Philosophy and Ethics

The University of Dubuque Philosophy and Ethics major focuses on perennial human questions: What is real? How do we know? What is right and wrong? In this program, students read works by representative western philosophers and are introduced to other traditions as well. The program’s emphasis is on learning to think, communicate, and write about difficult philosophical and scholarly information and reasoning. The aim is to produce informed graduates who can think about information and texts critically, analyze arguments and issues, make rational decisions, and communicate effectively. Students learn how different thinkers have approached the basic questions of life. But more importantly, they develop skills and leadership experience that will enhance their personal and professional lives

What You Will Learn

  • By studying, analyzing, and evaluating the ideas of philosophers, past and present, students in the Philosophy Program develop important skills for thinking about their lives, their careers, and issues we face in the world.
  • Students will develop skills that enable them to analyze and understand difficult information.
  • Students will learn to evaluate this information by sorting out arguments and recognizing logical and illogical forms of reasoning.
  • Students will gain valuable skills to be used for writing about scholarly and technical topics.
  • Students will learn to think philosophically about their professional and personal lives.
  • At the end of their course of study, students in the program complete a semester-long service or internship experience, reflect on their college learning, and write an essay in which they articulate a framework for moral decision-making.

Program of Study

A University of Dubuque degree in Philosophy and Ethics offers core and elective courses for all students with the objectives of helping them develop skills in critically analyzing claims, issues, and ideas; contemplate basic questions about the world, life and reality; appreciate the wisdom and insights of great thinkers in the history of human thought; think critically and constructively about their own beliefs, values, and worldviews; develop a commitment to ethical and responsible living in our diverse global community, and gain skills in careful research and academic writing.

What Our Students Do

University of Dubuque philosophy students read and study the works of great philosophers of the past and present, challenging their own beliefs and those of others. Students also learn to seek better answers to the perennial issues we face as human beings.

Where Our Graduates Go

University of Dubuque Philosophy graduates go into entry-level jobs in many fields including publishing, business, and management, or attend graduate school in philosophy, theology, or law. Current Philosophy graduates are serving as lawyers, college professors, pastors, and business leaders. 

News from the Department

Tools for Young Philosophers, by Dr. Paul Jensen, associate professor of philosophy, was published in 2011 by WIPF and STOCK Publishers. Environmental Perspectives, 2ndEdition, by Professor Roger Ebertz was published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., in 2014. 

Philosophy and Ethics - Program of Study

The courses below are a program sample of what students may encounter. Students will meet with their advisers to develop a personal educational program to plan their elective course choices, internships, undergraduate research, and other educational opportunities and experiences.

Year One

Fall Semester
WVS 101: World View Seminar I (3)
PHL 212: Ethics and Contemporary Issues (3)
PHL 114: Logical Reasoning (3)
ENG 101: Composition and Rhetoric (3)
CIS 101: Introduction to Computers (3)


Spring Semester
PHL 111: Introduction to Philosophy (3)
RES 104: Introduction to Research Writing (3)
COM 101: Speech Communication (3)
PSY 110/SOC 111: Introduction to Psychology (3)/Sociology (3)
BIO 110: Human Biology and Lab (4) or other Science Lab Course

Year Two

Fall Semester
REL 214: Environmental Perspectives (3)
PHL 261: World Philosophies (3)
ENG 112/260: Literature (3) 
REL 110: Judeo-Christian Journeys (3) or other REL Course
HWS 110: Physical Activity (1)
PHL Elective


Spring Semester
WVS 201: Worldview Seminar II (3)
REL 255: Buddhism (3)
PHL 331: Issues in Science and Religion (3)
ART 111: Survey of Western Art (3) or other Aesthetics B Course
HWS 110: Physical Activity (3)
PHL Elective

Year Three

Fall Semester
PHL 321: Philosophy of Religion (3)
PHL 355: Ancient & Medieval Philosophy (3)
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major


Spring Semester
PHL 312: Ethical Theory (3)
PHL 356: Modern and Contemporary Philosophy (3)
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major

Year Four

Fall Semester
PHL 485: Leadership Internship (3)
PHL 475: Service and Internship Reflection (3)
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major


Spring Semester
PHL 495: Senior Seminar (3)
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major
PHL Elective, or course for a minor or second major


Christine Darr
Christine Darr
Department Head for Philosophy, Politics and History
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics

PhD, University of Iowa
BA, Northwestern College

Office Phone: 563.589.3305
Office Location: 330 Severance Hall

Karin Anderson
Karin Anderson
Adjunct Professor

MA, Educational Policy and Practice

Biography - Click Here

Karin Anderson has a BA in both History and English and Secodary Teaching Certification from the University of Iowa. She was a Social Studies teacher and Varsity track coach for the Dubuque Community Schools for 17 years. She has her MA in Educational Policy and Practice from the University of Sheffield in Sheffield England and is currently working on her EdD through National Louis University. She is an Adjunct Professor at UD teaching World Civs and World View

Amanda Beverly
Amanda Beverly
Adjunct Instructor

MDiv, University of Dubuque
BA, University of Dubuque


Roger Ebertz
Roger Ebertz
Professor of Religion

PhD, MA, University of Nebraska
MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary
BA, Carleton College

Office Phone: 563.589.3669
Office Location: 323 Severance Hall
Fax: 563.589.3416
Biography - Click Here

Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 1991.
M.A. Philosophy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, 1988.
M.Div. Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, 1981
B.A. Philosophy, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, 1975.

Areas of Specialization
Epistemology, Ethical Theory

Additional Areas of Teaching Competence
History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Introduction to Philosophy
Introductory Logic,  Applied Ethics, Environmental Philosophy

Current Research and Writing Areas
Applied Ethics, Moral Epistemology, Critical Thinking, Religion and Higher Education

Graduate Coursework
Graduate Philosophy Courses:
Theory of Knowledge
Justification, Reliability & Rationality
Philosophy of Mind
Formal Logic
Philosophy of Language
Advanced Logic/Theory of Meaning
A Priori Knowledge
Philosophy of Mathematics
Moral Epistemology
Recent Kantian Ethics
Recent Contractarian Ethics
Survey of Greek Philosophy
Aristotle's Epistemology
Hellenistic Philosophy
Descartes and Spinoza
Kant's Ethics
Kant's Metaphysics and Epistemology
Themes in the Philosophy of Religion

Graduate Theology Courses:
Philosophy of Religion
Social Ethics
Reading in Kierkegaard
Systematic Theology
Church History
New Testament Studies
Old Testament Studies
New Testament Greek
Old Testament Hebrew

Teaching Experience
Professor (1998-present), Associate Professor (1995 to 1998), Assistant Professor (1992-1995), University of Dubuque, Dubuque, IA.

Visiting Assistant Professor (1990-1992), West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Lecturer (1988-1990), College of Saint Mary (Lincoln program), Omaha, NE.

Instructor (1989-1990), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Instructor (Fall Semester, 1987), Northwestern College, Orange City, IA.

Teaching Assistant (1984-1985 and 1986-1987, 1988, 1989), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Summary of Courses Taught
Lower Level Undergraduate Courses:
The Art of Reasoning and Decision Making
Elementary Logic
Introduction to Philosophy (Historical)
Philosophical Questions (Topical Introduction)
Introduction to Religions and Worldviews
Ethics and Contemporary Issues
Environmental Perspectives
Business Ethics
New Student Seminar
Upper Level Undergraduate Courses: 
Ethical Theory
History of Ethics
Social and Political Philosophy
Ancient Philosophy
Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
African and African-American Philosophy
Seminar on Religion and Higher Education
Dissertation Abstract
The Search for Coherence Between Beliefs:
A Study on the Relationship Between Coherence and Justifion

Dissertation Supervisor: Professor Robert Audi

This study investigates the relation between coherence and epistemic justification.  Part One is primarily critical.  A preliminary chapter outlines three reasons coherentist theories of justification are attractive and a basic anticoherentist argument which concludes that pure coherentist theories of justification cannot account for justification. Subsequent chapters flesh out this argument through a critical evaluation of the coherentist theories of Keith Lehrer and Laurence BonJour.    Given this understanding of justification, a theory of epistemic responsibility is developed according to which coherentist considerations and methods play important roles as a believer seeks to be epistemically responsible.  The resulting theory of justification and responsible belief shares many of the features which make coherentist theories attractive, yet provides a more adequate account of justifying reasons.


Book Review of Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education, by Douglas Sloan, in Teachers College Record, Volume 98, Number 1, Fall 1996.

"""""">""Socratic Teaching and the Search for Coherence,"" in Knowledge, Teaching and Wisdom, edited by Keith Lehrer, B. Jeannie Lum, Beverly A. Slichta, and Nicholas D. Smith, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1996.

""Is Reflective Equilibrium a Coherentist Model?""  Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 23, Number 2,  June 1993.

Professional Paper Presentations

The Vocation of Teaching: Themes and Models from the Presbyterian Tradition, with Peggy Cowan and Mary Shields, to the Consultation on the Vocation of the Presbyterian Teacher, August 10-13, 2000, Louisville, KY.

Toward a Theocentric Approach to Environmental Value,""  to a joint session of the Midwest Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Dubuque Area Theological Forum, March 8, 1996, Dubuque, IA.

Why I Find Coherentism Unsatisfying"" to the Summer Institute on Knowledge, Teaching and Wisdom sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, July 29, 1993, Berkeley, CA.

Varieties of Epistemic Responsibility"" at the spring meeting of the West Virginia Philosophical Society, March 27-28, 1992, Morgantown, West Virginia, and at the Midwest Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, October 30-31, 1992, St. Paul, MN.

Is Reflective Equilibrium a Coherentist Model?"" at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Society, December 27-30, 1990, Boston MA.

Religious Experience and Foundational Beliefs"" at the Midwestern Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, October 13-15, 1988, St. Paul, MN.

Professional Conference and Seminar Participation

Steering Committee Member and Participant, Consultation on the Vocation of the Presbyterian Teacher, August 10-13, 2000, Louisville, KY.

Associate Director, Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College, 1999-2001, Midwest Discussion Group.

Participant, Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College, 1998-1999, Upper Midwest Discussion Group.

Participant, Summer Institute on Knowledge, Teaching and Wisdom, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, June 23-July 30, 1993, Berkeley, CA.  Institute Directors: Keith Lehrer and Nicholas Smith.

Participant, Wheaton College Summer Seminar, July 11-15, 1989, Wheaton, IL.  Topic: Epistemic Warrant.  Seminar Leader: Alvin Plantinga.

Participant, Summer Seminar on Science and Christianity, sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies, August 11-16, 1987, Madison, WI.  Seminary Leaders: David C. Lindberg, Keith Yandell, and Keith J. Cooper.

Unpublished Manuscripts (Available upon request)

Toward a Theocentric Approach to Environmental Value

The University of Dubuque: Our Tradition, Our Heritage, Our Future

Administrative Experience

Chair,  Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of Dubuque (1992 to present).  Responsibilities as chair of a department with one full-time faculty member and several adjuncts include curriculum design, assessment, course scheduling,  budgeting, multicultural course development, adjunct faculty development.

Project Director, ""Exploring Our Presbyterian Connection,"" a grant-supported project exploring the nature and meaning of Church-related higher education  (1996 to present).   Responsibilities include grant-writing, budgeting, organizing forums and discussions, leading faculty colloquia, teaching a seminar on Church-Related Higher Education.

Faculty Advisor (1992-present).  Serve as advisor to philosophy and religion majors (1992 to present), to pre-seminary students (1992 to present), to Native-American Students (1993-present), and to first-year students (1995-present).

Chair, Undergraduate Faculty Assembly (1994-1996,1999-2000).  Responsibilities included moderating faculty meetings and Educational Policy Council meetings, communicating with faculty, representing faculty on committees, serving as liaison to administration, overseeing faculty actions.

Task Force Member Tri-College Steering Committee (1995-1996).  This task force was appointed by the Presidents of the University of Dubuque, Clarke College, and Loras College to produce an evaluative report on the cooperative programs between the three institutions.

Faculty Committee Member.  University Planning, Advancement and Finance Committee, Admissions Committee, Academic Standing Committee, Library Committee.

Project Director, The Future of the Church-Connection at the University of Dubuque (1997-1999) A discussion group consisting of junior faculty members concerning the meaning and future of the University's connection to the Presbyterian Church.  This position also involved participation in regional and national meetings of the Rhodes Consultation on the Future of Church-Related Colleges, funded by the Lilly Foundation.

Faculty Representative to the Board, 1997 to present.  Represent the faculty of the School of Liberal Arts to the Board of Trustees.

Professional Memberships

American Philosophical Association,  Society of Christian Philosophers

Brian Hallstoos
Brian Hallstoos
Associate Professor of History

PhD, University of Iowa
MA, Rutgers University
BA, University of Minnesota at Morris

Office Phone: 563.589.3855
Office Location: 313 Severance

Eric Miller
Eric Miller
Adjunct History Instructor

MA, Western Illinois University;
BA St. Ambrose University


Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy

PhD, Brandeis University
MA, Institute for Christain Studies
BA, Olivet Nazarene University

Office Phone: 563.589.3796
Office Location: 334 Severance Hall

Dennis Yergler
Dennis Yergler
Adjunct Instructor of History

PhD, University of Iowa
MA, Iowa State University
BS, Iowa State University

Office Phone: 563.589.3353
Office Location: Severance 334
Biography - Click Here

A little about myself:  To begin, my name is Dr. Dennis Keith Yergler, although I have answered to many different names over the years.  (With regard to pronouncing my last name, it rhymes with "burglar," but it begins with a "Y".)  I did my undergraduate work at Iowa State University in mathematics.  But, as I tell my classroom students, when I began college the Vietnam War was still going strong, and my high school class was the last high school class to receive college deferments (a college deferment exempted someone from the military draft for four years to allow such an individual to complete his/her college education).  The following year the government instituted a draft lottery system, and my draft lottery number came up 116.  According to all of the news' pundits at the time anyone with a draft lottery number of 120 or less probably faced a high probability of being drafted.  Since my deferment exempted me from any military draft until I graduated, I knew that I did not really have to worry about Vietnam for the next three years.  However, I also knew that if the war in Vietnam was still going strong when I graduated that with such a low draft number my chances of getting drafted were good.    Wanting to know more about our involvement in Vietnam, American foreign policy, Soviet communism (and why it posed such a threat to the "free world"), I began taking some history and political science courses my sophomore year in college in order to give me better information to help me to decide my own future (whether I was going to Vietnam or to Canada -- fortunately, by the time I completed my undergraduate degree, the war in Vietnam was pretty much over, and, consequently, I never had to make a choice.).  Yet the history and political science courses that I took during the subsequent  years opened a whole new world for me.  As I tell my face-to-face classes, I truly felt like Alice walking through the looking "glass."  My college history and political science professors told me all the things my high school teachers had failed to teach me.  The more history and political science courses I took, the more I found out that I did not know.  Thus, my fascination and love of history and politics began.

            Upon completion of my bachelor's in mathematics, I spent the next ten years studying American diplomatic history, American foreign policy, international relations, American history and politics, and U.S.-Soviet Relations.  I completed my first master's degree in history from Iowa State and then a second master's degree from Iowa State in political science.  I then completed my Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa.  My Ph.D. area of specialization was American Diplomatic History, U.S.-Soviet Relations and the Cold War.  My dissertation was published by Peter Lang in 1993 and can be found listed on (extra bonus points for anyone purchasing a copy -- only joking!!)  

            From 1985 until 1997 I served as a history and political science professor at a small four-year liberal arts college in northwest Iowa called Westmar University.  Being essentially the entire history and political science departments, I taught numerous courses at Westmar, courses that ranged from World Civ I and II, Latin American Politics, The Age of Discovery, U.S.-Soviet Relations, Native American History, Russian History, State and Local Governments, Politics and the Media, International Relations, The Politics of Underdevelopment, The Politics of Multinational Corporations, etc.  And this is just a small sampling of the courses I taught!  

            In 1997 Westmar unexpectedly closed.  I then accepted a position as Academic Dean at Hamilton College (a small two-year junior college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Hamilton now offers four year degrees and is currently called Kaplan University.) where I served for 16 months.  For a variety of reasons -- one of which was that I had decided that I had not spent 15 years in college to spend the rest of my life doing paper work (which takes up much of the time for Academic Deans), I left Hamilton and reentered the classroom.  Since my days as Academic Dean I have essentially been a full-time adjunct between various colleges in eastern Iowa and thoroughly enjoying being back in the classroom. 

            When not pursuing academic interests I enjoy reading, endurance exercise (I used to be a distance runner -- marathons, etc. -- but a freakish running accident fifteen years ago has turned me into an endurance bicyclist, distance walker), music (primarily rock n' roll and jazz), movies, collegiate spectator sports (both men and women), cooking (as my wife tells me I am a rather rigid and structured vegetarian), spirituality (between my two master's degrees I attended seminary for a semester; I had visions of going into the ministry; but as I tell my students, after 24 hours in seminary I realized that either I was not ready for the church yet, or the church was not ready for me yet; consequently, I returned to Iowa State to work on my second master's degree), and spending time with my family.  My wife is a WOC nurse, my oldest step-son graduated from Augustana College with a degree in biology where he was a member of the Augie football team.  Seth is currently married and living in Davenport where he and his wife are in the process of raising three young baby girls.   My youngest step-son is studying mathematics at Iowa State.  Dane's ambition is to become a math professor.  Well, enough about me.  Let's begin our course in American History.

Careers in Philosophy and Ethics

The Philosophy and Ethics major does more than prepare students for a career in a particular field. A philosophy degree prepares students with thinking, problem-solving, and writing skills for agility in a world where most individuals change career fields multiple times in the course of their lives. The University of Dubuque Philosophy Program creates individuals who can understand difficult material and teach themselves new information on the job. Because of this, philosophy majors can succeed in many fields. Recent philosophy graduates from the University of Dubuque have successful careers in public administration, business, law, Christian ministry, secondary education, and higher education.

BS Opportunities

As a philosophy major, students learn skills applicable to a wide variety of contexts. Because the major focuses on critical thinking, analytic reasoning, technical writing, and research, students who graduate with this major are often very successful in jobs in business, computers, finance, public administration, insurance, journalism, marketing, publishing, sales, and technical writing. National statistics on salaries ranked according to major indicate that philosophy majors with no further education can establish successful careers in many fields. As a second major, philosophy can give depth to the student’s education and provide a critical edge over those with another major.

Post-graduate Opportunities

The philosophy major provides a good basis for master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees in philosophy, religion, and theology. Philosophy is also an excellent preparation for law school. Nationally, philosophy majors consistently rank among the top two or three majors in Law School Admission Test scores. Philosophy majors can pursue graduate programs in public administration, finance, journalism, and business.

Successful Outcomes

Eric Dickman BS, 2002 Philosophy

I’m current the assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies and chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Young Harris College (Young Harris, Georgia). I consider myself a teacher-scholar because my research interests are always informing my teaching, and my various classes always spark something new connected with my research interests. UD, and the Philosophy Department in particular, inspired in me to pursue the “big” questions. The professsors mentored me in intellectual and existential integrity. My commitment to liberal arts literacy grew out of my undergraduate experience in philosophy, English, and other courses. I try to advocate for the same life of the mind that UD taught me to love.