The Department of Philosophy seeks to acquaint students with various philosophical traditions, to present the chief philosophic problems and types of Philosophy, and to help students cultivate the intellectual, civic, and moral virtues of the discipline of Philosophy as well as the art and skill of philosophical analysis.
The department seeks to serve those students who intend to pursue graduate studies, those pursuing interdisciplinary career programs, and those who simply desire to understand human reflective traditions in order to enlarge their own horizon of awareness.
Majors are educated in the liberal arts tradition and are carefully counseled to take courses in all areas of the College. Majors in the Ethics, Society, and Law track focus on issues in applied ethics.
100- and 200-level courses are open to all students. 300-level courses require sophomore standing, and in some cases, prior lower-division coursework. 400-level courses generally require instructor approval.
Policy on Independent Study (Learning Contract): Independent study courses should be rare, only to be contracted in special circumstances for advanced study in subjects not covered by regular courses. No more than six credits of independent study may be counted toward a major in Philosophy, and no more than three credits toward a minor.
We pride ourselves on preparing students who intend to pursue graduate studies and interdisciplinary career programs; graduating majors and minors should be able to seek and obtain admission to graduate school, if that is their realistic goal, or find a job that will begin their chosen career track; they should also be able to reflect on philosophically and express clearly their own goals and choices at this stage in their lives.
The department strives to help students cultivate the intellectual, civic, and moral virtues of the discipline of Philosophy–for example, intellectual integrity, objectivity, resilience in the face of obstacles and daunting problems, a commitment to consistency, a knack for seeing and articulating what issues are at stake, the courage to cross-examine opinions that one holds dear, respect for interlocutors and colleagues, a felt obligation to contribute to one’s community.
Program Learning Outcomes
As a department, our goal is to educate our students with respect to the history, interpretive frameworks, and analytical techniques of the discipline of Philosophy; given this goal, graduating majors should be able to:
- exhibit a general understanding of the history and development of Philosophy and a specific understanding of some portion of that history
- describe and critique several of the most important historical and contemporary interpretive frameworks used in the discipline of Philosophy (for example, Plato’s Theory of Forms, the utilitarian approach to ethics, and the existentialist analysis of the human condition)
- apply the analytical techniques of the discipline of Philosophy (for example, by presenting orally and in writing succinct analyses of philosophical texts and coherently structured arguments in defense of their own philosophical claims).