Program Learning Outcomes

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College of Arts and Humanities

Department of Philosophy


Bachelor of Arts

Philosophy Option

Religious Studies Option




Religious Studies



Sheela Pawar, Department Chair

Dana S. Belu, Brian Gregor

Department Office: LCH A-338, (310) 243-3636

Emeriti Faculty

Charles Fay, William Hagan, John LaCorte, Donald Lewis, Eiichi Shimomisse, Rudy Vanterpool


Program Description

The Philosophy department offers a major and a minor in Philosophy and a minor in Religious Studies. The program provides a strong foundation in the history of Western thought and deals with a variety of ongoing philosophical and religious issues, tracing them from their origins in early Greek and other historical sources to current theories and disputes. The department recognizes the importance of cultural diversity and through its course offerings addresses multicultural concerns.


The faculty members of the Department of Philosophy bring with them a deep interest in their subjects and together provide a wide spectrum of interests and expertise in the areas of both philosophy and religious studies. All of the faculty members hold their doctoral degrees from highly respected universities, and are active in research and writing.

In scheduling classes, the department endeavors to provide sufficient course offerings to permit those students who work the opportunity to complete the major in a timely manner. For full-time students, courses necessary to fulfill the major are offered within a four-semester period.

Academic Advisement

Students should consult an advisor as early as possible so that the most suitable combination of courses can be planned in advance.


Students in the Philosophy program are involved in ongoing assessment. As part of the requirements of core courses, journals are required in addition to other written assignments such as research papers. The PHI 490 Seminar functions as a capstone experience in which work generated from previous courses in philosophy is reviewed to assist in determining the overall progress of the student in the Philosophy program.


High school students are encouraged to take four years of English and courses in the humanities and sciences.

Transfer students should contact their Advising Center or the CSU Dominguez Hills Philosophy department to identify appropriate lower division major/minor preparatory courses.

Career Possibilities

The study of Philosophy provides students with the mental tools and skills necessary for clear thinking and analysis. This training provides students with the means of more fully understanding the intricacies of virtually any area chosen as a basis for livelihood. For those students interested in doing graduate work in the field or in closely related fields, the major offers a well-rounded preparation for more advanced studies. The bachelor's degree in Philosophy furthermore provides quality preparation for advanced studies in fields such as law and theology. Students might also consider Philosophy as a "second major," providing a balance for their primary major, be it in the humanities or the sciences.

Graduation with Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in Philosophy provided he or she meets the following criteria:

  1. A minimum of 36 units in residence at CSU Dominguez Hills;
  2. A minimum grade point average of 3.5 in all courses used to satisfy the upper division requirements in the major;
  3. Four upper division courses, including PHI 490, taken in the Department of Philosophy;
  4. Recommendation by the faculty of the Department of Philosophy.

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

See the "Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements. A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division.

Elective Requirements

Completion of elective courses (beyond the requirements listed below) to reach a total of a minimum of 120 units.

General Education Requirements (55-62 units)

See the "General Education" requirements in the University Catalog or the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education requirements and course offerings.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

See the "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" in the University Catalog.

Minor Requirements

Students completing this major will need to complete a minor in another field.  Students majoring in the Philosophy Option may complete a minor in Religious Studies; however, courses may not double count for the major and the minor.

Major Requirements (30 units)

The following courses, or their approved transfer equivalents, are required of all candidates for this degree.

A.  Required Courses (15 units):

PHI 300. Methods and Problems in Philosophy (3)

PHI 301. Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (3)

PHI 303. Descartes to Kant (3)

PHI 304. Hegel to Nietzsche (3)

PHI 490. Seminar (3)


B.  Majors are required to choose five (5) courses in the area of Philosophy or Religious Studies (15)

1. Philosophy Option:

Degree Roadmap

PHI 305. Contemporary Philosophy (3)

PHI 316. Ethics (3)

PHI 321. Aesthetics (3)

PHI 331. Social and Political Philosophy (3)

PHI 365. Knowledge and Reality (3)

PHI 370. Philosophies of Africa and the African Diaspora (3)

PHI 379. Contemporary Moral Issues (3)

2. Religious Studies Option:

Degree Roadmap

PHI 306. Medieval Philosophy: Christian, Islamic, Jewish (3)

PHI 371. African World Religions (3)

PHI 378. Philosophy of Religion (3)

PHI 379. Contemporary Moral Issues (3)

PHI 383. Comparative Religions (3)

PHI 384. Asian Philosophies (3)

PHI 386. Analytical Methods of Biblical Study (3)

PHI 389. Zen Philosophy and Meditation (3)


Minor in Philosophy (15 units)

A.  Required Courses:

PHI 300. Methods and Problems in Philosophy (3)


B.  Electives: Select four additional upper division courses with faculty advisement (12 units).


Minor in Religious Studies (15 units)

A. Required Courses (9 units).  Choose 3 of the following:

ANT 315. Magic and Religion (3)

PHI 378. Philosophy of Religion (3)

PHI 383. Comparative Religion (3)

PHI 386. Analytical Methods of Biblical Study (3)


B. Electives: Minors are required to choose 2 courses from the following (6 units):

ANT 341. Folklore (3)

PHI 306. Medieval Philosophy: Christian, Islamic and Jewish (3)

PHI 371. African World Religions (3)

PHI 384. Asian Philosophies (3)


Course Offerings

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term by a number in parentheses following the title. For course availability, please see the list of tentative course offerings in the current Class Schedule.

Lower Division

PHI 101          Values and Society (3).

The role of values as motivations and as goals in our lives. General knowledge of what values are and how they influence us on individual and societal levels. Students are asked to construct solutions to value problems, for example, problems of justice. Essays and exams required.

PHI 102          Humanity, Nature and God (3).

Critical examination of perennial philosophical issues such as the nature of philosophy, the existence of God, free will, truth. Both Western and non-Western perspectives are discussed. It gives students a general understanding of their societal context. Essays and exams required.

PHI 120          Critical Reasoning (3).

Introduction to methods of critical thinking including the nature of arguments, formal and informal fallacies, deductive and inductive arguments. Provides students with critical skills in both academic and non-academic contexts. A-C/NC grading.

Upper Division

PHI 300          Methods and Problems in Philosophy (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 120.

This methodology course offers an inquiry into historical and contemporary methods in philosophy, studied within the context of major concerns in the discipline. The aim is to have the student become thoroughly acquainted with methods in philosophy and be explicitly aware of research methods and their implications.

PHI 301          Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A critical study of the foundations of Western civilization as found in ancient Greek thought.

PHI 303          Descartes to Kant (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A study of Western thought as manifest through the evolution of the philosophical systems of Rationalism, Empiricism and Critical Philosophy.

PHI 304          Hegel to Nietzsche (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A study of nineteenth century European philosophy focusing on thinkers such as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche.

PHI 305          Contemporary Philosophy (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

Contemporary American and European philosophy, such as Pragmatism, Structuralism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Neo-Marxism and the philosophical implications of Freud's thought. Specific topic indicated in class schedule. Repeatable for credit.

PHI 306          Medieval Philosophy: Christian, Islamic and Jewish (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 and PHI 301 are recommended.

A study of Christian, Islamic and Jewish thinkers from the 5th to the 16th centuries, including Augustine, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas and Ockham. It presents discussion of these early attempts to understand the nature of the universe and the role we play in it.

PHI 316          Ethics (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A critical inquiry into the groundwork of ethics by exploring such basic questions in ethics as the nature of good, the criteria for right action, the language of moral discourse, ontology and morality, and religion and ethics.

PHI 321          Aesthetics (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A critical examination of our beliefs about the nature of beauty in the context of art, music, literature and film. Topics include artistic creativity, aesthetic experience, criticism and evaluation. Specific topic indicated in class schedule. Repeatable course.

PHI 331          Social and Political Philosophy (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

A study of historical and contemporary theories on the scope and legitimacy of political authority: discussion of various contract theories of the state and of the relationships between rights of individuals and rights of states. Repeatable course.

PHI 350          Theories of Cognition (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 120 or equivalent. PHI 300 is highly recommended.

This course will approach the question of mind from disciplines in humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Several standpoints such as: classical philosophy, cognitive science, neurology, computer science and artificial intelligence, cognitive ethology, and evolutional linguistics will be discussed.

PHI 365          Knowledge and Reality (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

An historical analysis of the relationship between knowledge and the nature of "reality" with special emphasis on contemporary Anglo-American thinkers such as Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Moore, Carnap, Quine and Austin.

PHI 371          African World Religions (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is recommended

A critical study of traditional religious experience and expression among peoples of the African continent including the Akan, Yoruba and Ibo as well as manifestations of Christianity and Islam as expressed both in Africa and in the Americas.

PHI 378          Philosophy of Religion (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A critical, comprehensive study of the nature and value of religion. Includes such issues as the relationship between Religion, Philosophy, Theology, and Science; the existence of a deity, revelation(s), faith, the problem of evil, scriptural myths, and religious experience and language.

PHI 379          Contemporary Moral Issues (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

Philosophical inquiry into basic moral problems relevant today such as morality versus non-morality, human responsibility, individual versus societal values, morality versus legality, ethnic identity versus social conformity, abortion versus right to life, and the euthanasia decision. Repeatable for credit.

PHI 383          Comparative Religions (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

A study of the relationship of the various religious perspectives of the world, their rituals, their influence on society and their philosophical implications.

PHI 384          Asian Philosophy (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

A study of the evolution and meaning of various non- Western traditions will be discussed. Selected topics will include Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism. Emphasis on significance in India, China and Japan . Repeatable course.

PHI 386          Analytical Methods of Biblical Study (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

A study of the Bible in light of modern scholarship; principles and methods of its interpretation. Emphasis is given to the Pentateuch, the Gospels, and other key portions for their philosophical and theological views.

PHI 389          Zen: Philosophy and Meditation (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

Through studying philosophy and the praxis of Zen Meditation, students will learn this typical Eastern approach to philosophy and its profound implications to Eastern cultures.

PHI 490          Seminar (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300.

A critical analysis and interpretation of a major philosophical or religious system or issue in respect to its presuppositions, task, method, problems and solutions. Repeatable course. Course is writing intensive. Three hours of seminar per week.

PHI 494          Independent Study (1-3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

The study of a particular philosophical or religious problem, individually or as a team or group, under the direction of a faculty member. Only three units may be used for Philosophy major and minor requirements.

PHI 495          Special Topics (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

An intensive study of a concept, movement or individual in Philosophy. Intended for students with senior standing and having fulfilled major requirements. Specific topic listed in class schedule. Repeatable course. Three hours of seminar per week.


Graduate standing or consent of the department chair is prerequisite to enrollment in graduate (500 level) courses.

PHI 595          Special Topics (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

An intensive study of a concept, movement or individual in Philosophy. Intended for students with senior or graduate standing. Specific topic listed in class schedule. Repeatable course. Three hours of seminar per week.

Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled only on a "demand" basis. Students should consult the department office for information about the next scheduled offering.

PHI 220          Modern Formal Logic (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 120 recommended.

A continuation of PHI 120 for students interested in further study of such logical concepts as Justification and Validity, and introduces Truth-functional Operations and Elementary Quantification Theory.

PHI 250          Introduction to Philosophy (3).

A critical analysis of the history and nature of the perennial problems in philosophy from both Western and non-Western perspectives. This is intended for students preparing for advanced studies in philosophy.

PHI 370          Philosophies of Africa and the African Diaspora (3).

Prerequisite: PHI 300 is highly recommended.

A critical study of African and afrocentric philosophies, including Bantu, Akan, and Yoruba traditions. African American philosophers such as Alain Locke and other third world African peoples are also covered in depth. Topics include personhood, time, causality, value theory, black aesthetics, and black feminist epistemologies.