Philosophy studies, well, everything. It provides a set of methods that help you to rigorously develop and evaluate arguments. These tools help you productively engage with others, allowing you to clarify disagreements and come to new conclusions.
More specifically, you will learn how to construct an argument, how to evaluate the arguments of others, and how to promote productive dialogue by using tools such as counter-examples, thought experiments, and more.
These methods can then be applied to a variety of topics within metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. To list just a few questions that are engaged in our courses: What is the nature of time? What makes me the same person over time? What makes some beliefs more rationally justified than others? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to live a morally good life? What grounds moral judgements, like right or wrong? What tools can I use to make decisions or to resolve conflicts? What is justice? Does art have any epistemic or ethical value?
When it comes to addressing questions such as these, philosophy is vital. After all, there is no thermometer for measuring moral goodness, nor can a microscope show us the meaning of life. Without the use of such scientific instruments, philosophy’s focus on innovating new methods allows us to better understand the significance of those questions while also making progress in answering them.
At the same time, philosophy can also immerse you in a history of ideas and their evolution. There’s real value (and fun!) to be had in tracing philosophical innovation, advancement, and the refinement of theories.
Putting all this together, philosophy lets you ask the big questions, while giving you analytical skills that are valuable everywhere.
For starters, U.S. News & World Report specifically talks about what you can do with a philosophy degree, listing out a ton of different relevant careers. After consulting that, you’ll soon be asking yourself, what can’t I do with a degree in philosophy?!
Indeed, a philosophy degree—with its emphasis on critical thinking, clear writing, succinct argumentation, broadly persuasive reasoning, and productive dialogue—is highly marketable. With our currently competitive and dynamic job market, it’s wise to choose a degree that gives you a fairly broad horizon of options. Our department will help you develop foundational skills for career success after graduation.
But wait, there’s more!
Not a problem—philosophy majors do the best on admissions tests!
It should go without saying, but philosophy’s reputation is earned: it will have you asking the big questions about knowledge, the meaning of life, morality, justice, beauty, and the nature of reality.
Whatever it is you care about, philosophy will give you the opportunity to really think it through. Or, as The Atlantic puts it, studying philosophy will let you “challenge your own point of view”.
It may seem crass to say out loud, but you can go into philosophy for the money!
For instance, FiveThirtyEight summarizes data on post-graduate employment rates and average salaries for those with philosophy degrees. (Did you know philosophy majors typically earn more than business and biology majors? It’s true!) In a similar vein, Salon argues how studying philosophy makes you more employable.
For even more detailed information on why philosophy is a great major, you should check out Philosophy is a Great Major. It will tell you all about, well… how philosophy is a great major!
For those considering a double-major, philosophy is complementary to many other fields, including those beyond the humanities. We have many students who go on to work in business, law, healthcare, and more. And while you’re still here at UB, we offer many classes that satisfy pathways—so adding a double-major may be easier than you think!
For those considering a minor, this is a great option if you want to practice and acquire some of the skills philosophy teaches, but you don’t have the space in your schedule or life for a double-major. A philosophy minor is only 6 courses, after all!
Philosophy is for anyone and everyone!
On the whole, trends in the discipline are positive with respect to increased gender, racial, and ethnic diversities.
One of the nicest features of our department is the variety of interests among our faculty members. Collectively, the faculty of the Department of Philosophy have teaching and research expertise in the following areas:
We offer research opportunities for students who enroll in independent studies courses or work as undergraduate course assistants. Feel free to contact a faculty member if you’d like to work with them!
We also offer community-building events through our Philosophy Club, our PPE (Philosophy, Politics & Economics) Club, and our MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) Club.
Finally, we also award prizes, like the Outstanding Senior Award and the Steinberg Prize.