2023-2024 Catalog 
    Dec 06, 2023  
2023-2024 Catalog

Philosophy and Public Affairs Major

Major Requirements

The major in philosophy and public affairs requires 12 courses, distributed as follows:

1. Introductory Philosophy (1 course)

One introductory CMC philosophy course , numbered 059 or below.

2. Fundamentals of Logic (1 course)

Students are advised to take this early in their course of study, although this is not required.

3. Ethics, Political Philosophy, and Value Theory: Foundations (1 course)

One course selected from the Ethics, Political Philosophy, and Value Theory: Foundations  group.

4. Ethics, Political Philosophy, and Value Theory (1 course)

One course focusing on ethics, political philosophy, or value theory numbered 100 or above, to be chosen in consultation with the program coordinator. Possible courses include:

5. History or Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind (1 course)

One course from either the History of Philosophy  group or the Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Mind  group.

6. Philosophy Elective (1 course)

One course from any philosophy  group, numbered 100 or above.

7. Public Affairs Electives (5 courses)

Five courses in government  and/or economics . Students are urged to take courses in which they learn about issues that complement their philosophical education and to which philosophical analysis can usefully be applied.

8. Advanced Seminar in Philosophy

Advanced Seminars are typically offered every semester with rotating topics and professors. Majors must take this at least one time, during any year they choose.


  • Students may take multiple Advanced Seminars on different topics. Additional Advanced Seminars can count toward the requirement of 2 courses numbered 100 or above, or in some cases other requirements.
  • Students may not count more than 3 non-CMC philosophy courses or more than 2 non-CMC government/economics courses toward their philosophy and public affairs major. Students who wish to count courses taken at the other Claremont Colleges or at other institutions toward their major must receive pre-approval from the department chair.

Senior Thesis in Philosophy & Public Affairs

The senior thesis is a general education requirement and the capstone of a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least one of their majors, under supervision of a faculty member who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception.

Students who select a 2-semester, 2-unit thesis complete a thesis research course in the first semester and the senior thesis in the second semester. The senior thesis and the thesis research course may not be counted as courses in the major.

If PPA majors choose to write a thesis in PPA, they must work with a philosophy professor and should expect to produce a thesis with substantial philosophical content. They may do interdisciplinary work, though they may not write theses that are solely in government or economics.

Special Options for Majors

Dual Major

Philosophy and Public Affairs is not available as a dual major, since it already involves interdisciplinary work in philosophy, government, and/or economics. Students who wish to supplement another major with substantial philosophical study are encouraged to complete a dual major in Philosophy  and another field.

Honors in Philosophy & Public Affairs

To be eligible for honors in PPA, students must:

  • Complete a major in PPA
  • Earn a grade point average of 3.50 or better in major courses
  • Be voted honors by the members of the department.

General Education Requirement Information

Students with interdisciplinary majors requiring courses in the humanities and/or social sciences are required to take designated courses in 6 different fields of the humanities and social science for the general education requirements.

PPA majors must take courses in at least 3 of the 4 fields of the social sciences, including GOVT 020 CM  and ECON 050 CM  and at least one other chosen from history or psychology, and in 2 or 3 of the 4 fields in the humanities, for a total of 6 courses.

PPA majors may count one philosophy course numbered 059 and below as a general education course in the humanities; they may not use ECON 050 CM  or GOVT 020 CM  for the PPA major’s requirement of 5 courses in government or economics. For further information on general education requirements, see General Education Requirements .

Learning Goals and Student Learning Outcomes for the Philosophy Program

Learning Goals

After an education in philosophy, students should have learned to:

  1. Engage with theoretical problems in philosophy, including central problems from philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, broadly construed.
  2. Engage with historical texts and historical ideas in philosophy.
  3. Engage with practical problems, including problems that involve ethical and political decision-making.
  4. Write prose that is both effective and engaging.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in philosophy will have learned:

  1. Engagement with theoretical problems in philosophy, including central problems from philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, broadly construed
    1. Students will be able to extract theoretical positions from texts and conceptualize them in precise ways.
    2. Students will understand important criticisms of those positions given by other philosophers.
    3. Students will be able to offer their own views on theoretical problems and offer persuasive reasons for those views.
  2. Engagement with historical texts and ideas in philosophy
    1. Students will be able to clearly state what the views of historical figures were, the philosophical reasons or arguments they offer for their views, and how these views relate to the figures’ broader philosophical position.
    2. Students will be able to interpret historical figures and evaluate the figures’ philosophical positions, drawing upon textual evidence, analysis of the philosophical arguments, the ideas of the time, and/or modern insights into the same subject matter.
    3. Students will be able to engage with and evaluate the arguments of historical figures and offer persuasive reasons for their own views.
  3. Engagement with practical problems, including problems that involve ethical and political decision-making
    1. Students will understand practical and ethical problems, including the complexities surrounding them.
    2. Students will understand why thinkers have offered different solutions to the problems.
    3. Students will develop their own solutions to ethical and practical problems and be able to offer reasons for their solutions.
  4. Writing that is effective and engaging
    1. Students will be able to clearly and effectively present a philosophical thesis.
    2. Students will be able to present the ideas of others in a rigorous, informative, and fair manner.
    3. Students will be able to justify their thesis with compelling argumentation.