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Ridge Walk Academic Complex
Arts and Humanities Building, Fourth Floor

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice.

Introduction to the Department

Philosophy addresses some of the most basic questions humans ask about the world. Some questions are very broad, such as how can minds know about the external world, themselves, and other minds? How can we arrive at reasonable answers to ethical questions about right and wrong? What distinguishes science from other kinds of knowledge and are there limits to science? What is the role of moral choice and values in human life? Do standards of truth and logic apply in areas such as religion, art, politics, and law?

Philosophy also seeks answers to particular problems in specific areas of science, medicine, law, ethics, and technology. For example, it explores the ways that modern physics impacts our notions of space, time, causation, and nature itself. It considers the ways that neuroscience and genetics impact the traditional ideas about free will and responsibility. It debates the limits of democratic governments in regulating individuals’ conduct. It wrestles with problems about the right to die and the varied responsibilities of medical professionals. It inquires into the relation between science and religion. Related issues concern privacy, the limits of private property, and who should have access to what information.

Career Guidance

Philosophy is a broad field with diverse subfields. Some students may want to pursue a general course of study for the major, sampling courses across several of these distinct subfields. This strategy develops a solid foundation for graduate work in philosophy and for any career that requires breadth of knowledge, intellectual flexibility, as well as communicative and analytic skills.

Other students may wish to pursue a more specialized program of studies. Below are descriptions of several areas of emphasis within philosophy. These illustrate the possibilities of developing your own coherent and focused set of courses that fulfill the requirements for the major in ways that are tailored to your specific intellectual and career interests. Philosophy is preparation for a wide range of careers—including science, law, medicine, teaching, business, and public policy.

Choosing a philosophy major is an excellent way to follow a disciplined and rigorous course of study that joins the breadth of a traditional college education with specialization in a chosen area.

Undergraduate Program—Major

The Department of Philosophy offers the bachelor of arts (BA) in philosophy for the undergraduate major. A major in philosophy requires a total of fifteen philosophy courses, at least twelve of which must be upper-division (courses numbered 100 and above). Up to two upper-division courses outside of philosophy can count among the twelve required for the major if they are drawn from a related field and contribute to the major’s philosophical program; such credit must be approved by the undergraduate adviser. Honors and directed study courses (PHIL 191–199) may not be used to satisfy the major requirement of fifteen philosophy courses. Major requirements may be met by examination.

There is no required introduction to philosophy or the major. The department offers a variety of lower-division courses and sequences (numbered 1–99), any of which could be a suitable introduction to philosophy. The only required lower-division course for majors is PHIL 10, Introduction to Logic.

At the upper-division level, majors are encouraged to take courses in the central areas of philosophical study:

  • Metaphysics and Epistemology
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics
  • Philosophy of Science and Logic
  • History of Philosophy

Though many upper-division courses have no prerequisite, any combination of three lower-division courses would provide a good foundation for taking most upper-division courses.

Core Requirements for the Major

  1. History of Philosophy. A history of philosophy core sequence PHIL 110, 111, and 112. These courses must be taken in order.
  2. Logic. PHIL 10 and PHIL 120 are required of all majors. Because PHIL 120 is a prerequisite for a variety of upper-division courses, prospective majors are strongly encouraged to take PHIL 10 and PHIL 120 as early as possible.
  3. Moral and Political Philosophy. Majors must take at least one upper-division course in moral or political philosophy from among PHIL 160, 161, 166, or 167.
  4. Metaphysics and Epistemology. Majors must take at least one upper-division course in traditional areas of analytic philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind—from among PHIL 130, 131, 132, 134, or 136.
  5. Philosophy of Science. Majors must take at least one upper-division course in philosophy of science from among PHIL 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151, or 152.

Optional Areas of Emphasis in the Major

The Department of Philosophy offers four optional areas of emphasis within the major, as described below. Students selecting an optional area of emphasis for the major must take and pass five of the courses listed under that area. Courses taken to complete an area of emphasis are counted toward the fifteen courses required for the major. Particular courses may be applied both to the completion of the area of emphasis and in fulfillment of a core requirement for the major. Students should be aware, as they plan their course of study, that only some of the courses listed for an area of emphasis will be taught in any given year.

The department encourages students considering a philosophy major to consult with the philosophy undergraduate coordinator and the philosophy faculty undergraduate adviser to plan a program of study that is suitable to their particular interests and needs. The department website provides additional information about courses falling within each area of emphasis. Areas of emphasis are not noted on transcripts or diplomas. The optional areas of emphasis are:

1. Law, Ethics, and Society
This area targets the nature and source of our moral rights and obligations, the authority of the state and law, the basis of value and goodness. Several courses in this area target ethical issues in medicine, the environment, technological change, economic inequality, and matters concerning race, gender, class, ethnicity, and nationality. In this area, students will learn how moral and legal reasoning can reshape the political debates over abortion, the death penalty, privacy on the internet, genetic testing, religious tolerance, free speech, affirmative action, and other issues.

This area is excellent preparation for law school as well as for postgraduate study and careers in public policy.

PHIL 148. Philosophy and the Environment

PHIL 152. Philosophy of Social Science

PHIL 160. Ethical Theory

PHIL 161. Topics in the History of Ethics

PHIL 162. Contemporary Moral Issues

PHIL 163. Biomedical Ethics

PHIL 164. Technology and Human Values

PHIL 166. Classics in Political Philosophy

PHIL 167. Contemporary Political Philosophy

PHIL 168. Philosophy of Law

PHIL 170. Philosophy and Race

2. Science, Technology, and Medicine
This emphasis focuses on the insights and challenges presented by science. Modern science and technologies affect our view of ourselves and of nature, introducing novel promises and problems. For instance, how do we balance technical, economic, environmental, and ethical values in making decisions concerning which technologies or drugs to develop? Modern science has also changed our understanding of nature. Quantum physics, the genetic revolution, and neuroscience (to name a few) present problems and have important implications for human life. Finally, there are questions about science itself. What are the methods of modern science? Do they vary from one science to another? Can the sciences be value free?

This area will appeal especially to those students interested in pursuing careers in philosophy, science, clinical medicine, medical research, the social sciences, science journalism, and public policy.

PHIL 123. Philosophy of Logic

PHIL 145. Philosophy of Science

PHIL 146. Philosophy of Physics

PHIL 147. Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 148. Philosophy and the Environment

PHIL 149. Philosophy of Psychology

PHIL 150. Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences

PHIL 151. Philosophy of Neuroscience

PHIL 152. Philosophy of Social Science

PHIL 163. Biomedical Ethics

PHIL 164. Technology and Human Values

3. Mind, Brain, and Cognitive Sciences
Traditional epistemology (the theory of how and what we know) and philosophy of mind (the theory of that-which-perceives-and-thinks) have recently been joined by several scientific disciplines in a collective search for illuminating theories. Psychology, cognitive neurobiology, computer science, and sociology have all made explosive contributions to a tradition as old as Plato and Aristotle. For example, our growing understanding of the biological brain has given new life to our traditional attempts to understand the nature of the mind. New accounts of the various mechanisms of cognition—both at the cellular and the social levels—have provided entirely new perspectives on the nature of consciousness, the self, knowledge and free will, and on the nature of science itself.

This area is excellent preparation for careers in cognitive science, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, science journalism, and philosophy.

PHIL 132. Epistemology

PHIL 134. Philosophy of Language

PHIL 136. Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 145. Philosophy of Science

PHIL 147. Philosophy of Biology

PHIL 149. Philosophy of Psychology

PHIL 150. Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences

PHIL 151. Philosophy of Neuroscience

PHIL 180. Phenomenology

4. Historical Perspectives on Philosophy, Science, and Religion
Throughout its history, philosophy has developed in a complex relationship with the natural sciences and religion. Philosophical ideas have both contributed to and challenged our understanding of nature and God, and developments in the sciences and religion have posed new challenges for philosophical thinking. The historical perspectives emphasis focuses on the fertile interplay between philosophy, science, and religion in several key periods: ancient Greece, the Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Europe. The aim is not simply to document the history of philosophical ideas, but to use this history as a way of better understanding contemporary debates about the basic questions of human life.

This area prepares students for postgraduate work in philosophy, and for any career that requires breadth of knowledge, intellectual flexibility, as well as communicative and analytical skills.

PHIL 100. Plato

PHIL 101. Aristotle

PHIL 102. Hellenistic Philosophy

PHIL 104. The Rationalists

PHIL 105. The Empiricists

PHIL 106. Kant

PHIL 107. Hegel

PHIL 108. Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

PHIL 109. History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 161. Topics in the History of Ethics

PHIL 166. Classics in Political Philosophy

PHIL 180. Phenomenology

PHIL 181. Existentialism

PHIL 183. Topics in Continental Philosophy

Honors Program

The Department of Philosophy offers an honors program for outstanding students in the major. Majors who have a 3.7 GPA in philosophy (3.25 overall) at the end of their junior year and who have taken at least four upper-division philosophy courses are eligible to apply. Interested students must consult with a faculty sponsor by the last day of classes during the spring term of their junior year. Admission to the honors program requires nomination by a faculty sponsor and approval of the undergraduate adviser. Nominating Petitions can be obtained from the philosophy department.

In addition to the usual major requirements, an honors student is required to complete a senior honors thesis by the end of winter quarter. During the fall and winter quarters, the student will be registered for PHIL 191A and 191B and will be engaged in thesis research that will be supervised and evaluated by the student’s faculty sponsor. A departmental committee will read and assess the completed thesis and determine if philosophy honors are to be awarded. Honors students are expected to maintain an average of 3.7 or better for all work taken in the program. (Qualified students wishing to participate in the honors program according to a different timetable than the one described above can apply to do so by petitioning the undergraduate adviser.)

Transfer Credit

Courses taken at other institutions may be applied toward the major by petition only. Petitions should be submitted to the Department of Philosophy undergraduate coordinator, and must be accompanied by supporting materials (transcripts, syllabi, course work, etc.). Students are required to submit one petition per transfer course.

For specific regulations regarding transfer credit for PHIL 10 (Introduction to Logic), please see the information on the department website:

It is important to note that seven of the twelve upper-division courses in the major must be taken in the Department of Philosophy at UC San Diego.

Note: All courses applied toward the major must be taken for a letter grade.

Undergraduate Program—Minor

The Department of Philosophy offers a minor in philosophy. As with the major, the minor is an attractive option for a wide range of career paths, including medicine, law, research in the natural and social sciences, journalism, education, and government. A minor requires a total of seven philosophy courses, at least five of which must be upper division. If choosing an area of emphasis, at least four upper-division courses must be from the chosen area of emphasis. All courses must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a C– or better.

Undergraduate Program—Bioethics Minor

The Bioethics Minor is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of important ethical questions concerning life in a wide variety of contexts, knowledge of the most promising and influential approaches to such issues, and the skill to apply foundational frameworks and critical reasoning to new issues as they arise. Students will explore pressing questions in a wide variety of contexts, such as medical and clinical ethics, distributive justice in health care, as well as environmental and climate ethics—including questions arising from the latest technological, medical, and scientific innovation in such areas as geo-engineering, human genetic engineering, synthetic biology, health care technologies, and big data, such as: What principles of distributive justice should regulate the allocation of scarce medical resources? Should priority be given to extending lives or to improving their quality? Is it permissible to select the genetic traits of one’s children? What are the goals of regenerative medicine? What is informed consent, and under what conditions is it required? In response to climate change, should “geoengineering” play a role, and should we take a more hands-on approach in environmental conservation when hoping to improve biodiversity? The minor builds on the Philosophy Department’s resources in ethical theory, political philosophy, philosophy of science and values, and interdisciplinary research, and complements and connects with a number of programs across the campus in the natural and social sciences, and engineering.

The minor will require seven courses (twenty-eight units) in all, one from each of five core categories, and two electives. A maximum of two may be lower-division courses.

Core Requirements for the Bioethics Minor

  • Ethics: Minors must take either PHIL 13 or PHIL 160.
  • Biomedical Ethics: Minors must take PHIL 163. Biomedical Ethics.
  • Social Ethics: Minors must take at least one course from among PHIL 26, 27, 162, 164, and 167.
  • Philosophy and Science: Minors must take at least one course from among PHIL 12, 145, 147, 137, 149, 150, 151, and 152.
  • Topics in Bioethics: Minors must take PHIL 173. Topics in Bioethics.

Electives for the Bioethics Minor

Minors must take two courses from the following:

The courses already listed under the core requirements, (1) - (5)

PHIL 10. Logic

PHIL 120. Symbolic Logic

PHIL 148. Philosophy and the Environment

PHIL 169. Feminism and Philosophy

PHIL 170. Philosophy and Race

HISC 116. History of Bioethics

FPMU 40. Introduction to Public Health

FPMU 50. Primary Care and Public Health

USP 143. The US Health Care System

BILD 36. AIDS, Science, and Society

BILD 38. Dementia, Science, and Society

Undergraduate Program—Philosophy of Cognitive Science Minor

The Philosophy of Cognitive Science Minor is designed to provide students with a broad understanding of important questions at the intersection of philosophy and the contemporary cognitive sciences, knowledge of the most influential approaches to such issues, and the skill to apply foundational frameworks and critical reasoning to new issues arising within the context of scientific discovery. Students will explore longstanding “big questions” about the mind that have long occupied philosophers, such as: What are minds? What are mental states? How are minds related to bodies? What is consciousness? How does perception differ from cognition? How do we form beliefs in response to evidence? This is done with the tools of the contemporary cognitive sciences, and brand new foundational questions that arise specifically within the context of the sciences, such as: What are representations and what explanatory role do they have? In what sense, if any, is the mind composed of modules? Are some mental capacities innate?

The Philosophy of Cognitive Science Minor builds on the Department of Philosophy’s resources in interdisciplinary philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of language, and philosophy of psychology, and connects with a number of programs across the campus in engineering and the social sciences.

The minor will require seven courses (twenty-eight units) in all: four from a list of core upper-division philosophy of cognitive science courses and three elective courses from affiliated departments outside philosophy. A maximum of two elective courses may be lower-division courses. All courses must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a C– or better.

Core Requirements for the Philosophy of Cognitive Science Minor

Core philosophy of cognitive science. Minors must take four upper-division courses from this list:

PHIL 132. Epistemology

PHIL 134. Philosophy of Language

PHIL 136. Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 137. Moral Psychology

PHIL 142. Philosophy of Emotion

PHIL 143. Philosophy of Perception

PHIL 145. Philosophy of Science

PHIL 149. Philosophy of Psychology

PHIL 150. Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences

PHIL 151. Philosophy of Neuroscience

Electives for the Philosophy of Cognitive Science Minor

Outside elective courses. Minors must take three courses from outside philosophy, drawn from the following list:

Cognitive Science

COGS 1. Introduction to Cognitive Science

COGS 2. Cognitive Neuroeconomics

COGS 11. Minds and Brains

COGS 12. Language, Culture, and Cognition

COGS 17. Neurobiology of Cognition 

COGS 100. Cyborgs Now and in the Future

COGS 101A. Sensation and Perception

COGS 101B. Learning, Memory, and Attention

COGS 101C. Language

COGS 102A. Cognitive Perspectives

COGS 102B. Cognitive Ethnography

COGS 102C. Cognitive Design Studio

COGS 107A. Neuroanatomy and Physiology

COGS 107B. Systems Neuroscience

COGS 107C. Cognitive Neuroscience

COGS 110. The Developing Mind

COGS 115. Neurological Development and Cognitive Change

COGS 118A. Supervised Machine Learning Algorithms

COGS 118B. Introduction to Machine Learning II

COGS 118C. Neural Signal Processing

COGS 123. Social Computing

COGS 126. Human-Computer Interaction

COGS 143. Animal Cognition

COGS 144. Social Cognition: A Developmental and Evolutionary Perspective

COGS 151. Analogy and Conceptual Systems

COGS 152. Cognitive Foundations of Mathematics

COGS 153. Language Comprehension

COGS 154. Communication Disorders in Children and Adults

COGS 155. Gesture and Cognition

COGS 156. Language Development

COGS 157. Music and the Mind

COGS 163. Metabolic Disorders of the Brain 

COGS 164. Neurobiology of Motivation

COGS 169. Genetic Information for Behavior: From Single Cells to Mammals 

COGS 170. Brain Waves Across Scales

COGS 171. Mirror Neuron System

COGS 172. Brain Disorders and Cognition

COGS 174. Drugs: Brain, Mind, and Culture

COGS 175. The Neuropsychological Basis of Alternate States of Consciousness

COGS 176. From Sleep to Attention

COGS 177. Space and Time in the Brain

COGS 178. Genes, Brains, and Behavior

COGS 179. Electrophysiology of Cognition

COGS 180. Decision-Making in the Brain

COGS 181. Neural Networks and Deep Learning

COGS 184. Modeling the Evolution of Cognition

COGS 185. Advanced Machine Learning Methods

COGS 188. Artificial Intelligence Algorithms

COGS 189. Brain Computer Interfaces


COMM 10. Introduction to Communication

COMM 102D. MMPP: Practicum in Child Development

COMM 108D. POB: Disability

COMM 110G. LLC: Communication in Organizations

COMM 110M. LLC: Communication and Community

COMM 110P. LLC: Language and Human Communication

COMM 110T. LLC: Language, Thought, and Media

COMM 112C. IM: The Idea of Childhood

COMM 112G. IM: Language and Globalization

COMM 168. Bilingual Communication

Computer Science and Engineering

CSE 100. Advanced Data Structures

CSE 101. Design and Analysis of Algorithms 

CSE 103. A Practical Introduction to Probability and Statistics

CSE 105. Theory of Computability

CSE 106. Discrete and Continuous Optimization

CSE 118. Ubiquitous Computing

CSE 145. Embedded System Design Project

CSE 150A. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: Probabilistic Reasoning and Decision-Making 

CSE 150B. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: Search and Reasoning

CSE 151A. Introduction to Machine Learning

CSE 151B. Deep Learning

CSE 152. Introduction to Computer Vision

CSE 152A. Introduction to Computer Vision I

CSE 152B. Introduction to Computer Vision II

CSE 156. Statistical Natural Language Processing

CSE 165. 3-D User Interaction

CSE 166. Image Processing

CSE 170. Interaction Design

CSE 180. Biology Meets Computing

CSE 180R. Biology Meets Computing


LIGN 4. Language as a Cognitive System

LIGN 6. Computers and Language

LIGN 101. Introduction to the Study of Language

LIGN 110. Phonetics

LIGN 111. Phonology 

LIGN 112. Speech Sounds and Speech Disorders

LIGN 113. Hearing Science and Hearing Disorders

LIGN 119. First and Second Language Learning: From Childhood through Adolescence 

LIGN 120. Morphology

LIGN 121. Syntax I

LIGN 130. Semantics

LIGN 144. Discourse Analysis: American Sign Language and Performing Arts

LIGN 146. Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities

LIGN 148. Psycholinguistics of Sign Language

LIGN 150. Historical Linguistics

LIGN 154. Language and Consciousness

LIGN 155. Evolution of Language

LIGN 160. Pragmatics

LIGN 165. Computational Linguistics

LIGN 167. Deep Learning for Natural Language Understanding

LIGN 170. Psycholinguistics

LIGN 171. Child Language Acquisition

LIGN 174. Gender and Language in Society

LIGN 175. Sociolinguistics 

LIGN 177. Multilingualism

LIGN 180. Language Representation in the Brain

LIGN 181. Language Processing in the Brain


PSYC 1. Psychology

PSYC 2. General Psychology: Biological Foundations

PSYC 3. General Psychology: Cognitive Foundations

PSYC 4. General Psychology: Behavioral Foundations

PSYC 6. General Psychology: Social Foundations

PSYC 7. General Psychology: Developmental Foundations

PSYC 101. Developmental Psychology

PSYC 102. Sensory Neuroscience

PSYC 104. Social Psychology

PSYC 105. Cognitive Psychology

PSYC 106. Behavioral Neuroscience

PSYC 108. Cognitive Neuroscience

PSYC 113. Electroencephalogram (EEG) Lab

PSYC 114. Psychophysiological Perspectives on the Social Mind Laboratory

PSYC 115A. Laboratory in Cognitive Psychology I

PSYC 115B. Laboratory in Cognitive Psychology II

PSYC 118. Laboratory in Animal Behavior

PSYC 120. Learning and Motivation

PSYC 121. Laboratory in Operant Psychology

PSYC 122. Mechanisms of Animal Behavior

PSYC 123. Cognitive Control and Frontal Lobe Function

PSYC 128. Psychology of Reading

PSYC 129. Logic of Perception

PSYC 130. Delay of Gratification 

PSYC 131. Scientific Racism: Genetics, Intelligence, and Race

PSYC 132. Hormones and Behavior

PSYC 133. Circadian Rhythms—Biological Clocks

PSYC 136. Cognitive Development

PSYC 137. Social Cognition

PSYC 138. Sound and Music Perception

PSYC 139. The Social Psychology of Sport 

PSYC 140. Human Behavior Laboratory

PSYC 141. Evolution and Human Nature

PSYC 142. Psychology of Consciousness

PSYC 143. Control and Analysis of Human Behavior

PSYC 144. Memory and Amnesia

PSYC 145. Psychology of Language

PSYC 146. Language and Conceptual Development

PSYC 147. Gender

PSYC 148. Psychology of Judgment and Decision

PSYC 150. Cognitive Neuroscience of Vision

PSYC 152. Conceptions of Intelligence

PSYC 153. Psychology of Emotion

PSYC 154. Behavior Modification

PSYC 155. Social Psychology and Medicine

PSYC 156. Cognitive Development in Infancy

PSYC 157. Happiness

PSYC 158. Interpersonal Relationships

PSYC 159. Physiological Basis of Perception

PSYC 166. History of Psychology

PSYC 167. Science of Imagination

PSYC 168. Psychological Disorders of Childhood

PSYC 169. Brain Damage and Mental Function

PSYC 170. Cognitive Neuropsychology

PSYC 171. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

PSYC 172. Psychology of Human Sexuality

PSYC 173. Psychology of Food and Behavior

PSYC 174. Visual Cognition

PSYC 175. Science of Mindfulness 

PSYC 176. Creativity

PSYC 179. Drugs, Addiction, and Mental Disorders

PSYC 180. Adolescence

PSYC 182. Illusions and the Brain

PSYC 184. Choice and Self-Control

PSYC 186. Evolutionary Psychology

PSYC 187. Development of Social Cognition

PSYC 188. Impulse Control Disorders

PSYC 189. Brain, Behavior, and Evolution

PSYC 190. Science of Parenting 

PSYC 191. Psychology of Sleep

Enrollment in these courses is subject to the normal prerequisites and requirements in place in these departments. Outside elective courses need not be from any single department, though students are encouraged to consult with affiliated faculty in philosophy for assistance selecting a coherent group of courses in this category.

Grade rules for majors/minors: All courses applied toward the major and minors must be completed with a grade of C– or better. Further, a GPA of 2.0 must be maintained in courses applied toward the major or minor. It should be noted that courses taken under the Pass/Not Pass (P/NP) grading option cannot be applied toward the major or minors.

Grade Rules for Majors/Minors

All courses applied toward the major or minor must be completed with a grade of C– or better. Further, a GPA of 2.0 must be maintained in courses applied toward the major or minor. It should be noted that courses taken under the Pass/Not Pass (P/NP) grading option cannot be applied toward the major or minor.

Advising Office

Students who desire additional information concerning our course offerings or program should contact the undergraduate coordinator at