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 enroll in Philosophy 490, the Senior Seminar, in the fall semester. The comprehensive requirement is met by achieving a grade of C or better in the seminar.

The work of the seminar includes the writing of a research paper in philosophy.  Students may choose from among the following three options: (1) A new paper on a topic previously studied in prior courses or summer research. The new paper must significantly advance the earlier work. (2) A critical book review based on a recent book in philosophy. (3) A paper on a topic chosen in consultation with a faculty member in philosophy. In all cases the goal of the comprehensive project is to synthesize and advance the senior philosophy major’s understanding of a major area of philosophy through the critical examination of an independently chosen topic, guided by faculty mentors, and carried out with the support of all the philosophy seniors.

The professor for the course is one of two readers for the senior comprehensive paper. Seniors select and work with a second philosophy professor who serves as the second reader. Selection of a second reader is done in consultation with the professor teaching the senior seminar. Students enrolled in the Senior Seminar present their work to the campus community in mid November.  The letter grade for Philosophy 490 is based on the quality of the comprehensive paper, the quality of contributions to the seminar discussions in Philosophy 490, and the quality of oral presentations. The philosophy faculty as a whole determines final grades. Work judged as exceptional will result in the designation “pass with distinction.”  In  addition, if the essay passes with distinction and the student's overall GPA is 3.25 or better, with 3.5 or better in philosophy, the student receives honors in philosophy.

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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