Philosophy Program

Program Requirements

A major in philosophy requires seven courses offered by members of the department, of which at least four are in the Upper College.

Lower College

Students moderating in philosophy are expected to have taken three courses in the department while in the Lower College. One is an elective, generally one of our many Introduction to Philosophy courses, which provide an orientation to philosophic methodologies, styles of inquiry, and common themes of philosophical concern in texts ranging from Platonic dialogues to contemporary works. The other two required courses prior to moderation are History of Philosophy I and II, to be taken in the Sophomore I and II semesters.

Upper College

Juniors are required to take a writing-intensive Junior Seminar (two or three such courses will be designated as satisfying this requirement each year) as well as the writing-intensive Research Seminar (see below). Students may request to take these courses in their senior year only for pressing reasons (e.g., study abroad). Students intending to apply to graduate school in philosophy are strongly encouraged to take symbolic logic, at least one course in ancient philosophy, at least two courses in modern philosophy (17th through 19th centuries), at least two courses in contemporary philosophy, and at least one course in ethics, in addition to courses in their area of specialization.

Writing-Intensive, Research Seminar

All philosophy majors are required to take the writing-intensive Research Seminar in their junior year. There are a number of common readings chosen to exemplify different styles and approaches to philosophic writing, but the main focus of the Seminar is the development and presentation of individual research projects. Students research the literature and write an article addressing a philosophic question or problem; writing goes through numerous revisions as a result of class responses, faculty guidance, and further research; and the article is formally presented to the seminar, followed by discussion and debate. Students are encouraged to submit their revised papers to an undergraduate or professional journal of philosophy or to an undergraduate conference in philosophy. The seminar integrates the teaching and practice of writing into the study of the subject matter of the seminar. Emphasis will be placed on the art of research; the development, composition, organization, and revision of analytical prose; the use of evidence to support an argument; strategies of interpretation and analysis of texts; and the mechanics and art of style and documentation.