B.A. - Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy class

 

The Department offers a B.A. degree in philosophy with a concentration in philosophy or religion. Additionally, we have a minor in philosophy and a minor in religion.  

Students complete core courses centered on the foundations of philosophical and religious traditions, and then concentrate their studies in philosophy or religion. In advanced courses, students may analyze moral issues in areas from animal rights to genetic engineering, or examine proofs for the existence of God, immortality and the problem of evil.

About Philosophy

Philosophy is critical thinking. Deciding whether an idea is worth believing takes intellectual and emotional maturity. That’s why you probably didn’t study philosophy in high school, and it’s one reason many college students don’t study it.

 Philosophers do two things that make them unusual: they take both good and bad ideas seriously, and they think reflectively.

  • If a judge decides you’re guilty before weighing the evidence, you won’t get a good hearing. Some ideas that appear bad at first turn out to be good after they are critically examined. That’s why philosophers take all ideas seriously, even ideas that appear to be bad. 
  • How do we know what we know? Is a bad mother “unnatural”? How do we tell smut from art? We must reflect to answer these questions, or think about thinking. To do that, we must already have learned to think about nature, human history, literature, and art. 

Although philosophy is different from science, history, literature, and art, it is related to all of them. And just as they have practical value, so does philosophy.

More about the Philosophy Concentration

About Religion

Your study of religion will challenge as well as confirm your thoughts about religious traditions. You will take a critical look at the religious beliefs, practices, and institutions that have shaped our world. You will also learn to understand and appreciate your own tradition as well as unfamiliar traditions. You explore religious traditions with curiosity combined with intellectual discipline. Through religious studies your ideas about religion will deepen.

Whether you go on to graduate school for the academic study of religion or to seminary, religion courses at WCU prepare you to discuss and engage religious issues from the world’s religions.

The study of philosophy and religion prepares students to think through challenging ethical questions and decisions, to reason logically, to create sound arguments, and to communicate clearly in speech and writing. The insights and skills students gain help them succeed as lawyers, doctors, theologians, counselors, politicians, scientists, directors, teachers, artists and many other professions.

More about the Religion Concentration

Planning Your Curriculum

What’s Involved in the Study of Philosophy and Religion?

Ethics: Each of us at times faces decisions that have ethical significance. The choice of a career or a decision to marry or stay single raises questions about motives (selfish or altruistic?) and the consequences of decisions (beneficial or harmful?). Most of our choices affect others.

Logic: How do we argue well? How can we resist persuasion and manipulation? Logic helps us tell sound reasoning from unsound, so that we can sort out the messages of newspapers, ads, and political speeches.

History of philosophy: What motivates a suicide bomber? Is sexism wrong in all cultures? When is war justified? Who gets to vote? The history of philosophy teaches us about different world views as well as their historical origins, limitations, and insights.

Philosophy in academic disciplines and professional practices: What good is art? Do defendants have too many rights? If cloning saves lives, what’s wrong with it? Philosophy students apply insights from logic, ethics, and history of philosophy to art, law, literature, public policy issues, religion, and science.

Religious traditions: What is unique and what is universal about religions? What are the practices, concepts, beliefs and history that define a religion? How do religions interact? What happens when religion and science encounter each other? How does religion lead to cooperation or clashes? In courses about eastern or western religious traditions you may expand your ideas or think critically about your own and other world religions.

Consider a Second Major in Philosophy

Setting WCU's philosophy degree apart is the opportunity to concentrate studies in philosophy or religion, a focus on ethical and social / political issues, and a structure that supports completing a second major in another discipline. Already have a major that you’d like to combine with a healthy diet of critical thinking? Consider a second major in philosophy. Recent graduates also majored in Biology, English, Psychology, Hospitality and Tourism Management, International Studies, Spanish, Communication, History, Music, Criminal Justice, Anthropology, Sociology, Environmental Health, Political Science and even special studies in Japanese.

Related Degrees within the International Studies Program

How about studying Philosophy and International Studies?
The International Studies B.A. requires students to major in a second program of study.

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