Collection Selector

General Purpose of the Collection

The collection comprises works of prominent philosophers in the original language and in translation, critical monographs and secondary sources, and holdings of major periodicals. Philosophical literature collected includes speculative works by both living and dead philosophers, critiques and discussions of these works, works on philosophical systems, and biographical material on philosophers. Also emphasized are selective scholarly works that represent and document the development of Philosophy as a discipline. While studies of major philosophical movements and theories from all regions and periods of history are acquired, emphasis is on the movements most relevant to the University’s current programs. The Philosophy collection has traditional strengths in modern philosophy, German idealism, logic, and ancient philosophy. Currently, there are emphases on analytic philosophy and logic, ethics and political philosophy, history of philosophy, phenomenology and pragmatism, philosophy of religion, and philosophy and history of science.

The Philosophy Department of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate programs. At the undergraduate level, the department offers a BA program and a five-year BA/MA program. At the graduate level, it offers a post-BA doctoral program, a post-MA doctoral program, a program that concludes with the granting of an MA degree, an MA Concentration in the Philosophy of Science, an MA in Classics/PhD in Philosophy, and a JD/MA program (in conjunction with the Law School).

Undergraduate programs emphasize the Philosophy and History of Science; Philosophy of Law, Politics and Society; Philosophy in the Ancient World; and Philosophy of the Biomedical Sciences. Joint concentrations are offered between the Philosophy and the Classical Studies, Linguistics, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, and Religion Departments and the Neuroscience Program. Students in graduate programs study philosophy and philosophers from all periods and areas, but current emphasis is on modern and contemporary philosophy.

Faculty members from the department are involved in the the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy; the Center for Philosophy and History of Science; the Center for the Study of Asia; the Center for the Study of Europe; the Conference for the Study of Political Thought; the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies; the Institute for Philosophy and Religion; the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM) [Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna)]; and the Kilachand Honors College.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
The majority of material acquired is in the English language. However, considering the precision of the vocabulary used in philosophical discourse, and the level of scholarship at the graduate level, original texts in major European languages are acquired in addition to translations of significant works.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
American, British, German, and French philosophers produce the vast majority of works of interest to the Philosophy programs at this time. Asian philosophy is collected selectively.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
While works on Philosophy from all time periods and systems are acquired to insure development of a balanced collection, current emphasis is on the modern and contemporary periods.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
Emphasis is placed on current publications, but there are no restrictions regarding specific publication dates or periods. Reprints, new editions, and new translations of important works are obtained as necessary, or according to faculty requests.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The subject scope of this collection is primarily determined by the Library of Congress call number range B-BJ (Philosophy), excluding BF (Psychology).


  • B 1-68 : Philosophy (General)
  • B 69-789 : History and Systems of Philosophy
  • B 790-5739 : Modern Philosophy
  • BC : Logic
  • BJ : Ethics

Collected Selectively:

  • BD : Speculative Philosophy
  • BH : Aesthetics

Collected Very Selectively:

  • Z 7125-7130 : Philosophy Bibliography
  • Z 5069 : Aesthetics Bibliography
  • Z 5873 : Ethics Bibliography
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

All items in these categories are housed in or are available through Mugar Memorial Library.

Given the University’s interdepartmental and interdisciplinary work in Philosophy, the library’s Philosophy collection complements and supports many other parts of the collection.

Definite rules determining which selector will acquire all such titles are impossible to fix. Generally the selector representing the subfield of Philosophy acquires the title in question (e.g., a philosophy of education title is purchased by Education). If, however, the selector for that subject does not acquire the title, the Philosophy Selector may elect to do so.

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
Works on African philosophy and African systems of philosophy are collected by the African Studies Selector. Works by African authors on non-African philosophy are collected by the Philosophy Selector.
Art History
The Art History Selector may be consulted with regard to works on aesthetics.
The Philosophy Selector collects critiques and studies of classical philosophy.
Works on the history and philosophy of education are acquired by the Education Selector. Works on the educational aspects of philosophy and philosophy as an academic discipline are acquired by the Philosophy Selector.
General Science
Works on the history and philosophy of science are acquired by the General Science Selector. Works in subfields of science (biology, medicine, etc.) will be purchased by the selectors in those fields.
Materials relating to logic (P 39) are the responsibility of the Philosophy Selector.
Mathematics has occasional overlapping interests with Philosophy in the areas of philosophy of mathematics and mathematical logic.
Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
The Philosophy collection contains some writings that can be considered literature. Likewise, the Modern Languages and Comparative Literature collection supports Philosophy in the purchase of selected types of theory and theoretical writings by literary authors.
There may be consultation with the Music Selector on works by music aestheticians or on works about the aesthetics of music.
Political Science
Works dealing with the lives and works of individual philosophers working in political theory and falling within the B-BD and BH-BJ call number ranges are collected by the Philosophy Selector as appropriate.
Works by prominent philosophers on the subject of religion are collected by the Philosophy Selector.
Romance Studies
The Philosophy collection contains some writings in romance languages that can be considered literature. Likewise, the Romance Studies collection supports Philosophy in the purchase of selected types of theory and theoretical writings by literary authors.

Types of Materials

Monographs, periodicals, and reference works, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, directories, and research guides.
Collected Selectively
Dissertations and theses, conference proceedings, microforms, and electronic resources.
Not Collected
Textbooks, pamphlets, rare material, popular material, and audio-visual items.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

Materials on bioethics are housed at the Alumni Medical Library.

Materials on philosophy of law and legal ethics are housed at the Law Library.


Popular literature on philosophy, spirituality, and New Age movements is not collected.