Degrees and Programs

Philosophy Concentration Guidelines for Students Matriculated After Sept. 1, 2013

Sept. 1, 2013 — AOS Guidelines: Cultural Studies

A foundational discipline in the humanities, philosophy is the search for truth and understanding of the most basic and important questions human beings ask, including our place in the universe and the meaning of life, the rightness and wrongness of actions, the nature of reality, the existence of God, the relationship between the individual and the state, human nature and freedom and the possibility and limits of knowledge. The study of philosophy provides an excellent training for most academic and professional careers and occupations, as its methods of inquiry are applied in all fields and areas of human endeavor, including business, medicine, art, science, technology, government, law and finance. Studying philosophy improves the ability to think clearly and logically, to create and evaluate arguments, to read and write thoughtfully, to better appreciate the positions of others, to learn and to be creative and to solve problems and adapt to different circumstances. These skills are eminently transferable and marketable and particularly desirable in an era when people change careers and jobs frequently.

Concentrations in philosophy generally aim to develop the student's awareness and understanding of the nature and dimensions of philosophical inquiry. Such concentrations also emphasize the development of analytical and speculative thinking, including the ability to articulate and criticize various philosophical perspectives or problems, using the vocabulary, concepts and methods that reflect the principal historical traditions in the field.

Concentrations in philosophy can be organized in different ways, including by thematic and non-Western approaches. For the purposes of these guidelines, the disciplinary framework is presented.

Disciplinary concentrations in philosophy generally reflect the current dominant trends, structure and content of the philosophy curriculum at most undergraduate institutions. That curriculum includes demonstrated knowledge of the following:

  • foundational knowledge of philosophy, the history of philosophy and/or methods of philosophical investigation
  • non-Western philosophy
  • formal logic, particularly for students considering graduate study in philosophy or a career in law
  • topics in contemporary philosophy
  • the major philosophical issues involved in metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics and social/political philosophy
  • theories of interpretation.