Learning Outcomes

Philosophy Major Learning Outcomes

Critical Thinking and Logical Analysis

Students demonstrate their ability to use the techniques of formal and informal logical analysis.

Philosophical Problem Solving

Students employ philosophical texts, past and present, to explain why a philosophical problem is significant and to critically evaluate attempts to solve a problem.

Philosophical Reading

Students can read and understand primary and secondary philosophical sources.

Philosophical Writing

Students can reconstruct and critically evaluate philosophical arguments in written form.

Philosophy Department Learning Outcomes: Core Curriculum

Following are the learning objectives for the Core Curriculum component of the philosophy department curriculum, broken into the three categories of logic, ethics and philosophy (not logic or ethics). The department understands the following lists disjunctively; that is, different courses may focus on a selected subset of the following.


Students should be able to:

  • identify arguments in ordinary language, distinguish premises from conclusions, differentiate deductive arguments from inductive arguments and construct arguments of their own
  • evaluate deductive arguments in terms of validity and soundness, and inductive arguments in terms of strength and cogency
  • detect mistakes in reasons, including both formal and informal fallacies
  • translate sentences from ordinary language into standard form categorical propositions
  • translate ordinary language arguments into standard form categorical syllogisms, evaluate immediate inferences and syllogisms using the traditional square of opposition and Venn diagrams
  • translate ordinary language sentences into the symbolic notation of propositional logic and evaluate arguments; and expressed in the notation through truth tables and natural deduction techniques


Students should be able to:

  • describe one or more significant ethical theories, including the rational justification of those theories
  • analyze particular moral problems by applying the principles of those ethical theories that are of both historical and contemporary significance
  • identify the ethical principles that are important for their own activities, and examine those principles in light of the views encountered in the course


Students should be able to:

  • describe significant aspects of one or more of the major epistemological traditions
  • describe and analyze important views of human nature; this may include different traditions such as Hinduism or Marxism, accounts of the mind/body relation, or views about personal identity and/or post-mortem survival
  • describe and analyze different positions regarding free will

– Revised Spring, 05 (editorial revisions Spring, 07)