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Philosophy

Overview of the Program

Philosophy is a discipline that is central to the humanities and to a liberal arts education. The philosophy major helps students acquire skills in critical thinking and analysis, develop a broadened perspective, discuss questions of meaning and value, and gain an appreciation of the historical development of philosophical ideas, both in the Western intellectual tradition and in non-Western thought.

The undergraduate study of philosophy prepares students for graduate and professional study in a surprisingly wide variety of fields. Philosophy constitutes an essential part of the education that each student needs in order to be a thoughtful and skilled participant in the world of work and to be a responsible citizen in the larger community. This major is among the best for students considering graduate studies and law school.

The Philosophy Major

Philosophy encourages students to challenge their assumptions about reality, meaning and value, and to explore questions concerning the nature of being and existence, the distinction between knowledge and opinion, the nature of truth, the proper role of government, the development of good character and the determination of right and wrong. As we confront quandaries posed by the latest developments in science and technology, philosophy has never been more relevant. For example, hospital officials have hired medical ethicists—women and men who hold doctorates in philosophy—to conduct seminars, develop lecture series, go along on rounds and confer with physicians and other medical personnel on impor- tant questions of life and death.

Although most philosophy majors do not go on to earn doctorates in philosophy, many students find that they are well-served by the major because of its emphasis on the importance of clarity of thought and expression, critical thinking and effective writing—valuable skills in any career. In fact, graduate schools of arts and sciences, as well as law schools, graduate business schools, graduate computer science programs and medical schools all recognize philosophy as an ideal undergraduate major. Admission officers at these schools look favorably upon philosophy majors; these applicants tend to earn higher-than-average scores on the standardized admission tests for graduate and professional schools.

The philosophy major at Hood provides a good basic grounding in the discipline, as well as opportunities for directed research and internships. The major program requires a minimum of 30 credits (10 courses) in phi- losophy at the 200 level or above. The following seven courses are required of all philosophy majors:

  • Contemporary Philosophical Topics or Philosophical Issues in Feminism
  • History of Philosophy I: The Ancient World to the Renaissance
  • History of Philosophy II: The Early Modern Era to the
  • Twentieth Century
  • Logic
  • Ethics
  • Indian Thought or Chinese Thought
  • Senior Seminar

These courses provide an overview of the history of Western philosophy from ancient times to the 20th century, covering figures from Plato and Aristotle to Kant, Marx and Kierkegaard, among others. The program also ensures that students receive a solid grounding in critical thinking and modes of ethical inquiry. Reflecting the fact that not all philosophy is Western, this major introduces students to the great traditions of India or China. And, finally, a senior seminar provides an intellectual capstone experience.

In addition to the required classes, philosophy majors can choose to take the following courses:

  • Philosophy Through Film
  • Ethics and Leadership
  • Great Figures in Western Philosophical Thought
  • Professional Ethics
  • The American Intellectual Tradition
  • Biomedical Ethics
  • Islam
  • Human Nature and Society
  • Classical Religion and Philosophy
  • Topics in Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • Abolitionism to Human Rights
  • Literature of Moral Reflection

Internship Opportunities

Philosophy majors often complete internships during their undergradu- ate studies to prepare for graduate work and future career paths. Hood philosophy majors have carried out internships at organizations such as:

  • Bioethics publishers
  • Health research institutes and hospitals
  • Legislative bodies and government agencies
  • Businesses

These internships within a real-world environment have enabled Hood students to explore business ethics, medical ethics and the goals and operations of the political sphere.

Alumnae and Alumni Success Stories

Hood's recent graduates are pursuing successful careers as lawyers, teach- ers and businesspeople. Departmental majors have gone on to graduate and professional programs at such universities as Georgetown University, The Catholic University of America, American University, The George Washington University, Drew University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Maryland, Duke University and MIT.

Learn more about the major.