Philosophy is a search for understanding and wisdom through inquiry into fundamental questions regarding existence, knowledge and “how to live a good life.” Through research and reflection, philosophy seeks to answer humanity’s eternal questions: What is the nature of human consciousness? Does God exist? What is time? Space? Are numbers real? Is there only one way to reason? How are right and wrong determined? Of what does the good life consist? Does life have meaning?
Agreeing with Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” the department encourages students to develop their own philosophical understanding, helping them to think critically and creatively about their own experiences, values, and goals. The hoped for result is the development of a coherent and critical personal perspective that provides the foundation for a full and satisfying life, for the practice of responsible citizenship, and for the exercise of leadership in a changing world.
Whether working toward a bachelor’s degree in philosophy alone or toward a dual degree, students must complete at least 32 credit hours of work in philosophy or in related areas approved by their adviser. These must include:
1. At least one of either Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL 1110) or Minds & Machines (IHSS 1140, PHIL 1120) or Revolutions in Thought (IHSS 19xx) or Introduction to Philosophy of Science (PHIL 2130) or Introduction to Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 2830).
2. Introduction to Logic (PHIL 2140).
3. Capstone Experience in Philosophy (PHIL 4990).
4. Five additional courses in philosophy at least three of which are at the 4000 level or higher.
Each major will develop a Plan of Study in consultation with a departmental adviser in one of three general areas: Logic, Computation, and Mind; Philosophy of Science and Technology; or Philosophy of Human Values and Society. In the senior year, all philosophy majors must take PHIL 4990 Capstone Experience in Philosophy in which they will construct and carry out an in-depth investigation or activity relating to some area of philosophy and write a research report (undergraduate thesis) detailing their findings. Preparing this document will provide students with early training in thesis writing in the event that they pursue further study. Students will participate in their Capstone Experience under the guidance of a professor of their choosing or one selected based on the professor’s familiarity with the research topic.
Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:
- critical thinking and logical reasoning abilities in analyzing ideas and arguments.
- an ability to accurately describe, compare, and evaluate the key features of a variety of movements, ideas, and philosophers across the history of philosophy.
- an ability to apply concepts in the philosophical sciences including an ability to solve current real world problems using logical analysis, development of concepts and ideas, and clear communication skills.