Philosophy Program

About the Program

Historically, the discipline of philosophy has been expansive in the scope of its interests, exploring issues across the fields of natural science, social science, literature, and the arts. Students majoring in other disciplines will find many Philosophy courses that complement their interests, and students concentrating in philosophy are encouraged to enrich their study of philosophy by making connections with other disciplines. A major in philosophy requires seven courses offered by members of the department, of which at least four are in the Upper College. Several courses of a philosophical nature are taught at the Hannah Arendt Center and in the History, Human Rights, Literature, Physics, Political Studies, and Religion programs.


The Philosophy faculty assigns the members of students' moderation and senior project boards, although we try our best to accommodate student requests. Similarly, the senior project adviser is assigned by the faculty so as to distribute project advising relatively evenly among the members of the department. Majors will be asked in their Junior-II semester for a prioritized list of their choices for a senior project adviser and can generally be assured of getting one of their two top choices.


Students submit the two short papers described in the Student Handbook as well as a philosophy paper of five to ten pages (usually a paper written for a course that has been revised for the board) demonstrating the skills of close reading, careful analysis, the development of an argument, and the consideration of counter-evidence. Papers should use an exactly correct citation method (preferably MLA). All materials are due to the student’s faculty adviser by the date specified in the college calendar (generally in the eighth week of the semester). Once the moderation board is scheduled, students are responsible for distributing copies of their papers to other members of the board.

The Midway Board

Towards the end of the first semester of senior project work, there is a midway board with three members of the department (or occasionally a member from another department, if appropriate). Students should submit the following materials: 1. an abstract of the project, including a general description of the topic and the basic argument (be succinct: keep this to a page or two); 2. an outline of the project; 3. a current bibliography, indicating what you have read thus far and what you think you need to read in order to complete the project as envisioned; and 4. approximately twenty pages of part of the final project. While this is only a draft, it should be well written and scrupulous in terms of citation. Students should make three copies of all midway materials and distribute them to the members of the board at least one week in advance of the board.

Senior Project

Copies of the final project are due to the members of the senior project board by the date specified in the college calendar (approximately three weeks before the end of the semester). The minimum length of the project is fifty pages. Projects must be grammatically clean and include exactly proper citations and a list of Works Cited (MLA style is preferred). Poorly written projects, whatever their philosophic merit, will suffer the loss of up to a full grade.