Philosophy Major

Majoring in philosophy is a time-honored way of gaining a liberal arts education, i.e., an education fitting for a person who would be free. Philosophy majors at Saint Joseph’s University  will have an opportunity to read some of the most profound and challenging works ever written. In the classroom they will partake in lively discussions of life-changing ideas. Majors will develop their capacity to think clearly and creatively, to argue logically and express their thoughts persuasively, to criticize rationally and converse openly, to uncover assumptions and recognize implications and to raise those important questions that are often overlooked.

As a deliberately pluralistic department possessing expertise across a broad range of philosophical traditions and methods, we are able to offer courses across all major historical periods (i.e., ancient, medieval, modern, contemporary) and areas of field specialization (e.g., epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and social and political philosophy). Majors are challenged to grapple with perennial philosophical problems (e.g., free will, skepticism, objectivity, the nature and existence of God) and are introduced to methods of inquiry that allow for the development and appropriation of philosophical modes of thinking, speaking, and writing. An active Undergraduate Philosophy Society provides a forum for gathering with other students also genuinely interested in philosophy, and provides an excellent opportunity for student-faculty dialogue outside the classroom.

Learning Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: Students will develop the skills of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and constructing philosophical arguments

Learning objectives

Objective 1.1: Students will be able to recognize arguments that appear in written texts by identifying philosophical conclusions and the premises that support them

Objective 1.2: Students will be able to evaluate the premises of arguments

Objective 1.3: Students will be able to construct arguments in order to express philosophical ideas both orally and in writing

Goal 2: Students will demonstrate knowledge of logic (at a level appropriate for undergraduate majors)

Objective 2.1: Students will recognize basic deductive and inductive argument forms as well as different types of informal fallacies

Objective 2.2: Students will be able to apply basic logical concepts, such as validity and soundness and strength and cogency, in their evaluation of arguments

Goal 3: Students will gain an appreciation for the history of philosophy, including major figures and texts

Objective 3.1: Students will be able to explain (in writing, or through oral communication, or on examinations) some of the main ideas, problems, theories, methodologies, or schools of thought from the ancient or medieval periods of Western philosophy

Objective 3.2: Students should be able to explain (in writing, or through oral communication, or on examinations) some of the ideas, problems, theories, methodologies, or schools of thought from the modern or contemporary periods of Western philosophy

Goal 4: Students will display, at a level appropriate for undergraduate majors, the skills required for engaging in philosophy as a specialized academic discipline

Objective 4.1: Students will successfully complete an advanced, seminar-style class which features the construction and evaluation of arguments for specific philosophic positions and a focused examination of a particular philosophical problem(s), area, or text

Objective 4.2: Students will complete a final paper or research project, typically in the context of completing an advanced, seminar-style class

Philosophy majors have the option of pursuing one of five tracks:

  1. History of Philosophy;
  2. Social-Political/Philosophy of Law;
  3. Mind, Language, Science; 
  4. Philosophy of Religion; and .
  5. Arts and Humanities

Major concentration requirements are the same for all five tracks, though the integrated learning requirements (ILC) will vary from track to track.

The traditional undergraduate programs include 40 courses distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive, and
  3. Writing Intensive. Overlay requirements are part of the forty-course requirement.

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses. Six courses

PHL 154Moral Foundations3
THE 154Faith, Justice & the Cath Trad3
ENG 102Texts & Contexts3
HIS 154Forging the Modern World3
XXX NNN: Faith and Reason Course Area (see course list)
XXX 150: First Year Seminar

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

ENG 101Craft of Language3
THE NNN: Religious Difference
PHL NNN: Philosophical Anthropology (see list of courses)
MAT NNN: Mathematics - Beauty
Non-Native Language (0-2 courses)
Natural Science (One four-credit lab course or two three-credit non-lab courses)
Social/Behavioral Science
Fine Arts/Literature

General Education Overlays

See this page about Overlays.

  • Writing Intensive
  • Ethics Intensive
  • Diversity/Globalization/Non-Western


14-18 courses

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses

GEP Faith and Reason (if taken in Philosophy) or PHL elective Course

Major Concentration Requirements

8 courses

  1. Logic or Symbolic Logic
  2. History course: Ancient/Pre-Modern
  3. History course: Modern/Contemporary
  4. PHL elective course
  5. PHL elective course
  6. NON-GEP PHL elective
  7. PHL 495 Senior Seminar or PHL 395 Junior Seminar

History of Philosophy Track

Select three of the following:9
The Glory that was Greece
Love,Sex,Conqst:Classic Myth
Classical Epic: Gods & Heroes
Law and Social Change
Knowl & Love of God - Mid Ages
The Rise of the West: 400-1200
Reform/Rev in Europe 1500-1650
Absltsm & Enlghtnmnt:1650-1789
Democratic Theory
Greek, Latin, German, French (1 or more in the SAME language)

Social-Political/Philosophy of Law Track

Select three of the following:9
Any Economics course
Law and Public Policy
Constitutional Politics
Const Law:Rights & Civil Lib
Social Controversy & Sup Court
Intro to Political Thought
American Political Thought
Theories of Justice
Law and Social Change
Democratic Theory
Global Political Economy
Seminar on Freedom of Religion
Intro to Comparative Politics
Introduction to Global Politcs
Intro to Political Thought
America & the World Economy
International Human Rights
Race and Social Justice
Law and Social Policy
Gender and the Law

Mind, Language, Science Track

Select three of the following:9
Any Mathematics course
Any Natural Science course
Any Computer Science course
Any Linguistics course
Sensation and Perception
Animal Learning and Memory
Drugs, Brain &Human Behavior
Psychology of Emotion
Comparative Animal Behavior
Psychology of the Self
Abnormal Psychology/Non-Majors
Developmental Psychology

Arts and Humanities Track

Select three of the following:9
I. Honors Courses
Anc World Sexuality & Gender
Franco-Afro-Caribbean Story
Letters of Paul
Knowl & Love of God - Mid Ages
Religion, Violence & Terrorism
Special Topics in Theology
II. Art/Music/Film Courses
Music Fundamentals
Westrn Music Hist: MidAge-1750
Western Music: 1750 to Present
Music Theory I
Major Composers
Intro to Art History I
Art History Survey II
Non Western Art & Architecture
The Experience of Architecture
Arts of East Asia
Art of Colonial Latin America
Women, Gender, and Art
Encountering Mystery
Any ART Studio Course
FLM 291-FLM 296
III. Classics
Love,Sex,Conqst:Classic Myth
Classical Epic: Gods & Heroes
Classical Tragedy
Comedy: Ancient and Modern
Anc World Sexuality & Gender
IV. Literature (English Department)
Any ENG course 301-331
History of the Eng Language
Lit Theo:Plato to Poststructur
V. Literature (Modern Languages)
Selections in Chinese Lit
Any course in FRE literature/film 410-462
Any course in GRM literature/film 305-406
Selections in Japanese Lit I
Intro to Lit of Sp-Spkng Wrld
Any course in SPA literature/film 410-456

Philosophy of Religion Track

One Theology/Religious Studies course beyond the GEP3
Select two of the following:6
Seminar on Freedom of Religion
The Grandeur that was Rome
The Rise of the West: 400-1200
Sociology of Religion
Cults as Social Movements
Latin or Greek (1 or more in the SAME language)