The Department of Philosophy
We all have ideas about what’s real (and what’s not), what’s true (and what’s not), what’s right and beautiful and just (and what’s not), and why. Studying philosophy helps us get a handle on these deep, practical, and important questions.
Philosophy Helps us Think Clearly in a Misleading World
Every area of life gives rise to philosophical questions. Should we blame people for the harm they intend to cause or for the harm they actually cause? Can fiction convey deep truths? Are humans essentially irrational? What is the nature of love? When is it our duty to disobey the law? When does a nation cease to be just? Pursuing such questions with imagination and rigor, through diverse historical, cultural, and contemporary perspectives, is what we do, and what we teach students to do. Our aim is to enable students to develop, clarify, and critically assess their own answers to these and other questions.
Philosophy helps establish a foundation from which we can read carefully and critically, reason effectively and systematically, articulate our thoughts lucidly, and reflect on major questions concerning the world we live in. Perhaps most importantly, we spend most of your lives being influenced (often unconsciously) by claims to authority, or swayed by our own default assumptions and biases. Philosophy gives us the tools to question these—to have reasonable skepticism of what we’re told, and better control over what we believe.
Our department is particularly strong in legal and political philosophy, aesthetics, ethics, Asian philosophy, philosophy of mind, metaphilosophy, and the history of ideas.
NOTE: Enrollment Waiver Requests
If you are requesting a prerequisite waiver or an overtally waiver, you must apply for these waivers by taking the following steps:
1. First contact the course instructor by email to request permission for an overtally or prerequisite waiver. You can find faculty emails using the Baruch Directory. (Note that it is the instructor that grants permission, not the Chair of the department.) Make the reason for your request clear. In general, such requests are granted only for compelling reasons (e.g. the student is graduating and needs the course to graduate and there are no other alternatives).
2. If the instructor approves, please forward the instructor’s email to Ms. Sonia McIlwain (firstname.lastname@example.org), the philosophy department administrator. Be sure to include the following details:
- The semester, course name, number, and section (e.g. Spring 2021 PHI 1700 – Ethical Theories BTRA)
- Your EMPLID
- A note explaining the nature of the request
Once Ms. McIlwain reviews that you have forwarded the email from the faculty member and included the details above, she will forward your request to the registrar’s office.
While the study of philosophy is rewarding in its own right, there are broader applications to philosophical training. On average, philosophy majors have a higher starting salary and higher lifetime earnings than any other humanities major. Philosophy majors are also highly employable, and valued for their cognitive skills (there is no autocorrect for illogical thinking). Moreover, professional advancement increasingly requires a graduate degree (JD, MBA, MD, MS, or PhD), and studies consistently show that philosophy majors tend to perform better on entrance exams such as the GRE, LSAT, and MCAT. Philosophy students score the highest on the GRE and, among humanities students, near the top on the GMAT. Philosophy is also an excellent preparation for law school, as philosophy majors acquire the reasoning skills crucial to understanding legal theory and analysis.