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The Program

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.

Program Summary 

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 and commonly fill top positions in student leadership.

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 most other 200 to 300-levels courses is PHL 100 (Introduction). Any two philosophy courses fulfill College Distribution in the Humanities, except for PHL 108 (Logic), which counts as a single Quantitative course in the College Distribution scheme and only in combination with two Natural Science courses.

The courses of the Department of Philosophy and Religion have four main purposes:

  1. To acquaint the student with some of the great philosophical questions of the past and present and with leading attempts to answer them
  2. To exhibit the connections between philosophy and such related areas as art, business, law, literature, medicine, science, religion, and the environment
  3. To develop the student’s capacities for clear thinking, critical analysis, and effective articulation/expression
  4. 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 different fields.

Philosophy courses typically introduce students to major figures, periods, and movements in the Western and Eastern philosophical traditions, including but not limited to: Ancient Philosophy (pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle), Medieval Philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas), Classical Modern Philosophy (Descartes through Kant), and also Eastern movements such as Confucianism and Buddhism. Students are encouraged to pursue studies in contemporary Continental and Anglo-American Analytic movements, and become acquainted with other 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.

Major and Minor Academic Requirements

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. Plus four courses are individually chosen as elective courses.  PHL 435 (Senior Methods), counting as our W-3 course for the Writing Requirement, is normally be taken in the fall of junior year or certainly by senior year. See major requirments for more details

Students wishing for a 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. See Minor requirements for more information. Religion minors are also required to take six courses: PHL 100, 111 and 112 (Comparative Western and Eastern), plus three courses designated as religion courses within the department or else select courses outside the department but designated by it as having significant religious content. See more here. Prospective religion minors should consult with the Chair on which particular courses count for the minor. 

Courses in religion within the department (such as Comparative Western and Eastern) may be counted among the elective courses for the philosophy major and minor. Thus, philosophy majors can readily take up the religion minor.

Distribution credit for the Humanities Requirement will be given for any two courses taken in the department. The exception is Philosophy 108 (Intro to Logic). Logic counts for College Distribution credit for the Quantitative Requirement, with the provision that Logic can only be combined with 2 natural science courses in the Natural Science / Quantitative Distribution.

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 normally about 30-40 pages long. 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. Students doing two majors may often write a single thesis which is jointly advised by the two departments and counts for both majors. See examples of recent thesis projects here

Go to Catalog Course Descriptions