Philosophy Major & Minor

Philosophy wrestles with fundamental questions in all areas of human knowledge and activity. Such questions include:
  • How does knowledge differ from mere belief?
  • Do I determine my actions or are they determined by other causes?
  • Is my mind different from my body?
  • What makes an action right?
  • What makes a life good?
  • What makes a society just?
  • What makes a work of art beautiful?
Struggling with and developing reasoned views about such issues enlarge one’s capacity for clear thinking, effective writing, and persuasive speaking. Philosophy encourages the intellectual curiosity necessary for a life of sustained inquiry and cultivates a taste for matters of importance over matters of show. Moreover, philosophy’s preference for rational persuasion over compulsion prepares one for responsible citizenship in a diverse nation and world.

Learning Objectives

Students completing Southern Virginia’s philosophy major are expected to acquire the following:
  1. Basic knowledge of the history of Western philosophy. (History)
  2. Basic knowledge of formal and informal logic. (Logic)
  3. Understanding of central areas of philosophy and of some major historical figures or movements. (Areas)
  4. Ability to explain and argue for philosophical positions in clear written English. (Writing)
Program coordinator: John Armstrong, Ph.D.

Major Requirements (29–30 credit hours)

Philosophy Course Descriptions

Major Core (8–9 credit hours):

LIB 110 Reason and the Self (GE) (3)
PHI 223 Introduction to Logic (GE) (3)
PHI 498 Senior Paper (2–3)

Major Electives: an additional 21 credit hours of philosophy coursework, including three credit hours from each of the following four areas:
  1. Ancient Philosophy (PHI 355R)
  2. Modern Philosophy (PHI 365R)
  3. Metaphysics and Epistemology (PHI 325R, 326, 333, or 335R)
  4. Ethics (PHI 340, 345R, or 350).

POL 210 Western Political Heritage I (3) and POL 215 Western Political Heritage II (3)  may be used as electives in the philosophy major but do not satisfy any of the four distribution areas.

Minor Requirements (15 credit hours)

Minor Core (6 credit hours):

LIB 110 Reason and the Self (3)
PHI 223 Introduction to Logic (GE) (3)

Minor Electives: an additional 9 credit hours of PHI courses from among the major electives.