Philosophy

Why study Philosophy?

Do we possess free will?  Are values real and objective, or merely the expression of people’s preferences? Can we really ever know anything? What, if anything, makes you today the same person you were yesterday, or ten years ago? Upon what values should society be built? Does God exist, and, if He does, should we worship Him? Are our minds simply our brains? 

Philosophy is the attempt to resolve general and fundamental problems concerning existence, knowledge, value, reason, the mind, and language. The ultimate goal of studying philosophy is to gain the skills needed to think intelligently about these problems.


The Saint Mary’s approach

Philosophical problems arise when we notice that two ideas, each of which seems sound, conflict with each other. For instance, we might think that we are free to choose, but we might also think that everything that happens has a sufficient cause, which would seem to imply that we are not free to choose. In thinking philosophically, we seek to resolve these conflicts, either by rejecting one of the two ideas or by finding a way to interpret them so that they fit together harmoniously.

Students study and value philosophy for its own sake. Through the study of philosophy they also gain skills they can use in their other courses and in life generally. They acquire the ability to think precisely and analytically, the ability to craft arguments, and the ability to express themselves well. Above all, they acquire independence of mind.

Students who major in philosophy do better on average in graduate and professional school entrance examinations than students from any other humanities or social science discipline.

Some courses philosophy offers:

  • Sex and Sexuality
  • Propaganda and Truth
  • Critical Thinking
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Foundations of Knowledge
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Philosophy of Human Nature
  • Argumentation Theory
  • International Justice
  • Philosophy of Biology

Career opportunities

You may be employed by schools, universities, the government, law firms, media organizations, hospitals, or businesses.