Philosophy engages fundamental questions concerning human identity, the nature of knowledge and reality, moral virtue and responsibility, the nature of community and political authority, aesthetic judgments and values, and other concepts central to the meaning and value of human existence.
Through the study of primary texts and concrete issues drawn from various historical periods and cultures, philosophy facilitates reflection on actions, beliefs, and values while developing critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Philosophy also strengthens the ability to reason, enlarges the imagination, and refines aesthetic sensitivity.
With over 200 undergraduate majors, the Philosophy major at the University of Oregon is one of the most vibrant in the country. Our program emphasizes the study of ethics, social and political philosophy, American philosophy, continental philosophy, feminist philosophy, philosophy of mind, the philosophy of race, the history of philosophy, and environmental philosophy.
Popular courses include Human Nature, Love & Sex, Existentialism, Philosophy and Cultural Diversity, Philosophy of Religion, and Philosophy of Film. Faculty members regularly offer Freshman Seminars, recent topics of which include “Thinking About the Self,” “Approaches to Death,” and “Philosophy through Film.”
The philosophy department provides a wide range of opportunities for majors outside the classroom. These include public lectures by prominent visiting philosophers as well as an undergraduate philosophy club. The department also routinely hosts regional, national, and international conferences, and all undergraduates are invited and encouraged to participate in these events.
Why Study Philosophy?
The study of philosophy provides excellent preparation for a broad range of careers that require critical intelligence as well as oral and written communication skills. In addition to careers in business, students with a background in philosophy pursue careers in law, education, government, and work connected with social concerns. The undergraduate program is also structured to prepare students for graduate study.
Many research studies and articles in the national press have touted the value of a philosophy major for career success, preparation for graduate and law school, and personal development. Here are a few examples:
- “Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major?”
The Atlantic, October 16, 2011
- “Fifty Ways to Improve your Life in 2009: Learn Philosophy”
U.S. News and World Report, December 18, 2008
- “Philosophy’s Makeover: Why Job Prospects for Philosophy Grads are Brightening”
University Affairs, November 3, 2008
- “In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined”
The New York Times, April 6, 2008
- “I Think, Therefore I Earn”
The Guardian, November 20, 2007
- “Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work”
The New York Times, December 26, 1997
- “How to Get to the Top — Study Philosophy”
Globe and Mail (Toronto), January 2, 1990
- “Famous Philosophy Majors”
Links compiled by Keith Korcz at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- “Philosophy Degrees and Famous People who have ‘em”
Paul Raymont’s blog including many resources about the success of Philosophy majors
- “Philosophy Rocks the Graduate Record Exam!”
Commentary from The Department of Philosophy at Lews & Clark College, 2005