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Students in conversation on campus.


Headphones on. Eyes closed. Thinking about the big questions: What is reality? What does it mean to be human? How should we treat each other? What are knowledge, justice, and love? If this describes you and the loop that keeps playing in your head, then you’ll be among friends as a McDaniel Philosophy major.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Distinctive Requirements
Post Graduate Opportunities
Dr. Tyler's Asian Philosophy Class Field Trip to Kadampa Meditation Center in Baltimore.

Dr. Tyler's Asian Philosophy Class Field Trip to Kadampa Meditation Center in Baltimore.

Philosophy has been called the queen of sciences because it deals with basic questions concerning our world and ourselves, the underlying ideas upon which the more specialized disciplines are based. Because its methodology is one of rigorous and critical thinking, students find it a valuable preparation for such fields as law, medicine, business, literature, history, and religion, to mention a few. Courses are offered in both the historical and contemporary perspectives, with many of them being issue-oriented.

Critical inquiry, intellectual courage, and compassionate understanding are values fostered in a philosophical study. These key values enable us to link our past and present cultural paradigms with the future demands of a global society. The aim of the Philosophy Department at McDaniel College is to assist you in the cultivation of clear thought and speech, sophisticated inquiry, and comprehension of intellectual concepts and creative and meaningful explorations of ourselves and the world around us.

Future Career Paths

The undergraduate Philosophy program prepares students for a variety of careers. Our graduates are now working in public schools and institutions of higher education but also in business, medicine, law, psychology and social work. Many of our alumni graduated with a philosophy major for career purposes but also for personal enrichment and to help ease suffering and promote freedom, justice, equality, and compassion.

The majority of our graduates pursue non-academic careers in a wide array of specializations, like:

  • Business
  • Public service
  • K-12 education
  • Counseling

Many philosophy majors earn advanced degrees and find careers in:

  • Medicine
  • Law
  • Environmental studies
  • Education
  • Philosophy
Philosophy Students

2022 Philosophy major graduates Erick Lowe, Brenna Lindsay, and Olivia Jefferson at their Philosophy Senior Capstone presentations of their original research projects.

Distinctive Courses

Philosophical studies are generally divided into two groups: the historical and the issues oriented. Courses in the history of philosophy cover topics from early Greek thought to contemporary philosophy and are closely related to other fields of study such as the sciences, literature, political thought, the arts, language, and economics. Issues-oriented courses deal with the nature of knowledge and truth, the meaning of justice, and ethical values of our time such as war, sex, honesty in government and business, the determination of freedom, the relationship between mind and body, the most desirable society, and gender relations.

The Department offers classes in Continental, Anglo-American, and Asian philosophy, which allow students to explore various ways of living, thinking, expression, and self-development. Students may plan their programs for general liberal education, for graduate study, or for special objectives in related fields.

PHI 1102 - Critical Thinking

Critical thinking empowers students to recognize fallacious reasoning, manipulative rhetoric, and other dubious defenses of faulty beliefs. It encourages students to explore various methods of justification, explanation and argumentation in order to understand why we believe what we believe. In this course, we consider reasoning – how we seek to influence other people’s beliefs, and how our beliefs are influenced by others. We search for a good basis upon which to change our beliefs.

PHI 1103 - Philosophy & Black Lives Matter

In this course we will treat the assertion that Black Lives Matter is a rejection of the devaluation of Black life. In so doing, we will conduct philosophical investigations into the ways in which Black lives have been devalued in America. Throughout the semester, we will also consider the vast perspectives on iterations such as all lives matter, protests as a form of resistance, and the use of violence by the police state.

PHI 2224 - Plato's Search for Knowledge

This course attempts to understand the dialogues of Plato, with their ironic protagonist Socrates, by locating them in the cultural, political and intellectual context of late fifth and early fourth century BCE Greece. Plato was engaged in a struggle to establish philosophy as a superior form of knowledge based on reason and dialectic. He tried to demonstrate that the sources and methods on which others based their knowledge—poetry, politics, religion and rhetoric—were unreliable and dangerous. We will read the dialogues of Plato against other culturally important materials: the epics of Homer, the rhetoric of the sophists, the political thought of Thucydides, Athenian tragedy. And we will measure the success of Plato’s efforts by asking to what extent one can ever hope to transcend one’s cultural context and attain knowledge that is secure, objective, “absolute”—a question as relevant in our own turbulent times as it was in Plato’s.

PHI 3231 - The Search for Self

How do philosophical concepts of identity impact theories and research methods in psychology? How can mental illness be understood as a response to a complex situation? How are philosophical perspectives on human freedom relevant to psychotherapy? We will delve into these questions through a study of the Existentialist movement in 19th and 20th century European philosophy. Selected philosophers include Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, etc. In the second half of the semester, we will examine how these philosophical theories shaped psychological schools and therapeutic practices. Special attention will be devoted to Existential Phenomenological Psychology, Existential Therapy, and Qualitative Research Methods.

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Max Sweeney

Meet a Green Terror Class of 2024: Max Sweeney

Politics and poetry are two of Max Sweeney’s passions, and they found every opportunity to find a like-minded community on the Hill. Max studied abroad with a Jan Term in Greece, the birthplace of democracy; joined the Maryland Student Legislature; founded the Poetry Club; and invented new kinds of events for their fellow students through Green Terror Programs.

"The opportunities that McDaniel has given me have shown me that I am capable of doing the things I love."

Reuben Hubbard Class of 2023

Senior Spotlight Class of 2023: Reuben Hubbard Get to Know a Green Terror

Reuben Hubbard is a Philosophy major with a deep appreciation for art. His capstone, “Hands: an Aesthetic of Wittgensteinian Wonder,” combines his art and philosophy knowledge — plus a more than 30-foot scroll of hands drawn by Reuben. "[Professor Vera Jakoby] encouraged me on my path to developing my personal philosophy, reassuring me that it was normal and even good for the framework I had been using to fall out from under me; that’s what philosophy is all about. She was also an incredible instructor: compassionate, thoughtful, well-read, brilliant, and flexible."