Department of Philosophy

Do you enjoy debating the morality of affirmative action, animal experimentation, capital punishment and abortion? Reading ancient texts that grapple with many of the same, deep questions that enthrall us today—the nature of morality, freedom of the will, the purpose of human life? Discussing the latest in contemporary approaches to metaphysics, epistemology and ethical theory?

Consider a major in philosophy at Agnes Scott. Philosophy is the enterprise of thinking as deeply and rigorously as possible about the largest, most important and enduring questions human beings can conceive: What is the nature of reality? How is knowledge of the world possible? Does God exist? What is the meaning of life? How ought we to live? As a philosophy major, you will learn how to think with exceptional depth and analytical rigor. You will learn how to read challenging texts and analyze their core arguments, in the process becoming more confident and skilled in formulating and supporting your own positions—critical capacities in today’s world.

What will I study?
In many of our introductory courses, you will experience a mix of lecture, discussion and group-work as well as debate. In our smaller intermediate and advanced courses, you will engage in close readings of texts, intense discussions of enduring questions in contemporary philosophy and critical analyses of influential and important arguments by famous philosophers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant and Nietzsche. In applied ethics classes, you will have the chance to talk about highly controversial issues in a setting that insists on both mutual respect and independent, critical thought. You will develop and practice techniques of critical analysis and constructive reasoning through courses such as History of Ancient Philosophy, Symbolic Logic, Contemporary Moral Problems and Contemporary Feminist Theory. The classroom atmosphere in all these courses mixes intellectual challenge with support and encouragement.

Why should I study philosophy at Agnes Scott?

  • Collaborative Learning
    Classes in the philosophy department are a dialectical exchange between faculty and students and among students themselves about some of the most important text and problems in the philosophical tradition.
  • Global Opportunities 
    You can take advantage of several study abroad opportunities ranging from Agnes Scott’s Global Awareness program, the College Year in Athens, the International Human Rights Exchange at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Oxford University program for a traditional study abroad experience benefiting from the student-driven tutorial system.
  • Research Opportunities
    Agnes Scott emphasizes student-faculty research and independent research opportunities. Recently, a philosophy major had a paper on the political philosophy of H.L.A. Hart accepted by the Society for Student Philosophers for presentation at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Another student spent a year researching and writing about Nietzsche’s ethical theory, which resulted in an impressive 80-page essay that she reworked into a shorter paper to accompany her application to Ph.D. programs in philosophy.
  • Campus Involvement
    Many philosophy students are active in Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society.

What can I do with this degree?
Because of their logic and critical reasoning skills, philosophy majors are often sought by businesses and organizations. With a degree in philosophy you can:

  • Attend medical or law school
  • Pursue a graduate degree in philosophy or a number of related fields such as classics, political science, cognitive science, mathematics, history, logic, linguistics, women’s studies or psychology
  • Teach philosophy at a high school, college or university
  • Work as a journalist or editor
  • Work in government
  • Work in the corporate sector
  • Work for a not-for-profit