In the College of Arts and Sciences .
The study of philosophy provides students with an opportunity to become familiar with some of the ideas and texts in the history of thought while developing analytical skills that are valuable in practical as well as academic affairs. It affords the excitement and satisfaction that come from understanding and working toward solutions of intellectual problems. The curriculum includes offerings in the history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of science, ethics, social and political philosophy, metaphysics, and theory of knowledge. Any philosophy course numbered in the 1000s or 2000s is suitable for beginning study in the field. Sections of PHIL 1110, 1111, and 1112 are part of the first-year writing seminar program; they are taught by various members of the staff on a variety of philosophical topics, and because of their small size (17 students at most) they provide ample opportunity for discussion. Students who want a broad introduction to philosophy may take PHIL 1100 , but many students with special interests may find that the best introduction to philosophy is a 2000-level course in some particular area of philosophy; such courses have no prerequisites and are usually open to first-year students.
D. Pereboom, chair; K. Bennett, R. Boyd, T. Brennan, C. Brittain, A. Chignell, G. Fine, H. Hodes, M. Kosch, S. MacDonald, K. Manne, J. Markovits, A. Marmor, R. Miller, N. Silins, W. Starr. Emeritus: C. A. Ginet, T. Irwin, S. Shoemaker, N. Sturgeon
Students expecting to major in philosophy should begin their study of it in their freshman or sophomore year. Admission to the major is granted by the director of undergraduate studies of the department on the basis of a student’s work during the first two years. Normally the student must have completed two philosophy courses with grades of B or better. Eight philosophy courses, taken for a letter grade, are required for the major. They must include at least one course on ancient philosophy (PHIL 2200 , or a course with a large component on Plato or Aristotle), at least one course on classical modern metaphysics and epistemology from Descartes through Kant (e.g., PHIL 2220 or a course on the empiricists, the rationalists, or Kant), and a minimum of three courses numbered above 3000. Students admitted to the major are required to take a minimum of six philosophy courses numbered above 2000 and may not count more than one section of PHIL 1110, 1111, or 1112 toward the major. Courses numbered in the 1900s, 2900s, 3900s, and 4900s do not count toward the major. A course in formal logic (e.g., PHIL 2310 ), while not required, is especially recommended for majors or prospective majors.
A grade of B- or better is required for a course to count towards the major.
Philosophy majors must also complete at least 8 credits of course work in related (non-philosophy) subjects approved by their major advisors.
Occasionally majors may serve as teaching or research aides, working with faculty members familiar with their work.
The Philosophy minor is designed for students who would like to formally pursue focused studies in Philosophy, receiving recognition for this work, along with their major in another field.
Admission to the minor is based on a student’s work in Philosophy during their first two years; students would be expected to have completed two Philosophy courses with grades of B or better prior to applying.
To satisfy the requirements for the minor in Philosophy, a minimum of five Philosophy courses must be taken for a letter grade (B- or better), including:
- No more than one may be numbered below 2000;
- At least two must be numbered above 3000;
- At least one must be in the history of philosophy (before 1800).
Courses numbered in the 1900s, 2900s, 3900s, and 4900s will not be accepted for the minor.
For more information or to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit philosophy.cornell.edu.
A candidate for honors in philosophy must be a philosophy major with an average of B– or better for all work in the College of Arts and Sciences and an average of B+ or better for all work in philosophy. In either or both semesters of the senior year a candidate for honors enrolls in PHIL 4900 -PHIL 4901 and undertakes research leading to the writing of an honors essay by the end of the final semester. Honors students normally need to take PHIL 4900 -PHIL 4901 both semesters of their senior year to write a satisfactory honors essay. PHIL 4900 -PHIL 4901 does not count toward the eight philosophy courses required for the major. Prospective candidates should apply at the Department of Philosophy office, 218 Goldwin Smith Hall.
First-Year Writing Seminars
Consult the John S. Knight Institute for course times, instructors, and descriptions.