The department currently offers a major and minor in philosophy as well as a minor in religion. Please see the catalogue for specific requirements. Four full-time and two part-time active members represent over a century of teaching experience and active scholarship.
Courses beyond the introductory level are discussion seminars of 5-15 students. Our majors and minors receive much individual attention. Graduates of the philosophy program frequently are among the top writers at the College.
A number of our majors are pursuing a second major and find that philosophy enriches their other studies. Joint Senior Capstone projects with other departments can be arranged.
The entry-level, gateway course for almost all other courses is PHL 100 (Introduction). Any two philosophy courses fulfill distribution in the Humanities, except for PHL 108 (Logic) counting as a single Quantitative course only in combination with two Natural Science courses.
The courses of the Department of Philosophy and Religion have four main purposes:
- To acquaint the student with some of the great philosophical questions of the past and present and with leading attempts to answer them
- To exhibit the connections between philosophy and such related areas as art, business, law, literature, medicine, science, religion, and the environment
- To develop the student’s capacities for clear thinking, critical analysis, and effective articulation/expression
- To provide the basis for reflecting on right versus wrong and good versus evil in the present-day world
These aims are pursued in the atmosphere of diverse philosophical interests and approaches found among the staff of the department. At the same time, faculty are mindful of complementarities among these approaches in bringing students to the art of inquiry. Typically, students also bring varied concerns to their own explorations in philosophy and move on to careers in many diverse fields.
Philosophy courses typically introduce students to major figures, periods, and movements of the Western philosophical tradition, including Ancient Philosophy (pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle), Medieval Philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas), Classical Modern Philosophy (Descartes through Kant), and 19th Century Philosophy. Students are encouraged to pursue studies in contemporary Continental and Anglo-American Analytic movements, and become acquainted with non-Western traditions such as those of East or South Asia, or Africa. Select courses focus on systematic areas such as Metaphysics, Ethics, Politics, Feminism, or Philosophy of Religion.
A major in philosophy includes ten courses in the department selected in consultation with the major advisor. Six courses are required: PHL 100, 108, 213, 214, either 225 or 235, plus 435. (The Department urges that PHL 213 be taken before PHL 214.) Among the four elective courses required for the major, at least one must be a 400-level seminar. PHL 435 will normally be taken in the spring of the junior year.
Students wishing to minor in the program may elect either a philosophy minor or a religion minor. Philosophy minors are required to take six courses: PHL 100, either 213 or 214, plus four electives in philosophy. Religion minors are also required to take six courses: PHL 100, 111 and 112 (the Comparative Religion sequence), plus three courses in religion or courses having significant religious content, given either within the Department or outside of it with permission. Courses in religion may be counted among the elective courses for the philosophy major and minor.
Distribution credit for the Humanities Requirement will be given for any two courses taken in the Department with the exception of Philosophy 108. Distribution credit for the Quantitative Requirement will be given for Philosophy 108 to those students choosing only one course in the Quantitative area. A GRW course taught by a member of the philosophy department may, in some cases, be used instead of PHL 100 anywhere in the program, except in a departmental distribution sequence.
Senior Capstone Experience
In addition to the ten required courses, each philosophy major must also complete the Senior Capstone Experience (SCE) which takes the form of a senior thesis. Majors will work in close association with a department mentor; and those majors who do successfully complete the SCE will receive four credits toward graduation.