University of Virginia
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Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
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Course Descriptions

Corcoran Department of Philosophy

Degree Requirements

Programs of Study The Department of Philosophy offers programs leading to the degree of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy, and cooperates with the School of Law in a program leading to the joint degrees of J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy. An essential part of the graduate program is the development of appropriate professional skills in teaching and research; students are required to undertake the work necessary for the development of such skills. Teaching and non-teaching assistantships serve this purpose. Six semesters of such work are required as part of the Ph.D. program, and four semesters as part of the M.A. program.

Master of Arts Candidates must pass 24 credits of courses at the 500-, 700-, or 800-levels and must submit and orally defend a thesis on a topic approved by the staff. Thesis proposals should be submitted at least by the semester preceding that in which the degree is to be awarded.

Doctor of Philosophy Candidates must:

  1. pass 42 credits of courses at the 500-, 700-, or 800-levels. Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an M.A. in Philosophy from another institution may count up to 24 credits of graduate courses taken at the other institution toward this requirement;
  2. qualify in four areas: metaphysics and epistemology, ethics, history of philosophy, and logic. For each of the first three areas, candidates qualify in that area by achieving an average grade of at least B+ in three courses in that area. Candidates qualify in logic either by examination or by satisfactory course work in two courses approved by the department, one in formal logic, the other in philosophical logic;
  3. propose and have approved, at least a year before the degree is to be awarded, a topic and plan of work for the dissertation;
  4. defend the dissertation in an oral examination.

J.D.-M.A. Program This department, in cooperation with the School of Law, offers a combined program leading to the degrees of J.D. and M.A. in Philosophy. In order to enter the program a student is required to secure admission separately to the School of Law and to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences through normal admissions procedures; and to subsequently secure admission to the joint program by application to the program committee.

The program normally takes 3-4 years to complete, and ordinarily consists of the complete first-year program at the School of Law, followed by three years of courses from the curricula of the two schools and, where appropriate, from other graduate offerings at the University. The student must meet all the requirements set by the respective departments to be awarded each degree. This involves, in the School of Law, a minimum of 86 credits, as well as completion of the school's curricula; and, in the Department of Philosophy, 24 credits and completion of a thesis written under the supervision of a faculty advisor. With the approval of the members of the program committee, a student may count up to 12 credits earned at the graduate level in the Department of Philosophy or other graduate offerings in the University, toward the 86 credits required for the J.D. degree; and up to six credits earned in the School of Law toward the 24 credits required for the M.A. degree.

Further regulations concerning change of status, financial aid, tuition and fees, extracurricular activities, and grading standards may be obtained on application to the Department of Philosophy.

521 Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400780
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4780
(434) 924-7701

Course Descriptions


PHIL 504 - (3) (Y)
Bioethics Seminar

Topics vary annually and include "Methods of Practical Ethics" and "Reproductive Ethics."

PHIL 505, 506 - (3) (IR)
Seminar on a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 510 - (3) (IR)
The Historiography of Philosophy

Examines issues arising from the study of the history of philosophy. Authors include Aristotle, Hegel, Russell, Collingwood, and Rorty.

PHIL 513 - (3) (O)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 542 - (3) (E)
Symbolic Logic

Prerequisite: PHIL 242 or its equivalent

PHIL 543 - (3) (SI)
Advanced Logic

PHIL 546 - (3) (E)
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 547 - (3) (IR)
Philosophy of Mathematics

PHIL 548 - (3) (IR)
Philosophy of the Social Sciences

PHIL 559 - (3) (IR)
Research Ethics

Prerequisite: Graduate standing
Studies the history of research scandals (e.g., Nuremberg, Tuskegee) resulting in federal regulation of human subjects research; examines and critically assesses the randomized clinical trial (including informed consent, risk/benefit ratio, randomization, placebos); and considers the ethics of research with special populations, such as the cognitively impaired, prisoners, children, embryos and fetuses, and animals.

PHIL 701, 702 - (3) (Y)
Tutorial Instruction

PHIL 703, 704 - (3) (SI)
General Philosophical Topics

PHIL 705, 706 - (3) (Y)
Seminar on a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 711 - (3) (O)

PHIL 712 - (3) (E)

PHIL 715 - (3) (O)
Continental Rationalism

PHIL 716 - (3) (E)
British Empiricism

PHIL 725 - (3) (SI)
Logical Positivism

PHIL 731 - (3) (O)

PHIL 732 - (3) (E)
Topics in Epistemology

PHIL 733 - (3) (O)

PHIL 734 - (3) (E)
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 743 - (3) (SI)
Inductive Logic

PHIL 744 - (3) (E)
Philosophical Logic

PHIL 750 - (3) (SI)
Topics in the Philosophy of Language

PHIL 751 - (3) (O)

PHIL 752 - (3) (E)
Contemporary Ethics

PHIL 757 - (3) (E)
Political Philosophy

PHIL 761 - (3) (SI)

PHIL 763 - (3) (SI)
Legal Philosophy

PHIL 764 - (3) (SI)
Philosophy of History

PHIL 795 - (3) (S)
Supervised Research

PHIL 805, 806 - (3) (Y)
Seminar on a Philosophical Topic

PHIL 811 - (3) (E)
Topics in Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 813, 814 - (3) (O)
Medieval Philosophy: Augustine and Thomas Aquinas

PHIL 816 - (3) (SI)
Hume's Ethics

PHIL 817 - (3) (O)
Kant: The First Critique

PHIL 818 - (3) (SI)
Kant's Ethics

PHIL 819 - (3) (SI)
Nineteenth-Century German Philosophy

PHIL 823 - (3) (E)
Development of Analytical Philosophy

PHIL 827 - (3) (O)
The Philosophy of Wittgenstein

PHIL 829, 830 - (3) (SI)
Topics in Contemporary Philosophy

PHIL 831 - (3) (E)

PHIL 832 - (3) (SI)
Contemporary Epistemology

PHIL 833, 834 - (3) (E)
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 835 - (3) (O)
Seminar on Free Will

PHIL 841, 842 - (3) (SI)
Advanced Logic and Foundations of Mathematics

PHIL 846 - (3) (SI)
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 851 - (3) (SI)
Problems in Ethics and Metaethics

PHIL 857 - (3) (SI)
Problems in Political Philosophy

PHIL 858 - (3) (SI)
Theories of Justice

PHIL 863 - (3) (SI)
Legal and Philosophical Concepts

PHIL 864 - (3) (SI)
Law and Morality

PHIL 865 - (3) (SI)
Freedom and Responsibility

PHIL 895 - (3) (S)
Supervised Research

PHIL 897 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research

For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.

PHIL 898 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research

For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.

PHIL 997 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research

For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.

PHIL 999 - (3-12) (S)
Non-Topical Research

For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.

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