2014-2015 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 18, 2018  
2014-2015 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy Major

Philosophy Overview

Undergraduate Program

The Philosophy Department offers an undergraduate major in philosophy, a concentration in ethics and public policy, two minors in philosophy and a variety of elective courses, which nonmajors may take to broaden their education and fulfill Program of Liberal Studies requirements. The department also offers core or elective courses for concentrations in law and society, peace studies, ethics and public policy, and environmental science and policy.  For more information, please visit the Philosophy Department’s website.


Directed Readings, Individual Research, Tutorials

For significant independent research, the department offers individual Directed Research, Directed Readings, and Advanced Independent Study in Philosophical Topics, all falling under the course heading PHIL 299 . Students interested in these possibilities should consult with individual members of the philosophy faculty.


Capstone Seminar

The capstone course is offered to all senior philosophy majors and satisfies the Capstone requirement for the major. Particular topics vary from year to year, but each instance of the capstone course focuses on some particular advanced area of philosophical literature. Typically, students spend the first quarter of the semester engaged in a sustained, scholarly examination of core texts. For the remainder of the semester, students pursue their own lines of inquiry concerning the subject area by working on a research paper. Course requirements include presentations of one’s ongoing work to other students and a final capstone paper. Students must be seniors and philosophy majors.

Internships, Research Apprenticeships

Students are encouraged to apply for a research apprenticeship with an individual philosophy professor. Research apprentices work closely with their mentor on the mentor’s scholarly research, sometimes co-authoring a published article. Some recent topics have been: environmental ethics; privacy in law and ethics; and statistical stylometry and ancient philosophy. Philosophy faculty also sponsor off-campus undergraduate internship experiences. Students interested in these opportunities may inquire at the department or through the internship office.


Honors Thesis

Undergraduate majors are encouraged to complete an Honors thesis.  Majors intending to pursue graduate study should especially consider this opportunity. Honors thesis students engage in advanced individual research on a selected philosophical problem, guided by a faculty thesis adviser and a thesis committee composed of two additional faculty members. For complete requirements and further information see below in Honors section.

Professional Organizations

The department has the Massachusetts Alpha Chapter of the national philosophy honor society, Phi Sigma Tau. In addition to awarding membership to academically exceptional majors, the society also sponsors speakers and colloquia, as well as trips to regional philosophy conferences.



Departmental Publications

The international philosophical journal, Idealistic Studies, is edited by Gary Overvold. Founded by Robert N. Beck, Idealistic Studies is a leading interdisciplinary journal focusing on issues of contemporary European philosophy and idealism. The journal provides a forum for writing that recognizes whether by advocacy or criticism, the defining significance of consciousness and mind in the concerns of philosophy and other expressions of high culture.


Department Prizes and Awards, and Student and Honor Societies

Each year the department inducts its best junior and senior philosophy majors into Phi Sigma Tau, the national philosophy honor society. At the spring honors convocation, the department awards one or more prizes to exemplary graduating seniors and the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. At Salute to Student Scholars, the department confers a prize for the best work in logic.

The Philosophy Club, a student organization, sponsors lectures, colloquia and informal educational and social activities for all interested Clark students.

Major Requirements

 The requirements for a major in philosophy are designed to ensure exposure to the major systematic fields in philosophy, to ensure familiarity with advanced analytic and logical methods, acquaint the student with the history of the discipline, and provide close faculty-student contacts through advanced seminars and individual research projects. The major program accommodates general liberal-arts students and those pursuing double majors and honors work, as well as those considering graduate study in philosophy. Students, especially those considering graduate school, who wish a more intensive course of study toward the major should consult with department faculty and study the Philosophy Major Handbook in the department office.

1. Required courses in philosophy

A total of eight courses (described below) satisfy the requirements for the Philosophy Major. Students must receive at least a ‘C-’ grade in these courses.

  • One advanced elective (200 or above)
  • The Philosophy Capstone course as described above. This must be taken during the student’s senior year, and is usually offered in the Fall semester.


One course in formal logic

(The department recommends that students do not take logic as their first and introductory course in the major without first consulting a member of the department faculty.)

2. Required courses outside philosophy

Either: (i) a completed double major; or (ii) a completed concentration (for example, environmental science and policy, ethics and public policy, women’s studies, classics, ancient civilizations, Jewish studies, or communications); or (iii) a completed minor in any other program or department.


Students majoring in philosophy may apply to complete an Honors Thesis under the direction of a department faculty member. Successful completion of the thesis is a requirement for the award of Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors on the student’s diploma.

In order to enroll in the honors program, a student must meet the following requirements. The student must contact a department faculty member who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor and supervise the student’s work. The student should then work on a thesis proposal in conjunction with the thesis advisor. Once the proposal has been completed to the satisfaction of the supervisor, the student will submit it to the Department Chair for review by the entire philosophy faculty. The completed proposal must meet with faculty approval by no later than second semester of a student’s junior year. In addition, the student must have, at the time of the proposal’s submission, maintained a minimum grade point average of 3.0 overall and 3.3 in his or her philosophy coursework.

Once enrolled in the honors program, the student must

  1. continue to maintain 3.0 overall and 3.3 in philosophy coursework,
  2. assemble an advisory committee; the advisory committee must include the thesis advisor and at least two other members of the philosophy faculty (exceptions to this–only in the case that the student wants the third member of the committee to be member of the faculty from another department–may be made with special permission by both the thesis advisor and the department chairperson),
  3. satisfy his or her major requirements,
  4. complete the honors thesis requirement. Completion includes both (a) enrollment in ‘Phil 297: Honors’ under the direction of the thesis advisor, during both semesters of his or her senior year, and (b) a successful oral defense of the thesis, and a final approval of the finished thesis, both which are to be overseen by a group of faculty that includes the student’s advisory committee.

At the completion of these conditions, the department will recommend to the University that the student be awarded Departmental Honors at one of the following three levels: honors, high honors or highest honors.

In the case that the student does not meet one or more of the requirements outlined above, the thesis advisor will request that the University Registrar change the designation ‘Phil 297: Honors’ on the student’s transcripts to either ‘Phil 295: Senior Thesis’ or ‘Phil 299: Directed Readings’ depending on the work submitted by the student.

Philosophy Faculty


Judith DeCew, Ph.D. - Department Chair

Patrick Derr, Ph.D.

Scott Hendricks, Ph.D.

Gary Overvold, Ph.D.

Ravi Sharma, Ph.D.

Walter Wright, Ph.D.

C. Wesley DeMarco, Ph.D.
Davis Baird, Ph.D. - Provost


Barbara Carlson, M.A.
Peter Marton, Ph.D.

Philosophy Courses