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)
3 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?

Projected Seminar Plans & Recent Seminars

Fall 2018

PHIL 500: Seminar in Major Philosophical Texts (Didier)

In this course we will read and analyze major texts of Chinese philosophical traditions, from the classical (ca. 500-221 BC) and early-imperial (ca. 221 BC-220 AD) periods through the middle period (through ca. 1000-1200 AD). Texts will include sections of the Analects, Mengzi, Xunzi, Laozi, Zhuangzi, the Zhongyong (Doctrine of the Mean), the Daxue (Great Learning), The Spring and Autumn Annals of Mr. Lü, the Huainanzi, and the Liezi, as well as texts of middle-period Chinese Buddhist tradition that helped to create by the year 950 or so newly developing syncretisms of indigenous Chinese traditions and the imported Buddhist tradition in all of metaphysics, epistemology, and social and political philosophy. These intellectual transformations altered forever the generalized Chinese world view regarding its own versus other entities’ socio-political existence and of their interactions.

PHIL 525: Seminar in Epistemology (Kasser)

Stability and Epistemic Value

Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in one of epistemology’s oldest questions: why, if at all, is knowledge more valuable than (mere) true belief? We will follow the “value turn in epistemology” that has raised this Platonic question about knowledge construed as reliably formed true belief and as true belief obtained through the exercise of intellectual virtue. But we will focus mostly on an answer that gets broached in the Meno itself, viz. that knowledge has a valuable kind of stability that mere true belief lacks. So we will ask what cognitive stability might believably be, what might be distinctively valuable about it, and whether knowledge (or some other valuable epistemic state like understanding) can be cashed out in terms of stability.

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (Hamid)

Introduction to Metaphysics for Graduate Students

What is the nature of reality, consciousness, and value (i.e., goodness) in the cosmos? How does personal consciousness 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 governing the development of reality, consciousness, and value; and revealing their classification in relation to the general forms of human experience.

What does it mean to be human? What are the 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 564: Seminar in Animal Rights (Rollin)

It was not until the second half of the 20th century that society began to concern itself with the treatment and moral status of animals. The first animal ethics books were written in the 1970s By Peter Singer and Bernard Rollin, and since then the literature has increased exponentially. In this class, we develop a theory of animal ethics that follows from what we believe of human ethics. We then apply the theory to the major use of animals in society, including animal agriculture, animal research and testing, animals in entertainment, and use of animals as companions. In the course of our discussion we examine numerous basic issues such as what animal mind is and how we can know it; the significance of death to animals; and animal ethics in contrast with environmental ethics.

Spring 2019

PHIL 535: Seminar in Metaphysics (Gorin)

"Do human beings have free will? Is the existence of free will compatible with a deterministic universe, that is, a universe in which every event (or every macro-level event)—including human choices and actions—is determined by the state of the universe at an earlier time and the laws of nature? What kind of freedom must we have in order for us to be the kind of beings we seem to ourselves to be, that is, agents whose actions are in some fundamental sense “up to us,” such that we are morally responsible for our choices and actions? If it turns out that we lack the sort of free will required for moral responsibility, what should we say about our practices of praising, blaming, rewarding, and punishing? Have developments in neuroscience shown free will to be an illusion?

This seminar will explore these questions, among others. Though we briefly will cover some figures from the history of philosophy, we will focus most of our attention on work done over the last century, up to and including recently published work."  

PHIL 547: Seminar in Meta-Ethics (Tropman)

This seminar examines a range of topics in metaethics.  Metaethical theories seek to provide a second-order accounting of moral thought.  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, and sensibility theory

PHIL 565: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy (McShane)

The aim of this course is to explore two topics that have been the subject of much recent discussion in environmental philosophy: biodiversity and naturalness.  Both are often described by environmental philosophers and policymakers as value-adding characteristics of particular places: environments that have higher levels of biodiversity or naturalness are considered more valuable than those with lower levels of biodiversity or naturalness.  But what are biodiversity and naturalness, and what is good about them?  In the first part of the semester we will explore the recent literature on biodiversity; in the second part of the semester we will turn to consider naturalness.  In both cases, we will try to answer the following question: on what understanding(s) of this concept does it describe something that is valuable in the world, and why?

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.

2017*

3 students received the M.A.

0 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

0 students attended other graduate programs

* Some students whose degree was conferred in 2017 will not apply to Ph.D. programs until this upcoming year.
 
2016

5 students received the M.A.

0 students applied to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy

0 students attended other graduate programs

2015

7 students received the M.A.

2 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

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