The study of philosophy involves fundamental questions basic to being human, such as: What is the nature of reality, mind, body, life and death? What is the nature of knowledge, truth, and logical reasoning? What is a good and moral life? What is justice? What is the nature of the Divine? What is beauty? We want to equip students not only to understand and appreciate the answers offered historically to such questions, but to enable them to develop their own ideas and thoughts about them in the context of reasoned argument. The crucial emphasis in philosophy on writing and verbal communication skills, imaginative interpretation of texts, as well as critical thinking and logic, offers a unique opportunity for self-knowledge as well as an ideal preparation for possible careers in education, law, business, journalism, medicine, or public service. Many of our students are double majors, finding that the rigorous demands of philosophy in reasoning, writing, and communication combine well with other majors (such as biology, psychology, or art).

Students majoring in philosophy develop with their Mentor a program of study including a minimum of eleven courses. Major requirements include three (3) core courses (PL235H: History of Philosophy: Ancient; PL232H: History of Philosophy: Early Modern; PL282H: Philosophical Problems), an (1) ethics course (PL104H: Introduction to Ethics), a (1) logic course (PL210M: Introduction to Symbolic Logic), a (1) writing intensive course in philosophy (PL201H), a (1) senior seminar (PL498), and (4) four electives (two of which must be at 300-level or above). What follows is a recommended sequence of courses for philosophy majors. It is understood that some students will discover and declare the major after the first year. The following recommended course sequence can easily be adapted for such students in consultation with their mentor.

First-year classes

  • PL104H: Introduction to Ethics
  • PL235H: History of Philosophy: Ancient
  • PL282H: Philosophical Problems
  • PL102M: Introduction to Logic (highly recommended)

Sophomore-year and Junior-year classes

  • PL210M: Introduction to Symbolic Logic
  • PL232H: History of Philosophy: Early Modern
  • PL201H: Philosophical Topics (or another Writing Intensive Philosophy course)
  • Two additional philosophy courses (any level)

Senior-year classes

  • Two 300-level electives
  • Philosophy Senior Seminar (Spring of senior year)

Philosophy majors are to have a working knowledge of the range of philosophical problems and topics, as well as the issues and methods covered in their required courses in logic, ethics, and the history of philosophy. This competence and the ability to communicate it in speaking and writing is demonstrated by satisfactory completion of the courses in the philosophy major, and by the development and oral defense of a Senior Paper.

A minor in philosophy consists of five philosophy courses, including Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Ethics (or another Ethics class approved by Faculty), and at least one course from the History of Philosophy sequence. An approved course of study must be developed in consultation with the Philosophy Discipline Coordinator.