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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

The Major in Philosophy

philosophy department

Philosophy major logo

The Philosophy major at Boston College is designed to ground students in the core classical issues of philosophy and to give them the ability to engage with significant areas of  contemporary concern in way that moves forward our communal conversation and the path toward answers and solutions. The Philosophy major focuses and sharpens students’ abilities to critically evaluate arguments and issues, to understand the assumptions and backgrounds of contemporary views, practices, and controversies, with a view to enable them to use their insights and skills to contribute to dialogue, understanding, and positive action in their professions and communities, large and small. Philosophy majors engage with fundamental and contemporary issues by reflecting on the large questions of identity and relationship to others, to communities, and the divine in a way that gives them a richer and broader vision of what it means to live a full life. (For an article exploring the popularity of the major and its attraction to students, see On the Consequences of the Examined Life.)

The Philosophy major serves students with different  interests and career paths through different concentrations or tracks: 1) “Systematic Philosophy” (designed for those who are considering graduate school in Philosophy), 2) “Science, Ethics, and Humanity” (intended especially for premeds, nursing students, biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology majors, environmental studies minors, students interested in public health, etc.), “Pre-law/ International Studies/ Public Policy” (intended especially for those majoring or minoring in international studies, political science, and/or students interested in careers in law, public service, politics), “Philosophy/Economics/Justice” (intended especially for students also studying economics, finance, and management), “Philosophy and Religion” (intended for students with second majors or minors in theology and/or those interested in exploring a vocation in the priesthood/ministry), “Faith, Peace, Justice” (intended for students in the “faith, peace and justice minor” who are also philosophy majors), “Philosophy and the Arts” (intended especially for students involved in the arts or the study of literature).

All students majoring in Philosophy will be able to demonstrate

  • knowledge of major texts and thinkers in at least 2 of the major periods in the history of Western philosophy
  • an ability to read and interpret philosophical texts
  • an ability to evaluate philosophical arguments
  • understanding of such philosophical issues as the nature and scope of human knowledge, the meaning of human personhood, the good life and moral obligation, the social and political dimensions of human existence, the relationship of faith and reason, and the existence and nature of God, especially those connected to their track
  • understanding of the difference between philosophical and other types of claims, e.g., historical, scientific (both natural and social sciences), theological, political, etc., especially those most connected to their track
  • an ability to use philosophical resources to engage with contemporary issues and problems, especially those most connected to their track