Monday, July 23, 2012

Consider Philosophy at Carolina

Today, please welcome Professor Marc Lange, chair of the Philosophy Department, who is here to tell us more about studying philosophy at Carolina: 

Of the more than 150 philosophy majors at UNC, only a small handful had any acquaintance at all with philosophy before arriving in Chapel Hill. But having taken a philosophy class – perhaps on philosophy and sport, or philosophy of science, or morality and law – many students decide to take additional courses having the same level of excitement, intellectual vitality, and logical rigor that they enjoyed in their first philosophy course. Before they know it, they become philosophy majors (or minors). Then they have something in common with Steve Martin, Phil Jackson (the basketball coach), Susan Sarandon, Stephen Breyer (the Supreme Court justice), Ethan Coen, Aung San Suu Kyi (the Burmese dissident leader), George Soros (the billionaire), Alex Trebek (from TV’s Jeopardy), Bruce Lee, and Pearl Buck.

Did you know that in the past decade, the number of philosophy majors at four-year U.S. colleges and universities has grown 46 percent – a higher rate than history or psychology? Perhaps students tend to major in philosophy in uncertain times like ours. Did you know that philosophy majors are admitted to medical school at a higher rate than almost any other major (far outpacing biology majors, for instance)? That in every recent year, philosophy majors had higher average LSAT scores than political science majors? Of course, it doesn’t follow from any of these facts that you will improve your LSAT scores or your chances of admission to medical school by becoming a philosophy major. (You probably already had this thought. It involves drawing just the kind of important distinction that philosophers pounce upon!) Of course, the main reason that philosophy majors would give for majoring in philosophy is simply that they love it.

But there are other relevant considerations. UNC’s philosophy department has won more teaching awards for its size than any other UNC department. We have long been ranked as one of the top ten U.S. philosophy departments. We have lots of small classes and faculty who love to teach them. We also have an active undergraduate philosophy club, a popular minor in “PPE” (philosophy, politics, and economics), a variety of exciting courses (from “The Philosophy of Comedy” to “Reason, Religion, and Reality in the Copernican Revolution”), and the Parr Center for Ethics (which sponsors our award-winning interscholastic Ethics Bowl team) – as well as our “Take a Philosopher to Lunch” program.

I hope to see you around Caldwell Hall.

Marc Lange
Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor
Philosophy Department Chair