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Why Philosophy?

If you had to describe philosophy in one word, you might use questions. Philosophy addresses a range of inquiries, some quite familiar (Why should I be moral? What creates a just society?) and others less so (What is time? Is it rational to rely on past experience as a guide to the future?). To engage in philosophy is to critically examine our methods of reasoning and our assumptions in ways that help us both better understand ourselves and the world around us.

In studying philosophy, students develop the skills necessary to analyze and clarify ideas and arguments, orally and in writing. Philosophy encourages the pursuit a wide range of intellectual interests, as almost any subject—mathematics, political theory, theology, law, cognitive science, linguistics, art—can be reviewed under a philosophical lens. Those who study philosophy frequently find it enjoyable and beneficial and go on to do exceptionally well at graduate and profesional skills, in a wide range of careers (e.g. public service, journalism, business, computer science and medicine). 


Because philosophers reflect on the methods and fundamental concepts that figure in most other areas of intellectual inquiry, philosophy is an ideal second major or minor subject to pair with virtually any other program of study. For example, science majors can take courses leading to advanced work in the philosophy of science; students interested in political science can take courses in ethics and political philosophy; linguistics and computer science students can supplement their studies with courses in logic, formal methods, and the philosophy of language. Of course, majors in other disciplines may also want to take a wide variety of philosophy courses as a way of broadening their horizons and discovering new problems and approaches. 

The Department of Philosophy offers many courses without prerequisites, and many of these focus on specific subjects (e.g. bioethics, law, religion). Even for people not majoring or minoring in philosophy, the best thing to do in exploring what the Department has to offer is to talk to a philosophy advisor. The members of the faculty will be happy to make suggestions about various possible combinations of interests and fields.