Department of Philosophy

From the Chair

From the Chair

Massimo Pigliucci

The Philosophy Department prides itself on an interdisciplinary approach to the fulfillment of its three-part mission: to provide students with philosophy majors and minors that will prepare them to enter a variety of careers or for further graduate study; to serve the College's needs by providing key philosophical courses for other programs; and to contribute to the College's mission of providing a liberal arts education to all students.

Faculty members take an interdisciplinary approach to researching and teaching philosophy. Doing philosophy well often requires us to build on the core part of the discipline of philosophy, engaging with research in other areas of scholarship. In addition to philosophy, our faculty members are currently involved in natural sciences, mathematics, sociology, political science, cognitive science, black studies, and women's studies. Interdisciplinarity in our research and publishing often permits faculty to achieve a deeper understanding of many philosophical issues.

The Philosophy Department offers two major programs and six minor tracks, all designed to help to prepare students for careers in any field, for professional school, and for life.

Students can take a Major in Knoweldge and Reality (Option A), which provides a broad background in the history of philosophy and in a variety of philosophical fields; or they can take the Major with a specialization in Ethics and Public Policy (Option B), which stresses courses in ethics and other fields related to public policy, including philosophy of law, social philosophy, and political philosophy.

The Minor tracks are: General Philosophy; Business, Society, and Law; The Diverse World; Language and Logic; Understanding Science; and Wellbeing and the Helping Professions.

Both our Majors and Minors help students prepare for careers in any field. Students who graduate from college with a degree in philosophy tend to do well on the job market. Many employers are looking for people who can think and analyze clearly, and who can write and generally express themselves well. Philosophy's emphasis on clarity in concepts and on being able to provide good reasons for beliefs helps students express themselves well, think clearly, and learn to communicate and be more persuasive in ways that respect other people's intelligence.

Since students are expected to practice these skills in oral exchanges in the classroom and in writing assignments, students also learn to speak and write well. These are good skills to have in any job. At the same time, philosophy encourages creativity and independence, since coming up with new ideas and arguments, as well as being able to make up one's own mind about issues (so long as one has good reasons!) are the hallmarks of philosophical practice.

For those students interested in attending professional school after graduation, a philosophy major also provides excellent preparation for this goal. Many of our majors, double-majors and minors go on to pursue degrees in business, law and medicine. Business, law and medical schools value a philosophy background highly, since they believe that philosophy prepares students well for the rigors of argumentation, advocacy, analysis and clear understanding required by business people, doctors and lawyers. They also believe that philosophy provides a humanistic background which helps to make students into well-rounded people.

Students who engage in our courses of study and become really passionate about philosophy are encouraged to consider graduate school in philosophy to further deepen their understanding of the field. In this way, they can go on to inspire new generations of students to engage the philosophical tradition as well as make an impact on their communities through their development of innovative ideas either as academic philosophers or independent intellectuals. Such contributions have been the immortal legacy of many philosophers throughout history.

Remember too that there is more to life than getting a job. Many people find that philosophy helps them think through and cope with everyday life and problems. It also helps them appreciate the beauty, wonder and mysteries of life.

—Professor and Chair Massimo Pigliucci

Last modified: Mar 14, 2013

Text Only Version of Site | Make This Website Talk