theories.

GE Cultures and Ideas

1338 Computer Ethics and Effective Presentation
Instructor: Scott Brown

An introduction to ethical theory with a special focus on ethical issues that arise in the computing profession. It includes student presentations and feedback to improve discussion skills.

GE Cultures and Ideas

1500.01 Introduction to Logic
Instructor: Staff

Deduction and induction; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established.

GE quantitative reasoning: math and logical analysis

1500.02 Introduction to Logic (online)
Instructor: Staff

Online version of Philosophy 1500.01, Introduction to Logic. Teaches students the construction and evaluation of deductive and inductive arguments; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established.

GE quantitative reasoning: math and logical analysis

1501 Introduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: J. Gleason
MP 1035, MWF 12:40-1:35

An informal introduction to elementary deductive and inductive logic, concentrating on application to reasoning in legal contexts (e.g., courtroom argumentation and jury deliberation).

GE quantitative reasoning: math and logical analysis

2120 Asian Philosophies
Instructor: S. Brown
HH 180, TH 11:10-12:30

This class will explore the main philosophical traditions that underlie the cultures of India, China, Korea, Japan, and a number of other countries in south and east Asia. Specifically, we will work toward understanding some of the essential texts from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Daoism. However, we will not be approaching these texts merely for their historical value. We will be engaging them as potential sources of wisdom and insight into the nature of the world around us and our place within it. 

GE for literature and diversity global studies

2367 Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the US
Instructor: Staff

An intensive writing course concentrating on the analysis and evaluation of philosophical argumentation concerning contemporary social and moral problems about race, gender, class, and ethnicity. Does not count on a philosophy major or minor program.

GE Diversity: Social Diversity in the US, GE Writing and Communication: level 2

2450 Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor: R. Fletcher
TO 255, TR 12:45-2:05

This course will examine major philosophical problems in the arts (e.g. reality, repetition, form, expression, taste, judgment, definition, and identification),  through close readings of core texts from the canon of aesthetics (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Tolsloy, Nietzsche, Bell, Collingwood, Goodman, Danto). Our aim will be to engage with how these problems contribute to form a working definition of art, both through analytic arguments, continental approaches, and global comparative aesthetics, as well as through an experimental encounter with the varieties of media and mediation produced by the artists and other participants at the exhibition documenta 14 that took place in Athens, Greece and Kassel Germany in 2017.

GE Visual and Performing Arts

2465 Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: S. Brown
RA 59, MWF 10:20-11:15

What is a meaningful life? What role, if any, does the afterlife play in conceptions of meaningfulness? Can things like achievement, happiness, and engaging in valuable projects give meaning to our lives?   Would immortality or an extraordinarily long life increase or decrease the likelihood of a meaningful life? The course will explore these and related questions. 

GE for literature

2500 Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Shapiro
MQ 160, MW 9:10-10:05

What is it to reason?  What is it to reason correctly?  What role do symbols play in reasoning?  We will try to answer these questions.

In this course we will present a symbolic deductive system to model correct reasoning.  It will be shown how many arguments in ordinary language can be “translated” into this system, where they can be checked for validity.  Important logical concepts, like consistency, consequence, validity are presented via the system, and the techniques of mathematical logic are illustrated with it.

There will be exercises for homework (checked with occasional short quizzes) and a midterm and final examination.

GE quantitative reasoning: math and logical analysis

2650 Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
Instructor: R. Samuels
UH 56, MW 2:20-3:40

This course will explore some fundamental questions regarding the nature of science that often go unexplored in science classes. Topics will include: What distinguishes genuine science from other disciplines? In what sense, and to what extent, is science objective? What legitimate role can values play in science and scientific progress? How exactly do experiments support or undermine hypotheses? Does science provide us with objective knowledge of unobservable entities, such as electrons and the Big Bang?  

2660 Metaphysics, Religion, and Magic in the Scientific
Instructor: L. Downing
MQ 160, TR 2:20-3:40

The seventeenth century saw revolutionary developments in natural science, specifically, in matter theory, mechanics, chemistry, and astronomy.  These developments were intertwined with magical traditions, religious doctrines and disputes, and, especially, philosophical theories and arguments.  This course will examine some of these connections in the works of some of the most influential natural philosophers of the period.  Our main goal is a richer understanding of this crucial period in the development of modern science.  In addition, as with any philosophy class, we will evaluate the cogency of the arguments and the consistency and plausibility of the views we encounter.

2690 Genes and Society
Instructor: J. D'Arms and S. Cole
DB 29, TR 9:35-10:55

This course will provide science-based exposure to topics in classical and modern genetics, with an emphasis on social and ethical issues. Together we will discuss what genes are, and how they work, and how your genome influences traits and behaviors. We will build on this scientific knowledge to explore the social, ethical and policy questions raised by our understandings (and misunderstandings) of genetic inheritance. We will explore the roles of genetics in the context of social beliefs; genetic modifications of crops, animals and humans; the nature of altruism; the impacts of genetics on medicine; and the extent to which genetics influence categories like race, sex, and sexuality. Completion of the course will help you understand that science is not separate from your life; but informs many aspects of our society.

3000 Gateway Seminar
Instructor: T. McPherson 
BO 120, TR 9:35-10:55

This course will introduce new Philosophy majors to central tools for reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing philosophy that are needed to flourish in upper-division philosophy courses.  We will very carefully read, discuss, and write about a small number of influential texts across central areas of philosophy, including, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, Early Modern philosophy and the philosophies of mind and language.

Prerequisite: Philosophy major or permission of instructor

3250 Nineteenth Century Philosophy: Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche
Instructor: C. Pincock
EC 243, MWF 1:50-2:45

This class considers the philosophical views of Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche, with a special emphasis on their conceptions of history. Each philosopher asks how our history shapes who we are today and who we might become in the future. We begin with an investigation of some early parts of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), where Hegel considers how the knowing subject and its objects should be related for knowledge to be genuine. Hegel identifies a logical progression of different modes of thinking that seems to bear on human history. We then turn to Marx and consider how he transforms Hegel’s proposal by embedding it in a material investigation of the human condition. Through a study of some of the writings collected in McLellan’s Karl Marx: Selected Writings, we will identify what Marx thinks drives human history and the associated forms of human consciousness. Finally, we consider Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality (1887). Nietzsche challenges Hegel’s account of progress and Marx’s optimism with his own distinctive questioning of the function and origin of morality. While Marx says “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it”, Nietzsche complains that all past and present philosophers “lack a consciousness of the extent to which the will to truth itself needs a justification ... The will to truth needs a critique – let us define our own task with this ...” (Either Philos 3230 or 3240 is recommended but not required.)


S. Houlgate, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 978-0826485113.
J. Wolff, Why Read Marx Today?, Oxford, 2003. ISBN 978-0192805058.
F. Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, Third edition, Cambridge, 2017. ISBN 978-1316602591.
Note: additional course readings will be distributed as PDFs.

GE Literature
GE Diversity: Global Studies

3300 Moral Philosophy
Instructor: J. D'Arms
MQ 160, MW 11:30-12:25

What things are good? Whatever we want? Or are some things worth wanting in ways that others aren’t? What makes a person’s life go well?

What is it right to do? Is this determined by the consequences of actions, or by considerations of some other kind?

What is the relationship between being a rational person, on one hand, and wanting what’s good and doing what is right on the other?

This course will critically assess some philosophically influential answers to these questions, and to other, related ones.

This course will emphasize the development of essential philosophical skills: reading texts carefully for philosophical comprehension, writing papers that analyze arguments and philosophical positions clearly and raise critical points about them, discussing philosophical issues rigorously in a group setting.

3341H Ethical Conflicts in Health Care Research, Policy, and Practice
Instructor: D. Howard
BO 314, WF 11:10-12:30

The advances made in medicine over the past century are an impressive collective human achievement. However, not all people have benefited equally from the explosive growth of biomedical technology and some have suffered greatly both in the development and the procurement of medical care. This course offers a philosophical approach to analyzing some key moral dilemmas that have arisen in health care research, policy, and practice. Questions that we will cover in the course involve the ethics of human and animal research, particularly the means we may take toward laudable ends; the nature of addiction and what the ends of medicine should be; and the ethics of health care provision and what sort of society we should aspire to be.

3530 Philosophy of Logic
Instructor: N. Tennant
EC 312, TR 2:20-3:40

PHIL3530 enables a smooth progression for the serious Logic student from PHIL2500: Introduction to Symbolic Logic, to PHIL5500: Advanced Symbolic Logic. The course also caters to less technically-minded Philosophy students who would like to know more about various philosophical issues surrounding Logic, and about issues in other areas of Philosophy (such as metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language) for whose analysis or explication Logic can provide some useful tools.

Topics to be covered will be drawn from the following list:

Reference: names and indexicals. Definite descriptions. Abstraction terms.
Quantification: first order; second order; plural.
Identity and indiscernibility. Non-denoting terms and free logic.
Semantic closure and paradoxes. Tarski's definition of truth. Deflationism.
Logical consequence and deducibility.
Proof-theoretic v. model-theoretic accounts of the meanings of logical constants.
The justification of deduction. Intuitionistic v. classical logic.
Conditionals and relevance.
Propositional attitudes and modal operators. Referential opacity and intensionality.
Elements of the main philosophically interesting extensions of classical logic: modal logic; deontic logic; doxastic/epistemic logic; tense logic.
Logical analyses/explications of the following important notions in metaphysics and the philosophy of science: supervenience; reductionism; hypothetico-deductive method; cognitive significance.

3700 Introduction to Metaphysics
Instructor: R. Kraut
ML 131, TR 12:45-2:05

The world is complex and mysterious.  We will examine various metaphysical assumptions: that reality contains spiritual as well as physical entities; that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon; that there exist necessities in nature; that there exist abstract objects knowable through reason alone; that moral and aesthetic properties, like physical properties, are real; that finite beings can have knowledge of the world as it is in itself.  Efforts will be made to clarify our concepts of possibility, necessity, causation, persistence, metaphysical dependency, identity, and mind-dependence.  

3810 Philosophy of Action
Instructor: A. Roth
Mendenhall Lab 175, WF 9:35-10:55

This totally amazing course is concerned with the nature of human action.  What is it to act intentionally or to do something on purpose?  We explain and justify our actions in terms of reasons; for example, the reason I’m raising my hand is to get the prof to call on me.  How is this sort of reason explanation related to causal explanation?  If there is a causal explanation lurking here, is it compatible with my having free will and being responsible for what I do?  Philosophers associate action with a distinctive sort of self-knowledge on the part of the agent.  The way for me to get to know what you’re doing is by observing you.  But it would be odd for me to figure out what I was up to by looking at myself; I seem know what I’m doing without looking.  How is this possible?  Finally, we explore temporal and social dimensions of action.  Sometimes I decide and intend what I do well before I do it.  What is involved in committing myself in this way, and why would I want to?  Does this make my later self unfree?   And sometimes I do things jointly, with others.  Can agency that’s shared in this way be understood in terms of individual agency, or is something fundamentally new going on here?  At the end of the course, we’ll be scratching our heads in amazement at how awesome this course was.

5261 Phenomenology and Existentialism
Instructor: T. Rudavsky
UH 353, WF 11:10-12:30

This course is an in-depth survey of the main ideas of Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. The course has no specific prerequisites.  However, it is useful to have had Phil 3261 or its equivalent before taking this course. We will focus on Heidegger’s BEING and TIME, and Sartre’s BEING and NOTHINGNESS, after dipping into Husserl’s CARTESIAN MEDITATIONS. I may sneak in some Levinas or Derrida, depending on class interest. Requirements: [undergrads --midterm; final; discussion posts and term paper]. [graduate students: we can discuss requirements separately] Please email me if you have specific questions.

5500 Advanced Symbolic Logic
Instructor: N. Tennant
UH 353, TR 11:10-12:30

We introduce the student to the metatheory of first-order logics and languages; natural deduction for propositional and predicate logic; model theory; soundness, completeness, and Löwenheim-Skolem theorems.

5750 Advanced Theory of Knowledge
Instructor: A. Roth
HH 159, WF 12:45-2:05

The class will look at the epistemological literature on testimony and some papers on the moral psychology of trust.  The aim is to develop a properly epistemic notion of trust.  This will require looking also at some recent work on the nature of obligations that are in some sense owed or directed to others.  For exciting details, go to:  http://u.osu.edu/roth.263/courses/

5830 Introduction to Cognitive Science
Instructor: J. Myung

This course introduces you to the exciting interdisciplinary field of cognitive science devoted to the study of human intelligence and intelligent systems. Researchers in philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, and linguistics realized that they were asking many of the same questions about the nature of the human mind/brain, that they had developed complementary and synergistic methods of investigation, and that the evidence led them to compatible answers to their questions. This course introduces cognitive science through a representative sample of such questions, methods, and answers. It is not a special-topic course for students who seek detailed knowledge in a specific area of cognitive science, but as a broad survey of different approaches within the field of cognitive science. We will try not to lose sight of the forest for the trees but we will take a closer look at a few trees too because science is in the details. Along the way, we will introduce the constituent disciplines and their respective contributions to the study of cognition. We will discuss the foundational concepts of computation and information processing from multiple points of view. Two unifying themes are emphasized throughout: (1) Information processing: The mind/brain is viewed as a complex system that receives, stores, retrieves, transforms, and transmits information. (2) Neuroscience grounding: Explicit effort is made to show how mental phenomena emerge from the interactions of networks of neurons in the brain.

5891 Pro-seminar in Cognitive Science
Instructor: R. Holt

This class provides a broad overview of the main themes and methods of cognitive science and will highlight the research of Ohio State's Cognitive Science community.  This course is required for students wishing to complete the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization.