Major Program

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Philosophy is one of the world’s oldest academic subjects and strives to answer fundamental questions such as, What is consciousness? Who should rule? What is knowledge? What is freedom? What is beauty? What is good? What is a number? By trying to answer these questions philosophy connects with many other academic subjects, including psychology, politics, law, physics, and mathematics. This means that philosophy is by its very nature an interdisciplinary subject.

Curriculum

The curriculum for the B.A. in Philosophy at Bilkent is designed to produce graduates who are skilled problem-detectors, versatile problem-solvers and confident communicators. In other words, it aims to develop individuals who can adapt in a world characterized by rapid change.

  • The curriculum is broad-based, which means that students will have the opportunity to take courses in a number of academic fields, including physics, biology, mathematics, literature, arts, history and psychology.
  • In addition, students will have the opportunity to take courses that aim to develop skills for the workplace (for example, languages, statistics, computer programming and skills, summer job training).
  • The philosophy courses in the curriculum provide a sufficient basis for pursuing graduate studies in philosophy and related disciplines. Those courses encompass key texts and arguments in the history of philosophy, as well as central debates in contemporary philosophy.

For a detailed description of the curriculum see the Online Catalog.

 

Courses

FreshmanSophomoreJuniorSeniorElectives
The following philosophy courses are taken during the first year:
PHIL 101 - Introduction to Logic
A self-contained introduction to the basic notions of logic, including language, truth, argument, consequence, proof, and counter example. Both propositional logic and predicate logic are studied (their syntax plus semantics), with an emphasis on translating English sentences into logical symbols. A contemporary software package (Tarski’s World) is used to construct derivations of valid arguments. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 102 - Ancient Philosophy
This course introduces the thought of ancient philosophers focusing on questions about the purpose of philosophy, the nature of knowledge, virtue and the good life. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 103 - Introduction to Philosophy I
The course raises and examines central problems in theoretical philosophy such as: Is there a world of things that exists independently of human thought and sensation? How can we know the difference between appearance and reality? How does our mind and the physical world relate? How can we know whether there are other minds? Do we freely choose our actions or are they pre-determined? Those problems are investigated through a close reading of influential texts in the history of philosophy. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 104 - Introduction to Philosophy II
The course raises and examines central problems in practical philosophy such as: Is there a single true morality? To what extent is morality conventional? How can we know what is the right and wrong thing to do? Why should I do the right thing? What is it to live one’s life well? Those problems are investigated through a close reading of influential texts in the history of philosophy. Credit units: 3.

The following courses are taken from other departments:

CS 123 – Introduction to Computing and Programming for Social Sciences
MATH 105 – Introduction to Calculus I
MATH 106 – Introduction to Calculus II
ECON 103 – Principles of Economics
ENG 101 – English and Composition I
ENG 102 – English and Composition II
TURK 101 – Turkish I
TURK 102 – Turkish II

More information about these courses can be obtained from the online Bilkent catalog.

The following philosophy courses are taken during the second year:

PHIL 201 - Epistemology
This course addresses several of the central problems of contemporary epistemology, such as: conceptions of epistemic justification; skeptical arguments and responses to them; foundationalism and coherentism; externalism and internalism; causal theories of knowledge; rationality and cognitive relativism; naturalised epistemology. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 202 - Ethics
This course endeavors to appraise critically the moral sense, deontological, utilitarian and intuitionist accounts of morality. In so doing it asks: Do our value judgments merely reflect our subjective preferences or are they based on an objective reality? Is there a single ultimate value? Should we be guided by reason or passion, altruism or egoism? Should we determine a person’s worth based on the consequences of their actions or the motives for their actions? Does maximizing overall happiness respect the individual? Credit units: 3.
PHIL 203 - Rationalists
This course introduces the rationalist tradition in philosophy through the works of Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza. We will look at these philosophers’ responses to questions about substance, perception, thought, identity and causality. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 204 - Empiricists
This course introduces the works of empiricist philosophers Locke, Berkeley, and Hume focusing on the nature of substance, perception, and thought, and philosophical problems about identity and causality. Credit units: 3.

The following courses are taken from other departments:

PHYS 107 – Basic Physics I
PHYS 108 – Basic Physics II (or alternatively, MBG 110)
PSYC 100 – Introduction to Psychology
ECON 221 – Introduction to Probability and Statistics I
MBG 110 – Introduction to Modern Biology (or alternatively, PHYS 108)
HIST 200 – History of Turkey
GE 250 – Collegiate Activities Program I
GE 251 – Collegiate Activities Program II
Second Language I
Second Language II

More information about these courses can be obtained from the online Bilkent catalog.

The following philosophy courses are taken during the third year:

PHIL 299 - Summer Training I
The minimum time for this practice in an organization is four weeks (20 workdays). The main objective is to observe a non-academic organization in an original setting. Since philosophy students have the ability to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues, they must come handy in the workplace. Organizations can be any of the following: think-tanks, human rights organizations, NGOs, charities, marketing and advertisement companies, law firms, newspapers, magazines, broadcasting companies, publishing houses, etc. It is crucial to secure the approval of the department chair re the suitability of the intended summer training place. Students should do this before they make arrangements with the organization. A written report summarizing training experience is required. Credit units: None, Prerequisite: PHIL 202.

More information about the summer training can be obtained from here.

PHIL 301 - Political Philosophy
When, if at all, is coercion justified? When is it justified to disobey? In what sense should I be free in a political community? Is the idea of forcing someone to be free a contradiction? Those questions and more are examined through a close reading of influential philosophical texts. Credit units: 3.
SPHIL 303 - Kant
This course is based around a close and critical reading of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. We concentrate on assessing Kant’s response to the possibility that the world studied by science is in some sense mind-dependent and/or mind-constructed. More specifically, we consider his distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge and analytic and synthetic judgments, his argument for synthetic a priori truths, his transcendental deduction of the categories and his transcendental idealism. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 305 - Intermediate Logic
This course builds on PHIL 101 – Introduction to Logic, and focuses on the uses and limitations of formal techniques in the study of language and argument. Topics to be covered will include: Further study of propositional and predicate calculus, including discussion of completeness, soundness and decidability results; Set-theoretic and semantic paradoxes; Introduction to modal and intuitionistic logic; logic and computability. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 306 - Philosophy of Language
We discuss key concepts such as: truth, meaning, reference, logical form, speech act and metaphor. In addition we critically assess various theories that aim to show what it is for a statement to be true. As preparation the course commences with a brief recap of key aspects of logic. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 308 - Philosophy of Mind
This course introduces students to key issues in contemporary philosophy of mind. We start by looking at dualist, materialist and functionalist responses to the mind/body problem, and consider a range of further issues about personal identity, consciousness and intentionality. A key guiding issue is, ‘To what extent, and in what ways can the human mind be compared to a computer?’ Credit units: 3.
PHIL 401 - Metaphysics
Focusing on a selection of key texts, this course examines core topics in contemporary metaphysics, such as: truth, existence, universals and particulars, causality, modality, perception, knowledge, the a priori, identity, anomalous monism, supervenience, vagueness, and time. Credit units: 3.

The following courses are taken from other departments:

Art (Restricted Elective)
Literature (Restricted Elective)
Second Language III
Second Language IV

More information about these courses can be obtained from the online Bilkent catalog.

The following philosophy courses are taken during the fourth year:

PHIL 399 - Summer Training II
The minimum time for this practice in an organization is four weeks (20 workdays). The main objective is to observe a non-academic organization in an original setting. Since philosophy students have the ability to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues, they must come handy in the workplace. Organizations can be any of the following: think-tanks, human rights organizations, NGOs, charities, marketing and advertisement companies, law firms, newspapers, magazines, broadcasting companies, publishing houses, etc. It is crucial to secure the approval of the department chair re the suitability of the intended summer training place. Students should do this before they make arrangements with the organization. A written report summarizing training experience is required. Credit units: None, Prerequisite: PHIL 299.

More information about the summer training can be obtained from here.

PHIL 302 - Social and Legal Philosophy
What should be the relationship between the individual and the state? Must we be embedded in the social world in order to be free? How can we justify rules of justice? Should there be limits on what justice can demand in order to bring about the best consequences? Those questions and more are examined through a close reading of influential philosophical texts. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 304 - Philosophy of Science
It is often assumed that science is a paradigm of rational inquiry. In this course we look at a number of recent accounts of scientific rationality which try to give good grounds for this assumption. We also consider the closely related question of scientific realism: when do we have good grounds for thinking that the objects described in scientific theories really exist? Credit units: 3.
PHIL 402 - Aesthetics
This course examines key debates in the Philosophy of Art, such as the definition of art, the ontology of artworks, the nature and scope of the aesthetic, expression, representation, interpretation, appreciation, aesthetic value and the value of art, creativity, art and ethics. Credit units: 3.
PHIL 403 - Senior Thesis I
The aim of PHIL 403 and PHIL 404 is the gradual development of each student’s ability to carry out independent research. In PHIL 403, the student starts to work on a thesis addressing a chosen philosophical topic under the supervision of a faculty member. Credit units: 3.

More information about the senior thesis can be obtained from here.

PHIL 404 - Senior Thesis II
The aim of PHIL 403 and PHIL 404 is the gradual development of each student’s ability to carry out independent research. In PHIL 404, the student writes and defends in front of a jury a thesis addressing the chosen philosophical topic. Credit units: 3.

More information about the senior thesis can be obtained from here.

The following courses are taken from other departments:

History I (Restricted Elective)
History II (Restricted Elective)
Elective (3 electives)

More information about these courses can be obtained from the online Bilkent catalog.

This link has the most up-to-date information about the elective courses that are acceptable by the philosophy curriculum. If you are a philosophy student and need to take an elective, you must make sure that it appears in the elective lists available in this link.

More specifically, the following are the elective courses offered by our department, depending on availability of teaching staff:

Intra-Departmental electives
PHIL 405 - Advanced Philosophy of Language
A continuation of PHIL 306 - Philosophy of Language delving into advanced material. Credit units: 3. [_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 406 - Advanced Philosophy of Mind
A continuation of PHIL 308 - Philosophy of Mind delving into advanced material. Credit units: 3. [_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 407 - Medieval Philosophy
This course gives an overview of philosophy during the middle ages (500-1400) while situating it within a broad social and cultural context. We consider major figures such as St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas, and study some of the main themes of medieval philosophy: the relationship between faith and reason, the existence of God and abstract entities, the nature of human knowledge. Credit units: 3. [_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 408 - Nineteenth-Century Philosophy
This course covers the progress of thought in Europe after Kant. It focuses on the following topics: the study of culture and the human sciences, the rise and fall of idealism, historicism, modernity, critical philosophy after Kant. Emphasis is placed upon the work of authors like Schopenhauer, Hegel, Dilthey, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 409 - Introduction to Phenomenology
Phenomenology is frequently regarded as movement of thought with methods contrasting the methods of science and analytic philosophy. It has been an intellectual force in Europe, influencing psychology, sociology, theology, and aesthetics. Its philosophical foundations are primarily due to Husserl. In addition to being an epistemological program, Husserlian phenomenology is also a theory about the nature of human consciousness and experience, focusing on intentionality and the role of meaning. This course concentrates on Husserl's work and important extensions contributed by his student Heidegger. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 410 - History of Analytic Philosophy
In this course we examine the history of analytic philosophy starting with the foundational contributions of Frege and Russell. We discuss logical atomism, logical empiricism, Wittgenstein's earlier and later work, ordinary language philosophy, Quine, and Kripke's theory of reference. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 411 - What is a Mind?
A topical introduction to philosophy of mind guided by the following questions: What are the major properties and functions of a mind? And in what terms do we think of minds? The course offers a systematic survey of philosophical theories of mind. We begin with the legacy of earlier centuries -- mind/body dualism, consciousness, self, and free will -- then turn to the first scientific response to this legacy -- behaviorism and the rise of scientific psychology -- and examine the major theoretical positions and debates it generated in the 20th century, such as reductive physicalism, functionalism and the computer model of the mind, eliminative materialism, instrumentalism, and commonsense psychology. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 412 - Philosophy of Mathematics
This course covers several classical and contemporary problems in the philosophy of mathematics, such as: mathematical truth, the nature of proof, mathematical intuition, the foundations of mathematics, and mathematical knowledge. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 413 - Foundations of Cognitive Science
We start from two major paradigms in contemporary cognitive science -- the wide and the narrow paradigms. The narrow paradigm, which has been the more popular, is concerned with how information is encoded and computed, particularly in human minds. The main rival theories within the narrow paradigm are the symbol-system view and connectionism. The wide paradigm takes minds to be more than information processors, to come in a variety of kinds, and to operate relative to a variety of parameters -- teleological, regulatory, environmental, and social. According to the wide paradigm even information processing has to be reexamined in the light of such parameters. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 414 - Consciousness
The main questions of this class are the following: What is consciousness and why it matters? Why is consciousness puzzling if not mysterious? Is consciousness one phenomenon or many? The grand divide: the relatively easy problem (how it works) versus the really hard problem (how it feels like) and their derivatives. What mechanisms and competencies underpin consciousness? Where in the brain is consciousness located? Who are the possessors of consciousness, phylogenetically and ontogenetically? Does it come in degrees or is it an all-or-nothing property? Are there different forms of consciousness? Why has consciousness evolved? How does it develop in ontogeny? The class is interdisciplinary and will therefore examine both philosophical positions and arguments as well as the latest scientific theories and data about consciousness. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 415 - Moral Psychology
This course combines the theoretical resources of philosophical ethics and the empirical resources of cognitive and behavioral sciences. Empirical evidence from the human sciences will be used to examine core questions in ethical theory. Those questions include: Are our moral judgments determined by sentiment or reason? Are our attitudes and actions determined by situation or character? Is morality a product of evolution? Does human cooperation require incentives? Is moral disagreement unavoidable? Is free will an illusion? The course will refer to classic contributions to the subject by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. However, the main focus of the course will be recent research in the area by, amongst others, John Doris, Gilbert Harman, Shaun Nichols, Jesse Prinz, and Stephen Stich. The course does not presuppose an extensive background in philosophy or psychology. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]
PHIL 416 - From the Kitchen to the Streets: An Introduction to Feminism
In this course we will critically examine key topics in feminism, including abortion, sexual harassment, pornography, and the politics of work and family. We will also investigate the impact of feminism on language, science, morality, and the way we interact with other cultures. Philosophers have fundamentally contributed to our understanding of what it means to be a woman. So a part of the course will be devoted to studying the place of women in the history of ideas. Students will be encouraged to develop their own arguments with respect to real life issues. Credit units: 3.[_/su_spoiler]