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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Philosophy Major Learning Outcomes

Students wishing to discuss the Philosophy major should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Michael Rieppel.

Philosophy majors at Syracuse University will learn how to:

[General skills]

  1. Distill the central argument of a text to its essentials, making clear its basic argumentative structure. Interpret charitably in order to understand a view in its most cogent form before subjecting it to criticism.
  2. Explain and defend a philosophical thesis in writing that is clear, concise, informed and well-organized. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of rival arguments and theories to reach an overall assessment of the comparative merits of different views.
  3. Orally present their own arguments and engage in constructive debate.
  4. Conduct independent research on a philosophical topic by finding, assessing, and employing relevant literature, culminating in a written argumentative work.

[Skills relating to specific Major requirements]

  1. Represent arguments using a formal logical framework and determine their validity by deductive methods. [Logic requirement]
  2. Apply contextualist and analytic methods to interpret historically significant answers to the following kinds of questions: What am I? How should I live? What is justice? What is knowledge? What is real? Does God exist? Am I free? [History requirement]
  3. Understand the impact of the history of philosophy on current views of human nature, well-being and morality, justice, knowledge, reality, and freedom. Boldly and effectively question traditional answers to enduring questions. [History requirement]
  4. Explain the content of some contemporary philosophical answers to questions in value theory. Relevant questions include, but are not limited to: How should I treat others? What is justice? What is equality? What is it to be morally responsible? What is beauty? [Value theory requirement]
  5. Apply the critical tools of philosophical analysis, both orally and in writing, to boldly and effectively question prevailing social norms, hierarchies of power, or other traditional or current assumptions and theories about value. [Value theory requirement]
  6. Explain the content of some contemporary philosophical answers to questions in LEMM (Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Philosophy of Mind). Relevant questions include, but are not limited to: How is it that we are able to communicate and coordinate with each other using language? What is it to know or have justified beliefs about the world around us, rather than baseless or false opinions? What exists and what is the fundamental nature of reality? What are conscious minds and how do they relate to the physical bodies that sustain them? [LEMM requirement]
  7. Apply the critical tools of philosophical analysis, both orally and in writing, to boldly and effectively criticize prevailing answers to, and common assumptions regarding, the world and our relation to it. [LEMM requirement]