Department of Philosophy (GRAD)
The graduate program in philosophy is designed to equip students to engage with both perennial and cutting-edge philosophical enquiry. The program is intended to prepare students for college and university positions in philosophy.
The Department of Philosophy offers a program of study leading to the Ph.D. in philosophy. Prerequisite for admission to graduate work in the department is a B.A. degree or equivalent, typically with a major in philosophy, with a broad range of courses. Students earn an M.A. as part of the Ph.D. program.
The department offers several nonservice fellowships. These include the Graham Kenan Fellowship and the Horace Williams, Mary Taylor Williams, and Bertha Colton Williams Fellowships. The department has available teaching assistantships with stipends of $17,000. In addition, several kinds of UNC—Chapel Hill fellowships and teaching assistantships are available, some from The Graduate School and others from the department. Total financial support per year (including income from summer teaching) currently ranges from $24,500 to $33,300 (for a student who wins The Graduate School’s highly competitive five-year fellowship), along with full tuition, student fees, and health insurance. Please refer to the funding section of the department's website for up-to-date information about graduate support.
The department maintains close relations with the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. Graduate students from either institution may register for credit in graduate courses or seminars at the other institution and may include faculty members from either on their dissertation committees. Library facilities are available to students at each institution.
Candidates for the master's degree must satisfactorily complete 30 semester hours of graduate work. They are normally required to participate in a first-year program including PHIL 700 and PHIL 455/LING 455; there may be adjustments with the consent of the department. Successfully completing an M.A. thesis is a condition for receiving the degree of master of arts.
Candidates for the doctoral degree must satisfactorily complete 60 semester hours of graduate work, including six hours of Ph.D. dissertation credit.
The candidate for the degree of doctor of philosophy must pass two examinations. First, there is the Admission to Candidacy examination, which itself has two parts: a written general portion and a special oral portion. The written portion, normally taken in the spring term of the third year, is in the student's field of specialization. The oral portion tests the feasibility of the dissertation proposal and is normally taken in the fall term of the fourth year. Second, there is an oral defense of the completed dissertation. For further details on degree requirements, see The Graduate School Handbook.
More information about the philosophy graduate program may be found on the department's website.
Following the faculty member's name is a section number that students should use when registering for independent studies, reading, research, and thesis and dissertation courses with that particular professor.
Marc Lange (44), Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics, Epistemology
C. D. C. Reeve (39), Ancient Philosophy, Metaphysics, Moral Psychology, Ethics
Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (25), Moral Theory, Metaethics, Epistemology, History of Modern Philosophy
Distinguished Research Professors
Simon Blackburn (28), Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Psychology, Metaethics
Geoffrey Brennan (23), Political Philosophy, Economics, Rationality
Luc Bovens (52), Philosophy and Public Policy, Rationality, Moral Psychology, Formal Epistemology Thomas Dougherty (55), Ethics, Political Philosophy Thomas Hofweber (42), Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Philosophy of Mathematics Mariska Leunissen (41), Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy of Science Alan Nelson (36), History of Modern Philosophy Ram Neta (43), Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind James Pryor (57), Epistemology, Philosophy of Language, Logic, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Action, Metaphysics John T. Roberts (37), Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Metaphysics Sarah Stroud (54), Moral Theory, Moral Psychology, Metaethics, Philosophy of Action Rebecca Walker (53), Bioethics, Ethical Theory
Markus Kohl (51), History of Modern Philosophy, History of Ancient Philosophy, Moral Psychology, Existentialism
Matthew Kotzen (46), Epistemology, Philosophy of Science
Alexander Worsnip (50), Epistemology, Metaethics, Theory of Rationality
Rosalind Chaplin (59), History of Modern Philosophy, Moral Psychology Carla Merino-Rajme (47), Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind Daniel Muñoz (58), Ethics, Philosophy of Action
Bernard Boxill Thomas E. Hill Jr. Douglas C. Long William G. Lycan Douglas MacLean Stanley Munsat Gerald J. Postema Michael D. Resnik Robert D. Vance
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-Level Courses
An examination of some representative works of Aristotle, with reference to common emphases and basic problems, together with an analysis of their philosophic content. The aim to provide students with a more thorough understanding of the key texts, doctrines, notions, and ideas in Aristotle's philosophy as a whole and with the capacities and confidence to conduct a short, independent, ancient philosophical research project on Aristotle's philosophy.
An examination of some representative works in the context of contemporary scholarship.
An intensive study of some medieval philosophical author (e.g., Aquinas, Scotus, or Ockham) or topic (e.g., arguments for the existence of God, universals, knowledge of individuals).
An in-depth study of such rationalist philosophers as Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.
An in-depth study of such empiricist philosophers as Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.
An intensive introduction to Kant's accounts of space, time, concepts, perception, substance, causation, and the thinking self through a careful study of his masterwork, The Critique of Pure Reason.
This course studies closely Kant's practical philosophy, dedicated to understanding and assessing the answers that Kant gives to classic questions of practical philosophy, such as: What does morality demand from us? What is the morally right course of action? Is morality objective? Do moral norms depend on God?
This course examines the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, covering all three conventionally recognized periods of his philosophy in chronological sequence, tracing the historical and philosophical development of his views from the early Birth of Tragedy to the late Twilight of Idols. The main question we will face when studying all these different writings is how Nietzsche tries to solve the problem of nihilism. Completion of one previous PHIL course preferred.
In-depth study of Hegel's systematic philosophy emphasizing its roots in Kant's critical philosophy. Primary focus on Phenomenology of Spirit, supplemented by selections from the Encyclopedia and Philosophy of Right.
An in-depth study of American contributions to philosophy, including for example the transcendentalists, the pragmatists, Quine, Rorty, and others.
Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein among others are considered.
Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. Recent work in epistemology and metaphysics.
At least two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 340, strongly recommended. An examination of dualism, behaviorism, the identity theory, and forms of functionalism with special focus on the problems of mental aboutness and the problems of consciousness.
At least two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 345, strongly recommended. A study of important contemporary contributions in philosophy of language. Topics include meaning, reference, and truth.
An in-depth survey of general issues in contemporary philosophy of natural science intended for advanced philosophy students. Topics include confirmation, explanation, theory-choice, realism, reduction.
Topics may include the nature of space and time, the ontological status of fields and energy, or causation and locality in quantum physics.
The logical structure of evolutionary theory, fitness, taxonomy, the notion of a living thing, reductionism, evolutionary explanations, teleology.
Topics may include reasoning, the relationship between language and thought, concepts, moral cognition, and emotions.
The nature of historical explanation, structural and functional explanation, the weighing of historical testimony, the concept of meaning, normative judgments and predictions in the social sciences.
Introduction for graduates and advanced undergraduates.
Presupposes propositional and quantificational logic as a basis of further deductive development with special attention to selected topics: alternative systems, modal and deontic logic, inductive logic, the grammar of formalized languages, paradoxes, and foundations of mathematics.
Natural and real numbers. Infinite cardinal and ordinal numbers. Alternative axiom systems and their consistency problems.
Philosophical problems concerning logic and the foundation of mathematics.
Examination of classic texts of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Butler, Hume, Kant, and Mill. Selections may vary from year to year.
Advanced discussion of moral issues such as fact and value, reason and morality, the nature of morality.
Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. A detailed examination of one or more of the following contemporary issues: environmental ethics, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, racism, sexism, public versus private morality.
One course in philosophy strongly recommended. Medical students welcome. The course will focus on the question of how scarce health care resources ought to be distributed in order to meet the demands of justice.
One additional course in philosophy strongly recommended. The course examines attitudes toward risk and how they affect our preferences for different public policies in the areas of environmental protection, technology regulation, and workplace and product safety.
Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 170 or 370, strongly recommended. Explores the foundations of justice and authority in the idea of contract or covenant, the nature of law, rights, liberty, and democracy in the work of Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau.
An examination of central issues in social and political philosophy as they figure in the work of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and others.
One course in philosophy other than PHIL 155 strongly recommended. The issue of unity and diversity in America is analyzed through the writings of Jefferson, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Calhoun, MacKinnon, DuBois, and Rawls.
This course traces the emergence and development of central themes of modern political philosophy from the 13th through the 17th century.
Examines in greater depth and complexity one or more of the issues addressed in PHIL 275, investigating issues of gender, race, and class within the dominant theories of philosophy.
Two courses in philosophy other than PHIL 155, including PHIL 370, strongly recommended. Investigation of major contemporary contributors (Rawls, Nozick, Dworkin, Cohen, Waldron, Arrow) to philosophical debate concerning justice, equality, liberty, democracy, public reason, or rights versus community.
An exploration of whether and under what conditions the state has the right to control crime by punishment of past crimes and preventive detention to prevent future crimes.
Philosophical readings of literary texts, including novels, plays, and poems.
Competing theories of art and art criticism. The relationship between art and emotional expression, the formal character of art, and standards of taste.
Interdisciplinary course to develop critical thinking capacities through philosophical study of the nature of scientific presuppositions and concepts, including events, causality, and determinism, with specific application to health care issues.
A study of one or two major systematic works by Sartre, Heidegger, or Merleau-Ponty.
Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Advanced independent work in philosophy.
Ethics explores obligations to act in the interest of others as well as ourselves. Justice explores the ways people should organize and govern themselves. Course addresses such questions as, What principles govern our relationships with other people? What do we owe others and ourselves? How should we treat other people?
Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. See the director of undergraduate studies of the department.
Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. See the director of undergraduate studies of the department.
Permission of the department. This capstone course advances PHIL 384, focusing on such theoretical and philosophical issues as the analysis of rights or distributive justice and the institutional implications of moral forms.
This course provides Philosophy graduate students with the background to teach PPE courses. It covers core ideas in Economics and Political Science, Rationality, the Market, Inequality, Causal Inference, with the aim of analyzing social problems in PPE style.