Philosophy Learning Outcomes

Stage 1: By the end of Intro

  • Have gained a rudimentary sense of the “grand narrative” of western philosophy.
  • Have an ability to reconstruct arguments to some (rudimentary) degree.  In order to do this, students will need to:
    • have some (working) understanding of the social/political context and the broader philosophical framework in which the arguments occur.
    • appreciate “what’s at stake” for a philosophical thinker or position: i.e., what is theoretically and practically motivating her/it and why it’s important
    • engage in argument analysis and evaluation: have the ability to unearth and critically engage background assumptions, identify and distinguish premises and conclusion (including in some cases hidden or implicit premises), distinguish validity from truth
    • engage in critical reflection
  • Learned how to read with philosophical sensitivity and with epistemic charity/humility
  • Grasped some philosophical content (e.g., Plato’s Theory of the Forms, Descartes’ Cogito, Hume’s skepticism about induction, Kant’s transcendental idealism, etc) and understand some key philosophical distinctions (rationalism/empiricism, realism/idealism, objective/subjective, a priori/a posteriori, etc)
  • Have the ability to listen, again with epistemic humility, to the views of one’s peers, and in doing so begin to form and be part of a respectful, tolerant community of inquirers

Stage 2: After having taken our 2 History of Philosophy (PHI-231, PHI-233) Core Classes

  • Have gained a more developed /sophisticated appreciation of the “grand narrative” of philosophy or the “long arc of the history of philosophy”.
  • Have more finely attuned and developed skills of critical reading, argument reconstruction, analysis and evaluation
  • Have a heightened sense of the importance of philosophy, and especially of the philosophy of the past (Ancient and Early Modern), for understanding past and current intellectual, political and personal positions, debates and problems.
  • Begin to work with secondary sources and start to develop research skills.
  • Be able to produce cogent, informative, effective oral presentations

Stage 3: By the end of their senior year

  • Have good breadth and depth in their historical understanding so that they will be able to study a philosophical problem/figure in some depth and with a good degree of critical rigor.  And by this we mean something like: produce a piece of work that is of standard that is a revision or two away from being publishable in a undergraduate journal or presentable to an undergraduate conference. To do this, they need to:
    • have the ability to understand and critically engage both primary and secondary literature on the figure/problem
    • be able to critically position themselves within this discursive space      
      • be able to construct a somewhat complex and sustained critical argument of their own
      • see interdisciplinary connections and disciplinary boundaries