Prospective Students FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Two main reasons why one should consider majoring in philosophy are:
(i) A philosophical education is personally rewarding.
(ii) A philosophical education provides excellent career preparation.
(i) It provides the opportunity to consider the most basic questions concerning the nature of reality, human knowledge, and morality. In attempting to answer them, we better understand who we are, our commitments, and what we wish to accomplish in life.
(ii) It challenges us to examine our foundational beliefs and consider whether they are rationally justified.
(iii) It makes accessible some of the finest examples of philosophical creativity and methodology, which are intrinsically valuable as well as of value in helping us find new frameworks for investigation.
(i) Studying philosophy helps students develop skills in critical thinking, logic, communication, and analytical writing, as evidenced by the performance of philosophy students on standardized tests.
(ii) Philosophy students have historically scored highest as a group in both the verbal and analytic sections of the GRE, and philosophy is consistently among the top-scoring majors on the LSAT and GMAT.
(iii) Law schools are interested in philosophy students due to their abilities in critical thinking and argumentation, and businesses value them for their problem solving skills and intellectual creativity.
(iv) Technical fields, too, appreciate a background in philosophy. For example, background in ethics is an asset to those entering engineering or the health care professions.
(v) More generally, in today's fast-changing economy, the transferable skills developed by philosophy students prepare them to be successful in almost any career field.

Here are the main areas and some of the main questions pursued within them:
(i) Ethics and Value Theory: What are moral values? What are aesthetic values? How should one live? What is a just society? How to evaluate behaviors and policies from a moral point of view?
(ii) Logic, Argumentation, and the Theory of Knowledge: How can we distinguish good arguments from bad ones? What is evidence? How do we know? What can we know? What is distinctive about scientific knowledge, or mathematical knowledge, or self-knowledge?
(iv) Metaphysics and Ontology: What is the nature of reality? What are the fundamental constituents of the world? Is there a God? Do we have free will? Is consciousness reducible to brain processes? What is time?
(v) The History of Philosophy: How have philosophers from Antiquity to the 21st century grappled with these fundamental questions?
The department currently offers a full range of courses in all of these areas. In addition to strengths in Analytical Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Ethics, and Cognitive Science, and Action Theory, the department offers courses in “Continental” Philosophy (especially Phenomenology, Existentialism, and 20th-century French Philosophy), and a full range of courses in the History of Philosophy.