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Students in conversation on campus.

Philosophy

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.

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Degree Types
Major , Minor
Institution
Heart
Distinctive Requirements
Thesis
Document
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 - Special Topics in the History of Philosophy (Native American Philosophy)

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 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.

Emem Akpan

Alumni Spotlight Class of 2021: Emem Akpan

My Philosophy capstone [is] a race-based piece. As an African American, I believe it is imperative to start discussions surrounding race while considering historical context in order for all people to gain an understanding of certain narratives belonging to marginalized groups. In this thesis I emphasize the necessity to create space for these sorts of dialogues, incorporating philosophical concepts to support my thesis statement.

Elizabeth Tyler pic

Faculty Spotlight Elizabeth Tyler

Dr. Tyler specializes in East Asian philosophy and 20th century Continental philosophy with a special interest in feminist philosophy and philosophical psychology. My research focuses on relational models of the self. My recent research projects include: 1) how relational theories of the self and an investigation of historical discourses of femininity can shed light on the phenomenon of intimate partner violence, 2) how the first person experience of PTSD can be illuminated by employing concepts from Buddhist philosophy, and 3) how women's internalized perceptions of bodily weakness – at least when it comes to comparisons with men – affect women’s overall feelings of autonomy and competence.