Core in Philosophy

Philosophy has a permanent and central place in Jesuit higher education and is an important part of the Boston College Core Curriculum. By introducing students to the great philosophical questions, philosophy offers a perspective which makes possible an integrated vision of physical, human and spiritual reality; it weighs propositions fundamental to personal identity, dignity, religious belief, and social responsibility, and examines moral issues facing individuals and communities. The Philosophy core teaches analytical and interpretive skills so that students develop an intellectual and moral framework for considering questions of ultimate value and significance, challenging them to translate philosophical principles into guides for life. All Core offerings in philosophy bring students to reflect on the kinds of claims made in different disciplines from the natural sciences to theology by considering questions about the nature of reason, evidence, belief, and certainty. The two (2) sequential three-credit courses in the Philosophy core aim to teach students that the philosophical habit of mind is part of a well-lived life, providing the perspective and tools for critical evaluation of and engagement with contemporary problems and questions.

The Philosophy Department offers a two semester sequence to fulfill the core. There are a number of sequences from which to choose.  One sequence consists of two history of philosophy courses, Philosophy of the Person I and II.  There are two different interdisciplinary yearlong philosophy and theology sequences. Each of these interdisciplinary sequences fulfill the two philosophy and two theology core requirements.  One yearlong sequence is Perspectives on Western Culture I and II, and  the other is Person and Social Responsibility I and II. In addition, the philosophy, literature, and fine arts core can be fulfilled by taking the yearlong sequence Perspectives II: Modernism and the Arts.   The philosophy and social sciences core can be fulfilled by taking the yearlong sequence Perspectives III: Horizons of the Social SciencesThe philosophy, science, mathematics core can be fulfilled by taking the yearlong sequence Perspectives IV: New Scientific Visions.  

Students completing the Philosophy core will be able to

  • Understand the historical origins of values and principles that ground and are questioned in contemporary culture
  • Reflect on their individual, social, and religious identities and relationships
  • Examine their values in light of their reflection on philosophical views
  • Develop the ability to analyze arguments in order to create a moral framework for considering questions of ultimate value
  • Consider the nature of notions like reason, evidence, belief, and certainty such that they are able to think critically about the kinds of claims made in different disciplines from the natural sciences to theology
  • Critically engage with contemporary problems and questions using the tools of philosophical reflection and argument

Students may request transfer credit for ONE of the two semesters of Philosophy core, but courses are only accepted that substantially coincide with the material of the Philosophy department core programs. Please note even if 1 semester of core credit is granted for a course taken outside the BC Philosophy department 1) the second semester of Philosophy core MUST be taken from the options offered by the Boston College Philosophy department outlined above, and 2) courses taken at the Woods School of Advancing Studies (Boston College’s evening college) are accepted towards core in Philosophy only for ONE semester and are considered as transfer courses.

For questions about Perspectives Courses, contact the Director of the Perspectives Program, Professor Brian Braman.

For questions about Person and Social Responsibility, contact the Director of the PULSE Program, Professor Meghan Sweeney.

For questions about Philosophy of the Person, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Cherie McGill.