Philosophy is one of the oldest yet often least understood of the liberal arts. The philosopher is interested in all aspects of human life, searching for the greatest possible clarity concerning the most fundamental questions. There is no one kind of philosophy; rather, there are many kinds, each with its own value.
Philosophy has always served two functions. The first is speculative, the attempt to formulate illuminating generalizations about science, art, religion, nature, society and any other important topics. The second is critical, the unsparing examination of its own generalizations and those of other fields to uncover unfounded assumptions, faulty thinking, hidden implications and inconsistencies. The study of philosophy is designed to encourage a spirit of curiosity, a sensitivity toward the uses of words, and a sense of objective assessment toward oneself as well as others. Competence in philosophy is solid training for advanced study and professional life in such fields as law, government, public administration, business administration, sales and marketing, technical writing, the ministry and teaching.
The Department of Philosophy offers programs of study leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in philosophy, and a minor in philosophy.
Departmental honors in philosophy are based upon three criteria: (a) general performance in philosophy courses, (b) written work in philosophy and (c) the ability to articulate philosophical ideas orally. First, students must achieve at least a 3.6 grade point average in philosophy courses. Second, those who do so and want to be considered for departmental honors should submit an example of their philosophical writing to the department chairperson early in the semester in which they expect to graduate. Normally this would be a substantial term paper, but two medium-length papers may also be acceptable in some cases. Third, if this work is judged to be of sufficiently high quality, it will be read by the rest of the department, and a conference with the student will be arranged to give him or her an opportunity to discuss the paper (or papers) further with the faculty. The decision to award honors will then be made by the faculty based on all three criteria. Deadlines for submission: October 15 for the fall semester, February 15 for the winter semester.
Except where noted, 1000-and 2000-level courses have no prerequisites. Advanced courses (numbered PHL 3100 to PHL 4970 ) have a general prerequisite of writing proficiency, plus any special requirements listed with the course description.