Bachelor of Arts
Degree: Major, Minor
Philosophy is the study of the most fundamental questions one could ask: What is good and what is evil? What is reality and what is illusion? Are our choices really free? What is the meaning of life?
The study of philosophy develops skills in critical and abstract thinking, writing, argumentation and evaluation of different points of view. Your studies of this discipline will feature a variety of challenging courses covering material from ancient to contemporary philosophy. Our curriculum reflects the College’s emphasis on interdisciplinary study, with courses that integrate art, business, classics, film, literature, mathematics, religion, science, technology, and women’s and gender studies.
The department's Speaker Series hosts one of the most prominent speaker series in the country; we regularly have noted and influential philosophers visiting us throughout the academic year. Philosophy majors are in a particularly good position to take advantage of these visits.
In addition, the department of philosophy publishes Ephemeris, which is considered the premier undergraduate journal of philosophy in the country.
Union has an active, accomplished Ethics Bowl Team, which regularly takes part in competitions focused on moral issues, including the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Program and the Bioethics Bowl. Many team members are philosophy majors, and the team has traditionally had close ties with the philosophy department.
Philosophy majors are well prepared to pursue advanced studies in philosophy as well as a wide range of careers, including business, education, government, journalism, law, public policy, social service and more. All of this is of course intrinsically valuable, but it is also worth mentioning that philosophy majors tend to have the highest scores among all majors nationally in standardized tests such as the GRE and the LSAT.
An advanced course in jurisprudence. Primary topics include: the nature of law and legal reasoning in general; the nature of criminal law, including both the role of excuses in the criminal law and the aims and justification of criminal punishment; and the nature of tort law, including both the relationship between negligence and liability and the relationship between causation and liability.
The central goal of this course is to develop and apply some useful tools for critical reflection upon the morality of war. In considering this issue we will focus on two main questions: (i) that of jus ad bellum - what, if anything, makes it right to go to war?, and (ii) that of jus in bello - what kinds of actions are, and are not, justified in carrying out a war?
Students explore the ideas of Aristotle, perhaps the most influential thinker in the history of philosophy. Particular attention will be paid to Aristotle’s theory of being, which addresses the organic structure of both living things (plants and animals) and entities whose complex articulation is similarly “organic” (human political communities, works of art and other human artifacts).