Department of Philosophy & Religion

Dr. James M. Okapal, Chairperson
jokapal@missouriwestern.edu
(816) 271-4155
www.missouriwestern.edu/PR

This department offers courses in the areas of philosophy, religion, and humanities.

The philosophy faculty is committed to cultivating student inquiry into all of the major areas of traditional western philosophical inquiry, including logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and the value areas of ethics and political theory, aesthetics and the philosophy of art, and the philosophy of religion. This commitment is realized primarily through the development of courses that offer students opportunities to examine philosophical issues and debates drawn from both historical and contemporary sources. Courses in philosophy thus promote the development of critical thinking skills and the ability to communicate well-reasoned personal beliefs clearly in both written and oral discourse, both in and outside the classroom. Students who major in philosophy can apply these skills and their experience in career areas such as law, business, and the health professions or to graduate study in fields such as philosophy, theology, and nursing.

Students in religion explore the beliefs and practices of humanity: from the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to the Chinese traditions of Confucianism and Daoism; from the Samsaric religions of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, to the variety of small-scale and indigenous traditions around the world. Building on a core of regional surveys, the religion minor includes courses in Jewish and Christian Biblical studies, Islam, and the philosophy of religion, as well as topical courses that examine relevant themes across a wide selection of world traditions.

Humanities courses focus on the study of core texts typically considered central to the development of the western cultural tradition, while also providing some exposure to works from non-western cultures. These courses offer students opportunities to examine human intellectual and cultural history from the perspective of the studia humanitatis formulated during the Renaissance period of modern western history as well as the "cultural studies" orientation of more recent post-structuralist thinkers. Students minoring in humanities may use the four core courses offered either to enhance their major coursework, if they are majoring in a "humanistic" discipline, or they may combine these courses with those from fields of study commonly identified as humanistic, including history, languages and literature, and philosophy, or those in the visual arts, music, and drama.

Humanities (HUM)

HUM 203  Humanities: Ancient and Medieval     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: The social and intellectual history of humanity as reflected by literature, art, music, drama and discourse from the classical period to the Renaissance.

HUM 204  Humanities: Middle Ages to the French Revolution     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: The social and intellectual history of humanity as reflected by literature, art, music, drama and discourse from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution.

HUM 205  Humanities: American Revolution to the Present     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: The social and intellectual history of humanity as reflected by literature, art, music, drama and discourse from the American Revolution to the present.

HUM 314  Technology And Society     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: Participatory course emphasizing a particular problem and/or issue related to technology and society. Class participants will investigate the semester's theme using currently available technologies. Same as BIO 314, ENG 314, PSY 314, PSC 314. Prerequisite(s): Completion of category one -- Basic Skills General Studies courses.

HUM 360  Selected Readings in the Humanities     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Specialized course work in the humanities of western civilization; emphasizes analysis of humanistic works of leading authors. Course may be repeated for up credit with departmental approval. Prerequisite(s): HUM 203, HUM 204 and HUM 205, or departmental approval.

HUM 450  Independent Research/Project     Credits: 1-3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion.

Course Description: Investigation of a research problem, project, or topic on an individual conference basis. Consent of departmental chairperson is required. Students are normally expected to discuss proposed work with HUM faculty two semesters before registration is anticipated. May be repeated with departmental approval for a maximum of 6 credits.

Philosophy (PHL)

PHL 210  Introduction to Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: Survey of the origins and development of philosophical thought focusing on texts selected from the classical, medieval, modern and contemporary periods.

PHL 219  Reasoning and Argumentation     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall.

Course Description: Introduction to the skills necessary to construct and evaluate deductive and inductive arguments for use in a variety of disciplines, professions and everyday life. Topics include identifying valid forms of arguments, formal and informal methods of evaluation and the use of these skills when reading and writing. Prerequisite(s): ENG 108 or equivalent.

PHL 220  Symbolic Logic     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring.

Course Description: Introduction to a symbolic language for representing the structure of valid arguments. Introduces formal rules for demonstrating the validity of arguments. Covers natural deduction for sentential and predicate calculus. Prerequisite(s): ACT math score of 20 or higher or the equivalent.

PHL 230  Ethics     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: An introduction to ethical theory focusing on the major traditions of Western philosophical ethics and their practical application to contemporary moral issues.

PHL 257  Theory and Criticism of Visual Culture     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall.

Course Description: A practical, experience-based multi-disciplinary introduction to contemporary and classic approaches to art theory and criticism. Same as ART 257. LAS Writing. Prerequisite(s): ART 100 or ART 205 or CIN 100 or ENG 210 or ENG 220 or HUM 203 or HUM 204 or HUM 205 or MUS 101 or THR 113.

PHL 260  Philosophical Research     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (even-numbered years).

Course Description: An introduction to the methods of philosophical research, including the analysis and interpretation of primary texts, the use of secondary sources, and formal models of oral and written presentation; the course will focus on the study of a canonical text or topic. May be repeated with departmental approval for a total of 6 credits if course content varies significantly. LAS Computer Literacy. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy.

PHL 303  Ancient Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of ancient philosophy from the pre-Socratics to Hellenistic period emphasizing the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. LAS Writing. Prerequisite(s): HUM 203 or any previous course in philosophy.

PHL 304  Modern Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of major figures and movements in modern philosophy selected from the early modern period through the end of the eighteenth century. Prerequisite(s): HUM 204 or any previous course in philosophy.

PHL 305  Topics in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of a selected movement or trend in nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy such as German idealism, American pragmatism, phenomenology and existentialism, and the analytic tradition. May be repeated with departmental approval for a total of 6 credit hours if course content varies significantly. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy.

PHL 308  History and Philosophy of the Natural Sciences     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring.

Course Description: A study of the history of the natural sciences with an emphasis on the philosophical analysis of these events. Prerequisite(s): Completion of General Studies Mathematics and Natural Sciences requirements.

PHL 310  Political Theory     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall.

Course Description: Political theories of classical thinkers, Plato and Aristotle; of church fathers, Augustine and Aquinas; and of modern theorists, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Mill; Marxism and Fascism. Same as PSC 310. LAS Ethics; LAS Writing. Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 or any previous course in philosophy or humanities.

PHL 312  Contemporary Political Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Political theories since the mid-twentieth century to the present including movements such as libertarianism, neo-conservatism, neo-liberalism, communitarianism, feminism, and environmentalism. Same as PSC 312. LAS Ethics. Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 or any previous course in philosophy or humanities.

PHL 325  Ethics of Environmental and Natural Resource Policy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion.

Course Description: A study of alternative theories of environmental ethics, the implications of these theories for natural resource and wildlife policy, and their application to some contemporary natural resource and wildlife management issues. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy or humanities.

PHL 330  Topics in Ethical Theory     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of major theoretical alternatives in western philosophical ethics with reference to contemporary trends in ethical theory. LAS Ethics. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy or humanities.

PHL 335  Aesthetics and the Arts     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of modern views of aesthetic experience and the arts with reference to classical and contemporary views. Same as ART 335. Prerequisite(s): A grade of B or higher in HUM 203 or HUM 204 or HUM 205 or PHL 210; or ART 257 or PHL 257.

PHL 350  Philosophy of Religion     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Study of classical and contemporary philosophical inquiry into the nature of religion and questions about God and ultimate reality. Same as REL 350. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy or religion.

PHL 353  Philosophy of Biology     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: An introduction to current issues in the philosophy of biology such as the nature of biological organization, classification, and living systems and some of the problems that have arisen in the attempt to understand these complex systems. Same as BIO 353. Prerequisite(s): BIO 101 or BIO 105 or BIO 106.

PHL 360  Selected Topics in Philosophy     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion.

Course Description: Specialized course work focusing on individual figures, movements, recent trends or topics in philosophy. May be repeated with departmental approval for a total of 6 credit hours if course content varies significantly. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy or humanities.

PHL 365  Selected Topics in Peace & Conflict Studies     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion.

Course Description: Specialized course work in interpersonal and/or international conflict studies. May be repeated as content varies for a maximum of 9 credits.

PHL 450  Independent Research/Project     Credits: 1-3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: Investigation of a research problem, project, or topic on an individual conference basis. Consent of departmental chairperson is required. Students are normally expected to discuss proposed work with PHL faculty two semesters before registration is anticipated. May be repeated with departmental approval for a maximum of 6 credits.

Religion (REL)

REL 250  Religions of East Asia and Oceania     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of major and minor religions with relevant historical and cultural elements, focusing primarily on religious traditions with origins in East Asia and Oceania.

REL 251  Religions of the West     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of major and minor religions with relevant historical and cultural elements, focusing primarily on religious traditions with origins in West Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

REL 252  Religions of South Asia and Africa     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Survey of major and minor religions with relevant historical and cultural elements, focusing primarily on religious traditions with origins in South Asia and Africa.

REL 260  Introduction to Biblical Studies     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Introduction to the method and content of Biblical scholarship, covering the Jewish (Hebrew) Bible and the Christian (Greek) New Testament, with some discussion of relevant apocryphal and non-canonical texts. LAS International/Intercultural.

REL 263  Religion of the Hebrew Bible     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion .

Course Description: Introduction to the major elements of the Hebrew Bible from the perspective of contemporary biblical scholarship.

REL 265  Religion of the New Testament     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Departmental Discretion.

Course Description: Introduction to major elements of the New Testament from the perspective of contemporary New Testament scholarship.

REL 350  Philosophy of Religion     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (even-numbered years).

Course Description: Study of classical and contemporary philosophical inquiry into the nature of religion and questions about God and ultimate reality. Same as PHL 350. Prerequisite(s): Any previous course in philosophy or religion.

REL 360  Selected Topics in Religion     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Specialized course work in the study of religion, normally a comparative exploration of a theme considered across a variety of global religious traditions. May be repeated as content varies for a maximum of 6 credits.

REL 361  War, Peace, & Religion     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Fall (even-numbered years).

Course Description: A course in comparative religious ethics thematically exploring a variety of global religious traditions, both East and West, examining their respective scriptures, doctrines, histories, and contemporary examples through the lens of their various perspective on violence and nonviolence. Special emphasis will be given to the resources each has available for nonviolent responses to interpersonal and international conflict. LAS Ethics; LAS International/Intercultural.

REL 365  Selected Topics in Peace & Conflict Studies     Credits: 3

Typically Offered: Spring (odd-numbered years).

Course Description: Specialized course work in interpersonal and/or international conflict studies. May be repeated as content varies for a maximum of 9 credits.

REL 450  Independent Research/Project     Credits: 1-3

Typically Offered: Fall, Spring.

Course Description: Investigation of a research problem, project, or topic on an individual conference basis. Consent of departmental chairperson is required. Students are normally expected to discuss proposed work with REL faculty two semesters before registration is anticipated. May be repeated with departmental approval for a maximum of 6 credits.

Jason Costanzo (2015) Assistant Professor, Philosophy. B.A., Franciscan University of Steubenville; M.A., Ph.D., Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Lane DesAutels (2016) Assistant Professor, Philosophy. B.A., University of Puget Sound; M.A., Western Michigan University; Ph.D., University of Maryland.

David Mathies (2009) Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion. B.A., Goshen College; MATS, Associate Mennonite Biblical Seminary; Ph.D., Boston University.

James Okapal (2005) Chairperson and Associate Professor, Philosophy. B.S., The Ohio State University; M.A., Bowling Green State University; Ph.D., University of Tennessee.