Philosophy (B.A.)

Every undergraduate must take some courses in the humanities. But whereas no student wonders what faculty teach in the departments of English, History, or Foreign Languages, when it comes to the department of Philosophy, things are different. After all, very few students get the opportunity to study philosophy in high school. So, if you were to major in philosophy, what would you do?

Doing philosophy requires three things. First, it requires attempting to resolve a fundamental question. These are questions that cannot be settled through observation or experiments. Those questions are empirical ones. The following sample of fundamental ones — including the core subfields of philosophy where they are raised — are not:

  • Logic: What makes a statement true? What makes an argument good? How can you tell whether an argument is good?
  • Ethics: Does morality depend on religion? How should you determine what you ought to do? Is every human a person?
  • History of Philosophy: For Plato, what is the ideal form of government? Why was Descartes a dualist? Why does Hume deny the existence of the self?
  • Metaphysics: Does God exist? Is the world as it appears? What makes you the person that you are? What is the nature of the mind? What's the nature of art? Is it possible for a machine to think?
  •  Epistemology: What is knowledge? How can we know whether a machine is intelligent? Can you know that you aren't now dreaming?

Second, doing philosophy requires using reason in the attempt to resolve a fundamental question — not appeals to force, faith, or tradition. Because fundamental questions are questions for which various answers can be given, doing philosophy is largely a matter of using arguments and other critical thinking skills to determine what answer is most reasonable to believe.

Third, doing philosophy requires a pair of related attitudes. One is a willingness to entertain criticism of your ideas from people who do not share your assumptions. The other is presenting views with which you disagree fairly and sympathetically.

As a philosophy major, you will be expected to do philosophy, not just to learn facts through the study of its various subfields. As you work toward completing your degree, you will amass an impressive set of critical thinking skills, including: reading texts critically; recognizing, reconstructing, and evaluating arguments correctly and fairly; making your own claims, and defending them both orally and through analytical writing.

With these skills and attitudes, you can do anything! Why? Because these skills and attitudes will prepare you for responsible, effective roles in a variety of fields, not just those requiring graduate school. So, whatever your future endeavors, the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and attitudes you'll develop from earning your degree in philosophy from UNO will provide countless opportunities for personal enrichment and professional success.

Department
of Philosophy

Curriculum & Requirements

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Related Minors

  • Psychology
  • History
  • Political Science (Pre-Law)
  • English
  • Film

Selected Courses

  • Introduction to Logic
  • Ethics
  • History of Modern Philosophy
  • Philosophy of the Arts
  • Philosophical Psychology
  • Existentialism

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