West Valley College
14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070 • Phone (408) 867-2200

For a detailed course outline, click on the course title.

Directed Studies and Independent Studies courses are also available. Consult your instructor.



Philosophy 1, Introduction to Philosophy
Philosophy 1 is an introduction to philosophical problems and the various approaches to their solutions. The student will be exposed to selected systems, mainly of Western philosophy, with emphasis on how these systems are relevant to solving the problems of contemporary existence. The course will explore answers to such questions as: What is reality? What does it mean to be a person? Are human acts free or determined? What, if anything, makes an act right or wrong?

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 2, Introduction to Logic
Philosophy 2 is an introduction to the problems and techniques of traditional and modern logic comprising both deductive and inductive inference. The student will learn to distinguish arguments from non-arguments, to identify and avoid common fallacies in reasoning, to test for validity both truth functional arguments and categorical syllogisms, to construct simple formal proofs of validity in truth-functional logic, and to understand the nature of inductive reasoning and its relationship to the sciences.

Accepted for transfer: CSU (Area C-1), UC (elective)
Fulfills the CSU Critical Thinking requirement.


Philosophy 3, Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy 3 critically analyzes questions of value (what's good and bad) and obligation (what's right and wrong). It explores the ethical systems of Plato, Aristotle, Christianity, Kant, the utilitarians, and the intuitionists. These ethical systems are applied to contemporary ethical problems and social issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, feminism, euthanasia, animal rights, and racism. Much of the course is devoted to critical thinking and writing skills. The course requires the student to write a sequence of ethical "position papers", which are evaluated for both quality of analysis and English composition skills.

Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in English 1A
Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC
Fulfills the IGETC Critical Thinking/English Composition Requirement (Area A-3)


Philosophy 4, Patterns in Comparative Religion
Philosophy 4 is an introduction to the critical, comparative study of religion. The student will be introduced to the responses offered by the major Western and non-Western religions to perennial problems of human life. Major topics include: characterization of the religious vs. the secular point of view; arguments in favor of the religious stance; arguments in opposition to the religious stance; the relationship of religion to science, ethics, and philosophy; the nature and validity of religious knowledge; the beliefs of major world religions and how these beliefs are expressed; how different religious beliefs affect the culture and history of European, Arabic, African, Native American, and Asian peoples.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 5, Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
This course is designed to introduce the student to the major issues in political and social philosophy. How, for instance, do we adjudicate the rights of the individual against the rights of the state and its authority? What constitutes the just state? And what effects do certain political ideologies (Liberalism, Fascism and Communism) have on social relations? This course will trace the history of these ideas from Plato to what is currently being called the Postmodern condition.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 6, Introduction to the Philosophy of the Person
Philosophy 6 explores modern and contemporary philosophical views on human nature and institutions. It is particularly concerned with philosophical questions arising as a result of modern movements such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, sociobiology, feminism, national liberation movements, environmentalism, the sexual revolution, and the "global village" phenomenon. Writings by mostly modern and contemporary philosophers on freedom, gender, the family, self-respect, work, spirituality, sexuality, love, commitment, and community will be examined. An interdisciplinary and multicultural approach is used.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 8, Introduction to Asian Thought
Philosophy 8 is an introductory survey of the main philosophical currents of thought of India, China, and Japan. The student will be encouraged to explore the answers offered by Asian philosophers to such questions as: What is ultimate reality? What is the self? How is personal freedom to be achieved? This course will be of particular interest to students who encounter elements of Asian thought in business, art, music, history and other disciplines and who are interested in understanding the intellectual forces that have shaped the cultures of Asia.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 9, Introduction to Symbolic Logic
Philosophy 9 is an introduction to the concepts and methods of modern symbolic logic, both sentential and quantificational. The student will learn to do truth value analysis of statements, translate complex natural-language arguments into both sentential and quantificational logic, construct advanced formal proofs of validity in both sentential and quantificational logic, and explore the meta-logical issues of consistency and completeness of formal systems. The relevance of symbolic logic to areas such as set theory and computer science will also be explored.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC


Philosophy 12, Introduction to Environmental Ethics
Philosophy 12 is a philosophical survey of the moral issues that arise as a result of human interaction with, and exploitation of, nature. The views of traditional and contemporary Western and Eastern philosophers will be examined, as well as eco-feminist and Native American perspectives. The student will be invited to explore such questions as: What is the relationship of human beings to the rest of nature? What does it mean to live in harmony with nature? Are humans more valuable than animals? Do animals have rights? if so, to what extent? What, if anything, is the value of wilderness and wild animals? To what extent are we morally bound to use technology in ecologically responsible manner? The answers to such questions will be related to specific contemporary issues such as abortion, genetic engineering, famine, animal experimentation, hunting and trapping, nuclear technology, and pollution.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC


Philosophy 16, Religious Pluralism in the United States
Philosophy 16 examines religious pluralism in the United States, including such topics as: the philosophic background of the idea of religious pluralism, the role of religion in personal and social identity (including the parameters of gender, race, and class), conflicts between religions and religious violence, the role of religion in cultural imperialism, interactions between religious traditions, and the impact of non-Western religions on American philosophers. By means of this survey students will become familiar with the major themes in Religious Studies. The course will examine both those religions which were introduced to the Americas and those which arose within the context of American culture.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC

Fulfills the WVC graduation requirement in Intercultural Studies (Area F).


Philosophy 17 Logic and Critical Reasoning
Philosophy 17 is an introduction to critical thinking and critical writing. The student will learn techniques of practical reasoning and argumentation, with emphasis on application of these techniques in the writing of a sequence of argumentative essays. Topics include: critical reading, argument analysis, recognizing propaganda and stereotypes, clarifying ambiguity, meaning and definition, evaluating evidence, logical correctness vs factual correctness, and common mistakes in reasoning (formal and informal fallacies). Critical writing strategies are emphasized. Sample arguments for analysis are drawn from readings in philosophy and from culturally diverse sources in other fields.

Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in English 1A

Fulfills the IGETC Critical Thinking/English Composition requirement (Area A-3)


Philosophy 21, World Philosophers on Death
Philosophy 21 explores major philosophical questions about death and the meaning of life from a multicultural perspective. Major questions include: the possibility of disembodied existence, the nature of consciousness, the nature and significance of individuality and personal identity, concepts of reincarnation or transmigration of souls, the nature and significance of so-called "para-normal" experiences, and the meaning of salvation or liberation or transcendence (concepts of heaven, nirvana, moksha, satori, etc.). Required readings will be taken from classic texts of both Eastern and Western philosophy and religion, as well as feminist philosophy of religion, and studies of African, Australian aborigine, and native American sources. Contemporary American death rituals of various cultures will also be analyzed.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC

Fulfills the WVC graduation requirement in Intercultural Studies (Area F).


Philosophy 22, Philosophy of Religion
What is the relation between faith and reason? Does God exist, and if so, what (if anything) can be said about God? Can we reconcile the goodness of God with human and animal suffering? What human experiences (if any) are religious experiences? Religions provide answer to these and many other fundamental questions. In Philosophy 22, we conduct a systematic inquiry into the philosophical foundations of Western religions.

Accepted for transfer: CSU, UC, IGETC




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