“Philosophy,” as William James put it, “is an attempt to think without arbitrariness or dogmatism about the fundamental issues.” Colby’s philosophy program challenges students to understand what it means to live morally in an often unjust world, to deliberate rationally about knowledge, freedom, and meaning, and to appreciate deeply the natural and aesthetic dimensions of our lives. Our courses provide the historical depth, cosmopolitan breadth, and multiplicity of perspectives necessary for participating in the philosophical conversation that spans human history and reaches around the globe. The Philosophy Department cultivates skills in effective writing, close reading, clear reasoning, and creative thinking, enabling students to join this ongoing conversation. Philosophy prepares students for professional careers and a lifetime of intellectual engagement in a complex and changing world.
Chair, Associate Professor James Behuniak
Professors Daniel Cohen and Jill Gordon; Associate Professors James Behuniak, Lydia Moland, and Keith Peterson; Faculty Fellow Adrian Switzer
Requirements for the Major in Philosophy
To complete the major in philosophy, a student must take a minimum of 10 courses, including Philosophy 151, 231, and 232. The remaining seven elective courses must include at least one that satisfies the metaphysics and epistemology area requirement (M&E); one that satisfies the values area requirement (V); and one that satisfies the diversity requirement (D). Among the seven electives, only one from the 100 level may be counted, at least three must be at or above the 300 level, only one from 483/484 may be counted, and only one from 491/492 may be counted. In addition, in their senior year students must enroll in two semesters of the philosophy colloquium (401 and 402). No courses taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory may be counted in fulfillment of major requirements, nor may any courses counting for fewer than three credits.
Honors in Philosophy
Students majoring in philosophy may apply during their junior year for admission to the honors program. Permission is required; guidelines are established by the department and posted at colby.edu/philosophy. Successful completion of the work of the honors program and of the major will enable the student to graduate with “Honors in Philosophy.”
Requirements for the Minor in Philosophy
To complete the minor in philosophy, a student must take a minimum of six courses. These must include at least one course that satisfies the metaphysics and epistemology area requirement (M&E); one that satisfies the values area requirement (V); and one that covers a historical period in philosophy (H). At least one must be at or above the 300 level, and no more than one may be at the 100 level with this exception: both Philosophy 151 and another 100-level course may be counted. No course taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory may be counted in fulfillment of minor requirements, nor may any course counting for fewer than three credits.