Philosophy program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor

Question your deepest assumptions about the world and your life.

The study of philosophy demands that we think about the values we hold, the lives we contemplate leading, and the nature of the universe where we find ourselves.

In UW-La Crosse's Philosophy program, students are empowered to think logically, critically and rigorously about these topics and many others. They learn to read carefully and write argumentatively by examining responses to the big questions of thinkers from a variety of time periods and cultures. Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline, but because of its relevance, it continues to prepare students with broad skillsets for a successful future.

Philosophy jobs

Philosophy majors develop broad skills in creative and critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, attention to detail, the ability to see multiple perspectives, and more. For this, they are prepared for a broad array of careers and graduate school programs. Graduates go on to lead successful careers from education to business to law. Even more importantly, studying philosophy enriches one's personal life.

Philosophy careers

  • K-12 educator or university professor
  • Financial or computer analyst
  • Government service
  • Business management
  • Peace Corps
  • Missionary
  • Physician
  • University admissions counselor
  • Psychiatrist
  • Humanities teacher
  • Medical, environmental or business ethicist
  • Politics
  • Attorney
  • Entrepreneur
  • Congressional staff member
  • Environmentalist
  • Diplomat
  • Environmental farmer

Further education

  • Philosophy
  • Religion
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Social sciences
  • Counseling
  • Humanities communication
  • Law school
  • Medical school

What distinguishes UWL's philosophy program?

Broad-based academic background leads to preparation for diverse career paths

Philosophy pairs well with other majors as the skills students learn are broad and can apply to any field. UWL's program is dedicated to helping students develop skills in a number of areas:

  • Critical and creative thinking for the rapidly changing, interdependent world in which we live.
  • Enhanced problem solving skills, and the ability to view matters from a variety of different perspectives.
  • An ability to analyze and understand philosophical problems met by professional people and intelligent citizens.
  • Sensitivity and competence in thinking across disciplinary, gender, and racial lines.
  • Foundational skills and abilities for post undergraduate study.
Student-involvement opportunities

Students have numerous opportunities to connect such as the Phenomenology Lecture Series, Philosophy Club, Departmental Honors Program, and Apprenticeships in Philosophy.

Undergraduate research opportunities

In the Philosophy Department, students engage in independent research projects or collaborative projects developed with a faculty mentor. Philosophy projects are often interdisciplinary in nature, and may include creative projects as well as traditional research papers.

Professional association connections

Faculty in the program are connected to a variety of professional associations including the American Philosophical Association, the Wisconsin Philosophical Association, the American Association of Philosophy Teachers and the Society of Women in Philosophy.

Diverse faculty backgrounds

UWL philosophy faculty members, all of whom have doctorates in philosophy, represent many different philosophical viewpoints and diverse competencies and interests. The coursework available in the Philosophy Program represents not only all of the important traditional areas of philosophy but also new interests and developments in the field.

Life preparation

The knowledge, skills, and perspectives gained through the study of philosophy not only prepare one for professional success, but also provide countless ways to engage life’s complexities.

Sample courses

PHL 201 Ethical Theory and Practice This course is an exploration of philosophical ethics with attention paid to the philosophical methods of analysis and argumentation used to drive and evaluate moral theories and judgments. Topics may include the nature of moral truth (e.g., absolute truth, relativism, pluralism), prominent moral theories (e.g., virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism), important figures from the history of philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Kant, J.S. Mill), an examination into the nature of virtues and values, principles of right action, and character. Contemporary moral problems will help elucidate each of the theoretical positions. Offered Annually.

PHL 330 Philosophy of Food: The Dining Experience This course explores the aesthetic, ethical and existential features of food. Topics may include the ethics of hunting; whether food can be art; the Tao of food; the phenomenology of terroir, localism, and cosmopolitanism; whether manners are a moral or aesthetic good; and whether certain foods are Veblen goods. Offered Fall.

PHL 333 Philosophy of Mind A study of the nature of the mind from both philosophical and psychological perspectives. The course will focus on important attempts to solve the mind-body problem, how mind and body are related and also will address the related problems of consciousness, intentionality, free will and personal identity. (Cross-listed with PHL/PSY; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Fall.

PHL 301 Theory of Knowledge This course is an intensive examination of the central philosophical questions surrounding the nature of knowledge, truth, and justification. Topics may include the difference between knowledge, wisdom, and know-how; analyses of knowledge, truth, and justification; the nature of misinformation; disagreement; the structure and sources of justification; the insights and limits of cognitive science; the role of human evolution in our understanding of the world; knowledge of abstract entities (e.g., principles of logic, mathematics, or morality); knowledge of the self and other minds; social cognition; and issues concerning the lived-experience of marginalized groups. (Cross-listed with PHL/PSY; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Annually.

PHL 332 Philosophy of the Arts An examination of production, appreciation, and criticism of art. Topics may include the nature of art, the nature of beauty, the function(s) of art (if any), the moral status of works of art, aesthetic evaluation, the antimony of taste, the paradoxes of fiction, tragedy, and horror, and public financing of art. Theories may include the imitation/representation theory, expressionism, formalism, aesthetic experience theory, and institutional theory. Offered Annually.

PHL 339 Medical Ethics This course is an examination of the principal moral problems that arise in the clinical and non-clinical medical context. Topics include an introduction to the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, as well as the ethical complexities surrounding various issues including paternalism and patient autonomy, healthcare decisions regarding children, the role and responsibilities of surrogate decision-makers, truth-telling and confidentiality, clinical trials, abortion, reproductive and genetic technologies, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, public health, and justice in health care. Offered Occasionally.

PHL 349 Asian Philosophy This course is an examination of the main questions found in the Asian philosophical traditions. Students read Indian, Chinese, and Japanese philosophers, with a special emphasis on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. Questions are centered in ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. Topics include: (right) conduct and virtue; the nature of reality, mind, and self (e.g., what is a self, what is a person?); the Middle Way; individual and social well-being; and the notions of interdependent arising, emptiness, and enlightenment. Conceptual connections are made with Western philosophical traditions. Offered Alternate Years.