Philosophy involves rigorous, persistent reflection on a wide range of issues, such as how one ought to live, the existence of God and the problem of evil, the relation between mind and body, and the ways in which beliefs may be justified. Students in philosophy courses learn to:
- understand important periods, themes, movements, and figures in the history of philosophy;
- apply ethical theories to major social issues;
- analyze arguments using the principles and methods of logic;
- develop their own philosophical views and arguments;
- evaluate responses to problems in metaphysics, epistemology, and other areas of philosophy.
The study of philosophy can have a significant impact on one’s beliefs and values, and it helps develop a variety of intellectual skills and abilities which students can put to use in their lives, whatever they choose to do after they graduate. Among those skills and abilities are the capacities to engage in thinking that is critical, disciplined and creative; to express oneself effectively and appreciate the ideas and perspectives of others; to uncover and examine assumptions; to understand, construct, and evaluate arguments on different sides of issues; and to deal reasonably with questions to which there are no easy answers.
Studying philosophy also prepares students well for professional careers in such fields as law, ministry, psychology, business, and medicine, and for postgraduate work in philosophy. In recent years, philosophy majors have achieved exceptionally high scores on admissions tests to law schools and business schools (the LSAT and the GMAT) and on the GRE. They have been extremely successful in gaining admission to law schools and medical schools.
Students may select philosophy as a major or as a minor. Philosophy courses are also offered as electives for students in all fields of study.