Undergraduate

Description

The undergraduate concentration in philosophy offers courses covering all of the main areas of the discipline, from epistemology and metaphysics to philosophy of religion, philosophy of literature, and feminist philosophy. It also offers courses covering all the various periods in the history of philosophy. Concentrators can expect to strengthen their knowledge of and skills in ancient philosophy, early modern philosophy, logic, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of value. While the concentration provides a strong general education in philosophy, concentrators are required to identify an area of specialization.

Students with questions about the concentration should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Justin Broackes.

Student Goals

Students in philosophy will:

  • Learn to think analytically and creatively about philosophical texts and issues
  • Understand the work of major figures in the history of philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant
  • Become familiar with arguments and approaches in metaphysics or epistemology, and a selection of other areas of philosophy, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of language; as well as topics in ethics and political philosophy
  • Know how to carry out logical proofs and derivations within a formal system
  • Produce a significant body of written work

Concentration Requirements

New concentration requirements became effective in January 2013. Students who declared their concentration prior to that date are still subject to the old requirements, which can be found in the University Bulletin.

The current requirement is ten courses total of which no more than one may be below Phil 0350, and at least three of which must be at or above Phil 0990.

Distribution Requirements

Each philosophy concentrator must take:

  • One course in Ancient Philosophy
    e.g. Phil 0350 Ancient Philosophy; Phil 1250 Aristotle ; Phil 1260 Plato; Phil 1310 Myth and the Origins of Science
  • One course in Early Modern Philosophy
    e.g. Phil 0360 Early Modern Philosophy; Phil 1700 British Empiricists; Phil 1710 17th Century Continental Rationalism; Phil 1720 Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason
  • One course in Epistemology or Metaphysics
    e.g. Phil 1660 Metaphysics; Phil 1750 Epistemology; Phil 1760 Philosophy of Language; Phil 1765 Sense and Reference; Phil 1770 Philosophy of Mind
  • One course in Ethics or Political Philosophy
    e.g. Phil 0500 Moral Philosophy; Phil 0560 Political Philosophy; Phil 1640 The Nature of Morality; Phil 1650  Moral Theories
  • One course in Logic
    e.g. Phil 0540 Logic; Phil 1630 Deductive Logic; Phil 1880 Advanced Deductive Logic; Phil 1885 Incompleteness
  • One seminar:  A course from the Phil 0990 series or any seminar at the 2000-level, which may be counted for one of the other requirements.

Specialization

Students are asked to choose a "specialization", consisting of three related courses from a single area of philosophy, for example: logic and language; philosophy of science; epistemology; philosophy of mind; moral philosophy; political philosophy; ancient philosophy; and so forth. At most one course from the specialization can also be counted for one of the five area requirements.

Concentrators who aim at a general acquaintance with the discipline of philosophy may forgo a specialization and devise an appropriately balanced program of courses beyond the requirements with the approval of the DUS (Director of Undergraduate Studies).

No more than one course may fulfill both a general distribution requirement and a specialization requirement.

No more than two courses from departments other than the philosophy department may be counted among the ten courses required for the concentration; no more than one of these two outside courses may count towards the three specialization requirements. 

The specialization and the courses that will fulfill it are standardly declared at some point in the course of the Junior year.  Those making a Concentration Declaration at an earlier time (e.g. at the end of their Sophomore year) may make a provisional choice of courses which can be revised at a later date with the approval of the department's DUS (Director of Undergraduate Studies).

Capstone

Each philosophy concentrator must complete a "capstone". For more information, see the page on the senior year.

Honors

Philosophy concentrators have the option of writing an Honor's Thesis, which is typically researched and written over the course of the entire senior year. Interested students should consult with the concentration advisor during the sixth semester concerning procedures and requirements.  Philosophy GPA must be greater than 3.5.  (This refers to the GPA at the beginning of the senior year in all philosophy courses, and including at least six courses.)

Physics and Philosophy Concentration

This page describes the "standard" concentration in Philosophy. There is also a related but separate concentration in Physics and Philosophy. More information on that program is available from the Physics department and from the Registrar's office.