Department of Philosophy



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Because Philosophy is such a wide-ranging and conceptual discipline, it is an ideal candidate for pairing with another subject of study.  Philosophy concentrators might therefore entertain a wide variety of possible minors, in humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  Students can then take advantage of Philosophy’s ‘meta’ approach to a variety of areas of study, where the foundations for knowledge, the theory behind the practice, the norms of conduct, arguments or ideas that underpin a subject, might all be investigated.  Below is an example, with suggestions for how to make the combination more than the sum of its parts.

The Politics-Philosophy-Economics program is one already-organized formal program, but you can also build combinations by selecting courses that connect two areas. For example:


Combining a Major in Philosophy with a Computing Arts Minor

Are you interested in a degree that focuses on issues at the intersection of philosophy and computing?  Why not try combining a Major in Philosophy with a Computing Arts Minor?


What is consciousness?  Do we have free will? How does perception provide knowledge?  What is information?  Questions such as these have both philosophical and computational aspects, so it is vital to combine knowledge of both disciplines. Issues at the intersection of computing and philosophy are also of pressing practical relevance.  For example, with what ethical norms should self-driving cars be programmed, and who is responsible when a self-driving car is involved in an accident?  Recent advances in artificial intelligence raise the possibility of robots that are far superior to humans in strength, agility, speed, and (perhaps soon) cognition.  What risks do such machines pose? What moral strictures, if any, should govern artificial intelligence research?

The combination of the Philosophy Major and the Computing Arts Minor will allow a student to focus on these sorts of issues and more.

Here is a suggested way to combine the Philosophy Major and Computing Arts Minor:

I. Complete a Major in Philosophy (60 units), as per the degree plan in the FAS academic Calendar:

In completing Options B and C, you should consider taking at least 12.0 units from the following: PHIL 261 Philosophy of Mathematics, PHIL 270 Minds and Machines, PHIL 311 Philosophy of Psychology, PHIL 335 Introduction to Kant, PHIL 351 Philosophy of Mind, PHIL 352 Metaphysics, PHIL 359 Philosophy of Language, PHIL 362 Further Studies in Logic, PHIL 381 Philosophy of the Natural Sciences.

II. Meanwhile, complete the Arts Minor in Computing (33 units), as per the degree plan in the FAS academic Calendar:

In completing Options A and B, it is recommended that you take COGS 100 Introduction to Cognitive Science, COGS 201 Cognition and Computation, and CISC 452 Neural and Genetic Computing.

Students interested in the philosophy of cognition should also take note of the following courses, which may be taken, with permission, as electives: COGS 300 Programming Cognitive Models, CISC 352 Artificial Intelligence, CISC 453 Topics in Artificial Intelligence, and CISC 497 Social, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Computing.