College of Arts and Letters2021-2022

Department of Philosophy

Philosophy, Bachelor of Arts

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

Philosophy is an on-going inquiry, often in the form of dialog and debate, always willing to deal with the most fundamental questions and to analyze concepts that are elsewhere taken for granted.  The goal is to clarify basic aspects of our existence or our lives as lived in social, political, and physical worlds.  The primary goals of a philosophical education are to instill a disposition to participate in this dialog and to sharpen the skills that make the participation productive.  Philosophical thinking, writing, and discussion must be disciplined, well-informed, and open-minded.  Thus, the mission of the Philosophy BA Program is to provide both a broad basis of information in which to situate the issues and the logical tools that structure the inquiry.

Student Learning Outcomes

The History Of Western Philosophy
– having a good understanding of the historical origins of major philosophical ideas and styles.  A shared understanding of the history of philosophy provides a common framework for discussing both new and ongoing issues.  Students will:              
  • Critically read the original works of Plato and Aristotle and articulate the characteristic ideas and philosophical styles of these historical figures.
  • Critically read the original works of Descartes, Hume, and Kant, and articulate the characteristic ideas and philosophical styles of these historical figures.
  • Make connections between historical ideas and arguments and contemporary philosophical issues.
Contemporary Philosophical Work – developing the ability to read, comprehend, and intelligently respond to the philosophical work of our own time..  Students will:
  • Read contemporary philosophical texts and provide a clear account of the passages through:
  • Finding and articulating the main ideas in contemporary philosophical work
  • Paraphrasing the important points in clear prose
  • Identifying the logical structure of the writing
  • Evaluating the plausibility of the points raised
  • Connect modern ideas and arguments to the historical heritage of these ideas.
  • Question critically both in the interest of (1) deepening their understanding of an idea and (2) articulating the idea’s strengths and weaknesses
The Ability to Think and Write Clearly – developing the skills and disposition to recognize and use evidence and sound reasoning. This is the foundation of the discipline in philosophical discussion.  Students will:
  • Master the basic skills of logic, including:
  • identifying the premises and conclusion of an argument
  • describing the logical structure of an argument
  • evaluating the strength of an argument
  • Apply and integrate their skills of logic in other philosophy classes – including reading texts, writing papers and discussing issues.
  • Use informal logic to analyze real-world, sometimes messy, arguments – the type of arguments students will encounter in other classes and in life
Foreign Language - graduates of the program must accomplish proficiency within a foreign language.  Though some languages are more common in the philosophical tradition (e.g., Ancient Greek, Latin, French, and German), an understanding of the difficulties involved in translation of any language aids philosophical comprehension.
  • Graduates must be able to speak, read, and think in another language in order to recognize when phrases and ideas are untranslatable

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