2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 13, 2024  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy Major

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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 Ethics and Public Policy, Law & Society, Environmental Science & Policy, and Health, Science & Society. 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.  Some recent topics have been: environmental ethics; privacy in law and ethics; and statistical stylometry and ancient philosophy. Students interested in these possibilities should consult with individual members of the philosophy faculty.


Internships, Research Apprenticeships

Philosophy faculty sponsor research apprenticeships and internships with a diverse group of public and private organizations. Interested students should contact the department chair, or the Career Connections Center.


Departmental Publications

All of the department’s full-time faculty are active scholars who publish original research in books and professional journals.


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. The department has the Massachusetts Alpha Chapter of Phi Sigma Tau.  At the spring honors convocation, the department awards one or more prizes to exemplary graduating seniors including the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. In the Spring, 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.

1. Required courses in philosophy

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

Two courses in the history of philosophy

Both of the following courses must be completed.

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.)

One elective at any level

Any 100- or 200-level philosophy course up to PHIL 270 will satisfy this requirement.  PHIL 299 may also be used with permission of your adviser if it was taken for one unit.

One advanced course in the area of ethics and social philosophy

One advanced elective (200 or above)

Any 200-level philosophy course up to PHIL270 will satisfy this requirement.

One Philosophy Capstone course must be taken during the student’s senior year, and is usually offered in the Fall semester.

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, public health, classics, ancient civilizations, Jewish studies, or race and gender studies); or (iii) a completed minor in any other program or department.

Capstone Seminar

During students’ senior year, majors must complete the designated capstonecourse. The senior capstone provides an opportunity for students to engage inindividual research projects, integrating the knowledge and skills obtained from their previous educational experiences from both inside and outside their philosophy coursework. Particular topics vary from year to year, but each offeringof the senior capstone course focuses on some particular advanced area of philosophical literature. Capstone courses are organized to encourage both collaborative interaction between students and the individual pursuit of scholarship, mirroring the skills used by professional scholars when engaging in research. The capstone emphases close reading of texts, employing analytical skills to the analysis of reasons and arguments, and the cultivation of writing skills; all key components of sound philosophical methodology. Each Fall semester, the philosophy departments offers a dedicated capstone course: PHIL 290 Senior Capstone. All seniors expecting to graduate must enroll in and complete the Senior Capstone with a passing grade in order to complete  the Philosophy Major.

The capstone is open only to seniors in the philosophy major.


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. 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),
  2. satisfy his or her major requirements,
  3. 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

Program Faculty

Arden Ali, Ph.D. 
Davis Baird, Ph.D. 
Patrick Derr, Ph.D.
Wiebke Deimling, Ph.D.
C. Wesley DeMarco, Ph.D.
Scott Hendricks, Ph.D.
Ravi Sharma, Ph.D. - Department Chair


Emeriti Faculty

Judith DeCew, Ph.D.
Walter Wright, Ph.D.

Philosophy Courses

Courses offered within the last 2 Academic Years

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