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Minor in Philosophy

Philosophy literally means “love of wisdom,” and for most of human history anyone who pursued knowledge was considered a philosopher. Today, the term “philosophy” refers to a narrower academic discipline, though philosophers still continue to seek answers to life’s most important questions: How should I live? What can I know? Does God exist? Do numbers? What is the nature of language and the human mind? Of science and art? Of meaning, logic and truth?

The Department of Philosophy offers a minor in philosophy. The course of study is designed to provide students with a background in logic and argumentation, as well as a broad introduction to some of the most important philosophical themes and traditions from ancient to contemporary times.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the philosophy minor, students should meet the following overall program goals, as demonstrated by their abilities to meet these goals’ respective batteries of specific learning objectives:

Goal I: To exhibit facility in the theory and practice of argumentation, reasoning, and critical thinking;

Students shall be able to:
(1) Master the practice of reasoning well, including

  • The ability to construct clear and concise summarizations and assessments of the reasoning in complex passages by
    • Extracting their conclusions,
    • Distilling the lines of reasoning in support of those conclusions, and
    • Evaluating how well such reasoning supports those conclusions.
  • The ability to construct cogent arguments for their own conclusions and to express their reasoning in a coherent and convincing manner.

(2) Demonstrate knowledge of, and competence with, the theory of argumentation and logic through their abilities to:

  • Describe different approaches to logical theory, and to articulate their aims and scope,
  • Define and apply central concepts and techniques of logical theory,
  • Describe major results of logical theory, and
  • Sketch how to arrive at those results.

Goal II: To demonstrate an understanding of several of the contemporary branches and traditional classics of Western philosophy from antiquity to the present;

Students shall be able to:

  • Identify major works or figures from at least four contemporary branches or historical periods of Western philosophy,
  • Articulate and, when appropriate, compare or contrast, the overall philosophical positions taken by these works or figures,
  • Summarize the major motivations or arguments for these positions,
  • Present objections that have been raised or could be raised to these positions,
  • Assess the relative merits of these arguments and objections.

Career Possibilities

No matter what career one is interested in, philosophy will provide a sound base on which to build. Many employers look for people who can think soundly and clearly about difficult problems, and the primary aim of a philosophical educ ation is to develop such critical and analytical skills. Philosophy students have become bankers, lawyers, civil servants, journalists, writers, professors, teachers, information technology specialists, business executives and analysts, politicians, consultants, physicians, and members of the clergy. Philosophy students enjoy an advantage in applying for graduate and professional programs. On average, they score significantly higher than other students on the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE exams. For more career options, please visit the Wilson Advising Center.