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Philosophy Overview

Though the study of philosophy is of general benefit no matter what one’s calling, it is particularly beneficial to those considering careers in law, public policy, journalism, business, religion, the health professions, education, and the human services. This is because the study of philosophy enhances one’s analytical abilities, one’s intellectual independence, one’s ability to openly and honestly engage the ideas of others, one’s abilities to write and to think critically and carefully about complex problems that defy easy solution, and one’s abilities to express oneself with clarity and precision. All of these are among those abilities most generally desired by employers of all types. Those who study philosophy therefore find themselves very well prepared to excel and to become leaders in whatever profession they might choose.

Philosophers ask deep and important questions about a wide variety of topics, ranging from the nature of justice to question of free will, to the question of whether it is possible for human beings to have knowledge of God. Not only do philosophers ask questions like these, they seek out and debate answers to them, together in dialogue with colleagues from across the disciplines. This means that philosophical investigation necessarily involves not only the history of philosophical ideas, but the careful and critical examination of relevant facts and their interconnections, highly developed argumentation skills, and the ability to engage in cooperative dialogue for the common purpose of inquiry.

The academic benefits of philosophy are sharpened critical and analytical thinking skills, enhanced imaginative capacity, greater clarity and precision in communication, and heightened intellectual discipline. Philosophical training also greatly enhances one’s ability to enter into cooperative and informed argumentation and debate with others. These make the study of philosophy a perfect complement to almost any major, and a worthwhile and rewarding field of academic study in its own right.

In addition to the academic benefits, philosophy is invaluable in providing those who study it with the cognitive tools necessary for making competent, reflective and balanced judgments. Those with philosophical training are uniquely empowered to develop a consistent and coherent view of the world and of their place in it. In addition to these the personal benefits of philosophical study also include a more open mind, an enhanced sense of the moral worth of oneself and others, greater intellectual curiosity and enjoyment, and greater facility in careful thinking about problems whose difficulty mirrors that of real life problems.

Students wishing to enroll in the Philosophy B.A. or Minor programs must be students in good academic standing at the College.

The Philosophy program at Marygrove College offers students an intellectually and methodologically diverse approach to the discipline. The department has special strengths in the history of philosophy, Continental philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, value theory, and argumentation and critical thinking.

The instructional hallmark of all philosophy courses at Marygrove College is an emphasis on all of the following: critical thinking skills, close reading, clear writing, and interactive debate about philosophical topics.

In addition to the B.A. and Minor programs, the Philosophy program supports the General Education program of the College with a number of courses (see below) that provide students with a foundation in philosophical methods that can serve them throughout their academic career. Many of the department’s courses also support the College’s Urban Leadership Mission and Vision by incorporating course materials and assignments that apply philosophical methods of analysis and inquiry in urban contexts. See the course listings for more detail.

Philosophy courses are offered throughout the week in both day and evening sections. There are no special admissions procedures for the major or the minor. Any student wishing to join the program must simply be a student in good academic standing at Marygrove College. Those interested in joining the B.A. or Minor programs in Philosophy are encouraged to contact the Program Coordinator.


  1. The Marygrove Philosophy Program is unique. Our program has strengths in: Moral Philosophy, Continental Philosophy of Religion, and Critical Thinking/Argumentation Studies. There are no philosophy programs in Michigan that can claim major strengths in these last two areas. 

  2. We have a great faculty. In addition to being active researchers with international reputations, we are dedicated teachers and helpful advisors. At Marygrove, in the philosophy program, you can get the classroom interaction that a small school provides with scholars as active and as current in their disciplines as any you might meet at a large research University. [NB: We can add "See the faculty page for more information." once a faculty page exists] 

  3. The ability to think critically is highly desirable to prospective employers across a wide range of industries and professions, and it is a particular focus of our program. When we teach critical thinking, and when we incorporate it into our courses, we aren't simply using a buzzword. Nor are we basing our work on out-of-date research or textbooks. We are teaching critical thinking according to the most recent research and best practices available from international scholarship from across the disciplines of philosophy, cognitive science, linguistics, education, and computational modeling. We take it seriously not just as part of the study or philosophy, but as part of your future. 

  4. Problem solving in the professional world means being able to articulate and defend one’s ideas in conversation with others. In keeping with our emphasis on critical thinking and argumentation, EVERY philosophy course students take at Marygrove College involves at least one in-class debate. The debate is a proven tool for teaching not just good habits of argumentation and critical thinking, but clear and persuasive communication, teamwork, and peer interaction too. We have made it the hallmark of our program. We are the only program in Michigan that offers such focus on this critically important skill. 

  5. Graduates of Marygrove's major and minor programs in philosophy succeed. In recent years our graduates have become practicing lawyers, independent entrepreneurs, and workers at community-focused non-profits. They go on to advanced degrees too, most recently in mathematics, business, and computer science. The possibilities open to a philosophy major or minor are literally among the most promising of any discipline. And there is plenty of evidence to back this up. 

  6. We celebrate being an intellectually diverse faculty representing a number of different philosophical approaches and traditions. We believe that intellectual curiosity and a wide range of interests is inherently better for philosophical skill development—and preparation for an ever-changing work environment—than is any narrow, constrained, over-specialized regimen of disciplinary training. That’s why we have developed a program that will both give students a foundation in the disciplinary skills and content mentioned above, but that also affords students considerable flexibility in choosing courses. Our partnership with University of Detroit-Mercy ensures that those who major in philosophy with us are exposed to a wide diversity of philosophical styles, opinions, and approaches even outside of our own. It’s not about us making you into the kind of philosophical thinker we think you should be, it’s about us helping you find the philosophical style and approach that best suits you. 

  7. Maybe most importantly--we are excited about our future. We are an up-and-coming department with unique programatic emphases and a style of doing philosophy that no one else around us has. We are in the very beginning phases of a growth initiative and are looking for talented, independently-minded students with a keen sense of intellectual curiosity to join us. If this describes you, then you may find philosophy to be as challenging, rewarding, and as fun as we do. Our door is open. We want you here.