United States Air Force Academy

Go to home page
Developing Intellectual Power

PHILOSOPHY

Philosophy is not just another discipline. It is also a rational inquiry into any discipline—for instance, philosophy of psychology asks whether we can “measure” internal states such as desires, beliefs, and emotions; philosophy of history asks whether human history has a discernible direction and end point; philosophy of law asks how morality and law are related; and so on. Philosophers seek answers to the fundamental questions which underpin any field of study. In addition to core questions 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).

In our core course—Philosophy 310, Ethics—all cadets learn major ethical theories and traditions from Western antiquity to the present. We focus on how these have led to the evolution of the just-war tradition and its progeny, including the law of armed conflict and tactical-level rules of engagement. Throughout the course, cadets enhance their deliberative capacity, moral judgment, and sensitivity to ethical nuance while improving their motivation to live as leaders of character. Cadets also gain tools to analyze accounts of the virtues associated with excellent moral judgment and moral action. The course also helps cadets hone oral and written communication, critical thinking, and decision-making skills throughout 40 discussion-oriented, writing-intensive lessons.

The philosophy major and minor go further, providing cadets with the opportunity to pursue specialized excellence in philosophical investigation. Our cadets become fine critical thinkers and communicators. That is not to say that cadets who take philosophy courses beyond the core must be philosophy majors, or philosophy or religion studies minors. For example, biology and chemistry majors hoping to enter medical school enjoy our course in medical ethics, and legal studies majors gain important insights in our philosophy of law course.

POTENTIAL JOB ASSIGNMENTS

Almost any Air Force specialty is open to philosophy majors. Just ask the Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein, whose official Air Force biography proudly points to his philosophy major at USAFA as the foundation of his career. A philosophy degree provides excellent preparation for study in fields such as law and medicine.

SAMPLE COURSES
  • War, Morality and the Military Profession
  • Ethics and Technology
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Medical Ethics
SUGGESTED COURSE SEQUENCE
4th CLASS YEAR (FRESHMAN) 3RD CLASS YEAR (SOPHOMORE) 2ND CLASS YEAR (JUNIOR) 1ST CLASS YEAR (SENIOR)
Beh Sci 110
Chem 100
Comp Sci 110
English 111
Engr 101
For Lang 1
For Lang 2
History 100
Math 141
Math 142
Physics 110
Chem 200
Econ 201
English 211
EngrMech 220
MSS 200
Philos 310
Philos 370
Philos Opt
Physics 215
Pol Sci 211
Aero Engr 315
BehSci 310
Biology 315
ECE 315
English 411
Law 220
Math 300
Philos 311
Philos 401
Philos 495
Philos Opt 1
Academy Opt
AstroEngr310
Geo 310
History 300
Mgt 400
MSS 400
Open Academic Opt
Philos Opt 2
Philos Opt 3
Philos Opt 4
Philos Opt 5
SocSci 412

For full program requirements and course descriptions, download the current Curriculum Handbook.

VALIDATION AND TRANSFER CREDITS

Management 411, Econ 440, Pol Sci 301, Pol Sci 451 and Pol Sci 463. Consult with Department of Philosophy AIC for other potential courses for transfer credit.

CONTACT US

Dr. Rhonda Smith
Advisor-in-Charge
rhonda.smith@usafa.edu
(719) 333-8659

Want to Study Philosophy?