Department Learning Goals


The Philosophy Department at Bowdoin College seeks to promote the following among its students:

  1. The ability to articulate arguments: to say what assumptions they are using as premises in an argument and to explain why their conclusion follows from those premises. This requires both clear thinking and clear self-expression, particularly in writing.

  2. The ability to analyze what arguments others are using to support their own conclusions.

  3. The ability and willingness to engage in open-minded criticism of their own arguments and the arguments of others.

  4. Familiarity with the central figures in the history of western philosophy, including their views, the arguments for their views, and notable objections to their views. Historical figures have provided a framework for philosophical discussion that is still used today, and engaging them not only teaches about the history of ideas but enhances our understanding of current philosophical debates.

  5. Familiarity with contemporary philosophical debates.

  6. The habits of intellectual discipline and creativity that allow independent research.

  7. The habits of intellectual rigor and integrity needed for fruitful thought in all fields.