Philosophy is one of the oldest areas of academic study. Contemporary philosophy emphasizes theoretical, conceptual, and foundational questions, both on their own and in relation to questions in other disciplinary areas. Examples of philosophical topics include: mind and consciousness; moral conduct and agency; the organization of social structures; decision making; ethical questions concerning the environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and business; and questions at the foundations of mathematics, physics, biology, and the cognitive sciences. The Philosophy BA program helps students understand some of the foundational and applied lines of inquiry associated with philosophy and to develop the thinking skills needed for this. Throughout the curriculum, there is a focus on clear evaluation of arguments and assessment of evidence, and on critical reading, writing, and analysis. In addition, the major places a special emphasis on the incorporation of scientific data and methods (e.g., computational modeling and experimental methods) into philosophical arguments, applying philosophical methods across disciplinary boundaries. The program combines the best features of the classical philosophy curriculum with cutting edge approaches to “practical philosophy”.
The minor in Philosophy provides students with an understanding of the principles, methods, and areas of application of contemporary philosophy. This minor combines a traditional philosophy curriculum with an emphasis on interdisciplinary linkages. Because of this, students are expected to be able to use their training in philosophy to complement their other coursework and to identify connections between various areas of study. Students in the minor are required to complete five Philosophy courses. The Philosophy minor was proposed in 2006 and produced its first graduates in 2007. In Fall 2019, there were 28 minors.