To engage in philosophy is to ask a variety of questions about the world and our place in it–questions that we confront in our everyday lives or that underlie our ordinary practices. What is a good, meaningful, or happy human life (ethics and politics)? What do we owe both humans and non-human species as well as future generations (applied ethics/practical philosophy)? Does god exist (metaphysics)? What can we know, and what makes a belief or statement true (epistemology)? What is justice? Why obey the law? When is it just to disobey laws? Are there objective standards for judging works of art? Thus, philosophers also address questions relevant to many disciplines.
The program in philosophy is designed to aid students in thinking about such questions, by acquainting them with influential work in the field, past and present, and by giving them tools to grapple with these issues themselves. The program emphasizes training in reasoning and critical thinking, clear and effective writing, and identifying and developing arguments, both written and oral. Most of our courses are offered as small seminars or tutorials in which students have multiple opportunities to develop these skills.
The Philosophy major consists of nine semester courses: three required courses and six electives. The required courses are: any 100-level philosophy course, Philosophy 201 (History of Ancient Greek Philosophy) or Philosophy 202 (History of Modern Philosophy), and Philosophy 401 (Senior Seminar). The six electives are structured by a distribution requirement. Students must take at least one course in each of three areas: Contemporary Metaphysics and Epistemology [M&E], Contemporary Value Theory [V], and History [H]. These requirements apply to majors in the Class of 2018 and after. More information can be found on the Philosophy site.