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Undergraduate Programs

philosophy department

photo of Paul W. McNellis, S.J. teaching a class
Photo credit: Office of Marketing Communications

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.