Jul 17, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2024-2025 
    
Rensselaer Catalog 2024-2025

Philosophy B.S.


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Philosophy is a search for understanding and wisdom through inquiry into fundamental questions regarding existence, knowledge, the nature of reality, the nature of persons, 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, psychological science, or one of the natural sciences.

Whether working toward a bachelor’s degree in philosophy alone or toward a dual major, 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: PHIL 1110 , INQR 1130  , INQR 1140  , INQR 1150 , INQR 1160 , INQR 1165 , or INQR 1235  
  2. Introduction to Logic:  PHIL 2140 .
  3. At least one of the following: PHIL 4240 PHIL 4300 /STSO 4340  ,PHIL 4500 /STSO 4250  , or PHIL 2960  
  4. At least one of the following: PHIL 2400 PHIL 4130 , or PHIL 4310  
  5. Capstone Experience in Philosophy PHIL 4990 . Must be taken for 4 credit hours to meet requirement for the major.
  6. Three additional courses in philosophy
  7. At least 12 credits must be at the 4000-level (including the Capstone Experience in Philosophy)
  8. At least two courses (8 credits) must be designated as communication intensive

Each philosophy major will develop a Plan of Study in consultation with a departmental adviser. In either the Fall or Spring semester of the senior year, all philosophy majors must take PHIL 4990 , in which they will construct and carry out an in-depth investigation or activity relating to some philosophical topic or area of philosophy and write a research report (usually takes the form of an 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. Philosophy majors should begin thinking about possible topics for their Capstone Experience prior to the senior year and should discuss their ideas with appropriate philosophy faculty members.

Students should not register to complete their Capstone Experience with a particular faculty member until they have first communicated with that faculty member regarding their prospective topic and the overall expectations for the Capstone. Students must register for Capstone Experience in Philosophy for at least 4 credit hours in order to meet the requirements for the Philosophy major. 

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Students who complete this curriculum will be able to:

  • demonstrate critical thinking and logical ethical reasoning in producing, analyzing, or evaluating ideas and arguments that consider multiple perspectives. Students will learn to examine and evaluate ethical dimensions of problems, especially problems that arise in the areas of science and technology. 

  • apply philosophical methods to explain what it is to think, feel, value, believe, reason, know, predict, explain, and decide, in a way that complements and extends the scientific methodologies of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. 

  • effectively articulate what would justify or legitimize science and engineering projects. 

First Year


Fall


  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4  1, 2
  • Science Core Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • Science Core Elective Credit Hours: 4  
  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4  1, 2
  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4  3
     

Second Year


Fall


Spring


  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Philosophy of Science Elective Credit Hours: 4*

*From the Following:


Choose one: 

Third Year


Please note: The third year of the program varies depending upon which semester the student chooses to take away following The Arch Summer Semester classes. Please note the following differences in curriculum:

  • If students are going to be away during the Fall semester of their junior year, they should take the listed courses for each term and any courses under the Fall Away Track for year three of their program.
     
  • If students are going to be away during the Spring semester of their junior year, they should take the listed courses for each term and any courses under the Spring Away Track for year three of their program.

The Arch Summer Semester*


*For more information on the ARCH process, please click here: The Arch 

 

  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4  3
  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Science Core Elective Credit Hours: 4

Fall OR Spring


  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Ethics Elective Credit Hours: 4*
  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4

*From the Following:


Choose one

Fall or Spring


Fourth Year


Fall


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

Spring


  • Philosophy Elective Credit Hours: 4  3
    Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Footnotes


  1. Students should take an Inquiry course during their first year. For a listing of HASS Inquiry courses go to: HASS Inquiry Course (INQR) | The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (rpi.edu)
  2. Students should take a HASS communication intensive course during their first three semesters. 
  3. At least twelve PHIL credits must be taken at the 4000 level. All PHIL elective credits must be at least at the 2000 level. 

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