“Philosophy” means “love of wisdom” and philosophers demonstrate that love by asking questions about fundamental issues: What is reality? Is truth attainable? Is science the path to truth? Is beauty universal? Does the universe have a purpose? Is there a right way to live? How should we interact with other species and the non-human environment?
As these examples reveal, philosophical questions cut across the boundaries of science, art, politics, and religion – crucial to all these areas yet belonging to none of them. They demand that we subject both our experiences and our beliefs to critical scrutiny. While unsettling at times, the practice of philosophy yields a fuller understanding of our belief systems, sciences, arts, values and ourselves.
Introductory courses appropriate for prospective majors
PHIL 101, Introduction to Philosophy (offered every semester)
PHIL 102, Moral Problems (offered every semester)
PHIL 103, Logic (offered most semesters)
PHIL 113, Introductory Topics in Philosophy (topics vary; offered occasionally)
PHIL 201, Ancient Philosophy (offered every fall; prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy, or permission of instructor)
PHIL 202, 17th and 18th Century philosophy (offered every spring; prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy, or permission of instructor)
While most First-Year students should take their first course in Philosophy at the 100-level, some students have the background and ambition to seek permission to take their first Philosophy course at Dickinson at the 200-level. Those students should contact the course instructor or department chair.
Introductory courses that fulfill distribution requirements
Any course taught in the department.
PHIL 103, Logic
For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Philosophy.
Suggested curricular flow through the major
PHIL 101 or 102
PHIL 201* (Fall); PHIL 202* (Spring)
200 level electives
200 level electives
300 level seminars*+
PHIL 300 level seminar*+
*required for the major
+taught as WR course
10 courses total which must include 103, 201, 202, two 300 level seminars, 401 (senior seminar)
Many Philosophy majors study abroad and do so with the encouragement and support of the department. The most popular destination is the Norwich program, but philosophy students study all over the world, in Dickinson and non-Dickinson programs: Italy, France, China, Cameroon, India, and Australia. Philosophy courses taken while abroad can count toward the major.
Internships: We encourage our students to take on internships. For example, students interested in the law have interned in law firms, the district attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, or with judges, while students with interests in medicine or biomedical ethics have interned with medical providers or hospital ethics committees.
Careers: Graduates with Philosophy majors enjoy a wide range of career options. They find that their philosophical education gives them the ability to think logically and analytically about problems and their solutions, to research and read carefully, and to express themselves in clear, logical and effective writing and speech. This is a skill set which meets the needs of employers in business, education, public service and advocacy, and many of our graduates have careers in these areas. These skills are also congenial to a career in law and many philosophy department graduates become lawyers. Others move into careers in medicine, social work and computer science. Our graduates include lawyers, doctors, bankers, corporate managers, researchers, teachers, a biomedical ethicist, a yoga instructor and a career counselor who maintains that philosophy prepares one “for anything”.
Those of our graduates who continue their studies for a Ph.D. have received degrees from top graduate programs in Philosophy. Our departmental alumni include professors of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin, Illinois State University, Hofstra University, West Chester University and St. Norbert College.