Jeremy S. Kirby, chair and associate professor.
B.A., 1999, M.A., 2000, University of Utah; M.A., 2004, Ph.D., 2005, Florida State University. Appointed 2006.
Bindu Madhok, professor.
B.A., 1983, University of Calcutta; Ph.D., 1990, Brown University. Appointed 1990.
Daniel M. Mittag, associate professor.
B.A., 1995, Drake University; M.A., 1998, Texas A&M University; M.A., 2003, Ph.D., 2009, University of Rochester. Appointed 2007.
Historically, philosophy is at the center of the liberal arts tradition. The very concept of an Academy that combines the freedom to inquire with the responsibility to clarify and solve social problems is the invention of classical Greek philosophers.
By subject matter, philosophy is one of the humanities, and studies the concepts we have developed in order to understand the world in which we find ourselves and express what we have discovered. It critically examines our basic assumptions about the world and human relationships.
But philosophy retains a methodological kinship with the sciences, whose methods developed out of general philosophical inquiry. Critical thinking is the hallmark of philosophy courses that bring clarity, precision, and logically rigorous argument to controversial questions about what is real, knowable and valuable. The development of this critical perspective, an appreciation of inquiry and the values that underlie it, is the heart of philosophy.
Philosophy Department Website
Analysis of arguments, clear and precise expression of one’s views—particularly in writing—and the ability to comprehend complex systems of thought are skills cultivated by philosophy courses that are useful in all areas of life. But our students find their philosophy background particularly useful in the professions. Pre-law students take PHIL 107: Logic and Critical Reasoning to prepare for the LSAT and sharpen their analytical skills for law school, while PHIL 335: Philosophical Issues in the Law is a critical examination of important legal concepts and institutions. Students preparing for medical school, dental school or the allied health professions discover that PHIL 308: Biomedical Ethics examines moral problems raised by advancements in medical research and technology that they will soon face. PHIL 201: Ethics , PHIL 202: Social Philosophy , PHIL 206: Contemporary Moral Problems , PHIL 302: Leadership Ethics , PHIL 304: Ethics and Public Policy and PHIL 309: International Ethics and Global Development are useful for students interested in public policy. PHIL 303: Business Ethics examines moral problems posed by corporate conduct, e.g., profit-maximization vs. social responsibility, deception vs. honesty in advertising, preferential hiring vs. reverse discrimination. Students pursuing careers in the environmental sciences find PHIL 301: Environmental Ethics to be particularly useful in acquiring an understanding of underlying value-frameworks in environmental theories and practices. PHIL 220: Philosophy and History of Science , PHIL 306: Neuroscience and Ethics and PHIL 318: Philosophy of Mind are of great value to students pursuing careers in neuroscience.
The critical skills and sense of intellectual heritage that follow the study of philosophy are not only useful in finding a job, but they foster maturity of judgment, personal growth and lifelong learning.
Because philosophy studies the systems of ideas we have developed to understand the world and our place in it, philosophy courses often explore the conceptual foundations of other disciplines; e.g., PHIL 220: Philosophy and History of Science explores the basic concepts and underlying logic of scientific method, Philosophy of Art (215) is an analysis of theories of the arts and art criticism and often includes field trips to major galleries, and PHIL 318: Philosophy of Mind examines theories that attempt to explain consciousness. These natural affinities make double majors attractive, and they are encouraged by the department.
Philosophy students can get to know one another outside of class as members of the Philosophy Club or as members of the national philosophy honorary, Phi Sigma Tau. Members of the honorary have brought distinguished philosophers to campus for lectures and discussion including Paul Churchland, Fred Dretske, David Lewis and Martha Nussbaum.
Philosophy majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis and submit it for departmental honors. Successful completion of this research project results in graduation with departmental honors in philosophy. The Padgett Prize in Philosophy, established in honor of Professor Emeritus Jack F. Padgett, is given annually to the outstanding senior philosophy major.
The Ned S. Garvin Scholarship in Philosophy, established in memory of Professor Ned Garvin, is given annually to the outstanding rising junior philosophy major.
Preparation for Graduate Study
- We recommend that students plan their schedules in consultation with a Philosophy Department faculty member.
- We recommend that students take more than eight philosophy courses.
- The following courses are strongly recommended for graduate study: PHIL 201 , PHIL 207 , PHIL 211 , PHIL 212 , PHIL 214 , PHIL 310 , PHIL 315 .
- We recommend that students submit a thesis for departmental honors.
- We recommend that students discuss the graduate school application process with the department during the spring of their junior year.