The enterprise of philosophy requires sharpening the skills necessary for clarifying premises, uncovering presuppositions (one’s own and those of others), weighing the pros and cons of conflicting values, and analysing concepts and issues. Courses in Philosophy serve to develop and enhance these skills. Some courses concentrate on specific philosophical issues. Others provide an overview of an entire area of human inquiry or endeavour (such as the sciences, the arts, political theory and law, medicine, social justice, and how our minds, senses, and emotions work) or of the philosophical foundations that characterize a historical period.
The department welcomes students from other majors or programs who wish to examine their personal philosophy, investigate the philosophies of others, or sharpen their skills as independent thinkers.
Many of the courses offered are not only appropriate as part of a Philosophy major but are of special interest to students in other fields. These courses are designed to help students understand the theoretical frameworks, methodological presuppositions, and more abstract dimensions of the paramount areas of knowledge. Students interested in either the philosophical understanding of a field of knowledge or in philosophy for self-understanding should feel free to consult the department chair or an advisor on appropriate courses.
Undergraduate advisors are authorized by the department to designate units obtained in other departments as satisfying unit requirements in Philosophy for application to the Philosophy program. Neither students nor advisors should view this as an escape clause that enables a student who has not quite satisfied the major requirements in Philosophy to do so. Units outside the department are to be designated for use in the major based on their contribution to the student’s major program. To avoid confusion on this point, students should obtain written approval from an advisor before obtaining non-department units to be utilized in the major.
Students who have not taken PHIL 110 may begin the program but should complete this course or its equivalent at the earliest opportunity. Equivalencies must be approved by a departmental advisor.
The Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy requires a minimum of 40 units, with at least 31 of these units being upper-division. The program culminates in a 1-unit personalized learning outcomes course in which students reflect philosophically on their development of skills and knowledge. This learning outcomes course, PHIL 696, can be taken in either the first or second semester of the student’s senior year.
The program includes 9 units of elective courses in Philosophy, permitting individualized emphases in specific areas. Students majoring in Philosophy are urged to lay out a tentative program of courses with their advisors early in their tenure at the University. Depending upon the student’s area of specialization, up to 6 units of courses outside the Philosophy department may be approved by a department advisor as elective units for the B.A.