Catalogue 2017 - 2018

Philosophy Major

General Information

Philosophers engage in critical, rigorous, disciplined reflection about the world around us, the social systems in which we live, and the individuals with whom we live. They ask such questions as, Does God exist? Do we have nonphysical souls or minds? Do we have free will? What is the difference between knowing and believing? How can we distinguish between moral right and wrong? What rights do people have? What is justice?

The questions that philosophers ask are those that most reflective people ask at some point in their lives. Philosophy differs from science in that the answers to its questions cannot be directly confirmed by appeal to perception and observation. That doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot distinguish between more reasonable and less reasonable answers. Philosophers appeal to reason in answering their questions. That is, they critically evaluate the reasons for and against the various views one can have on these questions in order to determine what it is most reasonable to believe and do. They evaluate the arguments of others, analyze concepts, and construct arguments to defend their own views.

The study of philosophy helps develop our critical and analytical capacities, our ability to understand what we read, and our ability to argue and persuade. It helps us understand, appreciate, and respect other points of view. It reinforces respect for truth and love of learning. It enhances flexibility in thinking, imagination, and intellectual creativity, and nourishes the sense of wonder and the passion for wisdom. It increases sensitivity to moral issues and provides intellectual tools for thinking constructively about them.

Career Opportunities

The Philosophy major prepares students for any career that requires or values the abilities to think rigorously, critically, and creatively; to communicate effectively orally and in writing; to comprehend what one reads; to analyze information and to appreciate the limits of reliability and degrees of uncertainty; and to work effectively with others while respecting people with different points of view and from different cultural traditions. Most employers prize these abilities. In addition, almost every public and private institution, such as hospitals, social service agencies, corporations, and government departments, face complex ethical issues. People who have studied philosophy are in a particularly good position to help these institutions clarify the issues they face and make reasonable decisions.

Philosophy majors are among those who do best on the Graduate Record Examination Law School Admission Test and who do best in law school, as well as medical school. The major in Philosophy can also prepare highly motivated students for graduate study in philosophy.

Arts and Humanities Faculty

Professors: Emmett Barcalow, Burton Porter

Associate Professor: Heather Salazar
Assistant Professor: Valerie Racine

Program Objectives

  • To provide students with knowledge of major figures and trends in the history of philosophy.
  • To provide students with knowledge of the major ethical and political theories in the Western tradition.
  • To provide students with the intellectual skills that will enable them to apply philosophical theories to real world problems encountered in personal and family life, at work, and as citizens of a democracy.
  • To encourage students to evaluate carefully the reliability of sources of information and the reasonability of what they read and hear.
  • To enhance students’ ability to comprehend what they read.
  • To enhance students’ ability to make inferences and see logical connections among claims.
  • To enhance students’ ability to communicate effectively in writing and orally.

General University and College Requirements

See General University Requirements and College of Arts and Sciences Requirements.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

PH 103Introduction to Philosophy

3 cr.

PH 110Critical Thinking

3 cr.


PH 204Symbolic Logic

3 cr.

PH 120/REL 120East Asian Traditions

3 cr.

PH 208Ethics

3 cr.

PH 230Social and Political Philosophy

3 cr.

PH 340Ancient Philosophy

3 cr.

PH 341Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

3 cr.

MATH 120Intro Statistics for the Arts & Sciences

3 cr.

Three other Philosophy courses at the 200 or 300 level

Total Credit Hours:33

Total Credit Hours: 33