Philosophy is a practice at Hamilton, where your professors will encourage you to be engaged and to apply your training beyond the classroom. For instance, philosophy majors have developed and taught philosophy mini-classes to their peers and to local high school students. You’ll think creatively about what philosophy is and how it may (or may not) demand practical action.

About the Major

Most of the courses require students to give presentations or participate in discussions or debates, and in some courses, they take oral exams. The small, introductory classes require students to read primary sources rather than predigested material in textbooks.To encourage students to learn to read philosophical texts early, concentrators are required to take three courses in the history of philosophy — from the ancient through the contemporary.

I’ve never felt that I’m able to explore intellectually like I can in a philosophy class – in a really neat way that I haven’t experienced in other types of classes. I speak very highly of our philosophy department.

Emi Birch ’14 — philosophy major

The department hires up-and-coming new scholars as postdoctoral fellows, allowing students to benefit from the latest philosophical research and trends in the country’s best graduate schools. Visiting scholars, speakers and conferences bring some of the most prominent names in philosophy to campus and into philosophy classes.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Writer, Simon & Schuster
  • Psychiatrist, SW Connecticut Mental Health
  • Director & Counsel, Credit Suisse Securities
  • U.S. Ambassador, Federal Republic of Germany
  • Professor of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University
  • Senior Scientist, GE Global Research
  • Director, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Vice President, Goldman Sachs
  • Principal Law Clerk, New York State Supreme Court
  • Lieutenant, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Contact Information

Philosophy Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Contemporary Moral Issues 111F

Introduction to moral reasoning. Discussion of contemporary moral problems, such as racism, environmental ethics, euthanasia, abortion, terrorism and war. Explores issues especially prominent for college students, including gender and sexuality, and political correctness. Extensive use of films outside of class. Writing-intensive. Proseminar.

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Saints and Psychopaths 123F

What makes some people commit gratuitously cruel acts, while others sacrifice their lives to help strangers? We will examine lives lived at the moral extreme, from psychopaths and war criminals to extreme altruists. We will examine the role of character and circumstance and address questions such as: is sainthood really a desirable way to live? Can psychopaths be held morally responsible for their actions? How can we teach goodness and discourage evil? If a pill could make us more moral, should we take it? Writing-intensive. Proseminar.

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Philosophy as/and/of literature 204S

While Plato famously criticized the poets, his own works are often best read, not as straightforward presentations of philosophical ideas or arguments, but as ironic texts that use rhetorical devices to show, rather than tell, his claims. Examines philosophy’s relationship to the literary and questions about interpretation, truth and argument, as well as the rhetorical aspects of philosophical texts. Includes traditional philosophical works, novels, poetry and drama.

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Philosophy of Science 310S

Focus on the philosophical analysis of scientific knowledge, scientific method and the practice of science. Readings include classic texts in the philosophy of science as well as contemporary discussions of science as a social product and critiques of the notion of scientific objectivity. Writing-intensive.

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Philosophical Issues in Sport 323

An examination of conceptual and ethical issues that concern sport, including the nature of play, games and sport, the moral evaluation of athletic competition, the nature of gender equity in sport, the ethics of chemical and genetic enhancement of athletes, and problems of intercollegiate athletics. Readings will explore theories of sport, the intersection of sport, law and education, sport and culture, and criticisms of various sporting practices.

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Knowledge, Truth, and Mathematics 405S

A survey of the philosophical questions that arise from considering historical and contemporary approaches to explaining our knowledge of mathematics. Do we have a priori knowledge of necessary truths? Is our knowledge of mathematics empirical? Perhaps we do not really have mathematical knowledge. Oral Presentations.

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