The Philosophy Department is a place to pursue the questions which arise as undergraduate students reflect on their own values and identity, religious, political, social and personal: What is the human person? Do human beings act freely? What is knowledge, and can we be sure that we really know anything? What is the best way for a human person to live? What possible relation can there be between humanity and God? What makes a just society and what are my obligations toward it and others? Are there limits to what science can tell us about the universe? 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 it examines moral issues of individuals and communities. In focusing on these questions, Philosophy aims to provide students with an environment of maximal openness for investigating them, as well as with a community of fellow-seekers to provide both encouragement and challenge.
The study of Philosophy aims not just at the acquisition of information or skills but also develops intellectual virtues, such as independence of mind - a willingness to examine oneself and one’s own culture, to question received views and develop a "mind of one’s own", humility about the limits of one’s knowledge and the complexity of issues / questions, charity as an interpreter and interlocutor - looking for what is true and valuable in diverse views, a love for the truth, and the capacity to experience joy in learning and discussing.
All students at Boston College take a two semester sequence of Philosophy as part of the University Core curriculum. In addition, the department offers a Philosophy major and minor.
The Perspectives Program is a four-year, interdisciplinary course of study grounded in the great texts of Western Culture that seeks to integrate the humanities and natural sciences.
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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
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
Where Our Graduates Have Worked
Anchorage School District
Elementary School Administrator
Vice President, Research
State of Connecticut
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Manager, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Program
Sony Pictures Television
Senior Vice President
Big Y Foods Inc.
President and Chief Operating Officer
Johns Hopkins University
U.S. Department of Health Human Services,
Office of The General Council