Major Concentration

The Major Concentration in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics consists of 8 courses, distributed as follows:

  • The Core Seminar in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics. This is an intensive team-taught seminar offered every fall. This course is the gateway course for the major (and the minor).

  • A course in logic. This may be PHIL 30313 (Formal Logic), though students may, and in some cases will be encouraged to, pursue more advanced options.
  • A survey of the history of philosophy. This may be PHIL 30301 (Ancient & Medieval Philosophy) or PHIL 30302 (History of Modern Philosophy).
  • Two other upper-level philosophy courses, at least one of which will be in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, or logic.
  • Three majors-level courses in science or mathematics.

This last requirement can obviously be satisfied in a large number of different ways. A few points to keep in mind:

  • We recognize that some students in the major will have another major in a science, in mathematics, or in engineering. These students may fulfill this last requirement in three ways: (i) they may take electives, beyond their major's requirements, in their home scientific department; (ii) they may take majors-level courses in another science, or in mathematics; or (iii) they may substitute three upper-level philosophy electives for these three courses.
  • Some majors-level science courses come with mandatory labs. In these cases, students in Philosophy, Science, and Mathematics must also complete the relevant lab.
  • For purposes of this last requirement, we treat advanced (40000-level) logic courses in the Philosophy Department as courses in mathematics, and hence as counting toward the satisfaction of this requirement.

Students are invited to choose the field or fields in which they will do their scientific/mathematical work based on their interests. But here are some examples of sequences of courses which would be suitable:

  • A student interested in philosophical issues in physics would take PHYS 10310 & 10320 (General Physics I & II). Students interested in quantum mechanics and particle physics might then take PHYS 20330 (General Physics III), while students more interested in questions about the early universe might take PHYS 20481 (Introduction to Astronomy & Astrophysics).

  • A student interested in philosophical issues in biology might take BIOS 10161 & 10162 (Biological Sciences I & II) and then, depending on their interests, an upper-level course such as BIOS 30305 (Evolution), BIOS 30312 (General Ecology), BIOS 20250 (Classical & Molecular Genetics), or BIOS 20450 (Neuroscience and Behavior).

  • A student interested in philosophical issues in mathematics might begin by taking MATH 20610 (Linear Algebra) and MATH 20630 (Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning). She would then be in a position to take courses like MATH 30310 (Coding Theory), MATH 30710 (Algebra), MATH 30750 (Real Analysis), MATH 40210 (Basic Combinatorics), or MATH 40740 (Topology). Students who took MATH 30710 would then also be in a position to take courses of interest like MATH 40530 (Theory of Numbers) or MATH 40510 (Algebraic Geometry).

  • A student interested in mathematical logic might take MATH 40910 (Topics in Mathematical Logic), PHIL 43907 (Intermediate Logic), and an advanced logic course like PHIL 43913 (Modal Logic), PHIL 43917 (Intuitionism), or PHIL 43908 (Set Theory).