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Philosophy BA

About The Program

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Philosophy, meaning “the love of wisdom,” is the systematic and critical study of fundamental questions arising both in everyday life and in the practice of other academic disciplines. It is the most ancient of the academic disciplines, with sources from around the world dating back thousands of years.

The philosophy major is designed to develop your ability to think clearly, carefully, constructively, and critically about a wide range of issues including questions about:

  • what is real (and what merely fictional or mythical): Does God exist? Am I just a material body, or am I also an immaterial soul? Are humans free and therefore responsible for what they do, or are they determined by forces beyond their control? Are race and/or gender socially constructed, or do they reflect biological realities?
  • values: What makes an action right, a person good, a painting beautiful, or a nation just? Are standards of value universal or culturally specific?
  • knowledge: What is the difference between knowing something and simply having an opinion or belief about it? Are there limits to what we can know, and do some of our questions foolishly violate these limits? Is all knowledge ultimately grounded in sensory experience or can some truths be known through reason alone?
  • philosophy itself: Is philosophical truth universal, or is it merely cultural and relative to time and place? Do the same laws of logic and reason apply everywhere or do they differ from one culture to the next? Is philosophy practiced in the same way across the world, or are there importantly different conceptions of philosophy and its methods?

Philosophical questions can be pursued out of simple curiosity (and the encounter with new ways of thinking can be exhilarating for its own sake), but the philosophy instructors at Metropolitan State are convinced that the main value of philosophy is to enable us to lead richer lives and to make the world a better place.


The study of philosophy helps a person to develop their abilities to:

  • Read texts carefully, closely, accurately, and sympathetically
  • Analyze positions and arguments fairly and critically
  • Uncover unstated and unexamined assumptions in arguments— – both one’s own and others’
  • Construct cogent and persuasive arguments for one’s position
  • Write and speak in a manner that is simple, natural, clear, and persuasive.
  • See an issue from more than one point of view and value dialogue with others.

These skills are useful in many fields —careers in law, computer science, business, medicine, criminal justice, the arts, publishing, and many more all value the skills developed by the study of philosophy. People with philosophy degrees can be found in nearly every line of work, and their analytic skills and mental flexibility often help them to excel.

A Case for Majoring in Philosophy

The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors are Changing the World of Business

Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major?

In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined

The Rise in Stock of Philosophy Graduates

Philosophers Find the Degree Pays Off in Life And in Work

Student outcomes

Students majoring in philosophy will be able to:

  • recognize, explain and critically assess
    • philosophical views developed by thinkers from several different historical periods and cultural backgrounds;
    • central questions (and prominent answers to those question) in several of the following sub-fields of philosophy: ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, social philosophy, political philosophy, feminist theory, and critical race theory;
  • write and speak in a clear, coherent, and well-reasoned way on philosophical topics;
  • recognize, explain, and question philosophical ideas and assumptions that show up in non-academic contexts: (work, play, art, entertainment, news, punditry life);
  • approach philosophical reading, writing, and conversation with an appropriate degree of Socratic humility (recognizing the limits of their own knowledge) and interpretive charity (a willingness to try to see the merits of the views of others).

How to enroll

Current students: Declare this program

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student and have met any further admission requirements your chosen program may have, you may declare a major or declare an optional minor.

Future students: Apply now

Apply to Metropolitan State: Start the journey toward your Philosophy BA now. Learn about the steps to enroll or, if you have questions about what Metropolitan State can offer you, request information, visit campus or chat with an admissions counselor.

Get started on your Philosophy BA

Courses and Requirements


With advisor approval, up to 4 credits may be in a related field, up to 18 credits can be lower division, and up to 18 credits can be transferred in from another college or university).

Students who find that the course requirements do not fit their needs and interests should consult with a philosophy department faculty member about the possibility of a self-designed program. Such a program would need the approval of the Department. We are unlikely to approve a plan that does not include some study of the history of philosophy and some attention to the philosophically- oriented study of race, gender and sexuality.

Requirements (120 total credits are required to graduate, 40 credits are required for this major)

+ Methods (4 credits)

Choose one:

Symbolic logic uses formal methods in order to study the properties of arguments in a precise and rigorous manner. In this course, we learn about both the propositional calculus, which deals with the logical relations that hold among whole propositions, and the predicate calculus, a system which allows more precise analysis of linguistic structure. The course will focus on both translation of natural languages into symbolic form, and proofs using natural deduction.

Full course description for Introduction to Symbolic Logic

This course will consider a number of questions about knowledge: What is the difference between knowing that something is true and just believing (or being of the opinion) that it is true? What sorts of methods or modes of inquiry can reliably produce knowledge? Are there various methods for acquiring knowledge or is there really only one method (perhaps something called "the scientific method.") Is science the only reliable 'way of knowing', or are their others (faith or intuition or personal experience or...)? Should we accept claims that non-Western cultures have distinctive 'ways of knowing'? What about the idea that there are (as a popular book title suggests) 'women's ways of knowing'? The course will treat these questions as practical questions: In the public sphere of politics and the marketplace, as well as in our personal lives, claims and counter-claims abound. Many people claim to know one thing or another, and many others claim to know that those very claims are…

Full course description for Principles of Inquiry: Ways of Knowing

+ Race, gender, and sexuality (8 credits)

Choose two:

This introductory course explores the most basic ideas about human sexuality and sexual identity: What does it mean to be a woman or a man? What does it mean to have a sexual identity? Is there such a thing as "normal" sex? How has sexuality been socially regulated in the past and how is it currently regulated? How can people evaluate such "regulations"? How do ideas about sexuality influence gender, ethnic, racial and other stereotypes? What sorts of ideas do people have about the nature of their bodies? Students develop basic philosophical skills in order to sort out these questions. Topics usually include: eroticism, desire, homophobia, sexual violence, pornography, prostitution, and sexual imagery in popular culture, love and romance.

Full course description for Philosophy and Sexuality

This course examines works produced by, and heavily influenced by, black philosophers, including historical and contemporary works by thinkers from Africa, the wider African Diaspora, the United States, and Europe. These works will draw our attention to the social construction of race and blackness, and we will dig into how and why black voices have been excluded, and continue to be excluded, from the traditional "western" philosophical and academic canon. Themes may include: philosophies of race and racism, identity, power and knowledge, colonialism, freedom and liberation, intersectionality, the disposability of black bodies, testimonial injustice, afro-pessimism, afro-futurism, and non-violence/whether or not violence can be justified.

Full course description for Philosophy and Blackness

How have feminist thinkers approached traditional questions about the nature of reality, personal identity and social institutions, and how do their answers influence their choices about how to act? By what standards can these choices be evaluated? Does it make sense to talk about feminism as a single school of thought? What is the relationship of feminist theory and philosophy to other women's movements? In this course students have the opportunity to connect discussions of feminist thought to personal and community issues. Topics may include sexism in traditional theory and philosophy; concepts of oppression; how sexism, racism, homophobia and class affect women's lives and thought; the evaluation of various feminist theories; and how intellectual and political connections between women are created and maintained.

Full course description for Feminism and Philosophy

This course studies the socio-cultural, political, and conceptual bases of contemporary identity formation in gay. lesbian, transgender and bisexual communities. Variable topics of study, focused primarily on the United States, examine the development of communal and political LGBT identity rooted in the philosophical, social, and political debates and challenges among and between LGBT people since 1945: the Homophile movement of the 1950's and 1960's, the Stonewall Riot of 1969 and Gay Liberation movements of the 1970's, lesbian feminism and the politicization of sexuality, the HIV crisis, LGBT civil rights and public policy, transgender politics, race and is relationship to sexuality, and cultural, literary, and filmic expressions of LGBT identity. Overlap: GNDR 365

Full course description for The Cultural Politics of GLBT Sexuality

What exactly is a race? How have conceptions of race changed over time? What does it mean to say that race is socially constructed? What is the relation between the idea of race, racial prejudice and racial oppression? What exactly is racism? What is the precise nature of the harm of racism? What can and should we do about racism -- its historical legacy and its contemporary manifestations? This course uses the tools and methods of philosophy to examine a variety of conceptual and ethical questions about race and racism.

Full course description for Race and Racism: Philosophical Problems

+ History of philosophy (12 credits)

Choose three:

This course examines the birth of European philosophy in ancient Greece. We will study the two Greek thinkers who are still regarded by many as the greatest of all philosophers - Plato and Aristotle - and may also examine the work of other thinkers who came before and after them. Topics include the nature of reality, the ways we might come to have knowledge, and the good life for human beings.

Full course description for Ancient Greek Philosophy

This course concentrates on the period of time in which what people call "the modern world view" was formed. With the dawn of modern science, the centuries old grip of Aristotle and the Church was broken and replaced by a fundamentally new philosophy that was responsive to the new science and assisted in its defense. We will study selected thinkers of the period from the 16th to the 19th centuries: Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, and others. The course also pays attention to the role of race, gender and colonialism in the thought of these philosophers.

Full course description for Early Modern European Philosophy

Recent developments in the philosophical understanding of knowledge and reality. Texts will include both analytic and continental approaches, as well as the work of members of previously marginalized groups. Topics may include developments in social epistemology, feminist work on the concept of identity, or the rise of interest in cognitive science and experimental philosophy.

Full course description for Contemporary Epistemology and Metaphysics

When we say something is morally right or wrong, are we simply expressing our personal feelings or are we saying something more? Who gets to decide (and how do they decide) what makes something morally right or wrong? Do moral issues have answers about which we can be certain? Does morality have well-regarded theories like the physical sciences do--theories which help ethicists and others to decide what is right or wrong? These and other questions will be addressed in this decidedly theory-focused course in moral philosophy.

Full course description for Contemporary Moral Theory

+ Students must take the Advanced Seminar in their final year and may take one earlier. (4 - 8 credits)

This course is intended to support students in doing advanced work in philosophy. Students will work together as a community of inquiry to study a particular author, genre, period or problem selected by the instructor. Texts and topics will be chosen to illustrate the variety of styles and strategies employed by philosophers of varying cultural backgrounds and to include the critiques and contributions of authors from marginalized communities/communities of color. Each student will complete a course paper or project using concepts and methods derived from this and other philosophy courses to explore a philosophical topic of personal interest connected to the seminar topic. Prerequisite: Open to philosophy majors near graduation and to others with appropriate preparation (non- majors need instructor's permission to register). Course may be repeated with instructor¿s permission when topics are significantly different.

Full course description for Advanced Seminar in Philosophy

+ Electives (to make up 40 credits)

Any of the courses in the categories above that are beyond the minimum requirement may also be used as electives for the Philosophy major, or choose from these electives.

Have you ever wondered how people from different cultures think about important life questions differently from one country or culture to the next? How do different cultures understand life's meaning? How do different cultures understand the nature of death? How do people in different cultures make sense of their place in the world? How do they see their moral responsibilities to one another? Through philosophical readings from a wide variety of cultures, this course explores these and other questions of inter-cultural philosophical significance. You will leave the course with a greater understanding of how people from a variety of cultures attempt to answer these important life questions.

Full course description for Multicultural Introduction to Philosophy

Does human life have a meaning? If so, where or how can it be found? How should one live? What kind of people should we want to be? How does the nature of one's community and one's position in it affect one's answers to these questions? Do only certain kinds of communities offer opportunities for a good life? This course uses movies and philosophical essays from classical and contemporary sources to discuss these and other matters concerning life's meaning.

Full course description for Philosophy, Film and the Meaning of Life

This course introduces students to persistent questions concerning what it means to be human. Is there such a thing as human nature? If so, what is it? How have different cultures and different periods of history understood the nature of human nature? What are the moral and social consequences of accepting various answers to these questions? The course examines how these issues have been addressed within European, American, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern philosophical traditions.

Full course description for Human Nature: Global Perspectives

What do people mean when they talk about God and spirituality? What is worship or prayer or meditation and how are these related to religion or faith or wisdom? What is the relationship between mystery and belief in God, and evidence and argument? How can one value and respect religious beliefs that differ in fundamental ways from one's own? What is the proper role of religion in government? What relationship does religion have to morality? How can God allow the innocent to suffer? This course examines these and other provocative questions with the aid and materials drawn from a variety of religions, practices, and perspectives.

Full course description for Philosophy, Spirituality, and Religious Diversity

This introductory course examines the two central concerns of practical philosophy: wisdom and justice. In contrast to theoretical philosophy which addresses the nature of reality and being, practical philosophy addresses the pursuit of wisdom and justice in personal, professional, and civic affairs. Students will have the opportunity to examine their own lives and goals from a variety of viewpoints in consideration of practical understanding and avenues for action in relation to local communities and regional or national concerns. Particular topics will include personal ethics, civic duties, relations between law and morality, racial and social justice, professional ethics, environmental ethics, practical reason, and philosophical counseling.

Full course description for Introduction to Practical Philosophy

What does it mean to be an ethical person? What thinking should guide a person's decisions about doing (or not doing) what is right or wrong? Can we know when something is right or wrong or this only a matter of personal feeling? Do the affluent have moral duties to help the poor of the world with their plight? This course explores these questions and others like them, using a variety of philosophical materials and approaches. It examines major moral theories and related moral dilemmas concerning, for example abortion, economic justice, war and morality, and the moral status of animals. This course also examines ideas about how race, class and gender may affect concepts of ethics.

Full course description for Ethical Inquiry

The specific topic of this course changes from semester to semester. Each time the course is offered, it considers a topic of current social importance and employs important work in social and moral philosophy to understand them. Topics have included reparations and responses to historical injustices; toleration of religious and other differences; immigration and the question of who should get in and why. Future topics may involve the legitimacy of torture; justice in the distribution of health care; markets and morals; same-sex marriage; the role, nature, and justifiability of patriotism; etc.

Full course description for Philosophy Now:

An examination of religious experience from a philosophical perspective. Questions such as: What must a belief or experience be like to count as religious? Should we expect religious beliefs to be supported by evidence or reasons or does faith operate in a different way? Are there good arguments for (or against) the existence of God? Of miracles? Of the immortality of the soul? Do religious accounts of events (of the creation of the world, for example) compete with scientific explanations? Or do they have a different function and a different kind of grounding? What relationship does religion have to morality? To politics?

Full course description for Faith and Reason: The Philosophy of Religion

In this course we use various philosophical approaches to explore the relations among persons, non-human animals and the worlds they inhabit separately and together. We will look closely at the grounds for claiming that we have obligations and duties in relation to non-human animals and the environment, as well as the ways in which these relations provide inspiration, companionship, solace and love. Topics may include: environmental justice and the disposal of electronic waste; animals and factory farming; the real cost of cheap consumer goods; the historical evolution of the concept of environment protection, of a land ethic, and of the development of natural parks; human stewardship; the possibility that natural creatures have a value that is independent of human benefit and whether it makes sense to grant them legal standing; global climate change; the connections between feminism and environmental ethics; the population time bomb and current responses; green politics; the role…

Full course description for Environmental Philosophy

Evidence suggests that engaging in philosophical discussion enhances children's reasoning and critical skills. This course introduces strategies for encouraging elementary school children to think about their world in a serious and careful way, using stories, children's literature and children's everyday experiences, as well as materials developed at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. The course is designed for teachers wishing to integrate philosophical questions into their classes and parents who wish to play a more active role in the cognitive development of their children. Education students are encouraged to consider this training.

Full course description for Philosophy for Children

Does the fact that some in the world have more than they need in order to live and others have too little to survive show that the world is unjust? Do people in affluent countries have a moral obligation to help those in impoverished countries? Should material well-being be more equally distributed in a just world? Should people who contribute more get more? Do smart people, beautiful people, and hard-working people deserve to get more than those who are less so? Should the world's bounty be seen as belonging to all equally? These and other questions regarding the controversial issue of economic justice will be addressed through a variety of philosophical materials.

Full course description for Economic Justice: Who Gets What and Why?

Student-designed independent studies give Metropolitan State students the opportunity to plan their own study. This type of independent learning strategy can be useful because it allows students: to study a subject in more depth, at a more advanced level; to pursue a unique project that requires specialized study; to draw together several knowledge areas or interests into a specialized study; to test independent learning capabilities and skills; or to use special learning resources in the community, taking advantage of community education opportunities which, in themselves, would not yield a full college competence. Students should contact their academic advisor for more information.

Full course description for Philosophy Student Designed Independent Studies

+ Applied Ethics

Philosophy majors should include no more than one of the following applied ethics classes in their program:

Do business firms have obligations besides making as much money as possible for their stockholders? What are their responsibilities, if any, to their employees, their customers, and the wider community? Is it enough to obey the law, or does the law sometimes allow people to do things that are wrong? Do employees have any right to privacy on the job? To 'living wages'? To 'decent' working conditions? Does a seller have any obligation to look out for the interests of the buyer? Isn't it necessary to put the best possible 'spin' on your product and let the buyer look out for him or herself? This course will examine questions like these in light of various theories of ethics and current theories of justice. In addition to considering how we might ideally like people to act, it will also consider the challenges to personal integrity and 'doing the right thing' posed by the real world of business and by the kind of large bureaucratic organizations that dominate it.

Full course description for Business Ethics

Is it ever right to try to hasten a patient's death? Should people ever be given medical treatment against their will? How should we decide who will get access to scarce medical resources (like organ transplants)? Do people have a right to get the care they need, even if they can't pay for it? This course will use ethical theories and theories of justice to explore these questions and others like them. It is intended to be helpful not only to (present or future) health care practitioners, but also to anyone who wants to think about these issues, which confront us in our roles as patients and as citizens whose voices can contribute to the shaping of health care policies.

Full course description for Medical Ethics

This course explores a range of moral issues raised by the introduction of new technologies for the production, distribution and use of information -- issues about privacy, surveillance and data-mining, freedom of speech, copyright, computer crime and abuse, justice in access to information, the political and social significance of the Internet, and so on. The course is intended to be helpful not only to information technology professionals, who will encounter some of these issues in connection with their work, but also to anyone who has an interest in the way information technology is changing our lives. Students will study moral theory, professional codes of ethics and a variety of case studies.

Full course description for Ethics in the Information Age