GRADUATE PROGRAM

M.A. in Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy at Colorado State University offers a Master of Arts degree in philosophy. The department has established scholars specializing in traditional subdisciplines in philosophy including Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, History of Philosophy, Logic, and Metaphysics.

The department also has a focus on global philosophies, including Asian and Arabic philosophies. The department has long been recognized as a leader in applied ethics, especially bioethics and environmental ethics.

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Traditional Areas

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Global Philosophies

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Applied Ethics

The department welcomes graduate students with diverse backgrounds, including students with undergraduate degrees in areas besides philosophy. The aim of the M.A. Program is to train talented students in modern philosophical methods. Many of its graduates go on to Ph.D. programs at some of the leading graduate programs in the nation, while others pursue successful careers in industry, government and non-governmental organizations.

The MA Curriculum

The MA may be pursued along one of two plans, depending on whether students choose to complete their program with a thesis or a comprehensive final exam. In either case, the program is designed to be completed in two years of study.

Plan A: Thesis

Group 1: Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Related Areas (2 courses)
6 credits

PHIL 525        Seminar in Epistemology
PHIL 527        Seminar in Philosophy of Science
PHIL 535        Seminar in Metaphysics

Group 2: Theoretical Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics
PHIL 548: Seminar in Normative Ethical Theory

Group 3: Applied Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 550/IE 550: Ethics and International Development
PHIL 564: Seminar in Animal Rights
PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
PHIL 566: Seminar in Applied Philosophy

Group 4: History of Philosophy (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts
PHIL 501: Topics in History of Philosophy

Philosophy Electives*
6-9 credits

Out-of-Department Courses*
0-3 credits

Thesis (PHIL 699)
6 credits

Total Program Credits:
30

A minimum of 30 credits is required to complete this program. In addition to completing program credits and courses required to address deficiencies, students must pass an oral defense of their thesis.

Plan B: Exam

Group 1: Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Related Areas (2 courses)
6 credits

PHIL 525        Seminar in Epistemology
PHIL 527        Seminar in Philosophy of Science
PHIL 535        Seminar in Metaphysics

Group 2: Theoretical Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics
PHIL 548: Seminar in Normative Ethical Theory

Group 3: Applied Ethics (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 550/IE 550: Ethics and International Development
PHIL 564: Seminar in Animal Rights
PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
PHIL 566: Seminar in Applied Philosophy

Group 4: History of Philosophy (1 course)
3 credits

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts
PHIL 501: Topics in History of Philosophy

Philosophy Electives*
9-15 credits

Out-of-Department Courses*
0-6 credits

Research (PHIL 698)
3 credits

Total Program Credits:
33

A minimum of 33 credits are required to complete this program. In addition to completing program credits and courses required to address deficiencies, students must also pass a final examination.

Have Questions About Admissions or Requirements?

Upcoming Seminar Plans 

Fall 2019

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts (Romagni)

This course will primarily focus on Spinoza’s Ethics. One of the most influential (and inflammatory) texts in the history of Western philosophy, the ultimate aim of the Ethics is to present Spinoza’s unconventional conception of the good life, as well as its metaphysical and epistemological underpinnings. In our examination of the Ethics, we will discuss Spinoza’s views on modality, the nature of God, individuation and persistence, laws of nature, freedom, knowledge, and the intellectual love of God. In order to have a fuller appreciation of Spinoza’s views, including their formation and reception, we will also look at some texts by other historical authors, such as Maimonides, Descartes, and Leibniz. In addition, we will read some selections of secondary literature written by more recent Spinoza commentators.

PHIL 525: Seminar in Epistemology (Kasser)

"The Ethics of Belief Debate" often refers to an important 19th-century dispute featuring W.K. Clifford and William James. But, of course, normative questions about beliefs and believing long precede that debate. And the issues at play have recently been sharpened and reinvigorated by a welcome intrusion of ideas from ethics and philosophy of mind into epistemology and by the "value turn in epistemology."   We will ask about the sources and varieties of epistemic normativity: is epistemic value primarily practical or moral or is it sui generis? if epistemic normativity is not monistic, how, if at all, are the different kinds of norms to be commensurated? are epistemic norms categorical or hypothetical? We will investigate evidentialism and its main alternatives: Do all beliefs need to be supported by evidence? If so, by how much evidence and in what way? Could it ever be (all-things-considered) admirable or even obligatory to form or sustain a belief in the absence of ordinarily sufficient evidence? To what extent do we have control over what we believe, and to what extent does that attenuate our responsibility for our beliefs? The Clifford-James debate will receive some serious attention, and some other historical work will figure in the seminar, but readings will mostly draw on contemporary sources.

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (Tucker)

This course covers a variety of paradoxes at the intersection of philosophy and mathematics, though as Agustín Rayo puts it, the actual topic is not paradoxes, but "awe-inspiring topics at the intersection between philosophy and mathematics." We'll work through Rayo's new book, On the Brink of Paradox, which "explores ideas at the brink of paradox: infinities of different sizes, time travel, probability and measure theory, computability theory, the Grandfather Paradox, Newcomb's Problem, the Principle of Countable Additivity." We'll pick and choose topics according to student interest and fill in mathematical background as necessary; we won't assume any substantial logic or mathematical knowledge.

PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy (Cafaro)

We will consider some of the main theoretical approaches possible within environmental ethics, and then build on this base to explore two key environmental issues: climate change and mass species extinction. There will also be seminar time to explore issues in which students have a particular interest.  

Spring 2020

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (Hamid)

What is the nature of reality, consciousness, and value (i.e., goodness) in the cosmos? How do personal consciousness and action interact with cosmic reality? Put another way: What is truth? Metaphysics involves the struggle to discover and to articulate, in an intelligible and coherent manner, a system of general principles that governs the development of reality, consciousness, and value; and reveals their classification in relation to the general forms of human experience. What does it mean to be human? What are the fundamental forms of human experience, of consciousness and action? Metaphysics studies the movement of consciousness within each level of experience, and the transcendence of consciousness from each lower level to the higher. Metaphysics seeks a common roadmap through which each person may objectively seek answers to the above and related questions, with a view to thereby contextualize and guide one’s actions in the world at large. How is metaphysics related to my field of study? How is it related to my future research or career? Metaphysics is relevant to virtually every domain of human inquiry. This includes the liberal arts, the sciences, and business. The enterprise of metaphysics aims to articulate a science of wisdom that ties together the foundations of the various domains and paths of scientific and other human inquiry. In the words of Erwin Schrödinger, the famous scientist:

The isolated knowledge obtained by a group of specialists in a narrow field has in itself no value whatsoever, but only in its synthesis with all the rest of knowledge and only inasmuch as it really contributes in this synthesis toward answering the demand: Who are we? This seminar will work primarily, but not exclusively, within the Western tradition of metaphysical investigation that begins with Heraclitus, Plato, and Aristotle, and which reaches its pinnacle in the systems of Hegel and Whitehead. Consideration will also be given to some global traditions of metaphysics (e.g., Chinese and Islamic).

Metaphysics 535 has no prerequisites and is open to all CSU Graduate students. No previous familiarity with philosophy is assumed. It is also open to advanced or senior undergraduates – with permission of the instructor.

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics (Tropman)

This seminar examines a range of topics in metaethics.  Metaethical theories ask and try to answer questions about ethics rather than questions within ethics.  Central metaethical questions include the following.  Can moral claims be true or false, and if so, what makes them true?  If moral claims are neither true nor false, what is the function of moral discourse?  Is moral truth an objective matter, and if so, in what sense?  If there are moral facts, are they natural?  How do we know about such moral facts?  How does alleged moral knowledge motivate us to act?  In this seminar, we will consider a range of possible responses to such questions, focusing especially on those answers offered by the metaethical theories of intuitionism, emotivism, error theory, Cornell moral realism, constructivism, quasi-realism, hybrid theories, non-naturalistic moral realism, and sensibility theory.

PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy (Shockley)

Human Flourishing and the Environment

It is clear that human flourishing depends on a healthy natural environment. But the nature of that dependence is less clear. Is this sense of dependency anything more than an appeal to a healthy environment as an excellent resource for human consumption? This seminar will focus on answering this question. It will require that we think carefully about the nature of human flourishing and the value of the natural environment. Traditionally, the environment is often framed either as something of instrumental value, that is, as a resource, or as something of intrinsic value, that is, as a value in itself. However, there are further alternatives. We might think of the environment as relationally valuable, that is, valuable insofar as it makes possible a connection between other things of value (like friendship binds together friends). We might think of it as constitutively valuable, that is, as a part of something of value (just as virtue is a part of flourishing). We will critically examine these alternatives, explore how they affect our understanding of human flourishing, and consider the practical consequences for the delicate balance between promoting human flourishing and preserving the non-human environment. 

PHIL 666: Science and Ethics (Rollin)

There are many challenges to the well-being of science in the U.S. One such challenge, monumental but unaddressed, is the neglect by the scientific community of ethical issues raised by science. These include research on humans, animal research, disregard of pain control, genetic engineering, and many others. In this course, we will examine many of these issues, as well as look at ways to address them. We will also examine the ideology which has served to prevent science from addressing these issues in a straightforward way.

 

Placement Record

Many of our MA students go on to PhD programs in philosophy or pursue advanced degrees in other fields, such as law, public policy, education, counseling psychology, and medicine.

2019

0 students received the M.A. (as of May 2019)

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into the programs at

University of Kansas

University of Nebraska

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Utah Law School

2018

6 students received the M.A.

1 student applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and was accepted into the program at:

Central European University

1 student attended other graduate programs:

University of Denver Iliff School of Theology

 

2017

3 students received the M.A.

0 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

0 students attended other graduate programs

2016

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into programs at

University of Nebraska

University of Tennessee

0 students attended other graduate programs

 

2015

7 students received the M.A.

3 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and were accepted into programs at

University of Maryland
University of Miami
University of Cincinnati
University of Wisconsin
SUNY at Albany
University of Alberta
University of Utah
University of Illinois

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, MD Program

2014

5 students received the M.A.

4 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Purdue University
Temple University
University of Exeter
University of Kansas
University of Memphis (2)

2013

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

University of Iowa (2)
University of Otago, New Zealand
University of Rochester

3 students attended other graduate programs

University of Massachusetts Boston, Management
University of Pittsburgh, Health Policy and Management
Northwestern, Law

2012

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University
Texas A & M
University of North Texas
The New School for Social Research

2 students attended other graduate programs

UC Berkeley, Law
Amrita University, India, Humanities and Social Sciences

2011

6 students received the M.A.

4 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University (2)
Marquette University
SUNY Buffalo
University of British Columbia
University of California at Davis
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
University of Miami

3 students attended other graduate programs

Indiana University, Law
University of Colorado Denver, Counseling Psychology
University of Maryland, Public Policy

2010

5 students received the M.A.

1 student applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

2 students attended other graduate programs

Colorado State University, Education
Seton Hall University, Public Administration

2009

14 students received the M.A.

5 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 5 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Bowling Green State University
Florida State University
Purdue University
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of Illinois at Urbana
University of Kansas
University of Tennessee
University of Western Ontario

3 students attended other graduate programs

CUNY, Law
University of Connecticut, Cognitive Anthropology
University of Kansas, Social Policy

2008

5 students received the M.A.

2 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 2 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

Rice University
The Ohio State University

1 student attended other graduate programs

East Tennessee State University, Storytelling

2007

6 students received the M.A.

3 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy and 3 were accepted to Philosophy programs at

University of Cincinnati
University of Illinois at Chicago
Purdue University

1 student attended other graduate programs

University of Colorado, Law