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Philosophy Majors & Minors


The purpose of the major in Philosophy is three-fold:it encourages clear, logical, and independent thinking;it affords the chance to explore problems and ideas about self, society, knowledge, and value that have intrinsic interest and are germane to other disciplines; when taken in conjunction with appropriate courses in other disciplines, it prepares students for professional fields, such as law, medicine, business, journalism, and government.

Course Catalog

Requirements for a major


Total courses required Nine
Core courses
  • Any two from PHIL 212, PHIL 213 and PHIL 216
  • PHIL 251
  • PHIL 490
Other required courses One course from the following: Value Courses, from PHIL 230 to 242, PHIL 340, or a topics course (PHIL 209 or 309) in moral philosophy or in the philosophy of art and aesthetics.
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four, including either PHIL 419 or 469
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of PHIL 490, the capstone course for majors in philosophy. This course covers a broad range of advanced topics in philosophy; typically three or four topics are covered during the semester. This course places a particular emphasis on original thought; students are expected to frame philosophical problems for themselves and conduct independent research.
Writing in the Major Clear thought is essential for doing philosophy well. Clear writing and clear thinking are inextricably linked; therefore, clear writing is essential for doing philosophy well. Central to good philosophical writing are the capacities to (1) express the views of others accurately and charitably, (2) develop one's own criticisms of others' views, (3) creatively develop one¿s own views, and (4) anticipate and respond to objections to one's own views. Accordingly, our courses are designed to inculcate these abilities in our students. In most upper-level philosophy courses, students are required to complete at least one substantial writing assignment that involves submitting an initial draft, receiving feedback on that draft, and submitting a final draft revised in light of that feedback.

To satisfy the writing in the major requirement for philosophy, a student must achieve a grade of C (not including C-) or higher on the final drafts of three appropriate writing assignments from 300- or higher-level philosophy courses, and submit those final papers to his or her major advisor. Not all three papers may have been assigned by the same professor. Professors for upper-level philosophy courses will identify writing assignments that are suitable for this requirement.

Philosophy bridged to another discipline

Total courses required Ten to Twelve
Core courses PHIL 470 or PHIL 491
Other required courses Five additional courses in philosophy (three at the 300 or above). Three to six courses in the other disciplines (two to three at the 200-level or above and one to two at the 300-level or above)
Number 300 and 400 level courses Five
Senior requirement and capstone experience In the senior year, bridge majors complete either PHIL 470 or PHIL 491. In either case, bridge majors write a substantial paper that deals with material at the intersection of philosophy and the other disciplines.
Additional information The department can provide students with samples of pre-approved bridge majors, including a bridge major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and a bridge major in Philosophy, Law, and Public Policy. Students designing their own bridge major must submit a plan no later than fall break of the third year. This plan must include a description of the philosophical problem(s) at the intersection of philosophy and the other discipline(s) that the student wishes to explore, as well as courses that will constitute the bridge major. The plan should designate one course from the student's list of courses that will constitute the bridge major as the "bridge course." This plan is to be submitted to the major advisor and must be approved by the department and filed with the registrar's office. The department's decision about whether to approve the plan will be based on the coherence of the plan as well as the department's assessment of the student's ability to carry out the independent research required to complete the proposed plan.

Please note that all students seeking a bridge major must secure agreement from a philosophy department faculty member to oversee PHIL 470 or 491 in the student's senior year.

Recent changes in major Number of courses changed from 10 to 10-12 and the courses outside of Philosophy may be from multiple disciplines. Effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Requirements for a minor


Total courses required Four
Core courses Courses must be at the 200-level or above
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One