Skip to Navigation
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
   
 
  Oct 17, 2017
 
 
    
Rensselaer Catalog 2016-2017 [Archived Catalog]

Philosophy


Return to Programs Return to: Programs

Philosophy is a search for understanding and wisdom through inquiry into fundamental questions regarding existence, knowledge, the nature of reality, and “how to live a good life.” Through research, reflection, and discussion, philosophy seeks both to refine and answer humanity’s enduring questions: What is the nature of consciousness? What is the connection between mind and body? Does God exist?  What counts as knowledge? Is there only one right way to reason? Does science give us objective truth? Could computers think? Could they feel or exhibit genuine creativity? Do we have free will? How are right and wrong to be determined? Of what does the good life consist? Does life have meaning?

Agreeing with Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” the philosophy degree program encourages students to develop their own philosophical understanding, helping them to think critically and creatively about themselves and the society around them. The hoped for result is the attainment of competency in reasoning as well as 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 world characterized by increasing globalization, ubiquity of information, and constant technological change.

The flexible requirements for this program allow students to complete dual majors that combine philosophy with a major in another field, such as mathematics, computer science, cognitive science, or one of the natural sciences.

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 the following: Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL 1110), Minds & Machines (IHSS 1140, PHIL 1120) 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, including at least three at the 4000 level and at least one that is designated as communication intensive.

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.

 

First Year


Fall


  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
     

Spring


  • Science Sequence Option I Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 1 below)
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4

Second Year


Fall


  • Science or Math Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Elective (2000 level or higher) Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Elective (2000 level or higher) Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Third Year


Fall


  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
    [same code 2000 level]
  • Science Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
    [same code 4000 level]

Fourth Year


Fall


  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Return to Programs Return to: Programs