Department of Philosophy
Phone: (607) 436-2456
Many students take their first philosophy class as a matter of curiosity or personal interest. But one class has a way of turning into two, then three, then four, and so on.
If you find yourself turning again and again to the Philosophy section of the Schedule of Classes, we encourage you to consider a structured program of study. A minor is possible with a few as six classes. A major can be had with no more than nine or ten. For students with interdisciplinary interests, Philosophy provides an exciting range of options for dual majors. It is a particularly good choice for those contemplating Law School.
As discussed in the section titled "Why Philosophy?", philosophical study is traditionally divided into four areas: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and value clarification. To provide foundation, majors are required to take at least one course from each area. In all cases, several choices are provided. (We gain little from strong-arming a student into a course they would rather not take.) To add depth and dimension, the student must complete five additional courses chosen in consultation with their faculty advisor (reduced to four for dual majors). Finally, as a capstone experience, each major completes an independent study which culminates in a senior thesis (generally 30-40 pages).
For many students, it is that final requirement -- the senior thesis -- which causes most concern. Their concern is natural but typically unfounded. By the time they reach their senior year, it is a task for which they are well prepared. Many regard it as the high point of their entire educational experience.
For further information, select a link to move directly to that section of the document -- or stop by the department office to discuss any specific concerns or questions you may have.
Requirements for a major in Philosophy, outlined in the preceding section, are presented in detail below. The following statement from the American Philosophical Association addresses issues of importance, benefit, and -- if somewhat obliquely -- even economic value.
The disciplinary structure of a modern college reflects an on-going human attempt to make sense of an increasingly complex and perplexing world. It is a structure which helps focus inquiry and thus makes possible a series of discoveries which might otherwise remain beyond our grasp. But by focusing inquiry, the structure also limits it. Many of the most important questions, issues, and human concerns are simply too large to be circumscribed by a single field.
Because it encourages broad-based understanding and creative problem solving, and because it enjoys historically close relationships with most other academic disciplines, Philosophy provides an excellent foundation for students who find traditional structures and expectations a bit too limiting.
Students interested in human values and expression often combine Philosophy with Art, Literature, Music, or Theatre. Those interested in human thought and cognition may combine Philosophy and Psychology. Students whose concerns have a more social or cultural focus are usually attracted to combinations like Philosophy and Anthropology, Philosophy and Political Science, or Philosophy and Sociology. And, naturally, those who are attracted to the natural sciences find important and interesting ways to combine Philosophy with Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, etc.
Obviously, the requirements for a dual major vary greatly according to the fields which one chooses to combine. Interested students should come by the department office as early as possible to ensure adequate advisement. The basic Philosophy portion of the requirement is presented below, but flexibility is possible according to individual needs and circumstances.
A minor is a good choice for any student who has a genuine interest in Philosophy but who simply does not have the time or inclination to follow the more rigorous program of studies required for the major. It is especially appealing to students interested in fundamental human concerns as well as those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of methodological issues in their own discipline.
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A sizeable number of the Philosophy majors - perhaps as many as one-third - are preparing for law school. Because it teaches students about the history of ideas, cultivates moral sensitivity, and encourages development of critical reasoning, expression, and analysis, Philosophy is a good choice. In fact, Philosophy majors characteristically earn some of the highest scores in the nation on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test).
The Oneonta Pre-Law Society brings together these students with their colleagues in political science, history, business economics, and related disciplines. The society sponsors speakers, panels, films, and other law-related activities.
Internships can be arranged with local law firms as well as ones in major metropolitan areas. Government offices in Albany have proved very receptive to students who prefer an internship with a civic or political focus.
Oneonta graduates are accepted into some of the country's top schools. In recent years, for instance, Oneonta alumni have studied successfully at Tulane, Cornell, Harvard, Boston, the University of Virginia, Rutgers, St. John's, Pepperdine University, and many others. Their success is solid proof that Oneonta is a good place to start.
Interested students are encouraged to stop by the department office to discuss program options with Professor Koch.
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