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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 always took classes I was interested in or thought might potentially interest me, while at the same time trying to ensure that I was getting a well-rounded education that wasn't limited to just one subject. I never viewed it as ‘I need this course if I want to follow this career path.’ I think that's the real value of a liberal arts education – you can be an art history major, then go into law, or a biology major who goes into advertising.

Sean Sullivan ’07 — 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 310F


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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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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Simone de Beauvoir: Between Philosophy and Literature 473S


This course will focus on Simone de Beauvoir’s work. We will read the whole of The Second Sex, one of the most important contributions to feminist theory, as well as her novels, short stories, and some of the volumes from her autobiography. One of the themes we will address is the distinction between what we think of as philosophy and what we think of as “literature”. We will focus not only on her contributions to feminist theory more generally, but also on her unique contributions to both feminist phenomenology and existentialism.

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