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Philosophy Department Mission

The Santa Clara University Department of Philosophy is committed to building a community of scholars (including students) dedicated to excellence in teaching, learning, and scholarship.

We especially, but not exclusively, value two aspects of an integrated education: i) developing in our students an increasingly sophisticated and reflective understanding of ethical discourse and ethical decisions; and ii) developing in our students an increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of the development, historical and systematic, of the philosophical contributions to western culture. We further seek to develop, especially in our majors, a commitment to pursue reflectively the most important questions of human existence, to reason soundly about them, and to make original contributions to the dialogue concerning them. We are also deeply committed to scholarly inquiry that is befitting a truly accomplished faculty.

The study of philosophy is integral to the cultivation of traits necessary for moral and social leadership, since in its investigation of the important questions of human existence it explicitly probes the values, attitudes, and factual assumptions that ground prudent decision-making. In probing human values the Department’s pedagogy and scholarship utilizes the rigorous inquiry, imagination, and reflective engagement with society for which the university stands.

Because of the University’s resources and location and because of the department’s fine faculty, we have the potential to become one of the country’s premier undergraduate philosophy departments. We aspire to fulfill that potential and to sustain a reputation that enhances the visibility of Santa Clara University.


Student Learning Goals

  1. Through all our courses, and especially through Critical Thinking and Writing sequences, students learn to think and write critically in a range of contexts.
  2. Through courses with significant ethical content, students learn to distinguish descriptive from normative inquiry, and to apply normative frameworks appropriately to moral problems.
  3. Through courses with significant historical content, students learn to engage in meaningful philosophical dialog with major figures, concepts and traditions in the history of philosophy.
  4. Through all our courses, and especially through upper-division courses, majors and minors gain increasing fluency in the practice of philosophical reflection and argument.


Student Learning Objectives

  1. Students demonstrate the critical thinking skills necessary to identify, formulate and evaluate arguments across diverse discursive contexts.
  2. Students can apply normative philosophical frameworks to the reasonable evaluation of moral problems.
  3. Students can identify major philosophical figures and articulate central concepts and themes in the history of philosophy.
  4. Philosophy majors and minors can formulate, justify and defend their own philosophical positions, both verbally and in writing, in increasingly sophisticated ways.