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2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

Graduate Department of


College of Arts and Sciences


Chair: Randolph Clarke; Professors: Bishop, Clarke, Hinchman, Justus, LeBar, Mele, Rawling, Schwenkler, Westlund; Associate Professors: Fugate, Kearns, May, Morales, Roberts, Stein; Assistant Professors: Bukoski, Herdova, Patel, Ward; Senior Teaching Faculty: Mahaffey

The department offers both the Master of Arts (MA) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in philosophy. The faculty has a diverse set of interests with special strength in areas such as ancient philosophy, action theory, ethics, metaphysics, political philosophy, philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and philosophy of science.

Fellowships and assistantships are available for the support of fifty-five to sixty graduate students. Each type of support includes out-of-state and in-state tuition remission. Philosophy students are frequently successful in the competition for University fellowships. The department offers approximately ten new assistantships each year. There are also specialized fellowship and assistantship opportunities available for minority students.

The department has a regular program of visiting speakers and conferences, and since 1970 has published the journal Social Theory and Practice. These activities provide many opportunities for graduate students to be initiated into the professional community. Graduate students have an opportunity to gain teaching experience during their years of study. Such experience is invaluable for securing an academic appointment. Our graduates have a high rate of success in obtaining college and university employment.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to graduate study in philosophy, an applicant normally needs the following:

  1. A background in philosophy;
  2. Minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate study;


Please review all college-wide requirements summarized in the "College of Arts and Sciences" chapter of this Graduate Bulletin.

The department encourages students who are interested in receiving a PhD to enroll directly into that program. The department will admit students into the MA program, but those interested in a teaching career in philosophy will need to gain the PhD. After completing at least thirty-three semester hours and the successful defense of an original thesis or completion of additional coursework, students will be entitled to receive an MA. The department's Graduate Handbook contains detailed information concerning requirements and procedures for the graduate program and constitutes the complete statement of departmental policies and rules governing graduate study.

Doctoral students must pass the following classes with a grade of "B–" or better:

PHI 6935 (I) Proseminar in Value Theory (3)

PHI 6935 (2) Proseminar in Theoretical Philosophy (3)

Students must also pass PHI 5135, Modern Logic I, with a grade of "B–" or better.

Doctoral students will take a preliminary examination in a special area related to the student's dissertation topic.

Doctoral students must complete at least ninety semester hours, including a minimum of twenty-four semester hours of dissertation work. Students will fulfill a breadth requirement by taking seminars in several required areas. When deemed necessary for their dissertation topic, students will be required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language.

Students are required to give an oral defense of their dissertation prospectus. The PhD in philosophy is awarded upon the successful oral defense of an original dissertation.

Master's students must pass PHI 6935 (I) and 6935 (II) with a grade of "B–" or better.

Students must also pass PHI 5135 with a grade of "B–" or better.

Each student must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. The department may at any time terminate the work of a student whose academic progress is judged unsatisfactory, and failure to maintain a satisfactory GPA is grounds for dismissal from the program.

Graduate Certificate in Bioethics

Program Director: J. Piers Rawling, Professor of Philosophy; Associate Program Director: Tracie Mahaffey, Senior Teaching Faculty

The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics is designed to meet the needs of current graduate students, as well as individuals working in the areas of health care, health policy, and biomedical research. The certificate will help prepare graduate students and working healthcare professionals for leadership and administrative positions, and membership on ethics committees and IRBs. It will also benefit students who wish to enroll in graduate and professional degree programs, and/or compete for prestigious fellowships in bioethics and clinical bioethics.

Students who successfully complete the certificate program will be able to (a) analyze ethical situations, particularly those that arise in medical and scientific contexts, from various theoretical perspectives; (b) evaluate the ethical dimensions of policies and practices involved with health care, public health, patient advocacy, medical and scientific research, and related areas; and (c) communicate their analyses through written and oral methods to both technical and non-technical audiences.

Application Procedure

Students interested in completing the Graduate Certificate in Bioethics (which is not intended as a diploma or a degree) should submit a completed application form to the Philosophy Department at:

Admission Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics program is open to currently enrolled Florida State University graduate students who are in good standing. In addition, anyone not currently enrolled in a Florida State University degree program can pursue the certificate by enrolling as a non-degree-seeking student (provided they have a BA or BSc from an accredited institution, which is the only prerequisite for this certificate program). Applicants must be admitted to the certificate program in advance of beginning any coursework.

Certificate Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in Bioethics program comprises twelve hours of graduate coursework, to be completed within five years. Students are required to earn a "B–" or better in each class and must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 in order for the certificate to be granted. Students may transfer up to three hours of graduate coursework toward the certificate, subject to course review and approval by the Certificate Director or Associate Director.

Required Courses

  1. Theoretical Foundations of Applied Ethics (three hours). This course surveys major ethical theories and their relation to applied ethics, especially biomedical ethics and health policy. The course will include examination and discussion of ethical theories such as consequentialism, duty-based theories, rights-based theories, virtue ethics, and casuistry.
  2. Bioethics (three hours). This course serves as a graduate-level introduction to some of the topics, texts, and methods of the field of biomedical ethics.
  3. Capstone Course (three hours). In the capstone course, students will plan, research, and complete a project paper focusing on an ethical problem in one of the following:
    1. Clinical ethics (for those professionals interested in, for example, hospital ethics committees or ethics consultation),
    2. Research ethics (for those interested in, for instance, serving on an IRB or IACUC or otherwise consulting about research ethics), or
    3. Public policy (for those interested in, for example, working on the development and implementation of health care policy).

Elective Course Topics (students take one):

  1. Philosophy of Medicine (three hours). This course examines philosophical issues that arise in conceptualizing the aims and practices of medicine and medical science within broader cultural contexts.
  2. Special Topics in Bioethics (three hours). This is a research seminar on selected problems in biomedical ethics.

Definition of Prefixes

PHH—Philosophy, History of


PHM—Philosophy of Man and Society

Graduate Courses

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 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 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 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 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 semester hours.

PHI 5135. Modern Logic I (3). Prerequisite: PHI 3130, equivalent, or instructor permission. 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 instructor permission. 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 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 is 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 5699. Data Ethics (2). This course examines ethical questions related to the analysis, management, and application of data. Through case studies and class discussions, students develop the ability to recognize and analyze ethical issues that arise in their work as data scientists.

PHI 5908r. Directed Individual Study (1–3). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours. For degree restriction see graduate handbook.

PHI 5913r. Supervised Research (1–5). (S/U grade only). A maximum of three hours may apply to the master's degree. May be repeated to a maximum of five semester hours.

PHI 5934r. Topics in Philosophy (3). A variable content research seminar on selected philosophical problems. May be repeated to a maximum of twelve semester hours.

PHI 5945r. Supervised Teaching (1–5). (S/U grade only). A maximum of three hours may apply to the master's degree. May be repeated to a maximum of five semester hours.

PHI 5956. Introduction to Philosophical Methods (3). Prerequisite: Instructor 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 5971r. Thesis (1–6). (S/U grade only). A minimum of six semester hours is required.

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 semester hours for a reading course; three semester hours for a reading course with substantial writing. Repeatable with the instructor permission to a maximum of twelve semester hours.

PHI 6205r. Philosophical Logic (3). Prerequisite: PHI 3130, equivalent; or instructor permission. 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 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 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 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 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 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 semester hours.

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 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 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 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 semester hours.

PHI 6980r. Dissertation (1–12). (S/U grade only).

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 semester hours.


PHI 8964r. Preliminary Doctoral Examination (0). (P/F grade only.) This preliminary examination determines if students have mastered the content area of Philosophy and are prepared to plan and conduct independent and scholarly research. Upon successful completion of the preliminary examination, students are admitted to candidacy and may begin taking dissertation hours.

PHI 8966r. Master's Comprehensive Examination (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHI 8976r. Master's Thesis Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)

PHI 8985r. Dissertation Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)