Objectives of Gen Ed Courses
February 9, 1996
Revised May 16, 2011
- offer effective introductions to the discipline of philosophy, including the philosophical study of ethics;
- enhance students’ ability to enter imaginatively into rival viewpoints and diverse perspectives; and
- strengthen students’ development as responsible citizens of society.
1. Understand what philosophy is, how it differs from other academic disciplines, and what its primary areas of inquiry are.
2. Understand and construct arguments. Philosophy provides training in the construction of good argumentation (reasoning from premises to a conclusion). Students learn to articulate and defend their own views, to understand and appreciate competing views, and to indicate clearly and forcefully why their views are preferable to alternatives. They hone basic skills of reasoning – the ability to draw valid inferences and to recognize invalid ones, to identify and evaluate their own and others’ background assumptions, and to grasp the implications and practical conclusions that follow from a claim or viewpoint being considered. Fair-minded and careful argumentation can lead to valuable insight into the respective strengths and weaknesses of alternative, even opposing views, and sometimes to the discovery of common ground between them.
3. Describe and analyze complex problems. The study of philosophy develops and sharpens students’ problem-solving skills. Students learn to state problems clearly and precisely, break complex problems into manageable parts, formulate helpful questions, and assess the relevance of data or information to a case at hand. Students develop the ability to analyze how presuppositions, interpretive approaches, and conceptual or theoretical assumptions are shaping the problem-solving process, and to capture and explain the virtues of alternative approaches. Students are also encouraged to pursue open-minded and disciplined inquiry into difficult fundamental questions that admit of no ready answers or clear-cut solutions.
4. Read, write and speak effectively. In studying philosophy, students develop the capacity to interpret, analyze, and understand challenging texts. They learn to formulate clear definitions, to work effectively with concepts, and to organize their ideas logically. Dialogue is central to the advancement of philosophical reasoning and reflection; thus, the ability to communicate effectively with others is crucial. In thinking philosophically, students develop their capacity to express their ideas, insights and questions, and to listen openly to others, seeking to understand perspectives different from their own. They learn to craft examples and draw analogies that can help illuminate general, abstract claims.
5. Engage critically and constructively with moral problems and decisions. Studying ethical problems philosophically provides essential clarity and insight into how they might be resolved. The tools of philosophy help students develop and articulate their own ethical views and the reasons supporting those views. By considering objections to their arguments and by listening to classmates who hold different ethical positions, students learn to identify points of agreement and disagreement and to engage in constructive dialogue about complicated moral issues.
6. Apply philosophical analysis, argumentation, and critical reflection to the study of other disciplines. In studying philosophy, students are exposed to philosophical examinations of other disciplines through philosophy of science, philosophy of law, political philosophy, bioethics and global health, philosophy of history, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and other interdisciplinary subfields of philosophy.
- Professor Henry Richardson elected to lead HDCA
- Professor Nancy Sherman participates in Religion & Ethics Newsweekly's Discussion
- Professor Henninger's translation of Amerini's "Aquinas" Released
- Professor Nancy Sherman Receives 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship
- Georgetown Graduate Matthew Rellihan Receives Tenure at Seattle University
- Mar 21, All day: Graduate Admissions Open House
- Mar 28, 3pm-5pm: Lecture Series: Mary Domski
- Apr 25, All day: Symposium: Toward a Constructive Ethical Pragmatism