Department of Philosophy

Philosophers think clearly and deeply about the fundamental questions that arise for us as human beings.

What is the nature of knowledge (epistemology)? How can we distinguish between what really is and what only seems to be (metaphysics)? What is consciousness (philosophy of mind)? What is the right thing to do (ethics)? How should we live with others in society (political philosophy)?

We challenge our students to think clearly about truth, facts and the mind and about values and norms, justice and equality, and about the meaning of existence. Because every other field of study adopts some stance toward these questions, philosophy is concerned with the very foundations of the sciences, the humanities, the arts and society.

Characteristic of philosophy are the construction and evaluation of arguments, expressing thoughts clearly and precisely and defending one's ideas and evaluating the ideas of others. There is no knowledge about the world without philosophy.

Why Study Philosophy?

Philosophy offers the opportunity to think about basic human questions - about personal and social values, about the nature of our minds and ourselves, and about the nature of knowledge, from the sciences to the arts and back again.

Philosophy involves the critical and careful reading, development and evaluation of arguments, and it provides training in critical and constructive thinking, skills that are valuable in any professional field as well as in the rest of your life. Thinking critically and clearly is what makes our students successful in their careers and it is also what makes them responsible citizens in an increasingly complex world. Philosophy allows you to reach the right decisions, that is, decisions that can be justified rationally and with evidence.

It is not surprising that philosophy majors perform exceptionally well on the admissions exams for the most selective graduate and professional schools:

- Philosophy majors tend to score higher than any other group on the verbal sections of the GRE, and much higher than many other majors on the quantitative section.

- Philosophy majors also score much higher than most other majors on the LSAT and GMAT, which provide access to law schools and business schools.

- And did you know? Humanities majors score higher on the MCAT for medical schools than students in the biological sciences - and among those humanities students, philosophy majors have the highest scores.

Whatever you do after college, you must be able to formulate and clarify problems, analyze potential solutions and defend your approach in a clear and rational way. All these abilities are greatly improved by exercise in philosophical argument. But what makes philosophy majors so successful is not simply their professional training. What makes them so successful is precisely that they challenge themselves to think about the big and foundational questions of human life and existence.

Major: Philosophy

Learn more about Philosophy in the School of Humanities >