Department Chair: Dennis Beach OSB
Faculty: Dennis Beach OSB, Anthony Cunningham, Joseph DesJardins, Emily Esch, John Houston, Jean Keller, Rene McGraw OSB, Erica Stonestreet, Stephen Wagner, Charles Wright

Every thoughtful person asks basic philosophical questions. What makes life meaningful? How do I know that this belief is true? Is there a God? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of my mind or self? Am I free?  How should I live? What does it mean to belong to a society? What makes a science a science?

Most of the time, these questions emerge briefly and then recede quietly. Philosophy courses make these questions emerge more clearly and more frequently, so that students may move towards the truth.

In the course listings, four distinct sections are evident. The first section (121-156) is geared towards introducing students to the discipline of philosophy by examining the questions that philosophers ask about topics like human nature, God, society, and gender. The second group of courses (321-327) is oriented towards ethics. A third group (331-341) is oriented towards the history of philosophy. These courses give students a sense of the development of philosophy in the Western intellectual tradition and beyond. The fourth set of courses (346-368) examines in depth the great philosophical issues of human knowledge, metaphysics, ethics and science. In addition, a course in Logic (110) is offered as well as the Philosophy Capstone (388).

All courses are open to majors and non-majors. In addition to preparing philosophy majors for graduate school, the study of philosophy serves as an excellent background for people entering other professions.


The Philosophy Department conducts regular assessment of student learning---of majors and minors as well as students taking philosophy to meet common curriculum requirements. We evaluate how well the department's curriculum improves students' comprehension of fundamental philosophical concepts as well as their ability to participate in well-reasoned discussions of these ideas. We also evaluate the extent to which philosophy enables students to perceive greater complexity in the human and natural worlds; whether philosophy improves students' abilities and their willingness to engage in critical thinking; and whether it might affect students' engagement in and commitment to lifelong learning.

The Philosophy Department regards a major in philosophy as preparation for a thoughtful and deliberate life. We seek to maintain contact with majors after graduation to learn how they are doing and how well they think the department prepared them for their life path.

Acceptance to Major Requirements

Course Requirements:  3 Philosophy courses
Minimum Grade and/or GPA for required courses:  2.00 GPA
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  2.00
Other Requirements:  Exceptions for students with 2 PHIL courses can be made by the department chair

Major (40 credits)

Required Courses:
4 credits at the 100 or 200 level
Logic (110)
Ancient Philosophy (331)
Modern Philosophy (334)
One course from each of the following elective groups:

Group A: Moral Philosophy (321), Feminist Ethics (325), or another philosophy course in ethics with the approval of the chair.
Group B: One additional historical course from the following: Medieval Philosophy (333), 19th-Century Philosophy (336), Analytic Philosophy (337), American Philosophy(338), or Continental Philosophy (341).
Group C: One course from the following: Philosophy of Science (363), Philosophy of Knowledge (364), Metaphysics (365), Philosophy of Mind (367).

Philosophy Capstone (388).
8 additional credits, at least 4 of them at the 300 level.


Once Majors or Minors have begun to take courses at the 300-level, normally they should not take any more courses at the 100-level, except for PHIL 110: Logic.

Majors and minors can count a course taken to satisfy the Ethics Common Seminar requirement (ETHS 390 or HONR 390) for major/minor requirements provided the course is offered by a member of the Philosophy Department.

Minor (20 credits)

Required Courses:
Five courses, with at least three at the upper (300) level.

Courses (PHIL)