Analysis of arguments, clear and precise expression of one's views—particularly in writing—and the ability to comprehend complex systems of thought are skills cultivated by philosophy courses that are useful in all areas of life. But our students find their philosophy background particularly useful in the professions. Pre-law students take Logic and Critical Reasoning (107) to prepare for the LSAT and sharpen their analytical skills for law school, while Philosophical Issues in the Law (335) is a critical examination of important legal concepts and institutions. Students preparing for medical school, dental school or the allied health professions discover that Biomedical Ethics (308) examines moral problems raised by advancements in medical research and technology that they will soon face. Ethics (201), Social Philosophy (202), Contemporary Moral Problems (206), Leadership Ethics (302), Ethics and Public Policy (304) and International Ethics and Global Development (309) are useful for students interested in public policy. Business Ethics (303) examines moral problems posed by corporate conduct, e.g., profit-maximization vs. social responsibility, deception vs. honesty in advertising, preferential hiring vs. reverse discrimination. Students pursuing careers in the environmental sciences find Environmental Ethics (301) to be particularly useful in acquiring an understanding of underlying value-frameworks in environmental theories and practices. Philosophy and History of Science (220), Neuroscience and Ethics (306) and Philosophy of Mind (318) are of great value to students pursuing careers in neuroscience.
The critical skills and sense of intellectual heritage that follow the study of philosophy are not only useful in finding a job, but they foster maturity of judgment, personal growth and lifelong learning.
Because philosophy studies the systems of ideas we have developed to understand the world and our place in it, philosophy courses often explore the conceptual foundations of other disciplines; e.g., Philosophy and History of Science (220) explores the basic concepts and underlying logic of scientific method, Philosophy of Art (215) is an analysis of theories of the arts and art criticism and often includes field trips to major galleries, and Philosophy of Mind (318) examines theories that attempt to explain consciousness. These natural affinities make double majors attractive, and they are encouraged by the department.
Philosophy students can get to know one another outside of class as members of the Philosophy Club or as members of the national philosophy honorary, Phi Sigma Tau. Members of the honorary have brought distinguished philosophers to campus for lectures and discussion including Paul Churchland, Fred Dretske, David Lewis and Martha Nussbaum.
Philosophy majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis and submit it for departmental honors. Successful completion of this research project results in graduation with departmental honors in philosophy. The Padgett Prize in Philosophy, established in honor of Professor Emeritus Jack F. Padgett, is given annually to the outstanding senior philosophy major.
The Ned S. Garvin Scholarship in Philosophy, established in memory of Professor Ned Garvin, is given annually to the outstanding rising junior philosophy major.