In the spirit of the Socratic dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living, philosophy involves a critical exploration of all facets of human existence. Questions considered include: How should one live? Is everything relative? Can religious beliefs be rational? Is retribution ever justified? What is knowledge? What makes a society just?
While everyone wonders, at least occasionally, about questions like these, answering them rationally requires critical and creative thinking, and requires skills such as uncov¬ering hidden assumptions, identifying core premises, and evaluating arguments. The Philosophy program at Queen's seeks to foster these and related skills, as well as an understanding of important ideas and thinkers in the discipline.
It does so in several areas. In Ethics and Political Philosophy, the focus is on the rationale for our moral and political commitments. In Epistemology, questions are asked about the nature and limits of human knowledge. Logic investigates the conditions under which the reasons we give for beliefs and decisions are good reasons. Metaphysics concerns the existence of free will, the nature of the person, and the relationship between the mind and the brain. More specialized courses raise questions about art, science, language, religion, the environment, feminism, law, medicine and business. Courses in the History of Philosophy examine philosophical views as they evolve.
First-year offerings include a variety of introductions to the discipline, including Fundamental Questions, Introductory Philosophy of Science, Moral Issues, and Critical Thinking.
Because philosophy is so wide-ranging a discipline and because of its special emphasis on the importance of critical thinking, the taking of at least one course (or half-course) in philosophy is a valuable part of any degree program. A (Major or Medial) concentration in philosophy provides one of the best preparations for law, medicine, business and public administration. Philosophy involves reading closely and carefully, writing cogent arguments, and speaking articulately: all are skills that are useful in life and work.
No specific high school course is required to pursue a concentration in Philosophy
Go to Choose Your First Year Courses for more information.
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