Philosophy (B.A.)

Philosophy (B.A.)

Philosophy is an activity concerned with reasoning about the deepest questions human beings have considered: Is there a God? Do we have free will? What is the relation between the mind and body? What is a just society? What is the nature of morality?

The questions the discipline addresses are as contemporary as the possibility of artificial intelligence and the ethics of cloning. However, philosophy also concerns itself with its own rich history. Philosophical figures from throughout the history of Western civilization, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and Mill, remain an important part of the discipline's continuing dialog on major philosophical issues.

The Department of Philosophy offers a broad range of courses designed to provide both a general acquaintance with the issues and methods of philosophy as well as a solid foundation for advanced work in the discipline.

The department faculty also teach a number of courses in applied ethics: medical ethics, contemporary moral problems and business ethics. All courses examine the views of others about philosophic questions and critically look at and develop one's own beliefs that directly investigate thinking itself. The university offers both a major and a minor in philosophy and also supports the university's liberal arts mission by including courses that satisfy various general education requirements (i.e., in the humanities division and in the area of values, ethics and responsible decision making).

In all of its courses, the faculty encourage students to develop their thinking skills, by engaging them with the best minds of the past and present, by challenging them to examine and to criticize the arguments of others and by leading them to question their own values and commitments.

As a philosophy major, you'll build a foundation of study with courses in logic, Plato and Aristotle, Descartes to Kant, and existentialism and 20th century philosophy. You'll work with your adviser to organize general education requirements and electives to meet your interests and career goals, as well as choose from an array of courses to complete requirements for the major.

These include study in critical thinking, medical ethics, contemporary moral problems, business ethics, feminist philosophy, and metaphysics, as well as detailed study of the philosophies of science, social sciences, law, religion, contemporary politics, mind and ecology.

Regardless of topic or level of difficulty, philosophy courses provide a unique opportunity to acquire and to practice a variety of valuable skills, such as the ability to solve problems, to communicate effectively and to assess the strength and cogency of opposing arguments and proposed plans of action.

Students often take several philosophy courses because they find the discussions so interesting and stimulating.

Career Opportunities - An obvious choice for a philosophy major is to complete a graduate degree and teach at the college level. Others have demonstrated a strong ability to score higher on graduate entrance examinations for business and law degrees than students from majors directly concerned with those disciplines.

For those who turn to careers in business and industry, a number of recent studies have suggested that employers want and reward many of the capacities that the study of philosophy develops. These include the ability to solve problems, to communicate and to organize ideas and issues and to assess the strength and cogency of arguments. Students who complete a major or a minor in philosophy are well prepared to pursue advanced work in the discipline or to apply their philosophical skills in multiple career settings such as law, medicine, business or government.

Opportunities for Students - The Philosophy Club provides an opportunity for students, whether they are majors, minors or simply interested in philosophy, to meet with each other and with faculty members outside the classroom. The club sponsors guest speakers from on and off campus.

Independent study is available for students who wish to undertake intensive study of an area of philosophy or to pursue topics not normally covered within the program. Independent study permits personalized learning through one-on-one interaction with a faculty member.

An internship allows students to explore philosophical issues in a work setting, such as working with a medical ethics committee at a local hospital.