Philosophy

Follow your passion for Philosophy

Philosophy is the attempt to make rational sense of all things. As such, it tries to discover and explain the ultimate origin, purpose and meaning of everything, especially human existence. For this reason, philosophy is one of life’s most practical pursuits. Philosophy helps in the search for the definitive meaning of life, a pursuit that cannot be avoided if a person is truly interested in living well and finding genuine happiness, both personally and in a chosen profession, vocation or career.

Loras Philosophy majors benefit from a strong values component, with emphasis on refining student’s ethical decision-making. The skills taught complement nearly every other major, helping Philosophy students consistently rank in the top percentiles on exams such as the GRE and LSAT.

Additional Information
Learn More

STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Many Philosophy majors at Loras are committed to research and service to churches in the Dubuque Archdiocese.

Because these students are interested in the ways their faith lives connect with their intellectual interests, they pursue compelling areas of research.

  • During the 2010–2011 academic year, a Philosophy major, Brandon Schetgen, presented papers at two undergraduate philosophy conferences: Truman State University and Creighton University.
  • Three students were members of the Provost’s Top 20 students in the 2009–2010. The Philosophy program typically has at least one student represented among this select group each year.

+ Read more

ALUMNI SUCCESSES

Loras Philosophy majors have gone on to enjoy successful careers in various areas. A representative sampling includes the following.

Reflections by Philosophy alumni.

  • Numerous individuals are now serving as ordained priests in the Archdiocese of Dubuque and other neighboring dioceses (Rockford and Madison), as well as becoming professed members of male and female religious communities (Dominicans, Salesians of Don Bosco, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement).
  • Melissa (Zamora) McLaughlin (’06)
    Vice President, Groundswell Communications, Washington, D.C.
  • Jonathon Hanten (‘02)
    Web Developer, Archdiocese of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
  • Felicia Kruse, Ph.D. (‘83)
    Visiting Professor of Philosophy
    Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL
  • Peter Zachar, Ph.D. (’86)
    Chair, Department of Psychology
    Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL
  • Rick Harris (’87)
    Attorney, Finely Law Firm, Des Moines, IA

+ Read more

INTERNSHIPS AND STUDY ABROAD OPPORTUNITIES

Many Internships and study abroad opportunities are available for all Philosophy students.

Internships available

All majors in the division participate in college internship programs offered through the Center for Experiential Learning.

Study Abroad

Majors in this division study abroad in greater numbers than any other major on campus. Our majors have studied in:

  • Ireland
  • Spain
  • England
  • South Africa
  • Rome
  • Asssi
  • Peru

+ Read more
Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes – Philosophy
1. Understand the principles of critical thinking
2. Understand the major philosophers and philosophical issues in the history of philosophy
3. Understand the key elements of epistemology and the philosophy of being
4. Understand the principle philosophical approaches to the human person and their respective responses to fundamental human concerns.
5. Understand the key ethical theories and their application to ethical dilemmas on the personal, social, and professional levels.
6. Understand the distinctively Catholic elements within Western philosophy.
7. Be able to engage in critical reflection on the work of particular philosophers and on philosophical texts.
8. Be able to synthesize the work of various philosophers and various texts.
9. Be able to engage in cogent argumentation in support of a position.
Major Requirements

PHILOSOPHY
Division of Philosophical, Religious, Theological, Social & Cultural Studies
Richard Anderson, Ph.D., Chair Philosophical, Religious, & Theological Studies
rick.anderson@loras.edu
563.588.7177

The philosophy major has a built-in flexibility which allows students to: double major and connect as closely as possible an interest in philosophy with a major interest in another area, and develop a more personal course of study in philosophy, tailored to a student’s individual interests.

The minor in philosophy is an ideal choice if a student does not have the time to pursue a major in philosophy, but nevertheless is interested in exploring life’s ultimate questions, if only in a preliminary way.

Requirements for the major in Philosophy (B.A.):
A one-hour oral comprehensive exam including a portfolio review (see the Philosophy Program Director for oral examination study guide and further details regarding the portfolio review) are required for program completion. Philosophy majors must successfully complete (with a grade of C or above) courses within the following categories:

Req Course Cr’s
1 L.PHI-150: Logic 3
2 L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI 3
3 L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics 3
4 L.PHI-331: Knowledge, Truth, and Reality 3
5 L.PHI-XXX Additional Elective 3
6 L.PHI-XXX: Additional Elective 3
7 L.PHI-XXX: Additional Elective 3
Select two from Req 8 (taking L.PHI-110 or 150 first is strongly recommended)
8 L.PHI-320: Ancient Pilosophy 3
8 L.PHI-321: Medieval Philosophy 3
8 L.PHI-322: Modern Philosophy 3
8 L.PHI-323: Contemporary Philosophy 3
Select one from Req 9
9 L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV 3
9 L.PHI-313: Environmental Ethics-AV 3
9 L.PHI-315: Communication Ethics-AV 3
9 L.SMG-270: Ethics in Sport-AV 3
10 L.PHI-490E: Oral Comprehensive Examination 0
30 total required credits

What should be done to prepare for graduate school or teaching philosophy?

When seeking a solid preparation for advanced study in philosophy at the graduate level, as background for a particular profession or vocation, or as preparation for teaching philosophy, it is strongly recommended that (in addition to fulfilling the one-hour oral comprehensive exam and portfolio review requirements) the following courses be used to fulfill philosophy major requirements.

L.PHI-150: Logic
L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI
L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics
L.PHI-331: Knowledge, Truth, and Reality
L.PHI-320: Ancient Philosophy
L.PHI-321: Medieval Philosophy
L.PHI-322: Modern Philosophy
L.PHI-323: Contemporary Philosophy
L.PHI-333: Philosophy of God and Religion

One course from the applied ethics group (L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV; L.PHI-313: Environmental Ethics-AV; Communication Ethics; SMG 270: Ethics in Sports-AV)

Requirements for the minor in Philosophy:
Philosophy minors must successfully complete (with a grade of C or above) the following courses:

Req Course Cr’s
1 L.PHI-150: Logic 3
2 L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI 3
3 L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics 3
4 Elective (strongly recommended): L.PHI-320, 321, 322, or 323 3
5 Additional Elective 3
6 Additional Elective 3
18 total required credits

At Loras, minor programs can be designed to fit individual needs. Following are some suggested sequences for those preparing for careers in law or business.

Suggested minor sequence for pre-law
L.PHI-150: Logic
L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI
L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics
Three additional philosophy courses

Suggested minor sequence for business
L.PHI-150: Logic
L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI
L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics
L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV
Two additional philosophy courses

Suggested minor sequence for ethics concentration
L.PHI-150: Logic
L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI
L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics

Three additional philosophy courses from the following courses:
• L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV
• L.PHI-313: Environmental Ethics-AV
• L.PHI-315: Communication Ethics-AV
• L.SMG-270: Ethics in Sport-AV

One 3-credit cognate course (i.e., a course from an academic program other than philosophy) may be used for the elective portion of a philosophy major or minor. The course must be related to the student’s main philosophical interest and program of study and must be approved in advance by the Division Chairperson.

AREA
L.PHI-225: Art, Beauty & Meaning
L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV
L.PHI-313: Environmental Ethics-AV
L.PHI-315: Communication Ethics-AV
L.PHI-235: Science, Faith, and Knowledge (Cross-listed as L.REL-235)

GENERAL
L.PHI-150: Logic
L.PHI-110: Introduction to Philosophy

HISTORICAL
L.PHI-280: Eastern Philosophy
L.PHI-320: Ancient Philosophy
L.PHI-321: Medieval Philosophy
L.PHI-322: Modern Philosophy
L.PHI-323: Contemporary Philosophy

SYSTEMATIC
L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI
L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics
L.PHI-331: Knowledge, Truth & Reality
L.PHI-333: Philosophy of God & Religion

Course Descriptions

L.PHI-110: Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to philosophy, its nature, methodology, principal themes, questions, disagreements, and prominent philosophers, as represented in each of the four major philosophic periods: ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary. 3 credits.

L.PHI-150: Introduction to Logic

This course will teach students to develop analytical and logical reasoning skills. In addition to surveying the basic principles of informal logic and the identification of informal fallacies, students will be introduced to three formal systems of logic: term logic, propositional logic, and predicate logic. 3 credits.

L.PHI-225: Art, Beauty & Meaning

This course explores the nature of art, the meaning of beauty, and the relationship between the two by consulting selected writings and by directly experiencing and studying specific works of art (and, in some cases, by interacting with the artists who produced them). 3 credits. January term.

L.PHI-235:  Science, Faith, and Knowledge

This course will provide an interdisciplinary theoretical and practical introduction to scientific literacy in the natural, human, and behavioral sciences. It aims to assists students in the construction of intellectual frameworks based in sound reason with which to consider the dynamic relationships among empirical scientific research, philosophical commitments, and theological beliefs. Students will be challenged to engage and assess scientific data as well as critically reflect on its practical, personal, and pastoral applications. This course is cross-listed as L.REL-235. The courses are identical but transcripts will reflect the course number (L.REL or L.PHI) that a student registers for and completes. 3 credits.

L.PHI-250: Human Identity in Community-AI

Philosophic investigation into human identity as a rational and social being, relying upon common experience, culture, and selected findings of the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; attention given to the distinct powers, performances, and place of human beings within the natural order, and insights related to the self and society, including the themes of life, mutual dependence, freedom, unity, knowledge and practical reason, and the afterlife. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and either L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PHI-278: Bioethics, Society & Culture

Abortion, assisted reproductive technologies, death and dying, research on human subjects, stem cell research, organ transplants, allocation of resources in a pandemic, and healthcare for the poor are examined through the lenses of philosophical ethics, Catholic moral theology, and law and public policy. Students will interact with healthcare professionals and institutions and advocacy groups, discuss contemporary films, and assess internet websites. May not enroll if have taken L.PHI-319 Neuroethics-AV. 3 credits. January term.

L.PHI-301: Foundational Ethics

This course will examine the basic questions of morality and the answers that have been developed within the Western philosophical and Christian theological traditions. Important historical and contemporary primary source material will be examined. This course is cross-listed as REL 301. The courses are identical but transcripts will reflect the course number (L.PHI or L.REL) that a student registers for and completes. Course not available to first year students. 3 credits.

L.PHI-311: Business Ethics-AV

This course studies basic moral principles and theories as they apply in the evaluation of the moral issues that arise in the three basic kinds of business relationships: between the employee and the firm, between the firm and other economic agents, and between the firm and various non-business groups. 3 credits. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB­110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PHI-313: Environmental Ethics-AV

This course studies basic moral principles and theories as they apply in the evaluation of the moral issues that arise when human beings, both individually and collectively, interact with the environment, particularly in the areas of pollution and resource depletion. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB­135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PHI-315: Communication Ethics-AV

This course studies basic moral principles and theories as they apply in the evaluation of the moral issues that arise in media communications (e.g., truth, privacy, confidentiality, conflicts of interests, antisocial behavior, morally offensive content, responsibility to juveniles, social justice, and stereotypes). Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PHI-319: Neuroethics-AV

A survey of ethical issues arising in contemporary work in neuroscience. Topics include predictive testing for neurological disorders; implications for abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and organ procurement of neurological criteria for the beginning and end of life; medical treatment decisions for brain injured persons with severely compromised consciousness; brain activity and free will; abnormal brain activity and culpability for criminal actions; enhancement of brain function; neuroimaging and privacy; and the ethics of neurological research with animal and human subjects. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB­105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, L.LIB-220. May not enroll if have taken L.PHI-278: Bioethics, Society and Culture. 3 credits.

L.PHI-320: Ancient Philosophy

A survey of Western philosophy in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Central issues include: integration of poetic and mythic worldviews with critical thought; themes of “one and the many” and “part and whole” amid material and immaterial existence; determination, freedom, chance, and fate; the inclination toward human happiness; cognitive access to “reality” and the acts of opinion, belief, and knowledge. L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150 strongly recommended, but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-321: Medieval Philosophy

A survey of Christian, Jewish and Islamic philosophy from the early middle ages through Renaissance scholasticism, with particular attention to the work of Thomas Aquinas. Either L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150 strongly recommended, but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-322: Modern Philosophy

Survey of philosophical thought during the 17th and 18th centuries, noting emphases upon methodology, mathematics, science, and progress by Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. These thinkers continue to influence present attitudes toward the starting point and structure of knowledge, the possibility of metaphysics, the relation of the world to God, and our own human composition, freedom, and destiny. Either L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150 strongly recommended, but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-323: Contemporary Philosophy

An examination of the principal views of God, humanity, and the world as advanced by major contemporary philosophers and philosophical movements, including existentialism and phenomenology, American pragmatic and instrumentalist philosophy, analytic and positivist philosophy, dialectical thought. Either L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150 strongly recommended, but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-331: Knowledge, Truth & Reality

The study of what and how things exist in the world (metaphysics/philosophy of being), and how we cognitively experience and understand these things (epistemology/philosophy of knowledge); includes notions of being in itself, potency and actuality; causality; the properties of unity, good, and beauty; the nature of evil; intellect and sense perception; truth and falsity; and subjective states of certainty, doubt, ignorance, and error. Prerequisite: Either L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150; at least one historical sequence course recommended but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-333: Philosophy of God & Religion

An examination of attempts to justify belief in the existence of God, the divine nature and attributes, the problem of evil, religious experience, the status of religious language, and divine action in the world, using historical, contemporary, and multicultural sources. Prerequisite: Either L.PHI-110 or L.PHI-150. At least one of the historical sequence courses strongly recommended but not required. 3 credits.

L.PHI-345: Sustainability Ethics

This course will integrate environmental ethics, environmental science, and community-based learning in order to foster independent learning, creative inquiry, and applied ethical reasoning in the area of sustainability. The course will introduce systems thinking and engage the tradition of American environmentalism with particular attention to the tensions between ‘conservationist’ and ‘preservationist’ approaches. 3 credits.

L.PHI-348: Philosophy of Science

Examination of basic problems about the nature, goals, and methods of scientific inquiry in contrast to philosophy; analysis of scientific theories in terms of the role of mathematics, observation, causality, and demonstration; and examination of the contrast between natural and social sciences. 3 credits.

L.PHI-376: Philosophy and the Rise of Christianity-AC

This study travel course that traces how Christian thought led to new syntheses in regions where love for wisdom has not been left in ruins. Initial class meetings at Loras to engage primary texts, then travel to Sicily and Rome where on site visitation is integrated with reflection upon themes including: soul, body and the person; love and the will; women’s and men’s roles in political society; moral systems and virtue;

God’s providence and power. This course is cross-listed as L.CTL-265. The courses are identical but transcripts will reflect the course number (L.PHI or L.CTL) that a student registers for and completes.  L.PHI-100 or L.PHI-220, or one other philosophy or Catholic theology course are recommended but not required. Contact the CEL/course instructor for iteration-specific details. 3 credits. January term.

L.PHI-490E: Oral Comprehensive Examination

A placeholder course which indicates attempt and completion of the required comprehensive oral examination in front of philosophy faculty members. 0 credits. Pass/fail only.

RELATED COURSES: Catholic Studies, Religious Studies

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

After receiving your degree from Loras, your career could take off into one of these fields:

  • Lawyer
  • University professor
  • Restaurant manager
  • Catholic priest
  • Bookstore manager
  • Professional Singer-Songwriter
  • Software Designer
Questions? Contact Us!

Roman Ciapalo, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
563.588.7434 | Roman.Ciapalo@loras.edu

Roman T. Ciapalo, Ph.D. (Loyola University Chicago) has taught at Loras College since 1982. He has offered a variety of courses, including Ancient Philosophy, Contemporary Philosophy, and Philosophy of the Human Person, but in recent years has concentrated on teaching a variety of applied ethics courses, among them, Business Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Media Communication Ethics, and Ethics in Sports.

His research interests include the philosophy of Gregory Skovoroda (18thcentury Ukrainian philosopher) and the intersection of Catholic Social Teaching with issues in sports and athletics. He has published one book and several articles, and has served as translator/editor of Ukrainian-language translations of two business ethics textbooks. He also serves as Faculty Advisor to the Loras Hockey Club, Loras Philosophy Club, and Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He has lectured nationally and internationally in New Delhi, India, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, and Lviv and Kiev, Ukraine. He has been the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminar to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and was a Fulbright Scholar at Lviv State University in Ukraine during the 1993-94 academic year.

He travels to Ukraine each summer to teach business ethics courses for various MBA Programs, including the Lviv Institute of Management and Kiev-Mohyla University, and has conducted workshops on “Ethics in the Public Sector” for the city management teams of Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Lviv, Ukraine. During the past two summers, he has lectured at the annual two-week long “Philosophy Summer School” conducted by Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine.

He urges his Philosophy advisees to see philosophy as a way of life, rather than merely an academic discipline to be mastered, and to employ it in their search for meaning and purpose in their lives. Beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year, he will hold the Andrew P. Studdert Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Crisis Leadership.

Rev. William Joensen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Dean of Campus Spiritual Life
563.588.7463 | William.Joensen@loras.edu

Fr. Joensen teaches courses in the history of philosophy (Ancient and Modern), philosophy of being (metaphysics), philosophy of knowledge (epistemology), philosophy of the human person and courses in our Catholic Identity mission course category.

As academic advisor to Philosophy majors, Fr. Joensen tries to help students see how their awakening intellectual passions and life and work experiences might be indications of worthy professional pursuits. He also strives to help them appreciate how habits of mind, such as analytical thinking and critical reflection, and the ability to communicate ideas lucidly in written and spoken form will serve them all their lives.

As Dean of Campus Spiritual Life, he promotes the Catholic mission and identity of the College through the Faith and Values Education Committee and other avenues, including student-development programming. He is also chaplain to the Daughters of Isabella group of Catholic Loras Duhawk women, and offers individual spiritual direction to students and others.

Each summer, Fr. Joensen participates as a faculty member at the Tertio Milllennio Seminar in Krakow, Poland, which brings together European and American young adults to study Catholic social and moral teaching in the spirit of Blessed Pope John Paul II. He is also a regular contributor of scriptural and seasonal reflections to Magnificat®, a Catholic spiritual resource.

Christoffer Lammer-Heindel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
563.588.7733 | Christoffer.Lammer-Heindel@loras.edu

Within the Philosophy Program, Dr. Lammer-Heindel teaches Critical Reasoning, Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Philosophy, and the Philosophy of Science. He also teaches Democracy and Global Diversity and Catholicism and Taoism, both of which are general education courses. His academic expertise includes analytic ethics and contemporary social and political philosophy. His research interests pertain to issues surrounding the nature of moral duties and obligations, especially institutionally or collectively held moral duties and obligations, as well as sustainability ethics. He is the author of the critical reasoning handbook, which is used in the Modes of Inquiry course.