Philosophy is the practice of critical reflection and creative speculation on "the given," i.e., on the basic assumptions that all of us make about the nature of reality and our place in it. As such it aims to give a reasoned conception of the universe, of the place of human life in it, and to define the ideals which guide our lives in the moral, social, aesthetic and religious realms.
When you major in philosophy you most likely relish the opportunity to engage in Socratic dialogue that examines the most fundamental questions humans ask. You enjoy the give-and-take of discussions that challenge your ideas and open new horizons of thought. It is this process which refines your analytical and critical thinking skills.
The faculty encourages you to examine and discuss issues with your classmates, to challenge your own ideas, to be open to and respectful of the ideas of others. They demand excellent work from you and other students in the department and provide you with individual guidance. Moreover, they continue to engage in their own research and scholarship so as to maintain their professional development.
When you graduate with a major in philosophy, you will demonstrate an ability to think analytically, critically and creatively, which enhances your appeal to both employers and graduate programs. Philosophy majors have pursued a diversity of careers such as law, graduate school, counseling and business.
Philosophy Major (B.A.)
A major in philosophy has many general uses since its methods are applicable in a variety of fields. Skills that are cultivated in the study of philosophy include general problem-solving, logical and critical thinking, and facility in both written and oral communication. For this reason a major in philosophy provides excellent preparation for careers in law, public policy and management, for positions of leadership and responsibility as well as for graduate study in master's and doctorate programs.
The major in philosophy requires completion of nine courses.
The minor in philosophy requires completion of five courses.
Philosophy Courses (PHIL)
101. Introduction to Philosophy One course
The methods and aims of philosophy. Survey of several important philosophical problems such as the nature of reality and being (metaphysics), the nature of truth and our means of access to it (epistemology), the principles of moral behavior and a virtuous life (ethics), the rules of correct reasoning (logic) and the essential characteristics of beauty and art (aesthetics). Topics are illustrated by readings from ancient and modern times. Fall.
121. Logic One course
Logic is the science of valid inference. Problems and principles of deductive and inductive inference, of formal and informal logical systems. Emphasis on the relevance of logic to ordinary human activities. Spring.
122. Ethics One course
Philosophical inquiry into the nature and grounds of morality. Examination of the main types of ethical theory and the central concepts and problems of ethics, e.g., What is it to be a morally good person? How do I discover what I ought to do and why should I do it? Is morality a matter of reason or feeling or some combination of these? Spring. Credit will not be given for both PHIL 122 and PHIL/BUAD 124.
124. Business Ethics One course
This course examines some of the various ways in which ethics is relevant to business by analyzing the ethical elements in problems that arise in the business world. Emphasis is placed upon the application of general ethical theories to such problems. Credit will not be given for both PHIL 122 and PHIL/BUAD 124. Cross-listed with BUAD 124. Fall and spring.
200. Independent Study in Philosophy One quarter to one course
Independent Study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with an average of 2.0 and permission of the chair of the department. Independent study may take the form of readings, conferences, projects and/or field experience. Independent study may be taken for a total of four courses. No more than two in any term. Prerequisite: At least one philosophy course and the permission of the department.
202. Problems of Philosophy One course
An in-depth examination of two or three philosophical problems. Topics in the past have included the mind-body relationship, personal identity, evil, the meaning of life, process metaphysics and existentialism. Spring, every three years.
207. Greek Philosophy One course
Philosophical thought from its origins in ancient Greece through the Hellenistic period. Primarily an introduction to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle with overviews of those who preceded and succeeded them. The main themes are metaphysics (theory of reality) and epistemology (theory of knowledge). Prerequisite: One course in philosophy. Fall, every three years.
208. Modern Philosophy One course
Philosophical thought from Descartes to Kant. Examination of the major metaphysical (theory of reality) and epistemological (theory of knowledge) issues of this period. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy. Spring, every three years.
210. Individual Philosophers One course
The works of a classical philosopher, ancient (e.g., Plato) or modern (e.g., Kant). Spring, every three years.
220. Topics in Philosophy One course
Philosophical investigation of a topic of importance in the contemporary world. Topics in the past have included feminism and philosophy, aesthetics, mythology, mysticism and women philosophers. Fall, every three years.
248. Modes of Knowing: Epistemological Investigations for Educators One course
This is a humanities course which focuses on the philosophical area of epistemology. The fundamental principle that informs the course is that any educator must recognize and utilize the fact that there is considerable variety in human modes of knowing and learning. In order to cultivate sensitivity to this cognitive multiplicity, we will explore relevant artistic productions as well as philosophical and literary texts. Fall.
270. Internship in Philosophy One course
The opportunity to use the knowledge and skills the student has learned in course work to solve problems in a real work setting; the apprenticeship of the internship implies that the student has some base of knowledge and will increase her knowledge and skills by direct contact with an experienced, knowledgeable mentor. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors with a 2.0 average; maximum credit per term is one course; admission by application only.
290. Honors Independent Study in Philosophy One course
An advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Normally open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 average in philosophy, subject to the approval of the chair of the department. Honors work may be taken for a maximum of two courses.
302. Philosophy of Religion One course
The main problems of the philosophy of religion (e.g., nature of the religious dimension of life, the problem of evil, justification of faith) as treated in the works of various philosophers. Cross-listed as RELI 302. Prerequisite: a minimum of one course in philosophy or religion. Fall, every three years.
390. Senior Seminar One course
The senior seminar in philosophy is required of all majors and is designed to provide them with the opportunity for an in-depth examination of a topic of special interest to the student. The topic of the seminar is chosen by the student in consultation with the staff in philosophy. The course meets once a week and is conducted as a seminar involving active discussions between faculty and students. Spring.