Philosophy addresses problems and questions that arise in all areas of human thought and experience and in all disciplines. Recurring questions about the nature of value, the good life, right conduct, knowledge, truth, language, mind, and reality are central to philosophical study. Philosophy also investigates the methodologies and assumptions of the major disciplines in the university in order to deepen our understanding of the sciences, of mathematics, art, literature, and history, and of religion and morality. It leads us to address issues about the nature of these subjects, about the methods of reasoning characteristic of them, and about the contributions they make to our understanding of ourselves and our world.
Education in Philosophy
Philosophy contributes to the liberal education of its students. The department emphasizes an analytic approach to philosophical questions, which trains students to understand and evaluate arguments and to think and write precisely and clearly. These skills are of immense value in a variety of careers
Students graduating with a degree should be able to:
- Employ analytical techniques to construct arguments that proceed via trustworthy inferences from plausible starting points. Though emphasis is on philosophical arguments, the techniques apply to all areas of argumentation.
- Supplement their informal reasoning with an ability to employ formal techniques.
- Communicate complex and abstract ideas clearly both orally and via written text.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the motivations and problems for a wide variety of positions in historical and contemporary philosophy.
Students of philosophy learn to understand and evaluate arguments and to think and write precisely and clearly. These analytical skills are assets in any career. Many of our majors have pursued graduate study in philosophy and have become philosophers in their own right. Others have pursued academic careers in related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Philosophy majors are well prepared for law, business, or other professional schools and have found careers in computer programming, government service, teaching, the ministry, and social work. This excellent short video discusses 5 Reasons to Major in Philosophy.
Undergraduate Philosophy Essay Contest
The philosophy department has established an annual essay contest for undergraduates. Submissions for are due at the end of April. Winners are recognized at our annual reception and award ceremony in June.
The undergraduate Philosophy Club meets weekly to discuss philosophical topics. The club's Web site is here.
U-POW, or undergraduate Philosophically Oriented /Opinionated Women, is a group that mentors undergraduate women in philosophy. Quarterly meetings are devoted to topics such as being one of the few females in the classroom, the climate of the discipline, and applying to graduate school. U-POW aims to address the fact that women are greatly underrepresented in Philosophy (see the statistics at the Society for Women in Philosophy webpage http://www.uh.edu/~cfreelan/SWIP/).
The Barrall Family Philosophy Scholarship is awarded to students who have at least junior standing, have declared a philosophy major, and have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.5 in the major and a UCD grade point average of 3.25 or more. The students should also have financial need as determined by the Undergraduate Scholarship Office and a history of community service or other activities that demonstrate an ongoing personal interest in bettering society and the world in general. The application form for 2014-15 is now available online at http://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/scholarships/Apply.html.