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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
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements

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 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

Distinctive Courses

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 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 2266 - Special Topics in the History of Philosophy (Native American Philosophy)

The study of a selected Philosopher or movement in the history of philosophy. Different topics are chosen for each offering, based on students’ interests and needs.

PHI 2232 - The Power of Pretty

Throughout the history of western philosophy, femininity has been defined in bodily terms, and closely connected to the ideal of beauty. A woman’s worth has been tied to her physical appearance. The female body has long dominated thinking about women and thus exhibits power over the way that women see themselves; however, there are many counter-examples from the past and today of women who use their beauty and sexuality as expressions of power. This course will explore the way that women have contested or embraced concepts of feminine beauty. Guiding questions include: What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to have a female body? How do women ‘perform’ beauty? Is this performance a form of self-expression or is it intended for the masculine gaze?

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.

Vera Jakoby

Professor Spotlight Vera Jakoby Associate Professor

Professor Jakoby’s research interests are rooted in the intersection between the philosophy of religion, culture studies, and philosophy.