DeChirico
The Delights of the Poet, Giorgio de Chirico

Why Study Philosophy?

What can I do with a major (or minor) in Philosophy?

The short answer is: anything!

The study of philosophy provides students with valuable skills that prepare them for an array of careers, including those in medicine, law, politics, international relations, business, public relations, education, and public policy.Studying philosophy prepares students for many different kinds of careers because it focuses on the foundations of learning and fosters many different kinds of transferable skills.

GENERAL PROBLEM-SOLVING

The study of philosophy enhances your ability to evaluate and resolve problems. It will help you to analyze concepts, definitions, arguments, and problems. It contributes to your capacity to organize ideas and issues, to deal with questions of value, and to extract what is essential from masses of information. It helps you both to distinguish fine differences between views and to discover common ground between opposing positions. And it can help you to synthesize a variety of views or perspectives into a coherent understanding.

RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS METHODS

Through reading, writing, and dialogue, philosophy teaches students how to analyze and interpret texts, concepts, and the reasoning of others.  You’ll learn how to frame hypotheses and put problems into manageable form. Philosophical thinking emphasizes clear formulation of ideas and problems, selection of pertinent information, and the organization and communication of complex ideas. It also emphasizes development of a sense of the new directions suggested by the hypotheses and questions you might encounter in doing research.  

PERSUASION

Philosophy teaches students how to develop and support their own positions, interpretations, and analyses. It provides training in the construction of clear formulations, good arguments, and apt examples.  You’ll also learn how to grapple charitably with multiple perspectives. Because you’ll learn to build and defend your own positions, to appreciate competing positions, and to indicate forcefully why you consider one view preferable to alternatives, you’ll also become more convincing.

WRITING SKILLS AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Writing is taught intensively in most philosophy courses, and many regularly-assigned philosophical texts are unexcelled as literary essays. Philosophy teaches interpretive writing through its examination of challenging texts, comparative writing through emphasis on fairness to alternative positions, argumentative writing through developing students’ ability to establish their own views, and descriptive writing through detailed portrayal of concrete examples.  Philosophy writing emphasizes clear structure, good arguments, and original ideas.  Students learn to be both critical and creative thinkers. 

UNDERSTANDING OTHER DISCIPLINES

Many important questions about a discipline, such as the nature of its concepts and its relation to other disciplines, are philosophical in nature. Philosophy of science, for instance, supplements the understanding of the natural and social sciences that one derives from scientific work itself. Philosophy of literature and philosophy of history similarly aid in understanding the humanities, and philosophy of art is important in understanding the arts. Philosophy is, moreover, essential in assessing the various standards of evidence used by other disciplines. Since all fields of knowledge employ reasoning and set standards of evidence, logic and epistemology have a general bearing on all these fields.