Philosophy Department

Philosophy is an activity of inquiry as well as a body of knowledge. It is the sense of wonder with which even our everyday experiences are approached. Etymologically the word "philosophy" means "love of wisdom" in Greek, and the concern of wisdom with lived experience and with leading a good life remain central to the philosophical enterprise. The starting point for the philosophical project is human reason confronting the world of personal and interpersonal experience. The end is understanding reality and making good decisions promoting human and worldly well-being.

Philosophers critically examine basic assumptions in any area of study or life, then try to draw conclusions based on sound reasoning. The Philosophy Department serves the broader mission of the College by offering courses designed to help the student develop the ability to think clearly and critically and to make decisions on valid interpretations of reality and defensible values.

Chair: Steven Ostovich, Ph.D.

Philosophy major

The philosophy major is a B.A. requiring 36 credits. These are arranged as follows:

PHL 1105, Logic;
PHL 2214, Ethics;

Any two of the following three courses: PHL 3302, Ancient Philosophy; PHL 3303, Medieval Philosophy; and PHL 3304, Modern Philosophy;

Either PHL 1114, The Philosophical Perspective, or PHL 2205, Philosophy of Person;
Three more PHL courses chosen with advisement; two of these must be upper-division; 
PHL 4444, Senior Seminar.

The philosophy major is designed to allow students to pursue personal philosophical interests while preparing them for the further study of philosophy in graduate school. It also is good preparation for graduate study in other fields, including the professions such as law. The number of credits for the major has been kept low to allow students interested in pursuing a double-major (philosophy plus some other major) to do so.

Philosophy minor

PHL 1105, 2214 and 12 additional credits approved by the department.

A philosophy minor would be a useful addition to any major program. Philosophy practices students in the critical-thinking skills that serve the work of analysis and interpretation at the heart of the Arts and Sciences; these skills also prepare students to assume leadership roles.

The minor curriculum of core courses in logic and ethics plus three more PHL courses selected with advisement keeps the minor a live option for students no matter what their major. The minor curriculum also is flexible and can be tailored to a student's interests and goals. For example, students who want to add a philosophy minor to a major in a discipline in the School of Arts and Letters might focus on aesthetics and critical theory in their philosophy courses; students majoring in the health sciences or business could study more ethics in relation to their majors; natural science majors could develop a critical awareness of the history of science and metascience through the study of modern  philosophy; and pre-law majors could strengthen their background in political philosophy.

The philosophy minor also prepares students for further study of philosophy in graduate school.

Program outcomes

Through philosophy courses the student is helped to:

  1. Recognize, analyze and critically respond to arguments in sources ranging from philosophical and academic texts to popular culture and in class discussions.
  2. Construct and present clear, well-reasoned explications and defenses of theses both orally and in writing.
  3. Recognize and assess the interplay of philosophy and culture with orientation to living a good life.
  4. Apply philosophical methods to understand and reply to ethical, political, metaphysical, environmental and diversity issues.