Soy Plural

The word "literature" has different meanings depending on who is using it. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

 

FIX University, a place for independent study...

Special Fields of Philosophy

Many branches of philosophy have grown from the traditional core areas. What follows is a sketch of some of the major ones.
Philosophy of Mind. This subfield has emerged from metaphysical concerns with the mind and mental phenomena. The philosophy of mind addresses not only the possible relations of the mental to the physical (for instance, to brain processes), but the many concepts having an essential mental element: belief, desire, emotion, feeling, sensation, passion, will, personality, and others. A number of major questions in the philosohy of mind cluster in the area of action theory: What differentiates actions, such as raising an arm, from mere body movements, such as the rising of an arm? Must mental elements, for example intentions and beliefs, enter into adequate explanations of our actions, or can actions be explained by appeal to ordinary physical events? And what is required for our actions to be free?
Philosophy of Religion. Another traditional concern of metaphysics is to understand the concept of God, including special attributes such as being all-knowing, being all-powerful, and being wholly good. Both metaphysics and epistemology have sought to assess the various grounds people have offered to justify believing in God. The philosophy of religion treats these topics and many related subjects, such as the relation between faith and reason, the nature of religious language, the relation of religion and morality, and the question of how a God who is wholly good could allow the existence of evil.
Philosophy of Science. This is probably the largest subfield generated by epistemology. Philosophy of science is usually divided into philosophy of the natural sciences and philosophy of the social sciences. It has recently been divided further, into philosophy of physics, biology, psychology, economics, and other sciences. Philosophy of science clarifies both the quest for scientific knowledge and the results yielded by that quest. It does this by exploring the logic of scientific evidence; the nature of scientific laws, explanations, and theories; and the possible connections among the various branches of science. How, for instance, is psychology related to brain biology, and biology to chemistry? And how are the social sciences related to the natural sciences?
Subfields of Ethics. From ethics, too, have come major subfields. Political Philosophy concerns the justification—and limits—of governmental control of individuals; the meaning of equality before the law; the basis of economic freedom; and many other problems concerning government. It also examines the nature and possible arguments for various competing forms of political organization, such as laissez-faire capitalism, welfare democracy (capitalistic and socialistic), anarchism, communism, and fascism. Social Philosophy, often taught in combination with political philosophy (which it overlaps), treats moral problems with large-scale social dimensions. Among these are the basis of compulsory education, the possible grounds for preferential treatment of minorities, the justice of taxation, and the appropriate limits, if any, on free expression in the arts. The Philosophy of Law explores such topics as what law is, what kinds of laws there are, how law is or should be related to morality, and what sorts of principles should govern punishment and criminal justice in general. Medical Ethics addresses many problems arising in medical practice and medical science. Among these are standards applying to physician-patient relationships; moral questions raised by special procedures, such as abortion and ceasing of life-support for terminal patients; and ethical standards for medical research, for instance genetic engneering and experimentation using human subjects. Business Ethics addresses such questions as how moral obligations may conflict with the profit motive and how these conflicts may be resolved. Other topics often pursued are the nature and scope of the social responsibilities of corporations, their rights in a free society, and their relations to other institutions.
Philosophy of Art (Aesthetics). This is one of the oldest subfields. It concerns the nature of art, including both the performing arts and painting, sculpture, and literature. Major questions in aesthetics include how artistic creations are to be interpreted and evaluated, and how the arts are related to one another, to natural beauty, and to morality, religion, science, and other important elements of human life.
Philosophy of Language. This field has close ties to both epistemology and metaphysics. It treats a broad spectrum of questions about language: the nature of meaning, the relations between words and things, the various theories of language learning, and the distinction between literal and figurative uses of language. Since language is crucial in nearly all human activity, the philosophy of language can enhance our understanding both of other academic fields and of much of what we ordinarily do.
Other Subfields. There are many other subfields of philosophy, and it is in the nature of philosophy as critical inquiry to develop new subfields when new directions in the quest for knowledge, or in any other area of human activity, raise new intellectual problems. Among the subfields not yet mentioned, but often taught at least as part of other courses, are Inductive Logic, Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Mathematics, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of Feminism, Philosophy of Linguistics, Philosophy of Criticism, Philosophy of Culture, and Philosophy of Film.

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The Uses of Philosophy

General Uses of Philosophy

Much of what is learned in philosophy can be applied in virtually any endeavour. This is both because philosophy touches on so many subjects and, especially, because many of its methods are usable in any field.
General Problem Solving. The study of philosophy enhances, in a way no other activity does, one's problem-solving capacities. It helps one to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments and problems. It contributes to one's capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what is essential from masses of information. It helps one both to distinguish fine differences between views and to discover common ground between opposing positions. And it helps one to synthesize a variety of views or perspectives into a unified whole.

Communication Skills. Philosophy also contributes uniquely to the development of expressive and communicative powers. It provides some of the basic tools of self-expression—for instance, skills in presenting ideas through well-constructed, systematic arguments—that other fields either do not use, or use less extensively. It helps one to express what is distinctive of one's view; enhances one's ability to explain difficult material; and helps one to eliminate ambiguities and vagueness from one's writing and speech.
Persuasive Powers. Philosophy provides training in the construction of clear formulations, good arguments, and apt examples. It thereby helps one develop the ability to be convincing. One learns to build and defend one's own views, to appreciate competing positions, and to indicate forcefully why one considers one's own views preferable to alternatives. These capacities can be developed not only through reading and writing in philosophy, but also through the philosophical dialogue, in and outside the classroom, that is so much a part of a thoroughgoing philosophical education.
Writing Skills. Writing is taught intensively in many philosophy courses, and many regularly assigned philosophical texts are unexcelled as literary essays. Philosophy teaches interpretive writing through its examination of challenging texts, comparative writing through emphasis on fairness to alternative positions, argumentative writing through developing students' ability to establish their own views, and descriptive writing through detailed portrayal of concrete examples: the anchors to which generalizations must be tied. Strucure and technique, then, are emphasized in philosophical writing. Originality is also encouraged, and students are generally urged to use their imagination and develop their own ideas.

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The Uses of Philosophy in Educational Pursuits

The general uses of philosophy just described are obviously of great academic value. It should be clear that the study of philosophy has intrinsic rewards as an unlimited quest for understanding of important, challenging problems. But philosophy has further uses in deepening an education, both in college and in the many activities, professional and personal, that follow graduation.
Understanding Other Disciplines. Philosophy is indispensable for this. Many important questions about a discipline, such as the nature of its concepts and its relation to other disciplines, do not belong to that discipline, are not usually pursued in it, and are philosophical in nature. Philosophy of science, for instance, is needed to supplement the understanding of the natural and social sciences which one derives from scientific work itself. Philosophy of literature and philosophy of history are of similar value in understanding the humanities, and philosophy of art is important in understanding the arts. Philosophy is, moreover, essential in assessing the various standards of evidence used by other disciplines. Since all fields of knowledge employ reasoning and must set standards of evidence, logic and epistemology have a general bearing on all these fields.
Development of Sound Methods of Research and Analysis. Still another value of philosophy in education is its contribution to one's capacity to frame hypotheses, do research, and put problems into manageable form. Philosophical thinking strongly emphasizes clear formulation of ideas and problems, selection of relevant data, and objective methods for assessing ideas and proposals. It also emphasizes development of a sense of the new directions suggested by the hypotheses and questions one encounters in doing research. Philosophers regularly build on both the successes and failures of their predecessors. A person with philosophical training can readily learn to do the same in any field.

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The Uses of Philosophy in Non-Academic Careers

It should be stressed immediately that the non-academic value of a field of study must not be viewed mainly in terms of its contribution to obtaining one's first job after graduation. Students are understandably preoccupied with getting their first job, but even from a narrow vocational point of view it would be short-sighted to concentrate on that at the expense of developing potential for success and advancement once hired. What gets graduates initially hired may not yield promotions or carry them beyond their first position, particularly given how fast the needs of many employers alter with changes in social and economic patterns. It is therefore crucial to see beyond what a job description specifically calls for. Philosophy need not be mentioned among a job's requirements in order for the benefits derivable from philosophical study to be appreciated by the employer, and those benefits need not even be explicitly appreciated in order to be effective in helping one advance.
It should also be emphasized here that—as recent studies show—employers want, and reward, many of the capacities which the study of philosophy develops: for instance, the ability to solve problems, to communicate, to organize ideas and issues, to assess pros and cons, and to boil down complex data. These capacities represent transferable skills. They are transferable not only from philosophy to non-philosophy areas, but from one non-philosophical field to another. For that reason, people trained in philosophy are not only prepared to do many kinds of tasks; they can also cope with change, or even move into new careers, more readily than others.
Regarding current trends in business, a writer in the New York Times reported that "businessmen are coming to appreciate an education that at its best produces graduates who can write and think clearly and solve problems" (June 23, 1981). A recent long-term study by the Bell Telephone Company, moreover, determined that majors in liberal arts fields, in which philosophy is a central discipline, "continue to make a strong showing in managerial skills and have experienced considerable business success" (Career Patterns, by Robert E. Beck). The study concluded that "there is no need for liberal arts majors to lack confidence in approaching business careers". A related point is made by a Senior Vice President of the American Can Company:

Students with any academic background are prepared for business when they can educate themselves and can continue to grow without their teachers, when they have mastered techniques of scholarship and discipline, and when they are challenged to be all they can be. (Wall Street Journal, February 2, 1981.)

As all this suggests, there are people trained in philosophy in just about every field. They have gone not only into such professions as teaching (at all levels), medicine, and law, but into computer science, management, publishing, sales, criminal justice, public relations, and other fields. Some professionally trained philosophers are also on legislative staffs, and the work of some of them, for a senior congressman, prompted him to say:

It seems to me that philosophers have acquired skills which are very valuable to a member of Congress. The ability to analyze a problem carefully and consider it from many points of view is one. Another is the ability to communicate ideas clearly in a logically compelling form. A third is the ability to handle the many different kinds of problems which occupy the congressional agenda at any time. (Lee H. Hamilton, 9th District, Indiana, March 25, 1982.)

In emphasizing the long-range benefits of training in philosophy, whether through a major or through only a sample of courses in the field, there are a least two further points to note. The first concerns the value of philosophy for vocational training. The second applies to the whole of life.
First, philosophy can yield immediate benefits for students planning postgraduate work. As law, medical, business, and other professional school faculty and admissions personnel have often said, philosophy is excellent preparation for the training and later careers of the professionals in question. In preparing to enter such fields as computer science, management, or public administration, which, like medicine, have special requirements for post-graduate study, a student may of course major (or minor) both in philosophy and some other field.
The second point here is that the long-range value of philosophical study goes far beyond its contribution to one's livelihood. Philosophy broadens the range of things one can understand and enjoy. It can give one self-knowledge, foresight, and a sense of direction in life. It can provide, to one's reading and conversation, special pleasures of insight. It can lead to self-discovery, expansion of consciousness, and self-renewal. Through all of this, and through its contribution to one's expressive powers, it nurtures individuality and self-esteem. Its value for one's private life can be incalculable; its benefits for one's public life as a citizen can be immeasurable.

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Conclusion

Philosophy is the systematic study of ideas and issues, a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for a comprehensive understanding of the world, a study of principles of conduct, and much more. Every domain of human experience raises questions to which its techniques and theories apply, and its methods may be used in the study of any subject or the pursuit of any vocation. Indeed, philosophy is in a sense inescapable: life confronts every thoughtful person with some philosophical questions, and nearly everyone is guided by philosophical assumptions, even if unconsciously. One need not be unprepared. To a large extent one can choose how reflective one will be in carifying and developing one's philosophical assumptions, and how well prepared one is for the philosophical quesions life presents. Philosophical training enhances our problem-solving capacities, our abilities to understand and express ideas, and our persuasive powers. It also develops understanding and enjoyment of things whose absence impoverishes many lives: such things as aesthetic experience, communication with many different kinds of people, lively discussion of current issues, the discerning observation of human behavior, and intellectual zest. In these and other ways the study of philosophy contributes immeasurably in both academic and other pursuits.
The problem-solving, analytical, judgemental, and synthesizing capacities philosophy develops are unrestricted in their scope and unlimited in their usefulness. This makes philosophy especially good preparation for positions of leadership, responsibility, or management. A major or minor in philosophy can easily be integrated with requirements for nearly any entry-level job; but philosophical training, particularly in its development of many transferable skills, is especially significant for its long-term benefits in career advancement.
Wisdom, leadership, and the capacity to resolve human conflicts cannot be guaranteed by any course of study; but philosophy has traditionally pursued these ideals systematically, and its methods, its literature, and its ideas are of constant use in the quest to realize them. Sound reasoning, critical thinking, well constructed prose, maturity of judgement, a strong sense of relevance, and an enlightened consciousness are never obsolete, nor are they subject to the fluctuating demands of the market-place. The study of philosophy is the most direct route, and in many cases the only route, to the full developent of these qualities.

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Doctor of Philosophy Graduate Degree Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy Graduate Degree Requirements

Overview

The PhD degree requires a minimum of 81 credits of graduate-level course work, of which 18 must be in Dissertation (PHIL 603). Students must complete a logic requirement, demonstrate proficiency in a second language, complete the four course distribution requirements, and pass two comprehensive examinations, in our program these are extensive research projects -- one in history (history paper) and one in the student's area of specialization (literature review). Most students finish their doctoral degrees within 5 to 6 years. The graduate school imposes a limit of seven years for completion of the PhD degree.

Time Table for Completing the PhD

  • Logic Requirement: by the end of year 2
  • Language Requirement: by the end of year 3
  • Distribution Requirements: by the end of fall term of year 3
  • History Paper Proposal: by the end of fall term of year 3
  • History Paper: by the end of winter term of year 3
  • Literature Review: by the end of fall term of year 4
  • Prospectus: by the end of winter term of year 4
  • PhD Dissertation: by the end of spring term of year 5

Distribution Requirements

Current Courses that Satisfy Distribution Requirements
The distribution requirements can be satisfied by receiving a mid-B or better in the areas listed below. A single course may count toward each of three categories, but no more than once in a single category. For example, a course may count in a sub-disciplinary field such as metaphysics, and, at the same time, apply to both the history requirement and the traditions requirement.
Field satisfaction will be determined by the Graduate Director, in consultation with the faculty member teaching the class, and this information will be posted in advance:
  1. Philosophical Traditions

    • Two courses from each of the four philosophical traditions that ground the diverse philosophical perspectives of the department (for those entering Fall 2009 and thereafter, one of the two courses in each of the traditions will be a pro-seminar -- tradition offerings alternate years -- taken within the first two years of graduate study)
      • Continental Philosophy
      • Analytic Philosophy
      • American Philosophy
      • Feminist Philosophy
  2. Subdisciplinary Fields

    • For students entering fall 2008 or before: three courses in each of the three sub-disciplinary fields listed below.
    • For students entering fall 2009 or after: two courses in each of three sub-disciplinary fields listed below.
      • Society and Value - courses in aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and ethics.
      • Knowledge, Rationality and Inquiry - courses in epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of language.
      • Metaphysics - courses in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion.
  3. Historical Periods

    • One course from each of the four historical periods:
      • ancient and medieval
      • modern (16th, 17th and 18th century philosophy)
      • 19th century philosophy
      • 20th century philosophy.
  4. ARNL: Asian, Race, Native American, Latin American

    • For those entering in Fall 2009 or thereafter, one course in one of the four ARNL requirement areas:
      • Asian Philosophy
      • Philosophy of Race
      • Native American Philosophy
      • Latin American Philosophy

Transfer Credit for Distribution Requirements

Subject to approval by the Director of Graduate Studies, a student may use transfer courses (i.e. graduate courses taken at another university) or graduate courses taken outside the Philosophy Department, as follows: (1) one course in each of the three sub-fields (the other two in each sub-field must be taken in the Department); (2) one course may be counted toward the history course requirement: (3) one course may be used under each of the four traditions (the other one in each tradition must be taken in the Department). However, in satisfying these requirements, the maximum number of transfer and/or outside the department courses that can be counted is five.

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Language Proficiency

To graduate with an advanced degree in Philosophy from the University of Oregon, students must demonstrate proficiency in a second language equivalent to two years of study in that language at the college level. The language must be approved by the student's advisor and should be relevant to the student's philosophical interests. Proficiency may be demonstrated by:

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MA on the Way to PhD

When PhD students have completed both the distribution and language proficiency requirements, they are eligible to apply for an MA and are encouraged to do so. The Philosophy MA requirements for PhD students are the same as those for MA students, except that a PhD student is encouraged to apply for the MA as soon as possible after the MA requirements have been met (the Graduate School has a policy of not granting MA and PhD degrees at the same time, i.e. when the student has completed the Ph.D). If applying for the MA on the way to obtaining the PhD, the "Permission to Re-Register in the Graduate School" form at must also be submitted before the term following the award of the MA.

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Logic Requirement

As a condition for advancement to candidacy in the doctoral program, the student must satisfy the logic requirement in one of four ways:
  1. Earning a grade of B or higher in PHIL 325 (Logic, Inquiry, and Argumentation);
  2. Earning a grade of B or higher in an advanced undergraduate logic course taken before entering the doctoral program;
  3. Completing (with a B or higher) an appropriate 4-credit reading and conference course (PHIL 605) in logic within the Philosophy Department; or
  4. Earning a grade of B or higher in a logic course offered by another UO department (e.g., mathematics or computer science). Courses taken for logic credit under 2.- 4. above must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Comprehensive Exams (Research Papers)

The comprehensive examinations are passed by completing two substantial research papers under the supervision of faculty. Students are advanced to candidacy upon completion of the comprehensives.
Registration for the History Paper and Literature Review
When students write the History Paper, they may register for it once, for up to 5 research credits (PHIL 605). They may receive an incomplete once, which will be corrected the term following the term in which they have registered for it. Students may register once for up to 9 research credits for their Literature Review and are expected to complete the Literature Review in the term they have registered for it.

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History Paper


The history paper constitutes half of the comprehensive examination requirement of the Graduate School. The literature review constitutes the second half.
The purpose of the history paper is to provide students with the opportunity to deepen and broaden their knowledge of and approach to main topics in the history of philosophy, and to produce a paper as an independent research project. Papers should be approximately 7000 words in length and make appropriate use of secondary literature (25 pages not counting bibliography and endnotes, 35 pages inclusive is the maximum).
Procedure:
• Forming a Committee: After completing their coursework, students will be asked to form a committee of two philosophy faculty members, one of whom will serve as chair of the committee.
• History Paper Proposal: Students will submit to their committee for approval a research project in the history of philosophy. The proposal should be no more than five pages long.
• Registration for PHIL 601 Graduate Research: Following approval of the proposal, a student will register for Phil 601: Research for up to 5 credits. Students may only register for history paper credits once and may receive no more than one incomplete for history paper research. The incomplete will be changed to “P” on successful completion of the requirement. Once the proposal is approved, the student will work independently to complete a final draft of the paper during the term of registration for PHIL 601. If a student is not taking classes while researching and writing their history paper, the balance of credits should be taken as PHIL 605 Reading, and should not result in an incomplete at the end of the term even if the history paper is not completed.
• Completion: Students should complete their history papers in no more than two terms.
• Submission of the Paper: When the paper is complete, it will be submitted to the examining committee and reviewed.
• Evaluation of the Paper: The committee will meet with the student to provide an evaluation of the paper. The paper will be accepted, accepted pending revisions, or rejected. If it is accepted pending revisions, the revised version of the paper will be evaluated again by the committee and accepted, accepted pending revisions or rejected. If it is accepted pending revisions, the final paper will be evaluated again by the committee and accepted or rejected. If the paper is rejected at any point, then upon consideration by the Graduate Studies Committee and a two-thirds vote of the Faculty, the student will be asked to leave the PhD program.
Topic Guidelines: The purpose of the paper is to lead students to deepen and broaden their knowledge of and approach to main topics in the history of philosophy. To that end, the paper will provide occasion for coming to an understanding of the development of philosophical traditions in their historical and cultural settings.
Papers will consider some philosophical question formulated and debated in major works prior to 1980, or the work of one philosopher whose major works were published before 1980. Students should consider the intellectual—historical context of the philosopher or question and current relevant secondary literature. The paper can take a single tradition as its primary focus, but it should establish and assess this tradition’s interaction with other philosophical traditions as part of its historical development. Students may adopt a comparative approach (comparing figures or traditions with respect to a sufficiently precise topic), a broad intellectual historical approach (e.g., discerning the broader intellectual historical background for a problem shared by otherwise divergent traditions or figures) or a bridge-building approach (e.g. showing how a particular philosophical topic is addressed by tools and methodologies drawn from diverse philosophical traditions, figures, and/or periods). Depending on the topic, it may be important also to consider what it means to read philosophy in an historical context. The chosen topic may be, but need not be, related to the student’s planned area of specialization and field of dissertation research, though it should not be narrowly focused on the topic of the dissertation.


History Paper Examples

Literature Review

(click here for Literature Review Certification form)
Constituting your Dissertation Committee: Upon completing distribution requirements and passing the history paper comprehensive, students are to constitute their PhD dissertation committee (which needn't include the outside member at this point) in preparation for their second comprehensive, a literature review in the Area of Specialization, in relation to the dissertation project. Each dissertation committee consists of a chair, who is the student's advisor, and two readers from within the department. For the prospectus, a 4th member is added, this external member of the dissertation/thesis committee must be a member of the University of Oregon faculty not in the Department of Philosophy. The committee may also include other members from outside the University of Oregon at the discretion of the student and adviser and with the approval of the Department Head and the Graduate School.
Sources: The students should work with their committee members to develop a list of 50-100 sources that will be important to their dissertation projects. Once this list is approved, the student will write a review of the literature, following these guidelines:
  • The completed literature review should be no more than 50 and no less than 30 pages long, double-spaced, 12 pt. font.
  • The review should be written in narrative style (i.e. the student should avoid simply handing in an annotated bibliography, though he/she may well complete such a bibliography in preparation for writing the literature review).
  • Each work that is addressed in the literature review should be discussed in terms of its relation to an articulated philosophical question or problem related to the area of the dissertation project, rather than simply summarized.
  • When the review is finished and the committee reads it, the student may be asked to do additional work on the review.

Advancement to Candidacy for the PhD

PhD students will be advanced to candidacy after they have completed their comprehensives (i.e. after successfully completing the distribution requirements, history paper, and literature review).

Prospectus

(click here for the Dissertation Prospectus Approval Form (pdf))
The Prospectus and Prospectus Examination is a key step towards earning a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Oregon.
Constituting a Dissertation Committee: Students should form a dissertation committee. A committee typically consists of four members, three, including the advisor, who are regular members of the department, and one from a department in the University other than the philosophy department. (The committee may also include an additional member who may not be at the University of Oregon.) Please note the following:
  1. The selection of the dissertation advisor should be made with the following considerations in mind: First, the advisor should have a research focus in the central area of the proposed topic. Second, the advisor should be someone that the student can work with. Third, the advisor has the responsibility for the reading and evaluation of initial drafts of the dissertation.
  2. The membership of the committee should be formed in consultation with the dissertation advisor, who can provide suggestions about the selection of the outside member. Typically, other committee members will read a draft of (parts of) the dissertation when the thesis advisor considers them to be ready for other committee members to see them and comment.
  3. After preliminary discussions with a thesis advisor, students should prepare a draft of the Prospectus and submit it to the thesis advisor.
  4. When the advisor and student agree that the Prospectus is ready for submission to other members of the Ph.D. committee, a version of it should be presented to them; committee members may request revisions of the Prospectus, and students should allow time for these revisions (in order to be in compliance with Departmental expectations).
  5. A Prospectus Examination should be scheduled (for about sixty minutes) in consultation with the thesis advisor and other members of the committee. The Examination is expected to be attended by the candidate and all of the members of the dissertation committee. It should be held only when the advisor and the committee members believe that there is a workable project, something they determine after their evaluation of a submitted draft of the Prospectus.
Content: There are certain ingredients that a Prospectus must contain. Most importantly, there should be a problem that the Prospectus identifies and explains. To this end, the introduction to the Prospectus should include some motivation for addressing the problem, as well as an attempt at explaining, illustrating and clarifying what the problem is. The Prospectus also should try to make clear how the candidate intends to address that problem. It is not sufficient for the Prospectus to indicate that certain claims will be defended or attacked; it must be made clear how the candidate proposes to establish these claims or to illuminate them. To this end, a synopsis of each chapter is needed together with an indication of how the chapters are linked, why one chapters leads into another. A Prospectus should not be overly long, somewhere from seven to ten pages, not including the bibliography.
Not only is the dissertation expected to be an original piece of work, something that would be reflected in what it has to say about the problem it addresses, but it is also expected to demonstrate the candidate's familiarity with the relevant literature and his or her competence in providing critical readings of this literature. The candidate is expected to know the more influential and important writings on the problem the thesis is to address, and the Prospectus should reflect the fact that the candidate has plans to acquire that knowledge. To this end, the candidate should provide an extensive Bibliography appended to the end of the Prospectus.
Prospectus Examination: The Prospectus Examination provides an opportunity for all of the members of the committee, including the outside member, to share their views of what needs to be done to strengthen the project; how it might need to be expanded or, as is more likely, narrowed in its focus. The concern is that the dissertation address a problem that can be handled adequately by the candidate in a reasonable amount of time. By accepting the Prospectus the committee agrees that the Prospectus presents a project suitable in content and scope for a dissertation.
Dissertation Prospectus Approval Form (pdf)

Dissertation

All candidates must submit a dissertation based on independent and original research. The dissertation must contribute significantly to knowledge, show a mastery of the literature of the subject, be written in acceptable literary style, and conform to the standards outlined in the University of Oregon Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations. Preparation of the dissertation usually requires the greater part of one or two academic years.
Defense of Dissertation -- A formal, public defense must take place on the campus at a date set by the committee chair and approved by the Graduate School. Tentative approval of the dissertation by the committee is recommended prior to formal defense. This evaluation is based on copies of the final manuscript, which the candidate provides for the dissertation committee at least seven weeks before the Dissertation Defense Date, unless all members of the committee approve of an alternative submission date. The dissertation must be approved by the committee as suitable for oral defense at least three weeks before the formal defense. Four copies of the dissertation abstract (350-word maximum) must also be filed with the Graduate School at this time. The time and place of the defense must be publicly noted. The dissertation committee must be present at the defense, and the chair of the committee must certify to the Graduate School within two weeks following the defense that the defense was held as scheduled.
Completion of Dissertation - Within two weeks following the defense of the dissertation but before the dissertation is submitted in duplicate to the Graduate School, each member of the dissertation committee must confirm in writing either approval or disapproval of the final version. Approval requires a unanimous vote.
NOTE: The "Application for Final Oral Defense" and "Confirmation of Agreement to Attend Final Oral Defense" forms at https://gradweb.uoregon.edu/main/mainStudent.asp must be filed by week 5 of the expected term of graduation and no less than three weeks before the Dissertation Defense date.

Leaves of Absence

Each graduate student is entitled to three terms of leave before he/she advances to candidacy, and three terms after advancing to candidacy. Leaves must be approved, and do not stop the seven-year clock for completion of degree.
The "On-Leave Status for Masters and Pre-Advancement Doctoral Students" form at https://gradweb.uoregon.edu/main/petitions/student/onleave.html, and the "In Absentia Status for Post-Advancement Doctoral Students" form at https://gradweb.uoregon.edu/main/mainstudent.asp must be filed before taking any leave, and must be followed by the "Permission to Re-Register in the Graduate School" form at http://gradschool.uoregon.edu/policies-procedures/reregistration before registration for the term of planned return.

Graduate School Requirements

In addition to specific Philosophy Department requirements, doctoral candidates must satisfy all Graduate School requirements, as specified in the Graduate Catalog and on their website. Students need to take particular notice of the Graduate School residency requirement, which reads:
"For the PhD degree the student must complete at least three years of full-time graduate-level academic work beyond the bachelor's degree. At least one academic year--the residency year--must be spent in residence on the Eugene campus after the student has been classified as a conditionally or an unconditionally admitted student in a doctoral program. During this year of residency the student is expected to make progress toward the degree by completing course credits and satisfying doctoral degree requirements. The residency year consists of three consecutive terms of full-time study, with a minimum of 9 completed graduate credits a term in the student's major.
A doctoral candidate may fulfill the residency requirement during the period in which he or she works toward a master's degree on the university campus as long as the student has been officially awarded the master's degree, the doctoral degree program immediately follows the master's degree program, and both the master's degree and the doctoral degree are in the same discipline.

Master of Arts degree program in History and Philosophy of Science

Courses

Core (Required) Courses

HIS 6469. Historiography and Science (4). Introduces graduate students to the range of scholarship within the history of science. Reveals the full sweep of the study of science and society by examining studies of various scientific disciplines and time periods.
HIS 6500. History of Life Sciences (4) . Considers the development of life sciences from 1750 to the present. The course will introduce students to critical problems related to biology and society through the study of primary and secondary sources.
PHI 6455. Philosophy of Biology: Basic Topics (3) . A survey of basic topics in the philosophy of biology, including the nature of evolutionary theory, the coming of genetics, molecular biology and its philosophical implications, the Human Genome Project, Creationism, eugenics, and ecological questions.
PHI 6457r. Philosophy of Biology: Selected Topics (3) . A study of advanced topics in philosophy of biology, including game-theoretic explanations in biology, the units of selection problem, reductionism in biology, systematics, and socio-biology and the is/ought gap. May be repeated to a maximum of nine (9) semester hours.
REL 5493 01 Historiography of Science and Religion (3) . What is the relationship between science and religion? Are they necessary enemies, rival perspectives fighting over a single truth? Are they separate but equal human practices that address fundamentally different domains of inquiry? Or is the relationship between these cultural fields so deeply entangled that no simple, unified answer exists? Rather than addressing these questions in the abstract, this course grapples with key episodes in the complex history of science and religion in the West.
REL 5493 02 Religion, Medicine and Natural Philosophy in the 17th & 18th Centuries (3) . Explores the idiosyncratic projects, socio-cultural contexts, and theological horizons of early modern natural philosophy and medical theorizing.

Elective Courses (A Representative Sample)

This is a list of regularly offered courses, but there are many other possibilities to explore in the many related departments.
HISTORY
AMH 5336. U.S. Intellectual History I: Beginning to 1880 (4). An interdisciplinary study of American thought from the Puritans to the late 19th century, asking, among other questions, what mission American assigned itself. Among the ideas examined will be Puritanism, the Revolutionary ideology, federalism, the American Enlightenment, romanticism, individualism, and manifest destiny.
AMH 5337. U.S. Intellectual History II: 1880 to the Present (4). An interdisciplinary study of the impact on American thought of social Darwinism, industrialism, naturalism, the culture of consumption, radicalism, anticommunism, postindustrialism, and affluence. Examines the growth of cultural criticism as a task required of the 20th-century intellectual.
EUH 5608. European Intellectual History, 1500-1800 (4) . History of ideas documenting transition from "Medieval Mind" to "Modern Mind" including impact of four Renaissances, Protestant Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Age of Enlightenment. Inter-disciplinary approach includes philosophy, literature, art, political theory, science, economic thought, religion, and music.
EUH 5609. European Intellectual History, 1800 to Present (4) . History of ideas in the last two hundred years, exploring nineteenth century as Age of "Isms" (including Liberalism, Conservatism, Communism, Romanticism, Idealism, Nationalism, Industrialism, Imperialism, Positivism, Darwinism, Historicism) and establishing the 20th century as Age of Crisis in which traditional Western Civilization disintegrates.
AMH 5635. Florida Environmental History (4) . Applies the methods and approaches of environmental history to Florida. Environmental history is an exciting new field of historical scholarship that considers the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world through time. The field explores how nature has helped to shape culture as well as how humans have modified the natural world and transformed the land.
AMH 5636. North American Environmental History (4) . Introduces the changing relationships between human beings and the natural world in America through time.
WOH 5238. Disease, Race & Environment (4) . Examines the close relationship between disease, race, and environment in the development of civilizations of the world.
PHILOSOPHY
PHH 5105r. Greek Philosophy (3) . Detailed study of Plato, Aristotle, or one of the schools or divisions of ancient thought (pre-Socratics, Stoicism, etc.). May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHH 5405r. Modern Philosophy (3) . A critical study of selected major western philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with an emphasis on logic, epistemology, and metaphysics. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHH 5505r. 19th-Century Philosophy (3). A study of either a major philosopher (e.g., Hegel, Marx, Mill) or philosophic movement (e.g., idealism, positivism, Marxism) of the nineteenth century. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHH 5609r. Contemporary Philosophy (3) . A detailed critical examination of selected figures and topics in twentieth-century philosophy. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHH 6009r. Studies in the History of Philosophy (3) . A course on major philosophers and trends that may bridge or extend over more than one distinct chronological period. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 5135. Modern Logic I (3) . Prerequisite: PHI 3130, equivalent, or permission of instructor. A course in the metatheory of first order logic. A mastery of the syntax and semantics of, and a natural deduction system for, first order logic is presumed. Among other results, the soundness and completeness of such a natural deduction system, and Gödel's first incompleteness theorem, are proved.
PHI 5136r. Modern Logic II (3) . Prerequisite: PHI 3130, or equivalent; or permission of instructor. An exploration of one or more non-classical logics, such as intuitionistic, many-valued, modal, provability, quantum, relevance, and tense. A mastery of the syntax and semantics of, and a natural deduction system for, first order logic is presumed. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 5555. Core Course in Metaphysics and Epistemology (3) . This course is a broad survey in contemporary metaphysics and epistemology requiring intensive study of works by such influential 20th-century analytic philosophers as Quine and Kripke. A selection of the following topics are covered: existence, identity, modality, universals, causation, free will, truth, the mind-body problem, theories of knowledge, skepticism, and naturalized epistemology.
PHI 5665. Core Course in Ethics (3) . This course examines normative ethics and metaethics, including such topics as consequentialism, contractualism, deontology, divine command theory, expressivism, intuitionism, and realism. The survey also includes reference to historical figures such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Bentham, and Mill.
PHI 5934r. Topics in Philosophy (3) . A variable content research seminar on selected philosophical problems. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 5956. Introduction to Philosophical Methods (3) . Prerequisite: Instructor's permission required. An introduction for graduate students that offers a critical review and analysis of various techniques of philosophical writing (e.g., textual interpretation, argument analysis, commentary on a philosophical paper). This is a writing-intensive course of varying content.
PHI 5998r. Tutorial in Philosophy (1–3) . Critical readings and discussions of important classical and contemporary philosophical texts. Variable content. Variable credit: one to two (1–2) semester hours for a reading course; three (3) semester hours for a reading course with substantial writing. Repeatable with the permission of instructor to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6205r Philosophical Logic (3) . Prerequisite: PHI 3130, equivalent; or permission of instructor. An exploration of philosophical issues concerning logic and its applications. Topics such as counterfactuals; logical consequence; the range and nature of quantification; the relation of logic to language and thought; the relation of logic to mathematics; truth; vagueness. A mastery of the syntax and semantics of, and a natural deduction system for, first order logic is presumed. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6225r. Philosophy of Language (3) . Selected topics, such as the following: theories of truth, meaning, and reference; vagueness; and in-depth readings of figures such as Tarski, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Kripke. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6306r. Epistemology (3) . A seminar on one or more main topics in contemporary analytic epistemology, such as skepticism, the definition of knowledge, theories of justification, the internalism/externalism debate, naturalized epistemology, virtue epistemology and contextualism. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6325r. Philosophy of Mind (3) . A critical exploration of one or more of the major problems in the philosophy of mind, such as mental causation, intentionality, consciousness, personal identity, and the mind-body problem. May also include issues arising from the intersection of philosophy of mind and psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and other sciences of the mind. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6406r. Philosophy of Science (3) . A critical exploration of major problems in the philosophy of science for students in the sciences and philosophy. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6425r. Philosophy of Social Sciences (3) . A philosophical examination of some key issues in social scientific inquiry. Topics to be explored include human action, explanation and prediction, role of values, theory construction, ideology, and social science and public policy. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6506r. Metaphysics (3) . A study of one or more topics in contemporary metaphysics, for example, ontology, free will, time, causation, and properties. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6607r. Ethics (3) . Selected topics, such as the following: topics in the history of ethics, twentieth-century ethical theory, historical figures (e.g., Kant, Mill, Hobbes, Hume,) kinds of theory (e.g., consequentialism, contractualism, rationalism,) metaethical debates, axiology, and practical rationality. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHI 6935r. Seminar in Philosophical Topics (3) . A research seminar on a topic to be determined by the instructor's current research interests. Intensive and advanced. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
PHM 6205r. Social and Political Philosophy (3) . A critical examination of schools of thought (e.g., liberalism, utilitarianism, Marxism, communitarianism, feminism), or of central issues (e.g., justice, equality, race) in social/political philosophy. May focus on historical or contemporary approaches and/or philosophers. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve (12) semester hours.
Religion
REL 5035- Seminar: Introduction to the Study of Religion. Graduate introduction to the history, present status, principal issues, and methodologies in the academic study of religion.
REL 5486- Religious Thought in America. The classic theological traditions in American religion from Puritanism to contemporary theology. Emphasis will be on Protestant thought, but attention will be given to representative Roman Catholic and Jewish thinkers.
REL 5515- Christianity in Late Antiquity. Christian thought, institutions, lifestyles, and literature in their social, cultural, and historical contexts from the time of Jesus to the early Middle Ages.
REL 5565- Modern Roman Catholicism. The Catholic Church from the Council of Trent to the present day; special consideration given to Vatican II, current problems, and leading thinkers.
REL 5616- Modern Judaism. The development of Judaism as a religious and cultural phenomenon in Europe, North America, and the Middle East from the European Enlightenment to the birth of the State of Israel.
REL 6176r- Seminar: Ethics and Politics. Seminars in ethics and politics encourage research into the relationships between religion, morality, and the social-political life of persons and groups.
Biological Sciences
PCB 5425- Population Ecology. Theory of population growth and regulation, demographic theory and analytical methods, life history variation and evolution.
PCB5672- Evolution. Provides instruction in evolution as a unifying framework for biological science. The course shows how two primary aspects of evolution, shared phylogenic history and the modification of populations and species, interact to produce the similarities and differences among all organisms.
PCB 5675- Advanced Evolutionary Biology. Topics in this course include population genetics, quantitative genetics, and optimality approaches to the study of evolution. Emphasis is on basic theory and how this relates to empirical applications.
ENGLISH
ENL5227- Studies in Renaissance Literature: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Early Modern Literature. This seminar will introduce students to the major theorists of ecocriticism and animal studies (e.g., Singer, Merchant, Bookchin, Agamben, Latour) and will apply their theories to a reading of early modern English texts by such authors as Shakespeare, Milton, and Jonson.
ENL5256-Studies in Victorian Literature: Studies in Fiction: Gender and Disease in the Victorian Novel. Kennedy: This class will examine the answers to these questions, and more generally how literary and medical texts negotiate the problems of gender and disease in the nineteenth century.
LAW
LAW 7722-Bioethics and the Law. Advanced study of law and values in health care and the biomedical sciences

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Undergaduate Philosophy

About the Undergraduate Program

Philosophy engages fundamental questions concerning human identity, the nature of knowledge and reality, moral virtue and responsibility, the nature of community and political authority, aesthetic judgments and values, and other concepts central to the meaning and value of human existence.
Through the study of primary texts and concrete issues drawn from various historical periods and cultures, philosophy facilitates reflection on actions, beliefs, and values while developing critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Philosophy also strengthens the ability to reason, enlarges the imagination, and refines aesthetic sensitivity.
With over 200 undergraduate majors, the Philosophy major at the University of Oregon is one of the most vibrant in the country. Our program emphasizes the study of ethics, social and political philosophy, American philosophy, continental philosophy, feminist philosophy, philosophy of mind, the philosophy of race, the history of philosophy, and environmental philosophy.
Popular courses include Human Nature, Love & Sex, Existentialism, Philosophy and Cultural Diversity, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Film. Faculty members regularly offer Freshman Seminars, recent topics of which include "Thinking About the Self," "Approaches to Death," and "Philosophy through Film."
The philosophy department provides a wide range of opportunities for majors outside the classroom. These include public lectures by prominent visiting philosophers as well as an undergraduate philosophy club. The department also routinely hosts regional, national, and international conferences, and all undergraduates are invited and encouraged to participate in these events.

Why Study Philosophy?

The study of philosophy provides excellent preparation for a broad range of careers that require critical intelligence as well as oral and written communication skills. In addition to careers in business, students with a background in philosophy pursue careers in law, education, government, and work connected with social concerns. The undergraduate program is also structured to prepare students for graduate study.
Many research studies and articles in the national press have touted the value of a philosophy major for career success, preparation for graduate and law school, and personal development. Here are a few examples:

American Philosophical Association's Guide to Undergraduate Study in
Philosophy


Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates

The unexamined life is not worth living.
—Socrates
Happiness is something final and complete in itself, as being the aim and end of all practical activities whatever …Happiness then we define as the active exercise of the mind in conformity with perfect goodness or virtue.
—Aristotle
Now laws are said to be just both from the end (when, namely, they are ordained to the common good), from their author (…when the law does not exceed the power of the lawgiver), and from their form (when, namely, burdens are laid on the subjects according to an equality of proportion).
—Saint Thoman Aquinas
There is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible.
—René Descartes
Love is pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause, and hatred pain accompanied by the idea of an external cause.
—Spinoza
The effect is totally different from the cause, and consequently can never be discovered in it.
—David Hume
The very notion of what is called Matter or corporeal substance invloves a contradiction.
—George Berkeley
The understanding does not derive its laws (a priori) from, but prescribes them to, nature.
—Immanuel Kant
The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
—John Stuart Mill
There can be no difference anywhere that does not make a difference somewhere.
—William James
Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein
Fact is richer than diction.
—J. L. Austin
Existence precedes essence.
—Jean-Paul Sartre

The Field of Philosophy

Introduction

Philosophy is quite unlike any other field. It is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. Philosophy pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavour. No brief definition expresses the richness and variety of philosophy. It may be described in many ways. It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for understanding, a study of principles of conduct. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, and to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one's ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one's sense of the meaning and variety of human experience.
This short description of philosophy could be greatly expanded, but let us instead illustrate some of the points. As the systematic study of ideas and issues, philosophy may examine concepts and views drawn from science, art, religion, poitics, or any other realm. Philosophical appraisal of ideas and issues takes many forms, but philosophical studies often focus on the meaning of an idea and on its basis, coherence, and relations to other ideas. Consider, for instance, democracy. What is it? What justifies it as a system of government? Can a democracy allow the people to vote away their own rights? And how is it related to political liberty? Consider human knowledge. What is its nature and extent? Must we always have evidence in order to know? What can we know about the thoughts and feelings of others, or about the future? What kind of knowledge, if any, is fundamental? Similar kinds of questions arise concerning art, morality, religion, science, and each of the major areas of human activity. Philosophy explores all of them. It views them both microscopically and from the wide perspective of the larger concerns of human existence.

Traditional Subfields of Philosophy

The broadest subfields of philosophy are most commonly taken to be logic, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology and the history of philosophy. Here is a brief sketch of each.
Logic is concerned to provide sound methods for distinguishing good from bad reasoning. It helps us assess how well our premises support our conclusions, to see what we are committed to accepting when we take a view, and to avoid adopting beliefs for which we lack adequate reasons. Logic also helps us to find arguments where we might otherwise simply see a set of loosely related statements, to discover assumptions we did not know we were making, and to formulate the minimum claims we must establish if we are to prove (or inductively support) our point.

What is logic and why do philosophers study it?

Much of the time philosophers study what other people take for granted. They ask "Why?" and "How?" when others are content to accept what seems obvious and in need of no justification. Philosophy thus involves explanations, arguments, and their critical evaluation. Here argument is meant not in the sense of dispute or controversy but in the sense of "arguing (for or against)", or "making a case (for or against)".
In evaluating arguments and explanations two features are significant: whether the premises, the "starting points", are jointly plausible; and whether what is said to follow from them does so. When we reflect on these features we arrive at logic: the systematic study of what follows from, and of the relations that hold within and between, bodies of belief, loosely speaking. (Loosely speaking, for in logic we are not so much concerned with what we do accept or believe rationally and what inferences we in fact make but with rather what one could so accept or believe and what inferences one would be warranted in making whether or not one actually does so.)
As an attempt at a systematic theory logic has to start somewhere. Its "raw data" are our intuitions, our inferential practice, and our reflective judgments. Now, we have no guarantee that these cohere well: in fact there are tensions. At the very least, we may find it difficult to construct a systematic account that accommodates all, or even most, of the raw data. A systematic theory may therefore lead us to refine (i.e. revise) our intuitions and change our practice. Logic is a much less cut-and-dried affair than many text-books suggest.
Formal logic constitutes a "body of knowledge", not in the sense that all its findings are incontrovertible facts but somewhat in the same way as moral philosophy does: in each case there is a standard set of concepts, theories involving those concepts, forms of argument and a ragbag of tricky cases that is played off against intuitions, and perhaps used to subject those intuitions to critical scrutiny and to refinement. Formal logic is also more like the sciences than is any other part of philosophy: it aims at a systematic account of a body of "phenomena" on which there is fairly widespread agreement and in order to do so it uses formal methods of representation (a feature of logic that goes back to the ancient Greeks) and formal techniques. Formal logic is formal in that it seeks to give a systematic account of the validity of individual arguments only insofar as they exemplify certain "patterns of argument". Patterns, or forms, of argument are the main object of study. It is this feature of logic that allows us to establish some results in and about logic with the same exactness as one encounters in mathematics (but at least when logic is studied as part of philosophy one should not lose sight of the wider goal).
Two further considerations are often given as reasons for studying logic:
  1. Logic is "therapeutic": one learns logic in order to become better able to recognize and to construct good arguments (in philosophy or any other discipline).
  2. Formal logic is an indispensable item in the contemporary philosopher's toolkit.
Learning about any systematic discipline improves one's own abilities in thinking systematically. And certainly, the methods and techniques of formal logic are used by some philosophers, mostly those working in philosophy of language and philosophy of science. Two text-books that integrate formal logic into a range of topics in philosophy are Brenner's Logic and Philosophy and Bradley and Swartz'sPossible Worlds.

Further reading:

  • The two "Introductions", by Quine and Strawson, reprinted as Chapters 1 and 2 of R. I. G. Hughes, ed., A Philosophical Companion to First-Order Logic, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993.
  • Mark Sainsbury, Logical Forms, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991, Chapter 1, Section 1.
  • William Brenner, Logic and Philosophy: An Integrated Introduction, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993.
  • Raymond Bradley and Norman Swartz, Possible Worlds: An Introduction to Logic and Its Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, 1978.


Ethics takes up the meanings of our moral concepts—such as right action, obligation and justice—and formulates principles to guide moral decisions, whether in private or public life. What are our moral obligations to others? How can moral disagreements be rationally settled? What rights must a just society accord its citizens? What constitutes a valid excuse for wrong-doing?
Metaphysics seeks basic criteria for determining what sorts of things are real. Are there mental, physical, and abstract things (such as numbers), for instance, or is there just the physical and the spiritual, or merely matter and energy? Are persons highly complex physical systems, or do they have properties not reducible to anything physical?
Epistemology concerns the nature and scope of knowledge. What does it mean to know (the truth), and what is the nature of truth? What sorts of things can be known, and can we be justified in our beliefs about what goes beyond the evidence of our senses, such as the inner lives of others or events of the distant past? Is there knowledge beyond the reach of science? What are the limits of self-knowledge?
The History of Philosophy studies both major philosophers and entire periods in the development of philosophy such as the Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Nineteenth Century, and Twentieth Century periods. It seeks to understand great figures, their influence on others, and their importance for contemporary issues. The history of philosophy in a single nation is often separately studied, as in the case of American Philosophy. So are major movements within a nation, such as British Empiricism and German Idealism, as well as international movements with a substantial history, such as existentialism and phenomenology. The history of philosophy not only provides insight into the other subfields of philosophy; it also reveals many of the foundations of Western Civilization.

Chronological map of the great philosophers

Below is a thumbnail sketch of the history of Western Philosophy and its most significant figures. Naturally, such a sketch is highly selective, but hopefully it is not too controversial in its choice of who to include and who to exclude. The philosophers, together with some of their major publications, are grouped together in order to highlight thematic similarities, but it must be noted that sweeping distinctions such as "empiricist", "rationalist", etc., are always somewhat superficial.
Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Ancient Philosophy
Socrates (d. 399 B.C.)
Plato (428–347 B.C.)
The Republic
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
Nicomachean Ethics

Medieval Philosophy
St. Augustine (354–430)
City of God (412–427)
St. Thomans Aquinas (1225–1274)
Summa Contra Gentiles (1259–1264)


Modern Philosophy
British Empiricism
Francis Bacon (1561–1626)
Novum Organum (1620)
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
Leviathan (1651)
John Locke (1632–1704)
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)
Two Treatises of Government (1690)
George Berkeley (1685–1753)
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710)
Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1713)
David Hume (1711–1776)
Treatise of Human Nature (1739)
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748)
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751)
Thomas Reid (1710–1796)
An Enquiry Into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense (1764)
Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832)
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789)
John Stuart Mill (1806–1873)
System of Logic (1843)
On Liberty (1859)
Utilitarianism (1861)
Rationalism
René Descartes (1596–1650)
Discourse on the Method … (1637)
Meditations on First Philosophy (1641)
Principles of Philosophy (1644)
Benedictus Spinoza (1632–1677)
Ethics
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1677)
New Essays Concerning Human Understanding
Monadology (1714)

Romanticism and German Idealism
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
The Social Contract (1762)
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
The Critique of Pure Reason (1781, 1787)
The Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
The Critique of Judgement (1790)
G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831)
Phenomenology of Spirit (1807)
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
The World as Will and Representation (1818)
Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)
Either/Or (1843)
Karl Marx (1818–1883)
Capital (1867)
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)
Beyond Good and Evil (1886)


Recent Philosophy
Analytical Philosophy
Gottlob Frege (1848–1925)
The Foundations of Arithmetic (1884)
Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)
Principia Mathematica (1910)
The Problems of Philosophy (1912)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951)
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)
Philosophical Investigations (1953)
The Vienna Circle:
Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970)
Otto Neurath (1882–1945)
Moritz Schlick (1882–1936)
Friedrich Waismann (1896–1959)
A. J. Ayer (1910–1989)
Language, Truth and Logic (1936)
American Pragmatism
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914)
collected essays
William James (1842–1910)
Pragmatism (1907)
John Dewey (1859–1952)
Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920)
Existentialism and Phenomenology
Edmund Husserl (1859–1938)
Logical Investigations (1900)
Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy (1913)
Martin Heidegger (1889–1976)
Being and Time (1927)
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)
Being and Nothingness (1943)
Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961)
Phenomenology of Perception (1945)
Whilst the history of philosophy qua history isnot a proper part of philosophy, understanding and responding to the great thinkers of the past who constitute the tradition of the subject is. Part of coming to understand these thinkers is to see how their ideas developed in terms of the philosophers that they were responding to, and how subsequent philosophers went on to respond to them. To that end, History of Philosophy texts can be a useful source of background information. The following series has much to recommend it:
  • Terence Irwin (1989), A History of Western Philosophy: 1, Classical Thought, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • David Luscombe (1997), A History of Western Philosophy: 2, Medieval Thought, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Brian P. Copenhaver and Charles B. Schmitt (1992), A History of Western Philosophy: 3, Renaissance Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • John Cottingham (1988), A History of Western Philosophy: 4, The Rationalists, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • R. S. Woolhouse (1988), A History of Western Philosophy: 5, The Empiricists, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • John Skorupski (1993), A History of Western Philosophy: 6, English-Language Philosophy 1750-1945, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Robert C. Solomon (1988), A History of Western Philosophy: 7, Continental Philosophy since 1750: The Rise and Fall of the Self, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Thomas Baldwin (forthcoming), A History of Western Philosophy: 8, English-Language Philosophy since 1945, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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1, 2010   Nov 9, 2010   Nov 10, 2010   Nov 23, 2010   Dec 1, 2010   Dec 21, 2010   Dec 25, 2010   Jan 1, 2011   Jan 16, 2011   Jan 19, 2011   Jan 28, 2011   Feb 3, 2011   Feb 21, 2011   Mar 17, 2011   Mar 28, 2011   Apr 7, 2011   Apr 11, 2011   Apr 29, 2011   May 4, 2011   May 9, 2011   May 13, 2011   May 19, 2011   May 23, 2011   May 27, 2011   Jun 1, 2011   Jun 7, 2011   Jun 9, 2011   Jul 19, 2011   Jul 26, 2011   Aug 2, 2011   Aug 10, 2011   Aug 26, 2011   Aug 29, 2011   Aug 30, 2011   Aug 31, 2011   Sep 1, 2011   Sep 2, 2011   Sep 3, 2011   Sep 5, 2011   Sep 7, 2011   Sep 12, 2011   Sep 14, 2011   Sep 22, 2011   Sep 26, 2011   Sep 28, 2011   Oct 3, 2011   Oct 6, 2011   Oct 10, 2011   Oct 20, 2011   Oct 25, 2011   Oct 27, 2011   Nov 1, 2011   Nov 2, 2011   Nov 4, 2011   Nov 9, 2011   Nov 11, 2011   Nov 17, 2011   Nov 22, 2011   Nov 23, 2011   Nov 28, 2011   Nov 30, 2011   Dec 9, 2011   Dec 18, 2011   Dec 20, 2011   Dec 21, 2011   Dec 25, 2011   Dec 27, 2011   Dec 30, 2011   Jan 2, 2012   Jan 3, 2012   Jan 4, 2012   Jan 5, 2012   Jan 6, 2012   Jan 11, 2012   Jan 12, 2012   Jan 16, 2012   Jan 18, 2012   Jan 21, 2012   Jan 23, 2012   Jan 24, 2012   Jan 30, 2012   Jan 31, 2012   Feb 1, 2012   Feb 2, 2012   Feb 3, 2012   Feb 6, 2012   Feb 7, 2012   Feb 8, 2012   Feb 9, 2012   Feb 10, 2012   Feb 11, 2012   Feb 14, 2012   Feb 15, 2012   Feb 16, 2012   Feb 17, 2012   Feb 20, 2012   Feb 21, 2012   Feb 22, 2012   Feb 23, 2012   Feb 24, 2012   Feb 28, 2012   Feb 29, 2012   Mar 1, 2012   Mar 2, 2012   Mar 5, 2012   Mar 6, 2012   Mar 8, 2012   Mar 9, 2012   Mar 12, 2012   Mar 13, 2012   Mar 14, 2012   Mar 15, 2012   Mar 16, 2012   Mar 17, 2012   Mar 20, 2012   Mar 21, 2012   Mar 22, 2012   Mar 23, 2012   Mar 26, 2012   Mar 28, 2012   Mar 29, 2012   Mar 30, 2012   Apr 2, 2012   Apr 3, 2012   Apr 4, 2012   Apr 9, 2012   Apr 10, 2012   Apr 11, 2012   Apr 12, 2012   Apr 16, 2012   Apr 17, 2012   Apr 18, 2012   Apr 19, 2012   Apr 20, 2012   Apr 23, 2012   Apr 24, 2012   Apr 25, 2012   Apr 26, 2012   Apr 27, 2012   Apr 30, 2012   May 2, 2012   May 3, 2012   May 4, 2012   May 7, 2012   May 8, 2012   May 9, 2012   May 10, 2012   May 11, 2012   May 14, 2012   May 15, 2012   May 16, 2012   May 17, 2012   May 18, 2012   May 22, 2012   May 23, 2012   May 24, 2012   May 25, 2012   Jun 4, 2012   Jun 5, 2012   Jun 7, 2012   Jun 8, 2012   Jun 9, 2012   Jun 11, 2012   Jun 12, 2012   Jun 14, 2012   Jun 15, 2012   Jun 22, 2012   Jun 25, 2012   Jun 26, 2012   Jun 28, 2012   Jun 29, 2012   Jul 3, 2012   Jul 5, 2012   Jul 6, 2012   Jul 9, 2012   Jul 10, 2012   Jul 11, 2012   Jul 12, 2012   Jul 13, 2012   Jul 19, 2012   Jul 23, 2012   Jul 25, 2012   Jul 27, 2012   Jul 28, 2012   Jul 30, 2012   Jul 31, 2012   Aug 1, 2012   Aug 3, 2012   Aug 6, 2012   Aug 8, 2012   Aug 9, 2012   Aug 10, 2012   Aug 13, 2012   Aug 14, 2012   Aug 15, 2012   Aug 16, 2012   Aug 21, 2012   Aug 22, 2012   Aug 23, 2012   Aug 24, 2012   Aug 27, 2012   Aug 28, 2012   Aug 29, 2012   Aug 30, 2012   Aug 31, 2012   Sep 3, 2012   Sep 4, 2012   Sep 5, 2012   Sep 6, 2012   Sep 7, 2012   Sep 10, 2012   Sep 11, 2012   Sep 13, 2012   Sep 14, 2012   Sep 18, 2012   Sep 19, 2012   Sep 21, 2012   Sep 25, 2012   Sep 26, 2012   Sep 27, 2012   Sep 28, 2012   Oct 1, 2012   Oct 2, 2012   Oct 3, 2012   Oct 4, 2012   Oct 5, 2012   Oct 8, 2012   Oct 9, 2012   Oct 11, 2012   Oct 16, 2012   Oct 17, 2012   Oct 19, 2012   Oct 25, 2012   Oct 29, 2012   Oct 31, 2012   Nov 1, 2012   Nov 2, 2012   Nov 6, 2012   Nov 7, 2012   Nov 8, 2012   Nov 13, 2012   Nov 15, 2012   Nov 16, 2012   Nov 20, 2012   Nov 21, 2012   Nov 22, 2012   Nov 23, 2012   Nov 27, 2012   Nov 28, 2012   Dec 3, 2012   Dec 7, 2012   Dec 10, 2012   Dec 12, 2012   Dec 17, 2012   Dec 19, 2012   Dec 20, 2012   Dec 21, 2012   Dec 25, 2012   Dec 28, 2012   Dec 29, 2012   Dec 30, 2012   Jan 2, 2013   Jan 9, 2013   Jan 10, 2013   Jan 15, 2013   Jan 22, 2013   Jan 28, 2013   Jan 29, 2013   Jan 30, 2013   Jan 31, 2013   Feb 1, 2013   Feb 4, 2013   Feb 6, 2013   Feb 7, 2013   Feb 8, 2013   Feb 11, 2013   Feb 12, 2013   Feb 13, 2013   Feb 14, 2013   Feb 15, 2013   Feb 18, 2013   Feb 19, 2013   Feb 20, 2013   Feb 21, 2013   Feb 22, 2013   Feb 23, 2013   Feb 25, 2013   Feb 26, 2013   Mar 2, 2013   Mar 4, 2013   Mar 5, 2013   Mar 8, 2013   Mar 11, 2013   Mar 13, 2013   Mar 14, 2013   Mar 16, 2013   Mar 18, 2013   Mar 19, 2013   Mar 21, 2013   Mar 22, 2013   Mar 26, 2013   Apr 1, 2013   Apr 2, 2013   Apr 3, 2013   Apr 4, 2013   Apr 5, 2013   Apr 9, 2013   Apr 12, 2013   Apr 16, 2013   Apr 17, 2013   Apr 23, 2013   Apr 24, 2013   Apr 30, 2013   May 3, 2013   May 6, 2013   May 8, 2013   May 10, 2013   May 14, 2013   May 22, 2013   May 24, 2013   May 27, 2013   May 30, 2013   Jun 7, 2013   Jun 12, 2013   Jun 14, 2013   Jun 17, 2013   Jun 21, 2013   Jun 25, 2013   Jun 27, 2013   Jun 28, 2013   Jun 29, 2013   Jul 2, 2013   Jul 3, 2013   Jul 5, 2013   Jul 6, 2013   Jul 9, 2013   Jul 12, 2013   Jul 15, 2013   Jul 16, 2013   Jul 17, 2013   Jul 22, 2013   Jul 26, 2013   Jul 29, 2013   Jul 30, 2013   Aug 2, 2013   Aug 5, 2013   Aug 9, 2013   Aug 12, 2013   Aug 13, 2013   Aug 15, 2013   Aug 16, 2013   Aug 20, 2013   Aug 26, 2013   Aug 29, 2013   Sep 5, 2013   Sep 10, 2013   Sep 12, 2013   Sep 13, 2013   Sep 17, 2013   Sep 21, 2013   Sep 24, 2013   Sep 26, 2013   Oct 1, 2013   Oct 3, 2013   Oct 7, 2013   Oct 8, 2013   Oct 9, 2013   Oct 11, 2013   Oct 15, 2013   Oct 18, 2013   Oct 23, 2013   Oct 26, 2013   Oct 28, 2013   Oct 29, 2013   Nov 5, 2013   Nov 8, 2013   Nov 14, 2013   Nov 15, 2013   Nov 19, 2013   Nov 23, 2013   Nov 25, 2013   Nov 28, 2013   Nov 30, 2013   Dec 2, 2013   Dec 3, 2013   Dec 4, 2013   Dec 6, 2013   Dec 10, 2013   Dec 11, 2013   Dec 13, 2013   Dec 16, 2013   Dec 20, 2013   Dec 21, 2013   Dec 28, 2013   Dec 30, 2013   Jan 2, 2014   Jan 3, 2014   Jan 7, 2014   Jan 8, 2014   Jan 9, 2014   Jan 10, 2014   Jan 11, 2014   Jan 16, 2014   Jan 18, 2014   Jan 20, 2014   Jan 21, 2014   Jan 22, 2014   Jan 23, 2014   Jan 25, 2014   Jan 27, 2014   Jan 28, 2014   Jan 30, 2014   Feb 4, 2014   Feb 5, 2014   Feb 8, 2014   Feb 10, 2014   Feb 11, 2014   Feb 12, 2014   Feb 13, 2014   Feb 14, 2014   Feb 17, 2014   Feb 18, 2014   Feb 20, 2014   Feb 21, 2014   Feb 24, 2014   Feb 25, 2014   Feb 26, 2014   Feb 27, 2014   Mar 3, 2014   Mar 4, 2014   Mar 10, 2014   Mar 11, 2014   Mar 12, 2014   Mar 13, 2014   Mar 15, 2014   Mar 17, 2014   Mar 19, 2014   Mar 20, 2014   Mar 21, 2014   Apr 1, 2014   Apr 3, 2014   Apr 7, 2014   Apr 10, 2014   Apr 14, 2014   Apr 16, 2014   Apr 22, 2014   Apr 23, 2014   Apr 24, 2014   Apr 29, 2014   May 3, 2014   May 5, 2014   May 7, 2014   May 8, 2014   May 10, 2014   May 12, 2014   May 13, 2014   May 14, 2014   May 15, 2014   May 16, 2014   May 20, 2014   May 23, 2014   May 26, 2014   May 29, 2014   May 31, 2014   Jun 2, 2014   Jun 3, 2014   Jun 5, 2014   Jun 10, 2014   Jun 13, 2014   Jun 16, 2014   Jun 17, 2014   Jun 20, 2014   Jun 21, 2014   Jun 24, 2014   Jun 25, 2014   Jul 1, 2014   Jul 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