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    Michael Krom
    Dr. Michael Krom
    Associate Professor of Philosophy

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Home > Majors and Programs > Philosophy
  • School of Humanities and Fine Arts 

    The Philosophy Program

    Another way to ask this question would be: why love wisdom? That's what "philosophy" literally means--the love of wisdom. If you think about the question this way, its answer becomes clear. To love wisdom is to take seriously your most profound questions, to refuse to accept blindly the appearances of things, and to reflect on the standards offered to you by the surrounding culture.

    As an academic discipline, philosophy teaches you to read, think, and converse at the highest and deepest levels. It liberates you from being intimidated by difficult ideas. And it puts you into contact with some of the greatest minds of our own and other cultures, while also promoting your capacity to discover new thinkers and ideas beyond the classroom.

    If you are wondering if you can get a job with a philosophy major, our answer may surprise you. You cannot get a job with any major. No major alone prepares you for the existential and practical task of becoming a fully functioning member of adult society. But philosophy majors do very well in applying to law school and medical school. They consistently earn some of the highest scores on graduate school entrance exams. And philosophical training develops skills of thinking, reading, and writing well, which will be of tremendous value in seeking jobs in a wide range of fields, including business, education, and politics. Some of our majors do pursue graduate study in philosophy, but this is not the only possibility. The study of philosophy expands your options. It does not narrow them.

    Our concentration options are flexible, and we welcome students interested in majoring and minoring in philosophy. But we also encourage you just to take a few of our courses and see what we have to contribute to the liberation that ought to be at the heart of your liberal education.

    The Philosophy Department helps its majors and minors achieve the following goals:

    • Develop a sophisticated understanding of philosophical thought in its historical context, exploring important philosophical systems charitably and accurately;
    • Foster habits of logical thinking and critical analysis to analyze arguments, evaluate positions, and use reason in everyday life; 
    • Understand basic and advanced ethical theories and apply their principles to concrete problems in individual and social life; 
    • Synthesize related philosophical ideas from different sources, and engage them with students’ own experience; and
    • Skillfully articulate conceptual elements of philosophical thought in written and oral form, and develop high-level skills of independent scholarship.

    Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy
    (See Core Curriculum requirements.) 

    Requirements for the Major: (33 credits)
    33 credits in Philosophy, structured in the following way* (These are in addition to the Core requirement of 1st Philosophy PL 101): PL 120 Logic - 3 credits 
    PL 201   Ancient Philosophy - 3 credits
    PL 202   Medieval  Philosophy - 3 credits
    PL 203   Modern Philosophy - 3 credits
    PL 204   Kant and His Successors - 3 credits
    PL 206   19th and 20th Century Philosophy - 3 credits
    PL 215   Ethics - 3 credits
    PL 440  Senior Capstone Exam
    PL 450  Senior Thesis - 3 credits

    *Those applying for graduate studies in philosophy are also required to complete PL 250 Symbolic Logic.  All other majors are strongly encouraged to complete this course. 

        In addition to the 21 credits in these seven courses, 12 credits of work with four further courses, chosen in consultation with the student's advisor from the course offerings of the Philosophy Department. 
        Typically, this would include PL 220 Theories of Knowledge, and PL 230 Metaphysics. Students would also generally choose at least two courses from the following: PL 210 Philosophical Anthropology, PL 280 Thomistic Philosophy, PL 235 Philosophy of God, PL 245 Philosophy of Science. Students wishing to extend their study of ethics are encouraged to enroll in PL 216 Ethical Problems, PL 217 Environmental Ethics, or PL 218 Bioethics.

    Semester Review
        Having chosen philosophy as a major, each student will meet with their advisor to review the work of the previous semester.  This is generally done each January for the previous fall semester, and in September for the previous spring semester.
        As a part of this review, the student will evaluate their own performance in a guided, written statement. This statement functions primarily as a résumé of work in the major, but extra-departmental work may also be assessed. During the review, the student presents two pieces of written work from the previous semester, at least one of which will be from a philosophy course (provided that the student had taken a course in the field the previous semester).

    Senior Capstone Project
        Each major is required to complete a Senior Thesis or Examination. All philosophy majors will complete a capstone project during their junior or senior year at the college. There are two options for the project: a senior thesis or a senior capstone examination. The student and their faculty advisor will decide which of these two options are appropriate, based on each student's aims, interests, and plans after graduation. Students who intend to pursue graduate study in philosophy or some related field should plan to write the thesis, which will both significantly improve their applications to graduate schools and help to prepare them for the work of a graduate program. Students who do not intend to pursue such study in the future may reasonably choose either option. 
        During the third semester before graduation, each student works with their faculty advisor to form a Senior Thesis or Examination Committee and choose a topic for the project. The student, with the guidance of the committee, plans the project and carries out the basic research. During the second semester before graduation, the student enrolls in either PL 440 Senior Capstone Exam or PL 450 Senior Thesis. 
        Students who choose the capstone exam will take the exam at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 440. A passing grade completes this project; a failing grade requires the student to retake the course and the exam the following semester. A passing grade on the oral exam will be ranked as "passed," "passed with distinction," or "passed with highest distinction."
        Students who choose the senior thesis will complete a polished draft of the thesis, to be submitted to the Committee for comments, during the semester in which they are enrolled in PL 450. During the student's final semester any remaining work in completed, with the final draft completed by the ninth week of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The finished Senior Thesis is evaluated by the Thesis Committee. By the last week of classes before graduation, each student will give an oral presentation of the project to departmental faculty and students, responding to questions and comments. The committee will assess the written thesis and presentation together as having "passed," "passed with distinction," or "passed with highest distinction."

        An appropriate choice of electives in fields outside of philosophy can add considerable focus to the study of philosophy. For this reason the Department requires the choice of electives to be done in close consultation with the student's advisor. Language studies and accompanying foreign study are especially encouraged.

    Joint Major in Philosophy and Theology Requirements: (57 credits)
        The Joint Major in Philosophy and Theology was specifically designed for students who are interested in pursuing studies in both disciplines; the major will help such students to appreciate the similarities, differences, and relationship between philosophy and theology. 

    From Philosophy:
    PL 120   Logic
    PL 201   Ancient Philosophy
    PL 202   Medieval Philosophy  
    PL 203   Modern Philosophy
    PL 204   Kant and His Successors
    PL 206   19th and 20th Century Philosophy
    PL 215   Ethics
    PL  240 The Influence of Philosophy on Theology, Then and Now
    PL 440  Senior Capstone Exam
    PL 450  Senior Thesis
    Six credits in Philosophy Electives

    From Theology:
    TH 119   First Theology
    TH 300  Systematic Theology
    TH 301   Biblical Theology
    TH 499  Theology Capstone
    One course in scripture (TH 201-249)
    One course in moral theology (TH 250-299)
    One course in doctrines (TH 300- 349)
    One course in religious traditions (TH 350-399)
    One Theology Elective (TH 250, 255, 275, 280, 315, 320, 335, 344, 348, 365, 385)

    Requirements for the Minor:
    18 credits, structured in the following way (These are in addition to the core requirement of 1st Philosophy PL 101):
    PL 201   Ancient Philosophy - 3 credits
    PL 202, 203, 204, or 206 (Historical sequence) - 3 credits
    PL 215, 216, 217, or 218 ( in Ethics curriculum) - 3 credits
    Plus nine additional credits chosen in consultation with the students advisor from the regular course offerings of the Philosophy Department. 

    Suggested Minor in Philosophy for Students Majoring in the Department of Theology
        Philosophy and Theology have for many centuries been friendly collaborators in the search for meaning and truth. As such, many students majoring in one of these fields have fruitfully studied in the other as well. Students in the Department of Theology have frequently found a minor in Philosophy to be of great support to their present and future work in their chosen field. Below is a suggested pattern of courses designed to be helpful to those students. The specific selection of courses is worked out in consultation with the student's advisor. In addition to the required courses for the minor, these students are encouraged to take:
    PL 240   Influence of Philosophy on Theology, Then and Now - 3 credits
    PL 280   Thomistic Philosophy - 3 credits
    One course chosen from the following:
    PL 230   Metaphysics - 3 credits
    PL 220   Theories of Knowledge - 3 credits
    PL 210   Philosophical Anthropology - 3 credits