Philosophy

Requirements

MAJOR: Ten courses (40 units) in philosophy are required for the major, including Philosophy 210; Philosophy 225; Philosophy 230; six additional courses in philosophy, three of which are upper division (in the 300-series); Philosophy 490. Philosophy 101 can be counted toward the six additional courses in philosophy, but is not a required course.

The three upper division courses must meet the following distribution requirements: one must concentrate on the history of philosophy (300; 305; 310), one on moral and political philosophy (300; 310; 330; 340; 345; 350), and one on metaphysics and epistemology (305; 325; 355; 360; 365; 370; 375; 380; 385). One course can fulfill two distribution requirements. For example, Philosophy 305 can count both toward the history of philosophy and metaphysics and epistemology; and Philosophy 300 and Philosophy 310 can count both toward the history of philosophy and moral and political philosophy.

The flexibility of the major allows students to pursue the study of philosophy broadly, or to tailor a course of study to their philosophical interests. The following course clusters are intended as guides for students interested in concentrating their studies toward a specific philosophical interest. These suggestions should supplement, rather than replace, significant and frequent discussion with a faculty adviser concerning designing and executing a coherent plan of study within the major.

Students interested in Law and Politics:
Philosophy 230: Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy 240: Philosophy of Race
Philosophy 235: Feminism and Philosophy
Philosophy 255: Environmental Ethics
Philosophy 300: Topics in Classical Philosophy
Philosophy 310: Hobbes to Kant
Philosophy 330: Globalization and Justice
Philosophy 340: Philosophy of Law
Philosophy 350: Contemporary Classics in Political Philosophy

Students interested in Physics and Mathematics:
Philosophy 285: Paradoxes
Philosophy 325: Metalogic
Philosophy XXX/Mathematics 354: Set Theory and Foundations of Mathematics
Philosophy 355: Philosophy of Space and Time
Philosophy 360: Philosophy of Science     
Philosophy 365: Philosophy of Science
Philosophy 375: Theory of Knowledge
Philosophy 380: Wittgenstein
Philosophy 385: Metaphysics

Students interested in Health and Bioethics:
Philosophy 230: Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy 240: Philosophy of Race
Philosophy 245: Bioethics
Philosophy 255: Environmental Ethics
Philosophy 365: Philosophy of Science

Students interested in Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science:
Philosophy 325: Metalogic
Philosophy 360: Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy 365: Philosophy of Science
Philosophy 370: Philosophy of Language
Philosophy 375: Theory of Knowledge
Philosophy 380: Wittgenstein

Students interested in the History of Philosophy:
Philosophy 205: Introduction to Ancient Thought
Philosophy 210: Historical Introduction to Philosophy
Philosophy 230: Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy 300: Topics in Classical Philosophy
Philosophy 305: Topics in Modern Philosophy
Philosophy 310: Hobbes to Kant
Philosophy 380: Wittgenstein

WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in Philosophy will satisfy the final component of Occidental College's college-wide writing requirement by completing at least one writing-intensive upper division philosophy course with a grade of B-or higher (or appropriate course work). Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: Graduating seniors in philosophy write one long essay, the "state of thought" essay, to satisfy their comprehensives requirement. This essay, approximately 30 pages long, is on a topic of their choice and is written with the advice and assistance of two faculty advisers.

Seniors begin work on this essay in the Senior Seminar (Philosophy 490) in the fall semester. In this class, which is organized by a faculty member, seniors focus on writing a preliminary 20-page essay that provides a broad survey of the "state of thought" on their chosen topic, along with a discussion of the important and differing approaches taken by the key philosophers who have written on their topic. With satisfactory completion of the preliminary essay, students receive a grade of CIP (course in progress) at the end of the fall semester.

Although there is no class associated with the philosophy comprehensives in the spring semester, seniors continue to work on their "state of thought" essays, with the assistance of the instructor for Philosophy 490. In the spring semester seniors focus on assessing the arguments that have been brought to bear on their topic, and on developing their own contributions to the topic. Once essays are complete, seniors present their work orally to the campus community.

With satisfactory completion of their essays and oral presentations in the spring semester, the fall semester CIP grade is changed to a letter grade. The letter grade is based on the quality of their essays, the quality of their contributions to the seminar discussions in Philosophy 490, and the quality of their oral presentations in the spring. Final grades will be determined by the philosophy faculty as a whole.

MINOR (updated 12/5/11): Five courses (20 units) in Philosophy, including Philosophy 225. At least one course must be an upper division course (in the 300 series). Students who wish to craft a narrowly focused course of study for the minor should consult a philosophy faculty adviser and the concentration guides above (listed under "Philosophy Major").

INTERDEPARTMENTAL MAJOR IN COGNITIVE SCIENCE: See Cognitive Science.

GRADUATE STUDY IN PHILOSOPHY: Students interested in pursuing graduate study in philosophy should contact a faculty adviser as early as possible for assistance crafting an appropriate course of study both in philosophy and relevant cognate fields.

HONORS: There is no special class associated with honors. Honors in philosophy is awarded in recognition of excellence in work done for the senior essay, and will be determined by the philosophy faculty as a whole once final versions of the senior essays have been submitted. Seniors need a 3.3 GPA in philosophy and a 3.25 GPA overall to be considered for Departmental honors. See the Honors Program and consult the department chair for further details.

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  • Location: Swan Hall