PHILOSOPHY | Love of wisdom


The word philosophy means the love of wisdom. Philosophy courses at Baker encourage students to seek wisdom by helping them to think carefully and critically about fundamental issues. Philosophy students develop critical thinking and communication skills that are useful in any career. Those skills, coupled with the understanding of societal values, will make you highly sought by today’s employers.  

Through the study of the writings of major philosophers, students learn to understand, analyze, and evaluate competing claims about the answers to our most basic questions: How should I live my life? What should my values be? What are my duties and obligations as a rational being? How can I decide when a claim is reasonable to believe?

CREATE YOUR OWN MAJOR

Students may choose a major or minor in philosophy or a joint major in philosophy and religion. These studies will grasp and analyze theories, values, and beliefs. Students will learn to express ideas, beliefs, and opinions through clear and persuasive prose.

DISCUSSION & DIALOGUE

Small class sizes and a 12-to-1 student-to-professor ratio mean you receive personal attention from professors and can get to know your peers. At Baker, we encourage an open academic dialogue, which is key in an field like philosophy.

PREPARE FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL

Studies by the Department of Education show that philosophy majors receive top scores on standardized tests like the GRE, GMAT, and LSAT. They rank first among all majors on the verbal and the analytical section of the GRE, do better than just about any other major on the LSAT, and consistently score higher than business majors on the GMAT.

GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP

Baker makes studying abroad easy, allowing most Baker financial awards and scholarships to be applied directly to study abroad for one full semester. Whether your interest is art, politics, or business, your first-hand exposure to an international setting will help you grow as a scholar.

SAM | Class of 2016

As a biology major, Sam was interested in nature and the way the world works. But to expand his knowledge, he took extra philosophy courses, making it his undergraduate minor. He believes that to fully understand nature, you need the background of nurture as well.

TREVOR | Philosophy Major, Class of 2009

Philosophy majors are able to excel in many careers and generally have better midcareer salaries than those in many other supposedly more lucrative majors. Studying philosophy will help students stand out from their competitors and give them the reasoning and writing skills needed to impress employers. It’s also worth noting that philosophy majors do extraordinarily well on all manner of standardized tests that bear on gaining admission to graduate school, including the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE. Any aspiring law student should be a philosophy major if they want to gain admission to a top law program, and there’s a strong case to be made that anyone planning to attend graduate school should consider whether they could squeeze more philosophy into their studies.”

CAREERS

Our philosophy majors have landed these jobs:

  • Lawyer
  • Banker
  • Public relations director
  • Social worker and nonprofit worker
  • Professor

%

of graduates are employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

Course Descriptions

R: course can be repeated for credit; P/NC: course graded on a pass/no credit basis

Courses required for these programs are listed in the current catalog.

PH 110 – Introduction to Law and the Legal Profession

The purpose of Introduction to Law and the Legal Profession is to provide to pre-law students and others interested in the law an overview of the legal system and the professions available to those with legal training. Topics to be covered in the course include the structure and operation of the American legal system, the role of the judiciary in the legal system, basic legal concepts related to constitutional law, contract law, tort law, property law, employment and labor law, environmental law, debtor-creditor law, and human rights law. Topics will also include coverage of the law school admissions process, preparation strategies for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), timing issues regarding the LSAT and law school applications, and the structure of law school curricula. Also covered in the course will be the variety of careers available to those with legal training. Guest speakers will be used extensively throughout the course, including law school admissions directors and Baker alumni who have graduated from law school and are using their legal education in law firms, prosecutors’ offices, business careers, political careers, government service careers, teaching, and other professions. (3 credit hours)

PH 114 – Moral Choices in Time of War

The decision to join the military and fight in an armed conflict is so significant that it may ultimately lead to one’s premature death. Moreover, war affects many individuals who are not actively engaged in the conflict. Those who choose to fight must consider the effects of their actions on their families and friends. Additionally, every citizen may well have a civic responsibility to decide whether or not to support a war. That decision will surely rest in part on whether the war is to be viewed as moral or immoral. This is an inquiry-based course with minimal lecture that will focus on significant issues relating to the morality of war, including: What is a just war? Should we be pacifists? Can soldiers be blamed for obeying orders? Can terrorism be justified? (3 credit hours)

PH 115 – Introduction to Philosophy: A Historical Approach

This course surveys the ideas, lives, and times of major philosophers in Western culture from Plato to the 20th century, including Socrates, Aristotle, Epictetus, Aquinas, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Peirce, Kierkegaard, and Sartre. The ideas will be presented through both primary and secondary sources. (3 credit hours)

PH 116 – Investigating the Paranormal

This will be an inquiry-based course with virtually no lecture. The goal of the course is to rationally investigate claims and theories relating to so-called “paranormal phenomena.” Topics will include both “psi” phenomena and apparitions (“ghosts”). Psi phenomena include psychokinesis (mind-matter interaction) as well as information perceived through telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition. Also considered will be scientific and philosophical theories that attempt to explain the paranormal. Students will also take field trips to some of the local “haunted” sites and try to detect and investigate orbs and other occurrences that some have associated with the presence of apparitions. As preparation for their study of the paranormal, students will be introduced to basic principles of critical thinking and deductive and inductive logic. The course will also examine contemporary and classical theories of the nature of the human mind. (3 credit hours)

PH 119 – The Meaning of Life Through Film

The purpose of this course is to address the classical philosophical question “What is the meaning of life?” Discussions will focus on several critically acclaimed films that relate to the meaning of human existence. Readings will also be assigned to facilitate discussion. The course will consider four conceptions of the meaning of life: a) the life of faith, b) the moral life, c) the life of self-satisfaction, and d) life as an absurdity. (3 credit hours)

PH 120 – Ethics

Ethical decisions are a vital part of a person’s life and can have profound significance. This course provides a systematic examination of answers given by philosophers to such questions as: What is virtue? What sort of life leads to human happiness? What are the ultimate standards of moral conduct? The readings in this course may also cover topics in applied ethics such as euthanasia, abortion, animal welfare, capital punishment, and economic justice. (3 credit hours)

PH 203 – Philosophy of Mind

This is a course in philosophy of mind, which is that branch of philosophy whose principal concerns are the nature of minds and mental contents and their relation to the body. Among the theories to be addressed are dualism, the view that the mind is not a material thing; the identity theory that the mind and brain are identical;, and the computational theory that human minds are computers. The course will also address issues relating to so-called “paranormal” phenomena such as telepathy (mind-to mind connections), clairvoyance (perceiving distant events), precognition (perceiving future events), and psychokinesis (mind-to-matter interaction). Discussion will include controlled studies regarding such phenomena. (3 credit hours)

PH 201 – History of Western Political Thought I

This course covers some of the major political writings of philosophers from Plato in the 5th century BCE Greece to Machiavelli in 15th-century Italy. Issues discussed in this course may include the following: What is an ideal state? To what extent is individual happiness dependent upon the state? To what extent should government be involved in the education of citizens? To what extent should the citizens in a state be treated equally? What problems are inherent in various forms of government (aristocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny)? What is the foundation of civil law? When are laws just? What is the role of religion in a state? (Cross-listed as PS 201). (3 credit hours)

PH 202 – History of Western Political Thought II

This course covers major political writings of philosophers from the 16th century to the present. These may include selections from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Rawls, Hospers, and MacIntyre. The schools of thought typically covered include liberal, socialist, communitarian, and libertarian. Issues discussed may include the following: Why do states exist? What obligations can states legitimately ask of their citizens? How does one determine if a state’s laws are just? What constitutes a just distribution of a state’s wealth? When are property rights legitimate? To what extent should governments try to influence citizens to hold specific beliefs or adopt certain life-styles? (Cross-listed as PS 202). (3 credit hours)

PH 211 – Logic and Critical Thinking

The ability to reason correctly is essential to living well. It is necessary for success in every aspect of a person’s life. The purpose of this course is to teach the student fundamental principles and methods for distinguishing correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning. The course is divided into four parts: a) critical thinking and the analysis of arguments, b) informal fallacies, c) induction, and d) deduction. Topics in induction include analogical arguments and analysis of scientific studies. In our study of deduction, we will focus on topics in elementary logic. We will apply the material covered in this course to exercises relating to a wide range of topics and issues, including assignments which require students to write critical papers that state and defend a thesis. (3 credit hours)

PH 228 – History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

This course is a survey of ancient philosophy from the ancient Greeks and Romans to 13th-century France. The philosophers studied may include Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Epicurus, and Thomas Aquinas. Issues to be addressed may include: What is virtue? What is happiness? What is the nature of reality? Is it reasonable to believe in God? (3 credit hours)

PH 239 – Philosophy of Religion

This course consists of the study of the major problems in the philosophy of religion, including the problem of evil, proofs for the existence of God, proofs for the immortality of the soul, the relation between faith and reason, the meaning of the religious language, the relation of religion and ethics, and the nature of religious experience. (Cross-listed as RE 239.) (3 credit hours)

PH 270 – World Philosophies

This course surveys the ways thinkers from a variety of cultures have dealt with such philosophical questions as a) What is reality? b) What are the foundations of religious beliefs? c) What is human nature? d) What are our rights and duties as humans? Readings include works from Chinese, Indian, South American, Islamic, American Indian, Greek, and European thinkers. (3 credit hours)

PH 310 – Social Justice: Theory and Practice

This course surveys various philosophical approaches to questions of social justice and an application of these theories to relevant social problems. Such problems include questions concerning the distribution of wealth, property rights, socialization of vital industries, and business ethics. The theories of justice include contracterian, utilitarian, libertarian, socialist, and communitarian theories. (Cross-listed as PS 310.) (3 credit hours)

PH 314 – Ethical Leadership: Theory and Practice

Ethical decisions are a vital part of a person’s life and can have profound significance. In this course, we will address topics in business ethics, which is defined by the authors of our text as “the study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad, human conduct in a business context.” Accordingly, business ethics is a branch of moral philosophy. Topics to be addressed include the nature of capitalism, corporations, consumers, the environment, the workplace, and job discrimination. Emphasis will be given to the nature and scope of ethical leadership. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 319 – Applied Ethics

Ethical decisions are a vital part of a person’s life and can have profound significance. This course will focus on issues in applied ethics, including euthanasia, abortion, animal welfare, sexuality, capital punishment, world hunger, social justice, and business ethics. Students will begin the course by considering preliminary questions such as “Are there any absolute moral truths?” “Are humans inherently selfish?” “Should human beings look out only for their own interests?” Students will then discuss classical and contemporary ethical theories that attempt to provide the ultimate standards of human conduct, and students will apply these theories to the topics above. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 320 – History and Philosophy of Science

This course consists of a historically oriented study of the development, methods, and problems of scientific knowledge from the ancient Greeks to modern times. Readings are from such thinkers as Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Hume, Mill, Kuhn, Popper, and other contemporary philosophers of science. (3 credit hours)

PH 322 – History of Modern Philosophy

This course is a survey of modern thought beginning with the Enlightenment and ending in the 20th century. Readings include works from Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Issues to be addressed may include the existence and nature of God, the scope and limits of scientific knowledge, the mind and its relationship to the body, the foundations of morality, and the meaning of life. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 350 – Law and Morality

The purpose of this course is to examine selected problems concerning the nature of law and its relation to morality. Topics to be addressed may include one or more of the following: a) the moral limits of the law, b) moral issues in constitutional law, c) the nature of law, and d) legal ethics. Issues to be discussed under these topics may include “What is law?” “How is it related to morality?” “What are the moral limits of governmental coercion?” “Is the practice of law inherently immoral?” Additionally, issues in constitutional law relating to topics such as abortion, capital punishment, affirmative action, and gay rights may be covered, as well as the moral, historical, and political basis of the United States Constitution. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or political science or permission of instructor. (Cross-listed as PS 350.) (3 credit hours)

PH 411 – Philosophy of Law

The purpose of this course is to examine selected problems concerning the nature of law. The focus will be on four interrelated topics: a) the nature and aims of criminal and tort law, b) the moral obligation to obey the law c) moral and legal issues in constitutional law, and d) legal ethics and the administration of justice. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 412 – Science, Technology, and Human Values

This seminar is designed to provide an opportunity for upper-college students to apply the academic skills and their understanding of ethics and human values acquired in their previous education to a global public policy issue that is, at least in part, the result of current scientific or technological developments. As a seminar, the course is student-centered, with each student presenting and defending his or her position paper on a specific issue. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 440 – Contemporary Philosophy

This course focuses on contemporary issues in philosophy. The writings of philosophers from both continental and analytic schools of thought are read. Topics to be discussed may include the meaning and value of human existence, free will and determinism, knowledge and its limits, the nature of the human mind, and contemporary issues in theoretical and applied ethics. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy or permission of the instructor. (3 credit hours)

PH 290, 490 – Seminar in Philosophy

Seminars in philosophy cover special topics in philosophy. These include environmental ethics, philosophy and literature, feminism, existentialism, and epistemology. R (3 credit hours)

PH 495 – Senior Project

Under the guidance of a philosophy program faculty member, each student majoring in Philosophy will write a significant paper over an issue or area of philosophy. The paper must demonstrate strong research, analytical, and writing skills. The project’s topic must be mutually agreeable to the instructor and student. The student will be asked to present the paper to the Philosophy Club. (1-3 credit hours)

Scholarships

The Department of Humanities gives these awards with financial prizes to be applied to the following years tuition:

  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship
  • Dr. Irene Murphy Memorial Scholarship
  • Etta and Orin Murphy Scholarship Kahle Endowed Scholarship
  • Kahle Endowed Scholarship
  • The Moorman Prize for Prose Writing
  • The Moorman Prize for Poetry Writing
  • Jefferson-Greiner Scholarship

STUDENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

DIALOGOS RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
Dialogos creates opportunities for the free exchange of ideas among scholars. Students from every part of the academy present original works, in a variety of forms and mediums, and engage with an interdisciplinary community of peers, staff and faculty. The symposium also features a keynote address from a prominent Baker alum. Through open and critical discussion, participants learn from and contribute to the betterment of the whole. At Dialogos, to quote John Wesley, we "think and let think."
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.
BOOK Program
Students are encouraged to participate in the BOOK Program (Baker Organizational Observation for Knowledge) to enhance their internship experiences. The program encourages students to look deeper into organizations by researching the history, mission, structure, products and services, finances and management of the company. At the conclusion of the program, presentations are given in front of a panel of judges who choose the winner of a cash prize.

FACULTY

Donald Hatcher

Dr. Donald Hatcher

Professor of Philosophy, Director of Liberal Arts & Critical Thinking Program | donald.hatcher@bakerU.edu
Dr. Donald Hatcher is a Renaissance man, a lover of the classics, and the leader of Baker’s philosophy program. But he’s also well versed in psychology and uses it to create lively discussions in his classes, saying “I am very interested in why seemingly rational people disagree.”

B.G.S., M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D. University of Kansas
Expertise: critical thinking, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science
Office: Case Hall 102 | 785.594.8486

CONTACT US

Barbara Coffey
Department Assistant
Humanities
Office: Case Hall 105
785.594.8439
barbara.coffey@bakeru.edu