Philosophy

What is Philosophy? Philosophy is disciplined reflection on some of life’s most interesting and important questions—questions that arise across the whole range of human experience, particularly those about the nature of world, human nature, and the conditions of human flourishing.

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SocratesDoes God exist, and if so, what is God like?  Are there objective moral principles binding on all persons? How can humans attain true happiness? What do the demands of justice require of me?  To what extent, if any, are humans free? When, if ever, is it morally permissible to take a human life?

Philosophy’s questions are often life-orienting questions, the answers to which shape our self-understanding, and sometimes direct our life’s plans and purposes, making them important questions to address. These questions are pursued in the distinctive sub-fields of philosophy: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Art, among others, all of which correspond to courses we offer. These subject areas of philosophy, by their very subject matter, require that students think cross-disciplinarily. If, for example, one studies the philosophy of art, the theory and practice of actual artists will constitute part of the content of any such course. To ask about the conditions for knowledge requires that one look at historical, scientific, interpersonal, and other forms of knowledge as they are pursued in various fields of inquiry.

Majoring in Philosophy

Philosophy majors can select from two tracks: The regular major requires 32 hours of designated course work. Our “integrative major” requires just 24 hours of philosophy and 16 hours from some companion discipline, such as theology, psychology, English, or science. Students who pursue the integrated major must take appropriate “bridge courses” to bring philosophy and the companion discipline into fruitful conversation. Many of our majors find that the integrative major is an ideal way to pursue a double-major.

Philosophy majors also enjoy our annual Speaker Series that brings some of philosophy’s most important thinkers to campus each year. The annual Pizza Party, the Philosophy Club, and Internship opportunities are just a few of the activities available.

Why Study Philosophy?

Philosophy deepens and refines a questioning and critical cast of mind that helps us to understand and evaluate complex and controversial ideas and perspectives. In particular, philosophical study fosters skills in critical thinking, argument analysis and construction, the ability to think independently, creatively, and to form reasonable judgments about the issues one encounters. It helps us to articulate and defend our considered judgments orally and in writing, as well as to develop an integrative vision that enables us to appreciate the ways in which philosophical concerns touch upon our personal and professional lives, other academic disciplines, and broader social concerns. These abilities are crucial transferable skills that can contribute to success in a variety of career and life contexts. In short, philosophy provides foundations for thinking across the academic disciplines and hones thinking skills that are applicable in nearly in nearly all walks of life.

What Can You Do With a Philosophy Major?

Anything you want! Most of our nearly 100 majors don’t go on to graduate school in philosophy, but successfully pursue careers in law, medicine, ministry, business, social services, and just about every career imaginable. Philosophy students develop skills in clear thinking, analytical reasoning, and clear and persuasive writing and speaking, all of which are in high demand regardless of one’s career choice.

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