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Embrace the search for meaning.

Studying Philosophy at Whitman College will guide you in a rewarding pursuit of knowledge, ethics and the meaning of life that will whet your curiosity. On your way to a Philosophy degree, you’ll explore the answers to life’s great questions, like: What is a good life? What are our obligations toward others? And how do we create a just society? With your increased understanding of the world around you, you’ll be prepared to tackle real problems that face the world today—with the analytical, communication and problem-solving skills you learned as a Philosophy major.

3 Reasons to Study Philosophy at Whitman

Learn to Think Critically

Critical thinking helps you evaluate information, create stronger arguments, improve theories, solve problems and increase knowledge. These skills are important not only in the world of philosophy but in every area of life. And they make a valuable skill set in the job market.

An Inspiring Academic Environment

At Whitman, you’ll be surrounded by students who are as curious and engaged as you are. You’ll challenge and support each other. And with Whitman’s small class sizes, you’ll benefit from the personal attention of accessible professors who genuinely love teaching.

A Modern Approach

Whitman’s Philosophy courses include a wide range of contemporary topics, such as the philosophy of feminism, environmental ethics, bioethics, and the ethics of incarceration. So you’ll get plenty of practice connecting the ideas you’re learning about to real-world issues.

Interested in Philosophy?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Jess Z., philosophy major

“In my first semester, I took Skepticism, Relativism and Truth. I ended up leaving every class with such an overwhelming excitement about what there was to explore in the world and how Philosophy could help me do that…. It was also a field that I thought could help me find connection across different people's experiences because it asks questions about some of the most fundamental aspects of the human experience.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Philosophy

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

PHIL 107

Critical Reasoning

This course focuses on the principles that underlie thinking critically on any topic. It’s a foundational course that can give you tools you’ll use throughout your Whitman career and beyond. You’ll explore topics like how to analyze arguments, the nature and use of evidence, and formal and informal fallacies.

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Plant in hand.
PHIL 120

Environmental Ethics

Does the nonhuman world have any intrinsic value or is it valuable only because of its relation to human interests? Do all sentient creatures have rights? What about those creatures that lack sentience? And does the environment itself have moral standing? Through readings and thought-provoking discussions, you’ll debate answers to questions that occupy the minds of modern environmentalists.

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Sampling a specimen.
PHIL 217


Dig into current debates from the world of medicine and healthcare surrounding topics like artificial reproductive technology, abortion, healthcare resource allocation, disability accommodation, genetic testing, end-of-life care, physician-assisted suicide and clinical research.

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Scales of justice.
PHIL 218

Restorative Justice

If wrongdoing is a breach of relationships, then restorative justice suggests the best way to address the breach is to repair those relationships. In this course, you’ll examine restorative justice theory and practice, and explore ways it might be implemented in our criminal justice system. This class meets at the Washington State Penitentiary and includes the unique perspectives of incarcerated students.

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PHIL 315


What exactly is happiness? It’s a question that has occupied the minds of great philosophers (and the rest of us) from ancient to modern times. What can we learn by tracing conceptions of happiness through both historical and contemporary contexts? And what insights can be drawn from the fields of Philosophy and Psychology?

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PHIL 360

Asian Philosophy of Women, Gender and Sexuality

Explore key systems of thinking about women, gender and sexuality in Asian traditions. Can one be a Confucian feminist? What about a Daoist feminist? How do we evaluate these culturally situated views? And how can Asian philosophies help us understand dualities like sex/gender and nature/nurture.

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Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Do real research with your professors. Whitman Philosophy majors often work closely with faculty members, collaborating on research projects, co-authoring published papers and even presenting at major conferences.  

Land a life-changing internship. Through the Whitman Internship Grant, recent Philosophy majors have interned at nonprofit organizations like the STAR project, providing re-entry services to previously incarcerated individuals in Walla Walla, or the Seattle Clemency Project, a criminal justice reform and advocacy organization.

Experience the world of Philosophy. Imagine studying Immanuel Kant in Germany or John Locke at Oxford. When you study Philosophy abroad, you can improve your language skills, take specialized courses, and develop a global perspective on the issues that matter to you.

Your Questions Answered

Philosophy is about asking questions that matter. If you’re someone who is curious about the world, who likes to be challenged, and who is open to other perspectives and new ways of thinking, studying Philosophy can be incredibly rewarding. It can give you the tools to engage with an increasingly complex world and bring real solutions to the table.

A Philosophy degree is useful. It can lead to a wide variety of rewarding careers in fields such as medicine, law, education, business and activism. Because its focus is on teaching you to thoughtfully explore answers to tough questions, Philosophy majors enter the job market with highly valuable skills like critical thinking, problem solving, resolving conflict, and communicating clearly in writing and speech.

Yes! A philosophical perspective can enrich almost any major. Philosophy is a natural fit with majors like Religion, Psychology, Politics and Classics. It can enhance majors like Environmental Studies, Gender Studies and Sociology with a solid philosophical foundation. And it can even be a thought-provoking addition for students on a pre-law or pre-med track.

Absolutely! Our Philosophy program gives you a solid foundation for graduate school through rigorous academics, unique research opportunities with faculty, internships that are relevant to your eventual career goals, and a solid grounding in the critical thinking skills you’ll need to succeed at the graduate level.

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