Welcome to the Philosophy webpage. On this page you'll find the mission of the department, departmental student learning goals, a curricular map and assessment schedule, and progress made from the most recent Program Review Action Plan (2015-2016). If you have questions about the assessment findings or questions about the department, please contact Erica Stonestreet, Philosophy Department Chair, at [email protected].


Philosophy steps back from everyday experience to reflect on fundamental questions of truth, meaning and value. Socrates’ conviction that “the unexamined life is not worth living” offers the rationale for the distinctive role that this philosophical thinking plays in the life of an educated person. Students of philosophy read, reflect upon and critically evaluate texts that raise these questions of truth, meaning and value. The study of philosophy at CSB/SJU emphasizes the critical reading and understanding of texts from the historical tradition of philosophy. It also engages modern and contemporary texts that reflect critically on that tradition and propose new problems and new approaches to philosophical inquiry. In philosophy classes, students learn how to articulate ideas clearly in both speech and in writing, to approach new and difficult ideas with a spirit of openness, and to resist the urge to settle for easy answers. The department fosters the formation of classroom communities built on attentive listening and respect for oneself and others. At the same time, it seeks to rouse students from intellectual complacency and to encourage deeper understanding of themselves, of the conditions that make knowledge possible, and of the values and presuppositions of the communities to which they belong. Furthermore, the department cultivates in its students good habits of scholarship and intellectual ambition, promoting undergraduate research and aspirations for further study. In this way, the study of philosophy at CSB/SJU exemplifies a liberal arts curriculum which raises questions important to the human condition, demands clear thinking and communicating, and calls forth new knowledge for the good of humankind.


The Philosophy Department will cultivate the following abilities and dispositions in students enrolled in its classes. 

Goal 1: Valuing Philosophy

a.  Student evinces pleasure in the struggle with difficult philosophical ideas.

b. Student resists the urge to settle for quick and easy answers, and investigates underlying assumptions, overlooked possibilities, and unexamined prejudices.

c. Student evinces comfort with ambiguity, manifesting a deepened understanding that definitive answers are not always possible.

d. Student values the practice of philosophy (in the form of exercising philosophical skills and embodying philosophical dispositions) beyond academia.

Goal 2: Building Philosophical Ideas

a. Student frames philosophical questions in ways that appreciate issues of truth, meaning and value integral to the practice of philosophy.

b. Student carefully considers unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or disagreeable ideas, arguments, and evidence in order to charitably understand others’ perspectives.

c. Student constructs sound and coherent arguments in support of a thesis.

d. Student evinces intellectual humility by being open to reexamining their own beliefs, values and behaviors.

Goal 3: Developing Philosophical Knowledge

a. Student reads deliberately and analytically.

b. Student articulates philosophical knowledge clearly and accurately.

c. Student applies philosophical knowledge to issues of personal and social interest in ordinary life.