Why Philosophy?

You enjoy difficult questions and keen conversation

What is the meaning of life? And while we are talking about that, what is morality? Is a moral life the good life? How does friendship work? What is justice?  Are human beings good, evil, or both?  What are the differences between the body and the mind?  What is love?  Do we make our choices freely, or are we determined?  What is beauty? What is truth, and how does it work? What are the differences between reality and fiction?

In philosophy we love to talk about tough questions like these—and lots of other questions. In fact as philosophers we sometimes think that finding the really good questions is more important than finding the answers to those questions, although we try to do both. As a student of philosophy, you will spend a lot of your time working with others to discover the most interesting questions and to try to think more deeply about them.

In philosophy generally, and at UMKC philosophy in particular, we like to engage in philosophy through talking to each other. Sometimes we argue, sure, but mostly it is a collaborative effort to think sensitively about questions and issues that have interested human beings for thousands of years. We believe at UMKC Philosophy that a good conversation is both a skill and an art, and is one of the best things about a great college education. So we cultivate that in and out of the classroom.

You are interested in real problems faced by real people

At UMKC philosophy we try to practice the old Greek ideal of keeping philosophy relevant to the real world. In our classes we try to keep the theory of philosophy as close as possible to the activity of life. So, for example, Professor Bruce Bubacz teaches a class on Friendship and Flourishing.

As part of our commitment to the practice of philosophy we also like to collaborate with other departments at UMKC that actively address contemporary, “real world” debates. So, for example, Professor Gwen Nally teaches classes in the Philosophy of Love, and Feminism, and Professor Switzer teaches classes on Race, Sex and Power, and contemporary Social and Political Philosophy, engaging with both UMKC’s Department of Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies and the Political Science Department. Professor Bubacz has a joint appointment with The Law School, and teaches Philosophy of Law; Professor Clancy Martin has a joint appointment with the Bloch School, and also teaches Bioethics.

You like to read, write, think and argue…and you recognize the value of those skills

Critical reading, writing, thinking and argumentation are the most important skills for a philosophy major, and we focus on these. For this reason our majors do very well on the job market, where a trained but flexible mind is becoming more and more of a priority for employers.

Like philosophy majors generally, our students tend to do unusually well in applications to Law School and on the LSAT exam, and in applications to other professional and graduate programs. We have students placed in the best law schools and graduate schools in the country. As a faculty we are always focused on helping you to achieve your career goals.

You like spending time with interesting people

At least as important as getting a good job or going to a good graduate or professional school, we believe, is having a dynamic and rewarding time while you are at UMKC. For that reason we cultivate a thriving group of philosophy majors who spend time together, at First Fridays and in our Arts Internship; in Phi Sigma Tau, our Honors society; in Philosophy in Prison, our volunteer outreach program—run entirely by our majors—that teaches philosophy to maximum security inmates at Lansing Prison; in philosophy movie nights, coffee meetings, pizza nights, guest lectures and other events. Our majors tend to help each other and to spend a lot of time together—which is indeed how we think philosophy is best practiced.