Philosophy - BA
Curiosity matters! Philosophers and those who are philosophically minded have long asked key questions, evaluated possibilities and arrived at those answers that have shaped and reshaped who we are, how we do things, and how we understand the world in which we live. The study of philosophy is not the study of antiquated views. It is not the study and use of a single method. The study of philosophy transforms intellectual curiosity into a potent, flexible set of skills by inculcating the ability to identify unstated assumptions, to take a critical attitude towards the information that others accept, and to evaluate and articulate the reasons that compel us to do and believe things. Philosophy is what college is all about: delving deeply into subjects that matter to you, while cultivating skills that will carry you the rest of your life.
Educational economists, such as G. Duncan, remind us that jobs that pay well are increasingly requiring employees to be able to solve unexpected problems as team members. In a world that is typified by unpredictable and complex professions, professionals who can cross intellectual boundaries and make connections between previously discrete domains of knowledge are primed to resolve unexpected problems; they are primed to succeed. While there is no single path to success, there is a set of skills that can help solve unexpected problems. Creativity researchers have identified two key factors: breadth of learning and an aptitude for broad conceptual thinking. You cannot combine what you don’t know and you cannot combine if you have not cultivated an ability to move freely among conceptual categories. Philosophy is among the best intellectual activities for cultivating creative, critical thinking. Indeed, philosophy students typically score among the top in entrance exams for graduate school (GRE), and professional schools for law (LSAT) and business (GMAT) within national rankings.
The Department of Philosophy supports breadth of learning and broad conceptual thinking while offering a degree program with maximum flexibility. At its core are a limited number of requirements including three courses in the history of philosophy. These courses enable students to step outside of their own world-view and learn how to understand and critique unfamiliar perspectives. Students also take a course in formal logic in fulfillment of one of their core math requirements. Formal logic requires that students use one of the highest forms of reasoning in the taxonomy of learning: creative thinking. There is no algorithm for constructing a formal proof. Students who study formal logic learn a system, and use that system to create their own proofs.
In addition to history and logic, students are free to select among a range of courses that allow them to better understand the limits of knowledge, the limits of scientific thinking, the theories behind our legal and political system, the foundations of ethics, and more. In addition to traditional course work, high-achieving students in philosophy can undertake a sustained research project in the form of an honor’s thesis, serve as Editor for our undergraduate journal, or complete internships either within the department or in other professional settings.
Students pursuing the BA in Philosophy have the option of pursuing early admission to Texas A&M's School of Law. Under this plan, students can complete both degrees in 6. Participation requires formal application to and admission by the School of Law during year 3. Admission is fully at the discretion of the School of Law. Careful planning is key, so interested students should work closely with an advisor from their first semester of study.