WHY STUDY PHILOSOPHY?
 
Philosophy is an ancient and valuable subdistrict within the vast marketplace of ideas.  It is concerned with the most interesting questions in life—the questions that are fundamental and the least easy to answer or avoid.  All cadets are required to take a course in ethics, which is the discipline concerned with answering the questions: What is a good act?  What sort of person is the best person?  What is truly valuable?  By what principles should life be led?  Obviously, philosophy is not for everyone.  It is not for those who want easy answers, nor is it for those who do not care about the deeper meanings of life or the purpose of their own lives.  It is for those who wish to gain a more thorough understanding of themselves as rational, reflective beings inhabiting and working in a world that sometimes allows us to glimpse its deeper meanings.

“Philosophy” is not another discipline.  Rather, it is rational inquiry into any discipline (e.g., philosophy of psychology, philosophy of history, philosophy of law, etc.).  Philosophers seek answers to the fundamental questions which underpin any field of study.  In addition to the questions addressed in the core course about how we should live our lives, philosophers also study principles of language and reasoning (logic), foundations of empirical discovery and other ways of knowing (epistemology), and the ultimate underpinnings and structure of the self and the world (metaphysics).
 
THE PHILOSOPHY MAJOR
 
The word “philosophy” derives from a Greek word meaning the love of wisdom.  In pursuit of wisdom, students of philosophy attempt to answer fundamental questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, and value.  Since antiquity, however, philosophers have reminded us that academic study alone cannot make one wise; life experience must complement the knowledge gained by study.  Further, many philosophers have insisted that wisdom as a cardinal virtue cannot exist independently of the other three cardinal virtues: courage, temperance, and justice. The spirit of philosophy is accordingly summed up well by Plato’s Socrates.  On trial for his life and under pressure to desist from his philosophical investigations, Socrates instead proclaimed that “. . . for a human being the unexamined life is not worth living.”  He went to his death apparently content that he had served his fellow citizens and lived the life most worth living.  USAFA philosophy majors will undertake their study of philosophy as part of a life of energetic inquiry aimed at developing the virtues appropriate to a leader of character.  They will read and discuss primary texts from ancient times up to the present day.
 
Philosophy Major Course Requirements
 
  - 96 semester hours of Dean’s academic core courses
 
  - 5 semester hours of Director of Athletics courses
 
  - 3 semester hours of Academy Option
 
  - 42 semester hours of major’s courses:
 
  • Philosophy 311
  • Philosophy 370
  • Philosophy 391, 392, 393, or 394
  • Philosophy 401 or 402
  • Philosophy 421 or 422
  • “Neat”: any 3-semester hour DFPY course
  • “With a twist”: Pol Sci 301, 451, 463, and/or Econ 240; or, with approval from DFPY, take any DF course that focuses on “overlap” texts commonly read by another discipline as well as philosophy
  • “With a splash”: with DFPY approval, take any course taught by DF or academic course taught by AD and pair with Philosophy 499 for 6 semester hours of Philosophy Option Credit
   
  - Open academic option
 
  - Foreign Language III and IV
 
THE PHILOSOPHY MINOR
 
The philosophy minor requires a minimum of 147 hours and four philosophy courses in addition to Philosophy 310.  Because philosophy courses can often be used to fulfill major’s requirements in other disciplines, the philosophy minor can sometimes be earned by taking only one or two additional courses.
 
Philosophy Minor Course Requirements
   
  - Successful completion of Philosophy 310 (C or better)  plus four courses:
  - History and topics series
    - Philosophy 391, 392, 393, or 394
  - Logic
    - Philosophy 360 or 370    
  - Any philosophy course
  - Any philosophy course OR
    - Econ 240, Pol Sci 301, Pol Sci 451, or Pol Sci 463