• David Cunning



  • James Duerlinger, Richard Fumerton, Diane Jeske, Gregory Landini, David Stern

Associate professors

  • David Cunning, Evan Fales, Carrie Figdor

Assistant professors

  • Asha Bhandary, Jovana Davidovic, Ali Hasan, Katarina Perovic, Carrie Swanson

Professors emeriti

  • Laird Addis, Panayot Butchvarov, Phillip Cummins
Undergraduate major: philosophy (B.A.)
Undergraduate minor: philosophy
Graduate degrees: M.A. in philosophy; Ph.D. in philosophy
Web site:

The Department of Philosophy offers programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students. It also administers the interdisciplinary undergraduate major in ethics and public policy, which it offers jointly with the Departments of Economics and Sociology; see Ethics and Public Policy in the Catalog.

Undergraduate Programs of Study

  • Major in philosophy (Bachelor of Arts)
  • Minor in philosophy

Undergraduate courses in philosophy are designed to impart knowledge of fundamental issues and main developments in philosophy while strengthening logical and analytic skills. A major in philosophy develops abilities useful for graduate or professional work in many fields—law, for example—and for any situation requiring clear, systematic thinking. Students who intend to teach philosophy in a college setting must earn a graduate degree.

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Arts with a major in philosophy requires a minimum of 120 s.h., including at least 27 s.h. of work for the major. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program.

Courses numbered PHIL:2061 (026:061) Introduction to Philosophy through PHIL:4798 (026:198) Topics in Philosophy count toward the major. The final 12 s.h. in philosophy courses used to complete the major must be earned at The University of Iowa; the department may make exceptions for students who pursue approved study abroad during their senior year.

The major in philosophy requires the following courses.

Both of these:

PHIL:2603 (026:103) Introduction to Symbolic Logic3 s.h.
PHIL:3111 (026:111) Ancient Philosophy3 s.h.

One of these:

PHIL:2214 (026:114) Seventeenth-Century Philosophy3 s.h.
PHIL:2215 (026:115) Modern Philosophy3 s.h.
PHIL:2216 (026:116) Eighteenth-Century Philosophy3 s.h.


Additional philosophy courses chosen from those numbered PHIL:2061 (026:061) through PHIL:4798 (026:198)18 s.h.

In addition to prerequisites listed for individual courses, considerations such as the order in which historical courses are taken are relevant to the effective structuring of the undergraduate major in philosophy. A student's department advisor or the director of undergraduate studies can provide more information.

Four-Year Graduation Plan

The following checkpoints list the minimum requirements students must complete by certain semesters in order to stay on the University's Four-Year Graduation Plan.

Before the fifth semester begins: at least one course in the major

Before the seventh semester begins: at least five courses in the major and at least 90 s.h. earned toward the degree

Before the eighth semester begins: at least six courses in the major

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate

Honors in the Major

Students majoring in philosophy have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. In order to be admitted to the departmental honors program, a student must have taken and passed three courses required for the philosophy major and must be a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, which requires students to maintain a cumulative University of Iowa g.p.a. of at least 3.33 and to fulfill other requirements; visit Honors at Iowa to learn about the University's honors program.

In order to graduate with honors in the philosophy major, a student must complete the regular requirements for the major with a g.p.a. of at least 3.40 in philosophy courses and must write an acceptable honors thesis on a significant topic in philosophy that interests him or her. Contact the department's honors advisor for more information.


The minor in philosophy requires a minimum of 15 s.h. in philosophy courses, including 12 s.h. in 3000-level courses offered by the Department of Philosophy at The University of Iowa. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in all courses for the minor and in all UI courses for the minor. Course work in the minor may not be taken pass/nonpass. Contact the undergraduate studies director for more information.

Graduate Programs of Study

  • Master of Arts in philosophy
  • Doctor of Philosophy in philosophy

The Department of Philosophy grants admission only for the Ph.D. program. The M.A. is awarded to students as they work successfully toward the Ph.D.; it is not offered as a terminal degree.

The graduate program is designed to train teachers and scholars in philosophy. The main areas in the graduate curriculum are metaphysics, epistemology, history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of science, and value theory.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College or the Graduate College section of the Catalog.

Master of Arts

The Master of Arts in philosophy requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit and is offered without thesis. The M.A. is not offered as a terminal degree; it is awarded to students as they work successfully toward the Ph.D. Requirements include courses in metaphysics, epistemology, history of philosophy, ethics, logic, philosophy of science, and value theory. There is no foreign language requirement. Students must take an oral final examination. Contact the graduate studies director for more information.

Joint M.A./J.D.

The Department of Philosophy and the College of Law offer a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Arts degree program. M.A./J.D. students may count 12 s.h. earned in the joint program toward both degrees. They must earn 18 of the 30 s.h. required for the M.A. in graduate-level philosophy courses (the usual requirement is 24 s.h.). They also must earn a minimum of 36 s.h. in undergraduate and graduate philosophy courses, combined (the usual requirement is 42 s.h.).

Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the joint degree program.

See "Juris Doctor" and "Joint J.D./Graduate Degrees" in the College of Law section of the Catalog.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Candidacy for the doctoral program is determined by a formal vote of the entire Department of Philosophy faculty, usually after the student has completed three semesters of graduate study in residence.

Requirements include courses in metaphysics, epistemology, history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of science, and value theory. Students are required to take a comprehensive examination that covers their area of specialization and includes both written and oral components. Upon successfully completing the exam, they begin work on a prospectus for their dissertation. There is no foreign language requirement. Contact the graduate studies director for more information.


For more detailed descriptions of undergraduate and graduate courses offered during a given semester or summer session, visit the University's ISIS web site before early registration.

Lower-Level Undergraduate

PHIL:1010 (026:026) First-Year Seminar1 s.h.
Small discussion class taught by a faculty member; topics chosen by instructor; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities).
PHIL:1033 (026:033) The Meaning of Life3 s.h.
Philosophical investigation of the nature of human life and of what makes human life valuable and/or meaningful. GE: Historical Perspectives.
PHIL:1034 (026:034) Philosophy and the Just Society3 s.h.
The nature of individuals and governments and the obligations they have to each other; philosophical and historical examination of theories from Plato through the 19th century. GE: Historical Perspectives.
PHIL:1636 (026:036) Principles of Reasoning: Argument and Debate3 s.h.
Elementary logic and its application to evaluation of arguments and debates. GE: Quantitative or Formal Reasoning.
PHIL:2061 (026:061) Introduction to Philosophy3 s.h.
Issues and arguments; topics may include rational belief, evidence, the self, causation, and the presuppositions of religion. GE: Values, Society, and Diversity.
PHIL:2214 (026:114) Seventeenth-Century Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends, central arguments, major positions; Bacon and Descartes to Leibniz and Locke. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:2215 (026:115) Modern Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends and major figures from Descartes to Kant. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:2216 (026:116) Eighteenth-Century Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends, central arguments, and major positions; Berkeley to Kant.
PHIL:2401 (026:001) Matters of Life and Death3 s.h.
Important ethical controversies with life and death implications (abortion, capital punishment, torture, terrorism and war) discussed and analyzed using philosophical reasoning.
PHIL:2402 (026:102) Introduction to Ethics3 s.h.
Analytical and historical introduction to ethical theories about issues such as the nature of goodness, the nature of right conduct. GE: Values, Society, and Diversity.
PHIL:2534 (026:134) Philosophy of Religion3 s.h.
Medieval to contemporary treatments of central issues: the nature of faith; the existence and nature of God; religion and ethics; the interpretation of religious texts. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing. Same as RELS:2834 (032:146).
PHIL:2603 (026:103) Introduction to Symbolic Logic3 s.h.
Main ideas and techniques of formal deduction.

Upper-Level Undergraduate and Graduate

PHIL:3110 (026:110) Philosophy of Ancient Greece and Rome3 s.h.
Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy from its inception in Ionia in sixth century B.C.E. through the Neoplatonic philosophy of Plotinus in third century C.E., encompassing philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Epicureans, and later Platonists. Same as CLSA:3338 (20E:138).
PHIL:3111 (026:111) Ancient Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends and major figures such as Plato and Aristotle.
PHIL:3112 (026:112) Medieval Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends and major figures, such as Augustine and Aquinas. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing. Same as HIST:3112 (16E:114).
PHIL:3139 (026:139) Introduction to Public International Law and Human Rights3 s.h.
Introduction to elementary ideas of public international law; tension between traditional design and transformation brought about by human rights; public international law regarded as law governing conduct of states; how ascendancy of human rights in 20th century has profoundly altered traditional picture; states that respect and actively foster enjoyment of human rights of their populations; when a state engages in killing some of its own people and engages a responsibility to protect by international community. Same as IS:3133 (187:133).
PHIL:3143 (026:143) Philosophy East and West3 s.h.
Comparative analysis of ideas in Eastern and Western philosophy.
PHIL:3318 (026:118) Twentieth-Century Philosophy3 s.h.
Main trends and major figures. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3341 (026:141) Existentialist Philosophy3 s.h.
Main ideas of existentialism; emphasis on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3342 (026:140) Philosophical Controversies: Multiculturalism and Toleration3 s.h.
Meaning of multiculturalism as a political policy and as a personal attitude of respect; nature of cultural disagreement, cultural minority rights, immigrant group rights, gender justice, toleration, and respect.
PHIL:3429 (026:129) War, Terrorism, and Torture3 s.h.
Examination of some of the most compelling ethical and legal questions surrounding the topic of war (Can a war ever be just? If so, under which conditions is one justified in waging war? Are there limitations on permissible ways to fight a war? Are there limitations on permissible ways to exit a war? How are acts of terrorism different from acts of war? Is torture ever justified?).
PHIL:3430 (026:130) Philosophy of Human Rights3 s.h.
Philosophical and legal understanding of the concept of human rights; questions addressed (What are sources of human rights? Are they moral or legal rights? What sorts of rights fall under this category and how do we justify calling some, while not other, rights "human rights"?); focus on particular human rights including women's rights, children's rights, social and economic rights, and more.
PHIL:3431 (026:131) Aesthetics3 s.h.
Major problems in philosophy of the arts. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3432 (026:132) Introduction to Political Philosophy3 s.h.
Major problems. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3435 (026:135) Philosophy of Law3 s.h.
Introduction; the nature of law, legal authority, legal reasoning; issues in criminal law, such as punishment, responsibility; issues in property law; constitutional law. Prerequisites: PHIL:1034 (026:034) or PHIL:2402 (026:102) or PHIL:3432 (026:132). Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3436 (026:136) The Nature of Evil3 s.h.
The nature of evil explored through philosophical works, case studies of individuals, videos, and films. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3437 (026:137) Introduction to Metaphysics3 s.h.
How metaphysics inquires about ultimate nature of reality and our place in it; fundamental categories of being and relationships; the nature of time, whether time travel is possible, conditions of persistence through time of persons and material objects; the nature of causation and human freedom. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3442 (026:142) Introduction to Epistemology3 s.h.
Introduction to fundamental issues in epistemology; analysis of knowledge and justified belief, skepticism, foundationalism and coherentism, internalism and externalism.
PHIL:3538 (026:138) Philosophical Problems of Artificial Intelligence3 s.h.
Major issues and controversies. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3604 (026:104) Introduction to Philosophy of Science3 s.h.
Fundamental issues in scientific method, inductive reasoning, explanation, the distinctive nature of science. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3633 (026:133) Philosophy of History3 s.h.
Major problems: objectivity, historiographic methods and theory of interpretation, nature of historical explanations, reduction. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:3845 (026:145) Buddhist Philosophy3 s.h.
Introduction to main ideas. Requirements: sophomore or higher standing. Same as RELS:3645 (032:175).
PHIL:4047 (026:147) Philosophical Issues3-4 s.h.
A philosophical topic or controversy.
PHIL:4048 (026:148) Readings in Philosophyarr.
Requirements: honors standing and sophomore or higher standing.
PHIL:4049 (026:149) Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy3 s.h.
Selected problems. Same as CLSA:4049 (20E:149).
PHIL:4050 (026:156) Topics in Indian Philosophy3 s.h.
Varied topics related to Indian Philosophy.
PHIL:4152 (026:152) Plato3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4153 (026:153) Aristotle3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4258 (026:158) Descartes3 s.h.
Major works, such as the Discourse on Method, as well as lesser known works, such as The World.
PHIL:4260 (026:160) Spinoza and Leibniz3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4263 (026:163) Berkeley and Hume3 s.h.
Comparative and critical examination of metaphysical and epistemological views of 18th‑century empiricists George Berkeley and David Hume; theory of ideas, perception, skepticism, limits of knowledge, scientific and philosophical method, role of God in Berkeley's and Hume's philosophical systems.
PHIL:4266 (026:166) Kant3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts of Kant's metaphysics and epistemology.
PHIL:4346 (026:176) Frege and Russell3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4373 (026:173) Heidegger3 s.h.
Main ideas and major texts of Heidegger; early and later periods, particular attention to Being and Time; focus on Heidegger's analyses of being and being‑in‑the‑world.
PHIL:4375 (026:175) Rawls' Moral and Political Philosophy3 s.h.
Major theories and texts of John Rawls' moral and political philosophy.
PHIL:4377 (026:177) Wittgenstein3 s.h.
Main ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4379 (026:179) Quine3 s.h.
Major ideas, major texts.
PHIL:4480 (026:180) Analytic Ethics3 s.h.
Topics in contemporary ethics.
PHIL:4481 (026:181) Issues in Philosophy of Law3 s.h.
Main debates in legal philosophy; nature of law, theories of natural law and positivism, the Hart‑Fuller debate; legal realism, critical legal theory, feminist legal theory, critical race theory; where legal and moral issues intersect (e.g., punishment, legal obligation, rights).
PHIL:4482 (026:182) History of Ethics3 s.h.
Selected topics in the history of philosophical ethics.
PHIL:4485 (026:185) Political Philosophy3 s.h.
Selected topics.
PHIL:4586 (026:186) Topics in Metaphysics3 s.h.
Fundamental topics; major works, both classical and contemporary.
PHIL:4587 (026:187) Epistemology3 s.h.
Contemporary topics.
PHIL:4588 (026:188) Philosophy of Mind3 s.h.
Contemporary topics.
PHIL:4589 (026:189) Philosophy of Language3 s.h.
Contemporary topics. Same as LING:4589 (103:163).
PHIL:4590 (026:190) Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science3 s.h.
Processes leading from stimulus to behavioral response in cognitive or mentalistic terms; motivations for cognitive explanations, nature of cognitive architecture, problem of mental representation; additional topics may include individuation of inputs and outputs, role of consciousness in cognition, relation between language and thought, nature of concepts.
PHIL:4691 (026:191) Mathematical Logic3 s.h.
Presentation of central metatheorems relating to decidability, completeness, model theory; second‑order logic.
PHIL:4692 (026:192) Modal Logic3 s.h.
Formal techniques developed and applied to problems in analysis and modal semantics; related philosophical issues.
PHIL:4694 (026:194) Philosophy of Science3 s.h.
Central topics—for example, scientific explanation, confirmation, the meaning of scientific theories; survey of major 20th‑century developments in these areas.
PHIL:4696 (026:196) Philosophy of the Human Sciences3 s.h.
Explanation and understanding, theories and reduction, values and ideology, freedom and causality.
PHIL:4798 (026:198) Topics in Philosophy3 s.h.
A single philosopher or philosophical problem.


PHIL:6100 (026:227) Seminar: Ancient Philosophy3 s.h.
PHIL:6200 (026:229) Seminar: Modern Philosophy3 s.h.
PHIL:6300 (026:223) Seminar: Philosophical Analysis3 s.h.
PHIL:6400 (026:226) Seminar: Ethics3 s.h.
PHIL:6510 (026:221) Seminar: Metaphysics3 s.h.
PHIL:6520 (026:222) Seminar: Epistemology3 s.h.
PHIL:6540 (026:220) Seminar: Philosophy of Language3 s.h.
PHIL:6620 (026:224) Seminar: Philosophy of Science3 s.h.
PHIL:6800 (026:225) Seminar: Philosophy of Religion3 s.h.
PHIL:7200 (026:251) Research: History of Philosophyarr.
PHIL:7400 (026:245) Research: Value Theoryarr.
PHIL:7500 (026:247) Research: Metaphysics and Epistemologyarr.
PHIL:7600 (026:249) Research: Logic and Philosophy of Sciencearr.
PHIL:7900 (026:253) Thesisarr.