Philosophy

Philosophy

Programs Offered: Major, Minor

Return to Campus Plan: Campus Reopening and COVID-19 Measures

In philosophy, we grapple with foundational questions. What is justice? What makes the difference between a valid argument and an invalid one? In what sense are we free? What does it mean to be responsible? What is morality and what does it ask of us? How are mind and body related? How do mere sounds and squiggles come to be meaningful expressions? Does language have some role in shaping experience? Grappling with questions like these, and examining how others have grappled with them through the long history of our discipline, we learn to think and write clearly, to analyze problems methodically, and to critically assess possible answers.

Our faculty members have a wide range of teaching and research interests, including existentialism, philosophy of mind, feminist philosophy, theories of knowledge, logic, comparative philosophy (East Asian, South Asian, European, Indigenous American), philosophy of art, philosophy of language, and political philosophy. Our curriculum encourages students to explore all of these areas with rigor and imagination, developing their capacities to think analytically, speak effectively, and write clearly.

Our majors enjoy diverse career options on graduation. To give just a few examples, among our alumni from recent years are a State Department diplomat, medical doctors, the communications director for a national political organization, business owners, attorneys, professors, software engineers, a reporter for National Public Radio, and an Oregon Supreme Court justice. It's for good reason philosophy has been called "the ultimate 'transferable work skill'" (The London Times).

Lisa Oakley ’04

‘Disease detective’ alumna works at the front lines of COVID-19

Just as COVID-19 began to explode in the Seattle area — the first report in America of the novel coronavirus that has since ballooned into a pandemic, forced billions of people into lockdown and claimed thousands of lives and counting — Lisa Oakley ’04 was at the epicenter.

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