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After much introspection I have decided to pursue a major in philosophy.

After much introspection I have decided to pursue a major in philosophy. Philosophy has become a passion of mine, and while other interests faded away, it has kept me intently interested. Currently, my long-term goal is to go to graduate school and complete a PhD. in philosophy. Afterwards I would like to devote my life to teaching the subject. Lately though, I worry whether a degree in philosophy would be enough in my intellectual development. I have considered possibly doing a double major in cognitive science in addition to my philosophy undergraduate degree, in hopes that it would expose me to another discipline for me to utilize in my philosophical research. My main concern is that when it comes to doing my dissertation I won't have a more empirical background to possibly ground some of my arguments accurately. I was recently talking to my logic professor and he was telling me that philosophy is becoming increasing more inter-disciplinary. I suppose my biggest question is, do I myself need to become...

I often recommend double-majoring. (Philosophers often disagree with each other.) Don't do it for strategic reasons. But if you find yourself enjoying courses in cognitive science (or some other subject), then take more, perhaps to the point you double major. Personally, I think philosophers should be as "widely educated" as possible, especially if the philosophical questions they are pursuing would benefit from information from other fields--and I think philosophy of mind certainly benefits from information from the cognitive sciences.

Can studying philosophy help one to become more creative? What percent of the

Can studying philosophy help one to become more creative? What percent of the first year undergrads you've taught have had original thoughts in their heads at any time?

Yes. And 100%.

OK, perhaps those answers are too short and uncreative.

But yes, I think reading philosophy, thinking about philosophical questions, and trying to come up with and write about philosophical issues can stimulate creative thinking and improve one's creativity (perhaps not artistic creativity but new ways of thinking about things, new ideas, etc.). I think philosophy students tend to become better at imagining different options and solutions and at writing new types of arguments. I'm allowing my current senior major students to do a creative project to engage with the topic we're discussing (death and the meaning of life), and we'll see what they come up with, but music, drama/dialogues, short films, and video games are possibilities.

And it's 100% because original thoughts happen all the time. Each one of us experiences things in ways no one else has. If you meant original answers to philosophical questions, well, then it's probably much lower, but those are not so easy to come up with.

Yes. And 100%. OK, perhaps those answers are too short and uncreative. But yes, I think reading philosophy, thinking about philosophical questions, and trying to come up with and write about philosophical issues can stimulate creative thinking and improve one's creativity (perhaps not artistic creativity but new ways of thinking about things, new ideas, etc.). I think philosophy students tend to become better at imagining different options and solutions and at writing new types of arguments. I'm allowing my current senior major students to do a creative project to engage with the topic we're discussing (death and the meaning of life), and we'll see what they come up with, but music, drama/dialogues, short films, and video games are possibilities. And it's 100% because original thoughts happen all the time. Each one of us experiences things in ways no one else has. If you meant original answers to philosophical questions, well, then it's probably much lower, but those are not so...

Hello everyone. I am a sophomore starting a philosophy club at my high school.

Hello everyone. I am a sophomore starting a philosophy club at my high school. No other high school in the district has one. To get straight to the point, I need a clever acronym for the club's name. Although this isn't really a philosophical question, can you please take your time and possibly give me a good, witty name? We cover all fields of philosophy.

Well, I was going to say "High Phi" but then I googled it and remembered that it's the name of an organization trying to get philosophy into high schools. See here: https://www.academia.edu/1873708/Project_High-Phi and here: http://teachhigh-phi.org/ So, you might want to become affiliated with that organization and use some of their materials (and maybe the name). Or you could let the members brainstorm for a name or have a contest or something. After you have them read a couple pieces, like Plato's Cave or Descartes first two Meditations, or whatever, they might use the ideas as springboards for clever names, like Mind Spelunkers or Living the Dream ... or something more clever than that!

I currently study philosophy at an undergraduate level at Trinity College Dublin

I currently study philosophy at an undergraduate level at Trinity College Dublin, and I am interested in pursuing philosophy of mind at a graduate level – certainly with a PhD. That's the hope anyway. I have considered perhaps doing something like an MPhil at Cambridge. Yet, I am concerned that a lot of work in philosophy of mind doesn't seem to take into account where it sits on the boundary between science and philosophy, and a lot of what we get is some sort of babble that doesn't fit into what we know from science. Often, there is a lot of stuff that thinks it is informed by science, but really isn't – out of simple ignorance. I like David Chalmers's views on this: "Everything I say here is compatible with the results of contemporary science; our picture of the natural world is broadened, not overturned." I have considered completing an MSc in Neuroscience that doesn't take things from a philosophy perspective. There are quite a few programs, such as one at my own university, that accept students...

Well, I think your plans sound great. But of course I would, since I helped develop the Neurophilosophy Track in the MA program in philosophy at Georgia State University (www.gsu.edu/philosophy). I'm not just advertising! (though you might consider our program.) I'm suggesting that your view of philosophy of mind as continuous with the cognitive sciences is a prominent one (and the right one to boot!). Many PhD programs in philosophy (including MIT, but also Washington University's PNP program, UC San Diego, CUNY, Pitt HPS, Indiana, and others) have people and programs focusing on empirically-informed philosophy of mind. Most of them would appreciate your taking some time to study neuroscience or other cognitive sciences. Most of them would allow you to pursue such courses while doing your PhD in philosophy (and some have certificates in cog sci). So, go get an MSc in neuroscience and/or apply for MA or PhD programs that would allow you to get some rigorous training in the relevant sciences. And then join the wave of researchers in philosophy and some of the relevant sciences who see our fields as a joint project aimed at figuring out how the most complex thing in the universe (the brain) does all the remarkable stuff our minds do.

Well, I think your plans sound great. But of course I would, since I helped develop the Neurophilosophy Track in the MA program in philosophy at Georgia State University (www.gsu.edu/philosophy). I'm not just advertising! (though you might consider our program.) I'm suggesting that your view of philosophy of mind as continuous with the cognitive sciences is a prominent one (and the right one to boot!). Many PhD programs in philosophy (including MIT, but also Washington University's PNP program, UC San Diego, CUNY, Pitt HPS, Indiana, and others) have people and programs focusing on empirically-informed philosophy of mind. Most of them would appreciate your taking some time to study neuroscience or other cognitive sciences. Most of them would allow you to pursue such courses while doing your PhD in philosophy (and some have certificates in cog sci). So, go get an MSc in neuroscience and/or apply for MA or PhD programs that would allow you to get some rigorous training in the relevant...

Hi, I'm a third-year undergraduate. I have always love both philosophy and

Hi, I'm a third-year undergraduate. I have always love both philosophy and science, especially theoretical physics and astronomy, but out of self-doubt, I majored in philosophy and only philosophy. I am in much regret that I did not double major in philosophy and physics, and am wondering about the possibility of being a research scientist in the future without doing a second undergraduate degree in science. Would it be possible to, say, do a philosophy PhD with a strong scientific bent (such as the Logic, Computation, and Methodology PhD at Carnegie Mellon), and then apply whatever foundational analysis skills I acquire thereafter in making substantial contributions to the natural sciences? - science envy

Just a few further thoughts. Many philosophers of physics don't have the equivalent of a PhD in physics, though they do, of course, know a good deal about physics. And while these philosophers usually aren't doing experimental work in physics, what they do is sometimes published in physics journals and often in journals where physicists as well as philosophers publish.

If you have your heart set on being a research scientist, employed by a science department or a scientific institution, then you'll almost certainly need a PhD in the relevant science. But if you want to do research that combines theoretical issues in science with your interest in philosophy, then it's quite possible to do that without a PhD in a science. In any case, I agree with my co-panelist's suggestion: study more science in your senior year if you have room for it in your schedule.

I think it is unlikely you'd be able to get into a PhD program in physics (or perhaps any other science) without a major in physics (or that other science). And you are unlikely to be a research scientists without a PhD in that science. (This is fair enough--philosophy PhD programs typically want a strong background in philosophy.) But you might be able to find a PhD program in philosophy that would allow you to pick up enough science along the way to then do research in that science. To do philosophy of physics one should, I think, have the equivalent background of a PhD in physics. If you have a year of college left (or can extend your undergraduate education for a year), you should perhaps pick up more physics along the way (e.g., at least a minor). And in any case, you should be talking to your teachers there to learn more about your post-graduate options. Good luck!

I am a first year Philosophy teacher at a private high school. Do you have any

I am a first year Philosophy teacher at a private high school. Do you have any suggestions for where I can find age-appropriate excercises and activities? I teach high school juniors and seniors.

Also, see resources being put together by Mitchell Green at UVA. See here: http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=12739

I am in the midst of applying to a master's program in philosophy and am

I am in the midst of applying to a master's program in philosophy and am wondering if a 5 page writing sample will necessarily disqualify me.

It might not disqualify you at some programs, but it will certainly count against you at most. The writing sample is the primary way of distinguishing applicants' philosophical talents, at least once they have been narrowed down using other criteria (such as coursework in philosophy and grades, letters--though for the competitive candidates, they tend to be equally gushing--and perhaps GRE). A 5-page sample is unlikely to provide evidence that you can develop an argument responding to a particular position that you have adequately and charitably explained. (Of course, Gettier's famous paper is quite short!)

I say all this with empathy--I was a philosophy minor (not major) and did not have a good, long piece of writing to submit when I applied to grad school. I had to use a mediocre, long piece, and was lucky to be accepted in the few places I was. But that was (too) many years ago when the competition was a little less fierce. I would try to work with one of your professors to develop one of your short papers into something more substantial (12-18 pages).

(On the other hand, people should NOT submit pieces longer than 20 pages.)

It might not disqualify you at some programs, but it will certainly count against you at most. The writing sample is the primary way of distinguishing applicants' philosophical talents, at least once they have been narrowed down using other criteria (such as coursework in philosophy and grades, letters--though for the competitive candidates, they tend to be equally gushing--and perhaps GRE). A 5-page sample is unlikely to provide evidence that you can develop an argument responding to a particular position that you have adequately and charitably explained. (Of course, Gettier's famous paper is quite short!) I say all this with empathy--I was a philosophy minor (not major) and did not have a good, long piece of writing to submit when I applied to grad school. I had to use a mediocre, long piece, and was lucky to be accepted in the few places I was. But that was (too) many years ago when the competition was a little less fierce. I would try to work with one of your professors to develop one of...

How does one perform a professional-caliber literature search in philosophy?

How does one perform a professional-caliber literature search in philosophy?

Peter Smith's advice is dead on. The only thing I would add is that, while you are looking through the Stanford Encyclopedia and Phil Index and PhilPapers (which is a great resource), you look for recent articles whose titles or abstracts suggest that they provide an overview of the debate (e.g., "Recent Work on X"), and then you use the references in those articles to guide you towards other sources. Reading such articles often provides information about which sources will be most useful to you, given your interest in the debate. And don't forget to read the classic works (e.g., most cited) in the history of the debate as well.

Finally, you will make your future self much happier if you keep your sources well-organized (in electronic or real-world files) and if you jot down a few sentences about each article--its main point and how it might be relevant (or not) to your project. My current self is unhappy with my past selves for not being diligent enough about such record-keeping!

Peter Smith's advice is dead on. The only thing I would add is that, while you are looking through the Stanford Encyclopedia and Phil Index and PhilPapers (which is a great resource), you look for recent articles whose titles or abstracts suggest that they provide an overview of the debate (e.g., "Recent Work on X"), and then you use the references in those articles to guide you towards other sources. Reading such articles often provides information about which sources will be most useful to you, given your interest in the debate. And don't forget to read the classic works (e.g., most cited) in the history of the debate as well. Finally, you will make your future self much happier if you keep your sources well-organized (in electronic or real-world files) and if you jot down a few sentences about each article--its main point and how it might be relevant (or not) to your project. My current self is unhappy with my past selves for not being diligent enough about such record-keeping!

I just graduated from college with a philosophy degree. I don't think that I

I just graduated from college with a philosophy degree. I don't think that I want to get a Phd in philosophy (though, you never know...) but I remain excited by many philosophical questions, particularly in philosophy of mathematics and ethics. How can I keep philosophy a part of my life?

let me supplement Eddy's fine response by noting that you will probably have to be very pro-active in making this happen! not only will you get distracted (reasonably) by life, but so will most of the people you're hanging out with, who may not have any initial interest in philosophy anyway! so you'll have to take charge -- for example, start a book club or discussion group at a local coffee shop ... check out 'socrates cafe' on that score ... find organizations that have public events of philosophical import so you can meet more like-minded folks (if you're in NYC you might look up 'socrates in the city') -- make sure your local NPR station carries the program Philosophy Talk (look it up!) and then be sure to listen to it ... organize a lecture yourself -- for example, i recently gave a talk at a bar in New York City that has a tuesday evening literary series ... find such a thing, or start one yourself! .... so don't count on others keeping your philosophy bug alive, you'll probably have to do it on your own initiative ...

good luck!
AP

Step one: Visit AskPhilosophers.org weekly! ;-) Step two (and most importantly): Don't fall out of the habit of caring about and thinking about philosophical questions. This will be hard to do. You will get busy and busier with a "real" job, paying bills, perhaps raising a family, surfing the internet, watching TV, exercising, eating, sleeping, etc. It can be hard to find the time to slow down and reflect. It is sometimes hard for me to do this, and I'm a professional philosopher! (Seriously, even when I am teaching or writing philosophy, I sometimes find myself forgetting to do philosophy, in the sense of re-considering and deeply considering the very issues I'm talking or writing about one more time.) So, try to make time for philosophical reading and thinking by building it into your schedule somehow. Step three: find sources of philosophy you like. Keep a list of books (and articles) you want to read, and find sources for information about books (and articles) you may want to read...

After researching on what it's like to be a budding PHD hopeful, I'm a little

After researching on what it's like to be a budding PHD hopeful, I'm a little scared at the thought of going for a PHD. Being in debt, along with the high drop rate, is a little intimidating. Combine that with the fact that I might be a nomad if I graduate. What I want is to be able to read cutting edge journals with some ease, and contribute to the discipline by writing in them too. I am aware that I'm able to do this without the paper, but how exactly would I know I'm not a crank? This is why I want the education. Would going for a master's give me the skills to read and write for journals? Is it much harder to read journals or write in journals with just a master's degree? Is that an area that is totally reserved for someone with a PHD (skill wise anyways)? As I've stated before, the road towards a PHD is very intimidating, and it seems there is a lot less to lose if i go for the MA.

You sound like you have a clear picture of the costs and benefits of getting a PhD in philosophy. You should continue to talk about it with your mentors in the field. You also sound like you might benefit from getting an MA (full disclosure: I teach at Georgia State in Atlanta, a terminal MA program). It would give you more background in philosophy and give you a better sense about whether you are interested in going on to get the PhD and whether you have the right skills, background, and demeanor to devote your life to professional philosophy. And if you do have those interests and abilities, an MA will enhance them and situate you to get into a better PhD program (the market is rough, so if you want a job where you have the time and encouragement to do research, you will be much better off going to a highly regarded PhD program). It will be difficult to be an active part of the field (publishing and presenting your work) without a PhD and an institutional affiliation. It can be done but you also risk being perceived as a "crank" even if you aren't one, and more importantly, you probably won't be able to devote the time and effort to the issues to be on top of the literature.

If you do decide to pursue an MA or PhD, I encourage you to do a lot of research about relevant programs, looking at their websites, their faculty member's research expertise, their placement record, and the perception of their quality (which is quantified on the Philosophical Gourmet Report, to be used as one source of information among many).

You sound like you have a clear picture of the costs and benefits of getting a PhD in philosophy. You should continue to talk about it with your mentors in the field. You also sound like you might benefit from getting an MA (full disclosure: I teach at Georgia State in Atlanta, a terminal MA program). It would give you more background in philosophy and give you a better sense about whether you are interested in going on to get the PhD and whether you have the right skills, background, and demeanor to devote your life to professional philosophy. And if you do have those interests and abilities, an MA will enhance them and situate you to get into a better PhD program (the market is rough, so if you want a job where you have the time and encouragement to do research, you will be much better off going to a highly regarded PhD program). It will be difficult to be an active part of the field (publishing and presenting your work) without a PhD and an institutional affiliation. It can be done but you also...

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