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Philosophy

326 Milbank Hall  
212-854-4689
philosophy.barnard.edu
Department Administrative Assistant: Raquel Solomon

Chair: Taylor Carman (Professor)
Professor Emeritus: Alan Gabbey (Ann Whitney Olin Professor)
Professors: Frederick Neuhouser (Viola Manderfeld Professor of German Language and Literature)
Assistant Professors: Karen Lewis, John Morrison, Elliot Paul

Other officers of the University offering courses in Philosophy:

Professors: David Albert, Akeel Bilgrami, Haim Gaifman, Lydia Goehr, Axel Honneth, Patricia Kitcher, Philip Kitcher, Christia Mercer, Christopher Peacocke, Carol Rovane, David Sidorsky, Wolfgang Mann, Achille Varzi, Katja Vogt
Associate Professor: John Collins
Assistant Professors: Macalaster Bell, Jeffrey Helzner, Tamar Lando, Daniel Rothschild

Mission

The aim of philosophy, Wilfrid Sellars once said, is “to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” Philosophical questions are the most basic questions, for they penetrate to the foundations of all human thought and experience. What is there? What can we know? What is good? How should we live? What is a person? What is thought? What gives words meaning? Being educated in philosophy means not just learning what great minds have thought about such things in the past, or even finding out what philosophers have to say about them today, but coming to think through them for oneself. The major also acquaints students with central concepts, key figures, and classic texts from the Western philosophical tradition.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. in philosophy will have acquired skills in critical thinking, conceptual analysis, argumentation, close reading of classic and contemporary philosophical texts, and composition of clear, cogent, and persuasive prose. More specifically, they will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate their knowledge of major thinkers (such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant) and texts of the ancient and modern philosophical traditions;
  2. Demonstrate their understanding of central problems and dominant theoretical traditions in moral theory (Kantianism, utilitarianism) and either epistemology (skepticism, other minds, the problem of induction, decision theory), metaphysics (the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, causation, the nature of space and time), or the philosophy of language;
  3. Construct and evaluate deductive arguments using formal symbolic notation;
  4. Discuss and reflect critically on difficult philosophical texts and outstanding problems in a seminar setting with their fellow majors.

Although it is not required for the major or for the minor, students who have not had previous training in philosophy are advised to take PHIL BC 1001.