Brief Description of Concentration

philosophyPhilosophy studies many of humanity’s fundamental questions: how should we live, what kind of society should we strive towards, what are the limits of human knowledge? What is truth? Justice? Beauty? These questions are central to our lives, because in much of what we do, we at least implicitly assume answers to them. Philosophy seeks to reflect on these questions and answer them in a systematic, explicit, and rigorous way—relying on careful argumentation, and drawing from outside fields as diverse as economics, literature, religion, law, mathematics, the physical sciences, and psychology. And while most of the tradition of philosophy is Western, we seek to connect with non-Western traditions like Islam and Buddhism, as well.

Learning Objectives

Students develop their own responses to the philosophical problems that attract them in conjunction with their study of philosophical writing. The department’s introductory courses help students to develop their reading, writing, and reasoning skills while acquainting them with broad surveys of major areas and historical periods. The department’s more advanced courses focus on more specific topics and allow students to explore their interests in the context of the broad foundation they acquired in the introductory courses. The skills that philosophy teaches students will always be in high demand: the ability to think and write clearly, the ability to bring to light unnoticed presuppositions, to explain complex ideas clearly, to tease out connections and implications, to see things in a broader context, to challenge orthodoxy.

Gateway Courses


  • PHIL 3: The True and the Good
  • PHIL 18: Human Ethics: A Brief History
  • PHIL 34: Existentialism in Literature and Film
  • GenEd 1051: Reclaiming Argument


  • PHIL 6:  Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality
  • PHIL 11: Philosophy of Law
  • PHIL 20: Happiness
  • GenEd 1015: Ethics of Climate Change
  • Humanities 10b: Humanities Colloquium


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Philosophy Advising Events