Curricular Objectives and Structure

The main objectives of the philosophy major are to:

  • provide students with basic knowledge in the main areas of philosophy (theory of knowledge, values, and history of philosophy),
  • increase students’ awareness of ethical issues,
  • improve students’ critical thinking and analytical skills, and
  • assist students in their development of problem-solving experience in at least one of the main areas of philosophy.

In order to develop problem-solving experience in a minimum of one of the main areas of philosophy, students are required to take at least 16 hours in one Area (see below). This includes a senior seminar which builds on the experience in other classes in order to tackle relatively advanced problems appropriate for graduating B.A. students.

Prerequisites for the Degree

Philosophy students are required to take at least two classes (no less than 6 hours) as prerequisites for the major: a Critical Thinking (PHI 301) or logic prerequisite, and a general prerequisite (any other class in philosophy). In some cases, students may be conditionally accepted into the major and fulfill the prerequisites within their first year in the program. For Capital Scholars students, the humanities section counts as the general prerequisite. Prerequisites do not count toward the 36 hours required for the major.

Three Main Areas of Study

Students must take a minimum of two classes in each of the following three areas: core analytical philosophy, history of philosophy, and values.

Area 1: Core Analytical Philosophy
In order to gain analytical skills, students must take at least two classes (8 hours) in the area of core philosophy, such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, analytical metaphysics, and logic.
Course numbers ranging between PHI 470 and PHI 479 will fill this requirement.

Area 2: History of Philosophy
In order to gain a comprehensive outlook on the history of philosophy, students have to take one class in ancient and medieval philosophy and one course in the history of modern philosophy or program-approved comprehensive equivalents.  Eligible courses for this requirement include PHI 420 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (4 hours), PHI 458 Classical Greek Wisdom (4 hours), and PHI 425 Modern Philosophy (4 hours).

Area 3: Values
In order to gain familiarity with value theory, students are required to take at least two classes (8 hours) in the areas or ethics, aesthetics, or political philosophy.
This includes a minimum of two hours devoted specifically to ethics, which may be satisfied by PHI 440 Ethical Theory (2 hours)or an equivalent approved by the program.