The Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy is committed to the principle that the study of philosophy is a cornerstone of a liberal arts education, an education that enriches and empowers students by introducing them to rigorous analysis of their ways of thinking and acting. We take philosophy, broadly construed, to be the process of investigating and questioning human beings’ place in nature and history as well as their responsibilities to one another and to themselves, based upon the most complete, presently available understanding of science, culture, art, and religion.

What distinguishes a philosophical mind is a habit of weighing the coherence, completeness, and trenchancy of various beliefs, arguments, and theories, and of doing so self-consciously within the historical context that marks our finite, human condition. The cultivation of these habits of mind enhances students’ abilities to learn across the curriculum, to contribute to the advancement of institutions, from arts and sciences to governments and global relations, and—not least—to grapple with the challenges and wonder of their own lives.

For all these reasons, the overriding aim of the department of philosophy’s program is to help students develop these philosophical habits. Reflecting its history and the present makeup of its members, the department is in the advantageous position of being able to pursue this aim through six main areas of research: analytic philosophy and logic, ethics and political philosophy, history of philosophy, phenomenology and pragmatism, philosophy of religion, and philosophy and history of science.

The Department’s philosophical life is significantly enriched by its close association with Boston University’s Center for Philosophy and History of Science (and its Colloquium); the Institute for Philosophy and Religion (and its Colloquium); and the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Vienna). Information about all three, as well as about other departmental colloquia, will be found in these pages.

The Philosophy Department offers programs leading to the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees, as well as a Ph.D. Philosophy/M.A. Classics degree. In addition, it offers a B.A./M.A. program, as well as (in conjunction with the Law School) a J.D./M.A. degree program. For further details on the J.D./M.A. program, please contact Dr. Hugh Baxter (Philosophy and the Law School) or Dr. David Lyons (Philosophy and the Law School). For further information on the Ph.D. Philosophy/M.A. Classics program, please contact Dr. David Roochnik (Philosophy) or Dr. Jeffrey Henderson (Classical Studies). In addition the department offers a concentration in the Philosophy of Science in its Master of Arts degree; please contact Dr. Alisa Bokulich for further details.