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About the Major

At Hamilton, philosophy professors encourage students to engage actively in classes. Our small introductory classes focus on primary sources rather than predigested material in textbooks. All courses invite students to participate in collaborative conversations, with emphases on developing clear writing and presentation skills. Philosophy majors apply their training beyond the classroom through experiential learning projects or by participating in our exciting summer program. Visiting speakers bring some of the most prominent names in philosophy to campus and into our classrooms.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Explain a range of philosophical views, historical and contemporary
  • Identify philosophical problems in philosophy, other academic disciplines, or outside the academy
  • Formulate their own views about philosophical problems in conversation with other philosophical works
  • Defend those views cogently in writing and in speech

A Sampling of Courses

Truax Pillars

Environmental Ethics

Examines the appropriate relation of humans to the environment. Specific topics include ways of conceptualizing nature; the ethical and social sources of the environmental crisis; our moral duties to non-human organisms; and the ethical dimensions of the human population explosion. The goal is to help students arrive at their own reasoned views on these subjects and to think about the consequences of everyday actions, both personal and political. Preference given to environmental studies majors and minors, starting with seniors.

Explore these select courses:

How ought we to live our lives? How ought we to treat other people? What features of an action make it right or wrong? What are the character traits make a person good or bad? We will examine three major traditions in ethical theory: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. And we will discuss some applied questions concerning the morality of abortion, affluence and poverty, war, pornography, climate change, and the treatment of non-human animals. We will explore questions of moral motivation. We will read primary texts.

What is a self? Does each person have one? Does each person have only one? How is the self related to the soul? Is it unchanging or in constant flux? What is the relationship between the self and the body? Examination of personal identity, the self and the soul as these topics are addressed in traditional philosophical texts, literature and the natural and behavioral sciences.

A study of justice within the history of ethical theory, including developments and debates among Humean, consequentialist, and deontological perspectives. We pay special attention to aid (when are we required to help others in need?) and distributive justice (what constitutes a fair distribution of goods and resources?), discussing theories from Dworkin, Rawls, Sen, and Nussbaum. The course concludes with a unit on the capabilities approach to distributive justice, which introduces basic questions about the requirements for living a good and happy human life.

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.

Meet Our Faculty

Russell Marcus

Chair, Associate Professor Philosophy

rmarcus1@hamilton.edu

philosophy of mathematics, logic, modern philosophy, and pedagogy

Justin Clark

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

jcclark@hamilton.edu

ethics, ancient philosophy, social and political philosophy

Katheryn Doran

Associate Professor of Philosophy

kdoran@hamilton.edu

American philosophy; the problem of skepticism; contemporary Anglo-American philosophy; environmental ethics

A. Todd Franklin

Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies

tfrankli@hamilton.edu

existentialism, African-American philosophy, and Nietzsche

Marianne Janack

John Stewart Kennedy Professor of Philosophy

mjanack@hamilton.edu

epistemology; philosophy of science; philosophy of mind; theories of identity; feminist theory; philosophy and literature; American pragmatism

Alessandro Ramón Moscarítolo Palacio

Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy

amoscari@hamilton.edu

philosophy of love and sex, feminist philosophy, medical ethics, and aesthetics

Alexandra Plakias

Associate Professor of Philosophy

aaplakia@hamilton.edu

metaethics, moral psychology and ethics

Richard Werner

Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (retired)

rwerner@hamilton.edu

ethics, ancient philosophy, pragmatism and public philosophy

Explore Hamilton Stories

Little Know Facts Illustration - May 2022

Professors Share ‘Little-Known’ Facts

From Ghana to New Zealand, famed philosophers have not all been European.

Anna Goula ’22

Goula ’22 to Study Nonprofit Management at Columbia

After three years of people-centered professional and academic experience, Anna Goula ’22 is preparing to pursue a career characterized by mission and impact work.

Nathalie Martinez '23

Exploring the Morality of Cultural Appropriation

Nathalie Martinez ’23 is spending her summer working at an interdisciplinary research lab called Scientists, Technologists, and Artists Generating Exploration (STAGE) through a University of Chicago grant.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in philosophy are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • 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
  •  Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Tech
  • Senior Scientist, GE Global Research
  • Director, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Vice President, Goldman Sachs
  • Officer, U.S. Marine Corps
  • Principal Law Clerk, New York State Supreme Court
  • Lieutenant, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Contact

Department Name

Philosophy Department

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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