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    University of California Merced
  Dec 12, 2017
2013-2014 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Philosophy Program

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UC Merced’s philosophy program combines traditional approaches to philosophy with interdisciplinary and applied approaches, which are on the leading edge of the field. The program has special emphases in (1) applied ethics and political philosophy, and (2) philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the material they study in traditional ways, including critical written analyses and written exams, but are also expected to make use of non-traditional methods. Examples include incorporating readings from outside of the philosophy literature, conceptual analysis of non-philosophical texts (such as scientific texts and policy analyses), and in some cases computer and mathematical modeling projects.

Philosophy Program Learning Outcomes

Upon graduation, we expect students minoring in philosophy to fulfill all of the following:

  1. Basic fluency in interpretation and criticism of arguments. Have the ability to independently study, summarize and criticize philosophical arguments, including arguments presented in classic texts and in contemporary philosophical literature. 
  2. Ability to present and defend original arguments. Have the ability to present well-defined claims of one’s own, to give clear philosophical arguments in defense of these claims, and to respond to critical objections others might raise against these claims.
  3. Basic fluency in logical inference. Be able to distinguish between logically valid and invalid deductive arguments, be able to translate verbal statements into symbolic expressions having correct logical form, and be able to give proofs of elementary propositions of logic.
  4. Interdisciplinary applications. Be able to use philosophy in an interdisciplinary way, for example, by philosophically analyzing non-philosophical texts (e.g. texts form a literature, history, psychology, or physics course), or by using formal methodological tools, such as mathematical and computer models, in the analysis of philosophical problems.

Additionally, we expect students minoring in philosophy to fulfill at least two of the following:

  1. Basic fluency in inductive logic. Be able to provide and assess evidence for causal claims and identify various fallacies in inductive reasoning (e.g. sample bias).
  2. Ability to appraise normative claims. Be able to distinguish between descriptive and normative philosophical claims, and to use certain descriptive claims either to support or to criticize certain normative claims.
  3. Historical understanding. Have an appreciation of how the discipline of philosophy has developed over time in response to internal challenges and to advances in science and changes in social life. (e.g., the renaissance in philosophy of mind was stimulated in part by the development of contemporary artificial intelligence).

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