Philosophy Major and Minor
The undergraduate program in philosophy provides students with a knowledge of key historical and contemporary philosophers and philosophical problems, together with a range of answers to those problems. They promote respect for clarity, truth, critical reflection and rational argument. Our program promotes independence of thought, rooted in a fair-minded understanding of opposing views, and strives to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the contemporary philosophical domain, competence at critical analysis, and the ability to write about abstract issues in a clear, nuanced and compelling manner. Both programs also seek to import an awareness of the application of philosophical thought to other academic disciplines or to matters of public interest, encouraging students to apply their philosophical skills more widely.
If you are interested in any of the following questions, then you are interested in philosophy: What is democracy and how can it be justified? Does the state have the right to limit the freedom of expression? What is the nature and extent of human knowledge? Can computers think? How can we tell the difference between right and wrong? Is it morally wrong to clone a human being? Do we have an obligation to protect the environment? Are there objective standards of artistic beauty? Are there good arguments for the existence of God?
There is a misconception that the only careers available to philosophy majors are in the academic field, as teachers in schools and universities. Nothing could be further from the truth. The majority move on to careers in other fields, and most of them find that their philosophical training gives them an important advantage in the various areas they end up working in.
This has to do with the nature of the subject and the kind of training that one gets as an undergraduate in philosophy. There is emphasis in philosophy on the development of critical thinking, rigorous reasoning, mastering abstract concepts, and expressing oneself lucidly and convincingly. Philosophy is a natural choice for an undergraduate looking for a broad-based liberal education.
Program Learning Outcomes for the Philosophy Major:
- Students should be able to critically evaluate a range of philosophical problems, and have achieved as deep and critical an engagement with those problems as is feasible in the time available.
- Students should have internalized the norms of critical thinking: e.g. clarity, careful analysis, critical reflection, rational argument, sympathetic interpretation and understanding not only of theories and concepts, but also the assumptions upon which they are based.
- Students should be able to apply philosophical skills to other academic disciplines and matters of personal and public interest.
BA in Philosophy
Students majoring in philosophy are required to take a total of at least 36 credits of philosophy courses, which must include:
- PHIL 211
- PHIL 218,
- one of PHIL 205, 206, 209 or 210 and
- two of PHIL 213, PHIL 214, and PHIL 225.
Students should also choose, under the supervision of the department, a balanced program of systematic and historical courses. In addition, students must take the following University General Education Requirements:
- English Communication Skills (6 credits)
- Arabic Communication Skills (3 credits)
- Humanities (12 credits, including 6 credits of CVSP);
- Social Sciences (6 credits); Natural Sciences (6 credits)
- Quantitative Thought (3 credits).
Minor in Philosophy
Students choosing a minor in philosophy are required to take a total of 15 credits in philosophy, including two of the following three courses: PHIL 211, PHIL 213, and PHIL 214.