Why Study Philosophy?

Do animals have rights? What is the relation between a mind and its body? Can computers think? Can a machine have life? Are human actions free or determined? There are just a few of the questions we pursue, within the context of true liberal arts education.

Being a philosophy major at Pacific will open your mind and perspectives in ways you never even knew were possible. We don't just study philosophy, we practice philosophy — every day. You will develop a thorough understanding of ideas like morality, freedom, God, law, truth, science, life, and learning. And the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference we host every year brings students and speakers from across the country to our campus.

The Program

The philosophy program at Pacific offers two distinct tracks: general philosophy and applied ethics. Besides courses in ethics and the history of philosophy, the program offers a variety of other courses, including bioethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, philosophy of law, philosophy of art and Asian philosophy. Other highlights of the program include:

  • The ability to develop intellectual independence, tolerance for different points of view, and freedom from dogmatism
  • Development of critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and communication skills
  • The Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, an annual, two-day conference each spring attracting students from the Northwest and from across the country representing more than 20 states and Canada
  • A keynote address at the spring conference by a renowned philosopher — past speakers have included Paul Churchland, Hilary Putnam, John Searle, Keith Lehrer, Catherine Elgin, John Perry, Hubert Dreyfus, and Jerry Fodor
  • A dedicated faculty of scholars who thrive on one-to-one interaction with students
  • Rigorous analysis of philosophical texts, discussion-based classes, exposure to alternate world views, and links between philosophy and other disciplines

The Students

Students drawn to Pacific's philosophy program are naturally inquisitive, have strong analytical skills, are self-motivated, and are interested in cross-disciplinary studies. Students who major in philosophy often combine the program with study in other areas, such as biology, psychology or history. They bring a very serious dedication to reflect their own worldview and value system, and open themselves up to others. Philosophy majors enjoy exploring the philosophical foundations and issues raised in other disciplines such as science, law, religion, and art, and embrace researching, writing, and presenting a senior thesis in their final year.