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    Why Philosophy?

    Philosophy tackles questions that we all face as creatures alive to the world. The first question, perhaps, is how we should live our life. That question gives way to related questions about the nature of the world, what we can know, how words do things, our political arrangements, our belief in God, and our interest in the things we value (each other, the natural environment, works of art, music, movies,...). Many people think about these questions late in their life and anxiously, wondering about the life they’ve led. Those who study philosophy believe that the solutions to these questions are urgent and central to their happiness, and so they give their thinking over to them early and often.

    And, practically speaking: philosophy majors get good jobs, choose among diverse careers, and have great return on their investment. In short, philosophy is a great major. (Go ahead and tell your parents.)

    Why Philosophy at Le Moyne?

    At most colleges – and indeed at most graduate universities – philosophy departments are loyal to one of the two Western philosophical traditions of the past two hundred years: either continental philosophy (from the continent of Europe – chiefly Germany and France) or analytic philosophy (the dominant philosophical tradition in Great Britain and the U.S.). Le Moyne’s department of philosophy is unusual in being strongly represented in both traditions, so our students gain exposure to the full range of philosophical approaches practiced today.

    We are a large philosophy department for a small college with a small number of majors: the ratio of majors to full-time faculty is less than two to one. This means, for majors, a dozen full-time faculty from whom you can choose several to work with closely and get to know well. The department’s areas of strength include social and political philosophy, aesthetics (i.e., philosophy of art), ethics, and the history of philosophy (particularly ancient and medieval philosophy).

    Our majors have a fairly open course of study compared to other majors. Thus, as a philosophy major, you have time to pursue interdisciplinary interests, enhancing your philosophy degree with a minor or second major. Many of our majors have taken extensive courses in religious studies, political science, literature, foreign languages, theater arts, and music. It is also possible to be certified in Elementary/Special Education with a philosophy major.

    If you are bright, motivated, and want to work on a specific project, you can apply for Departmental Honors in Philosophy.

    There are several funded enrichment opportunities for philosophy majors at Le Moyne. These include travel to undergraduate conferences across the country, study abroad, internships, and post-graduate fellowships. Participation in Philosophy Symposium, the student philosophy club, enriches your experience of the philosophy major.

    Philosophy Courses and Requirements

    If you would like to learn more about courses, requirements, and opportunities for the Philosophy major, please see the Le Moyne College catalog.

    Mission Statement

    The aim of the study of philosophy at Le Moyne is to orient students in the development of critical and speculative thought, under conditions of intellectual and affective freedom, and with a sense of openness towards alternative visions of life-experience. The study of philosophy at Le Moyne is pluralistic in approach. As such, it allows majors and non-majors alike to focus on those philosophical themes that best respond to their individual concerns and vocational aspirations. These include graduate study in philosophy or related disciplines (e.g., religious studies; women’s studies; critical, literary and film theory; etc.), professional studies (in law, medicine or the ministry), and other career studies (in civil rights, ecology, etc.).

    Student Learning Goals

    Students who major in philosophy gain the ability to:

    1. Articulate a philosophical understanding of the world through the eyes of others.
    2. Articulate philosophically significant issues in their own life-experiences.
    3. Explain important philosophical concepts and themes in relation to significant historical periods of philosophy.
    4. Summarize a philosophical argument with appropriate detail, and evaluate arguments.
    5. Express their original philosophical views persuasively in writing.

    Meet the Faculty

    Irene Liu

    Irene Liu

    Associate Professor and Department Chair View Bio
    William Day

    William Day

    Associate Professor View Bio
    Cavin Robinson

    Cavin Robinson

    Assistant Professor View Bio

    News and Events

    Opening "Philosophy Talks" Lecture and Reception

    Friday, Sept. 22, 4 p.m., Panasci Family Chapel

    Ludger Viefhues-Bailey
    , Ph.D.

    "Born This Way?: Sexual Orientation and Identity Between (Hyper-) Common Sense and (Hyper-) Scientific Naturalism"

    Can sexual orientation or identity be explained in terms of reproductive biology? The predominant models of biological research on sexual orientation and identity focus on isolating genetic factors. Hilary Putnam’s liberal naturalism allows us to argue against the reductionist bent of such research programs without losing sight of the contributions science can bring to our common sense understandings of sexual orientation and identity. Drawing on queer theory and critical sociology of sexuality, Dr. Ludger Viefhues-Bailey will highlight the discursive, situational and political dimensions of claims of sexual orientation and identity.

    Following the talk, there will be a reception and dinner buffet for students interested in the philosophy program at Le Moyne.

    Recent Faculty Publications

    Ludger Viefhues-Bailey's essay "'Religion' in Anglo-American (Analytical) Philosophy of Religion" appears in Religion, Theory, Critique: Classic and Contemporary Approaches and Methodologies, edited by Richard King (Columbia UP, 2017). A second essay, "Looking forward to a New Heaven and a New Earth where American Greatness Dwells. Trumpism's Political Theology," is in the latest issue of Political Theology 18.3 (2017):194-200.

    William Day's essay "The Aesthetic Dimension of Wittgenstein's Later Writings" appears in the latest volume in the "Philosophers in Depth" series, Wittgenstein on Aesthetic Understanding, edited by Garry L. Hagberg (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Day's most recent essay on film, "The Ecstasy of Time Travel in Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams," is in The Philosophy of Documentary Film: Image, Sound, Fiction, Truth, edited by David LaRocca (Lexington Books of Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).


    Philosophy Student Honors

    The newest members of Phi Sigma Tau and the winners of the Leonard P. Markert Medal were honored at a ceremony on April 20, 2017.

    Phi Sigma Tau (ΦΣΤ) is the international honor society for high-achieving students of philosophy. This year's inductees are Samantha Cobb, Rebecca Hall, Alexandra Paulin, Trevor Thompson, and Noah Woods.

    The Leonard P. Markert Medal in Philosophy is awarded each year to the graduating senior who does the most outstanding work in Philosophy. This year the Department was pleased to name two Markert Medal winners: Samantha Cobb and Jacob Richards.

    Vulnerability Conference

    The Department of Philosophy and the McDevitt Chair in Religious Philosophy hosted Le Moyne's first themed undergraduate conference, Vulnerability: Dimensions and Perspectives, on April 8, 2017. Students from various majors at the College read their refereed papers for the conference to an audience of 50-75 faculty, students, and friends from the community.

    The keynote speaker for the conference was Richard Moran, Ph.D., the Brian D. Young Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, who delivered a talk titled “The Philosophical Retreat to the Here and Now."

    The conference was one of several initiatives of Le Moyne's first Visiting McDevitt Chair in Religious Philosophy, Todd May, Ph.D., the Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University.

    The student presenters and the titles of their papers were:

    • Veronica Ung-Kono '18 (Communication, Political Science): "An Examination of Victor Frankenstein's Vulnerabilities"
    • Sebaah Hamad '17 (English Literature): "Shame and Guilt Foster Hope of Return: Palestinian Poetry in the Wake of the Nakba"
    • Noah Woods '18 (Philosophy, Religious Studies): "A Vulnerable Consciousness: Evolution, Meaning and Suffering"
    • Juliette Rawda '18 (Philosophy, Political Science): "Allegory of the Cave: Invulnerability and Ignorance"


    Get in Touch

    Contact the Department Chair:

    Dr. Irene Liu


    (315) 445-4491


    Contact the Department:

    Reilly Hall 339A
    Department of Philosophy
    Le Moyne College
    1419 Salt Springs Road
    Syracuse, NY 13214


    (315) 445-4256


    Connect with Le Moyne's Philosophy Department

    Why Study the Liberal Arts? Le Moyne graduates leave here with a strong intellectual capacity, a tolerance of ambiguity and the ethical foundation to succeed professionally and to thrive personally–all of which is our mission, and our privilege. Learn more about the liberal arts

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