Interdisciplinary Study

Section 1

Main Content

The University of Illinois Philosophy Department has several interdisciplinary strengths:


Ethics and the Philosophy of Law

Five professors in and affiliated with the Philosophy Department at Illinois are currently producing top-level research in the areas of ethics and philosophy of law. Our professors in the philosophy department are pursuing a wide variety of interests in moral psychology (including evil, punishment, shame, and torture) and classic issues of political obligations and the nature of just states. Their research interests also reach to feminist issues and applied topics such as same-sex marriage, prostitution, and abortion. As well as on contemporary trends, these professors place a strong emphasis on the history of philosophy with a particular strength in the moral philosophy of the early moderns and Immanuel Kant. Our professors in the law school are pursuing various research interests including the role of causation and the impact of neuroscience on responsibility as well as environmental ethics and the ethical presuppositions of the law’s doctrines of responsibility and the theories of value that inform the moral scope of the law’s jurisdiction. Other areas of focus are on the origins of moral and legal systems and their interrelations as well as the uses of evolutionary game theory to articulate structural features of the moral psychological attitudes that animate our moral and legal practices. Students with research interests in these and related areas have the opportunity to work closely with these well-known scholars by pursuing the Ph.D. in philosophy or by joining the J.D/Ph.D. program:

Past seminars in Ethics and Philosophy of Law include:

Ascribing Moral Responsibility

Conceptions of the Self – Making Sense of Gender, Sexual Identity and Orientation

Constructivist Ethics

Environmental Ethics, Market Forces, and the Law

Free Will and Determination

Kant vs. Feminist Ethics of Care: The Distinction between Justice and Virtue

The Moral Philosophy of Hume

Moral Realism



Experimental and Metaphilosophy

Over the course of the last ten years, experimental and metaphilosophy have become major topics of research in the field. Our department approaches these topics both empirically and methodologically. Students involved on the empirical side of experimental and metaphilosophy work closely with professors from our top tier psychology department, learning experimental design and statistical methods. Students predominantly interested in the philosophical implications of experimental philosophy can work closely with both experimentalists and philosophy faculty, carefully assessing the philosophical merits of the experimental findings.

Topics of interest amongst our faculty and graduate students include:

Intuitions about causation and explanation, knowledge attribution, and the cognitive mechanisms underlying moral decision-making.

If you are interested in Experimental and Metaphilosophy at Illinois visit the Psychology of Philosophy Laboratory page here:


Philosophy of Language and Linguistics

Our professors in and affiliated with the Linguistics Department provide research opportunities for those interested in semantics and issues in the philosophy of language more broadly.

Linguistics and Philosophy of Language courses frequently offered:

Formal Logic and Philosophy

Modal Logic

Philosophy of Language

Seminar in Philosophy of Logic

Seminar in Semantic Analysis 1 & 2



Philosophy of Mathematics and Mathematical Logic

While completing a PhD in philosophy, graduate students have the unique opportunity to receive a masters degree in mathematics from one of the most active mathematical logic programs in the world. Most aspects of logic are represented at Illinois, especially model theory and descriptive set theory. The department is supportive of students who choose to pursue this route – it is possible for students involved in interdisciplinary research to receive an additional year of funding.

Seminars and conferences are also held frequently for students interested in reading the most up-to-date research in mathematical logic.

Past seminars in Philosophy of Mathematics and Mathematical Logic include:

Mathematical Logic

Model Theory of Valued Fields

Philosophy of Mathematics

Recursive Function Theory

Set Theory and Topology

Set Theory




Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science

Illinois has a significant strength in cognitive science. Philosophy students can take courses in our highly regarded psychology, neuroscience and computer science departments, while completing their coursework in the first phase of study. A number of graduate students work in psychology labs or at the Beckman Institute running experiments using advanced methods like fMRI and EEG. Consequently, our philosophy graduate students learn rigorous experimental design and data analysis.

Additionally, courses are frequently cross-listed between psychology and philosophy, allowing coursework in these areas to count towards progress in the philosophy program.


Cognitive Science and Philosophical Psychology courses frequently offered:

Artificial Intelligence


Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion

Evolutionary Neuroscience

Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy of Psychology

Seminar in Cognitive Science