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“Philosophy” means "love of wisdom." Philosophers seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, human nature, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other. Philosophy’s method of inquiry differs from science since it relies mainly on thought as opposed to observation and experiments. It consists in a critical inquiry of life’s most basic questions (for example, how do we know anything? What is real? What is a mind and how does it work?). And yet philosophers’ answers to these basic questions are relevant to both science and real-world problems. For example, philosophers consider what we mean when we say that we "know" something, and different answers have implications for scientific research, psychology, and education. Philosophers debate how to define morality, and their definitions have implications for ethical dilemmas that arise in public policy-making, medicine, business, and so on.
The Philosophy Department’s primary learning goals are: (1) familiarizing students with the metaphysical, epistemological, psychological and ethical issues which have engaged human beings for centuries by reading both classical and contemporary philosophical texts; and (2) providing students with the critical and analytical thinking skills that are necessary for assessing arguments and that will allow students to clearly articulate (either in oral or written form) arguments in defense of their own views. Acquisition of these skills will allow students not only to engage creatively with ongoing discussion of philosophical questions but also to evaluate the goodness of arguments from any discipline (the sciences, economics, public health, medical sciences, technology, and so on).