Philosophy Majors!

Discussion in 'Higher Ed' started by metaphysica, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. metaphysica

    metaphysica Member

    Who here is a philosophy major? I saw in the post on what courses people were taking philosophy courses, so....who is a phi major?

    I am! actually it is "Social Philosophy" because we are social beings and our philosophies can not live independent from each other (well of course that can be debated, but it is just what all of the professors agreed on and i do too). Also insted of just writing papers my professors encourage us to volunteer in the community and then write on our experiences (work study).
  2. IDL

    IDL Banned

    And is there actually a good chance a person with a philosophy degree opening lots doors of opportunities and job offers after graduation?
  3. tubahead

    tubahead Member

    I am working on my masters degree in philosophy at the moment, mainly with a focus on analytic philosophy. This means that I am the dreaded TA for lower level philosophy courses. A bunch of people hate me right now because I handed back their first paper. They will probably hate me even more when they get their first tests back.
    Fortune Magazine did a study where they found that the only correlation for success in business was a degree in philosophy. Statistically philosophy majors also do very well on all major tests (GRE, MCAT, LSAT). You learn how to read really difficult material and to communicate very complicated ideas to others, which are arguably the most important skills that any person could possess when entering the job market.
  4. djstrauss

    djstrauss Member

    I apologize for the length of this post.
    A Practical Analysis of Something Practical
    There are thousands of ways to make a decent living in the world. It would seem that almost every career is necessary to some part of modern life and making that life more comfortable or profitable. Yet, out of the millions of careers offered, perhaps the most obsolete is the practice of philosophy. Unless one plans on becoming a teacher of philosophy, they may as well become a custodian. Philosophy is considered a general inquiry into the true nature of the world, our thoughts, and our beliefs. The practice of philosophy is most widely believed to have originated with the ancient Greeks between 500 to 300 B.C, though it can be assumed that the human race has been questioning, pondering, and trying to gain a better understanding of the world from the dawn of our creation. Philosophy in its very essence is a practice of gaining a higher education through constructive thought. So why is it then that you never see a help wanted add for a philosopher? Could it be that philosophy is much too broad a perspective for people to grasp? That metaphysical questions and answers have no use and should not be applied in “real” world situations? There are both positives and negatives to philosophy. While many find philosophy nonviable philosophy is practical because it helps people comprehend knowledge, it shows strong insight in law, and it has real world application.
    Knowledge is defined as “facts and information acquired through experience, or education.” It would not be out of step to conjecture that no two people have the same understanding in lieu of that. Information for the most part is individualized, quite often in societies; congregations of people fundamentally have the same perception of common facts. How then can we grasp a better understanding of knowledge? Contemplation is a tried and true method of gaining a better knowledge about the true nature of the world in which we live. This will lead us into the question “What is knowledge”? It can consequently be derived that we the people have knowledge about a vast majority of concepts, which in essence is what knowledge is. It is theorized that knowledge is justified true belief (often called the JTB account) (Appiah43). In order to know something it must be true, one must be justified in thinking it true, and one must believe it to be true. A person could claim to have knowledge of ideologies that are in fact nothing more than third party beliefs passed down to us. The justification factor has a way of humbly telling us that we may not know near as much as we think, but to what extent is justification enough? Descartes gave his account of justification and knowledge in his book Disclosure of the Method (Appiah 5-6).
    Justification is defined as “to show or to prove to be right.” Therefore anything that one has come into knowing from the mouth of another person is in contrast to finding it out first hand. If it is not expressly possible to prove secondhand information without researching it first, how is it that we claim to know as much as we do? Or how could one then not gain a better perspective of knowledge and the world around them by consistently applying these simple principals that have been around for hundreds of years to their everyday experiences. Descartes claimed that justification must be done with absolute certainty (Appiah 43). In retrospect, even common knowledge could be disproved at some point in time. Meaning, it could be proved false at a later time. However, this could call into question even our own existence. “But were I persuaded that there was nothing at all in the world; would I also be persuaded that I do not exist?” (Appiah 45). Descartes asked this question while contemplating knowledge. He theorized that “I think, therefore I am.” Also referred to as “Cogito ergo sum.” When in contrast to applying this means of thought, one would be less vulnerable to manipulation. It might seem absurd to this extreme however, we can not discredit everything we claim to know, we can gain a better understanding of what we actually do know, and how much we actually know about it. This is just a brief summery of one man’s philosophy of knowledge.
    Philosophical insight in law gives strong contemplation about a state of action that seems to confuse many people. In fact it wouldn't be absurd, to speculate that the majority of people have questioned the law in their own way. “Why, that just does not make any sense.” Seems to be the rhetorical question enveloping the laws we have formed and follow. For example the “Jim Crowe Laws” made it illegal for African Americans to attend white educational facilities up until 1954, when the Brown vs. Board of Education case was won. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “One has not only a legal, but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral duty to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all.” (Appiah 273). It would seem however that we still have many reasons for obeying even morally unsound laws, the main reason being the fear of punishment (Philosophy of Law Section A 1-2). Early African Americans were punished should they happen to break any one of the “Jim Crowe” laws. Just because a law is illegitimate does not mean that we can go around disobeying it (Appiah 272).
    St. Thomas Aquinas thought that laws were “nothing more than an ordnance of reason for the common good, made by whatever authority has the community in it’s care” (Perry & Bratman 25). According to this view, the concept of law cannot be fully articulated without some reference to moral notions. This is refered to as a “natural law” standpoint (Philosophy of Law Section A 1). Another common standpoint is “legal positivism.”(Tebbit 37). It seems that at times, as in the case of the Jim Crowe laws law’s, law is nothing more than rules that are backed by the threat of force. A philosopher by the name of Michele Foucault claimed in his book Crime and Punish that “might is right.” The book goes to explain his theory on how people with power get to decide which laws are right and which are wrong. This is a theory from a positivist’s standpoint. So we seem to find ourselves backed into a corner should we fall into the care of an unsound government? Thinking laws through and choosing which laws to implicate has become a very democratic process in the last thirty years. While we may not agree with a particular law it is important to remember that there are a vast number of factors that go into making current laws. If it were not for some philosophical insight modern laws might not be so modern.
    Conceptualizing may be considered abstract in even some intellectuals’ minds and have no aesthetic use; however, philosophy’s real world application is infallible. Philosophy’s main purpose is to make our thoughts and beliefs more systematic. It is not hard to view it as being central to the entire world around us. No one will claim science as being useless or an unimportant component to modern life. Philosophy plays a very large role in the scientific analysis of everything that is fundamental to science. A philosophical standpoint on science seems to address whether or not science is giving us the accurate information it portrays, and if we should accept these scientifically claimed theories. If we do accept them, we must investigate them and try to gain a better perspective of how important they actually are. As many people know, the scientific method of developing and testing theories enlists the use of a hypothesis to test and study the case that it is trying prove, or disprove. A hypothesis consistently starts out as a theory. Typically the uneducated will hear theories and become unaware that a theory is all that they are. People often get them confused with the absolute truth. Even in our modern beliefs, what we now have come to believe as common sense beliefs began as theories. For example, this the earth was once thought to be flat, we can all safely say that as early as we can understand the concept of the earth we know that it is a three dimensional sphere. So whether our beliefs are theoretical or whether they are based on observation can be a difficult question to answer.
    Even in what people come to believe from a scientific standpoint, science can have questionable instances. A hypothesis is proved or disproved by manipulation and careful analysis of the predictability of how often the proved hypothesis will occur. For example, it is widely believed that crows are black. An uneducated person might come to the conclusion that all crows are black; this would not be a bad observation due to the fact that all the crows the person has seen are black. The question will arise that crows one through one thousand were all black, so crow one-thousand and one will also be black. However, science has proved that albinism has proved itself in the crow species causing gray or white feathers in certain crows. That is primarily why scientists use philosophical thinking when they study a hypothesis. Before they can say whether or not anything scientifically proven is concrete they must then have all the knowledge possible of that particular concept that is being studied. As for the general population they could use a philosophical standpoint to make an educated decision before assuming that something scientifically claimed is as fact based and reliable as is often believed to be.
    As it has been stated, philosophy is not a well-enlisted professional practice. It has also been stated that there are a vast majority of reasons why it is still a fundamental practice that should be embraced. Knowledge is the foundation of everyday life. Whether it’s basic knowledge or knowledge of the complex variety, intellectualizing the concept will in itself help a person become a critical thinker. In order to understand knowledge, serious thought must be taken into consideration. Philosophical thinking could only help boost comprehension in law. While it may not seem as though certain laws pertain to an individual, a lot of thought has been placed into the making of those laws. We the people have a moral right to observe them regardless of how unjust they may seem. If for nothing more than to avoid being punished. Therefore philosophy’s real world application is indisputable, simply by citing those two terms alone. Many people believe and trust in science. Science also has a strong foundation based in philosophy. Those terms alone can justify the need for philosophy in the “real world.”

    Works Cited
    Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Thinking it through Oxford: UP, 2003
    Perry, John and Michael Bratman Introduction to philosophy. Oxford: UP, 1986
    Himma, Kenneth Einar. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; Philosophy of Law. Retrieved, 3 March 2009 <>
    Tebbit, Mark. Philosophy of law; Introduction. Routledge: NY, 2000
  5. djstrauss

    djstrauss Member

    read above paper
  6. metaphysica

    metaphysica Member

    Dr. Appiah actually came to my university this past year and did a lecture on cosmopolitanism

    I think philosophy can be put into practice in every field of study and even just in the basic workplace. It is important to realize the ideas and concepts behind such "hard studies" with practical appliance say as biology and chemistry. without the ideas what is there? just blind acceptance of what other peoples ideas were.
    therefore philosophy does have its practicality, it is just less tangable then the sciences.
  7. Madcut

    Madcut Member

    I've been studying Philosophy on my own since high school. I considered majoring in it for a while then decided against it. Right now I am looking at double majoring Psychology and Philosophy. Good idea? I'm looking at going towards Social Psychology. Sociology seems to forget the individual in the process of analyzing society, so that wasn't for me.
  8. caliente

    caliente Senior Member

    Your sarcasm is misplaced. Liberal Arts majors do just fine in the job market. And at that, you seem to be assuming that the only reason one goes to college is to immediately find a niche in corporate America.

    I hired dozens of business software developers in my career. Invariably, the best of them were Liberal Arts types, with majors ranging from Art History to Psychology to Philosophy to the Classics. A few never went to college at all. And just as surely, those with Computer Science degrees didn't do nearly as well. I quickly learned to avoid C.S. degrees like the plague.

    Except for specialized engineering or medical fields, many employers don't give a rat's ass what you majored in or what your GPA was ... they just want to know that you can get through four years of college.

    Over time, I became one of them.
  9. Thekarthika

    Thekarthika Member

    My boyfriend is majoring in Philosophy, and I highly respect him for it.
  10. Carlfloydfan

    Carlfloydfan Travel lover

    With all due respect, I think you should either a. Downgrade your philosophy major to a minor and choose a more practical major. b. Choose a second more practical major and do a dual-major. Not saying philosophy won't provide a few interesting skills, like critical thinking. But, I don't know if many employers care that you can compare Socrates and Plato, or recite Nietzsche and critically analyze Kant. Unless you plan to be a teacher, in which case you can go for the graduate and phd. Most philosophy majors who make money, make it on the strength of a more practical second major, or, the fact that they went to grad school for something unrelated to their BA, like business or law.

    I've never talked to anyone who would come close to saying anything remotely like that. A philosophy major over a Computer Science major? Please. Are we from the same planet? :smilielol5:My sister works with computers, let me tell her your story... In the mean time, in the graphic below, you will find CS is still a top ten major as far as future earnings.

    IDL is kind of right, philosophy degrees simply do not open many doors unless you double major or go to grad school for something more practical. The same can be said for degrees like sociology, aforementioned art history and much more. Not to scare you, but most people I know or have talked to in fields like philosophy or sociology who simply stopped after the BA complain that they had a difficult time finding well paying jobs with their degree, especially relevant jobs.

    Kind of harsh, and the wording is at times childish, but true none the less:


    If you get your ph.d in philosophy and become a professor, you could make around 45,000. But, that depends on weather there is a high demand for teachers in that major these days, compared with English, Science or Math. Probably not a lot of openings these days.
  11. caliente

    caliente Senior Member

    You may not be. Feel free to read my post more closely. I said business software developers, not those making up new operating systems. I also did not say that all liberal arts majors make good programmers, only that the best business developers were liberal arts majors.

    I hired and managed programmers for 20 years. I might know a little about the subject. I stand by what I said.
  12. Carlfloydfan

    Carlfloydfan Travel lover

    But you did mention CS, twice, which is why I mentioned it. It is one of the highest earning majors. You avoid one of the highest earning majors, like the plauge, and go for a few LA majors instead? If a major is one of the highest earners out of college or grad school, it is for a reason.

    Yes, and my sister also works with computers and got a good chuckle out of that. She's never hired a LA in her 15 years, so maybe your case is a unique one?? But like I said, a lot of liberal arts majors (that you mention) who do go outside of their fields, like to yours, do it on the strength of a second major that is more practical to the field they go to, or the fact that they went to grad school for something else. That is all I am saying. Yah, technically it is a liberal arts major, but it is a LA major who did a second major or went on to grad school in a different field more likely than not. It is misleading to only say "A LA major is working with computers or is now a lawyer." or that it is possible. Well, that LA major went to grad school and beyond in a different field or because of a second, not mentioned major.

    I don't mean to scare the kid but am just being realistic. A post like yours might give a philosophy major over exaggerated hopes by failing to mention other specifics. If you have just a philosophy BA, on its own, you'll be hard pressed to open many doors. Though you might have an outside shot. A second major or grad degree ups those chances big time.
  13. Zorba The Grape

    Zorba The Grape Gavagai?

    I wish what caliente is saying were true everywhere, because I'm and Arts major but I also quite enjoy programming. I'm even thinking about taking a minor in CS.
  14. caliente

    caliente Senior Member

    Ok, if you don't believe me ... look at the technical recruiting sites, like Dice or Monster or Career Builders. A certain percentage of programming jobs do want a CS degree, due to the nature of the work itself. And that's as it should be.

    But if you can make software, most of them don't care what your degree is. Most recruiters understand that making good business software is such an individual thing that the type of degree you have means very little. But I emphasize that you must already have that skill. I didn't hire new liberal arts graduates that couldn't demonstrate they were good programmers.

    When I was recruiting, I didn't care about the type of degree, but I did want you to finish college. And several times, I asked for coding samples, and a few times we even gave programming tests for younger applicants.

    The point is, if you can program, you can find a job.
  15. Zorba The Grape

    Zorba The Grape Gavagai?

    Point taken. I'm sure you're right.
  16. Venatrix

    Venatrix Member

    Both of my parents majored in philosophy. My dad works for the state now, and he hates his job. My mum is a librarian. They both regret majoring in philosophy.
    Just sayin'.
  17. Zorba The Grape

    Zorba The Grape Gavagai?

    Yeah, I wouldn't recommend majoring in Philosophy alone, as Carl was saying. I'm presently double-majoring in English and Philosophy, but I'm planning on going on to get a Masters and a Doctorate and teach university. It's likely that I will move on in English rather than Philosophy, so I may rethink my choice to double-major, or what those majors will be, in the future.

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