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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.

For me, college was a time of true intellectual awakening. My philosophy classes anchored this sentiment, as they constantly challenged my ability to comprehend, analyze, and articulate.

Cara Chard ’03 — 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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Existentialism 115S


An introduction to various theories and expressions of 19th- and 20th-century existential thought. Readings include works by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, and Fanon. We will also analyze existentialist literature and movies. Writing-intensive. Oral Presentations. Proseminar.

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The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness 242S


A philosophical exploration of a variety of historical and contemporary works that illuminate and influence the phenomenological experience of being black. Writing-intensive.

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The Concept of Authority 307S


The course begins with a brief exposition of authority in the context of the concepts of language games, performative concepts, and conceptual puzzlement (Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Austin); it next examines political authority in Hannah Arendt, Max Weber, and Michel Foucault. The next unit explores the construction of authoritative bodies of knowledge, especially biology and economics. It concludes considering adjacent concepts of obligation and consent, focusing on ideas associated with student free-speech, anti-war, and racial justice activism.

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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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Evolution and Morality 452S


It makes sense to see morality as adaptive, yet from an evolutionary perspective it’s puzzling that we follow and enforce moral standards even when it is costly for us to do so. This course will critically examine different sorts of evolutionary accounts of morality (e.g. group selection, cultural evolution), with methodological issues in mind.

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