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Philosophy is one of the core disciplines in the liberal arts curriculum. At Knox, the study of philosophy emphasizes analytical skills -- learning to construct strong written arguments, debating persuasively, delving into the historic texts of philosophical debates, and developing an appreciation for philosophical issues within their historical contexts.
The philosophy department also offers a minor in ethics, which consists of four courses covering the principles of rational conduct, the definition of good, and the application of moral values to current problems and policies. As a source of synthetic vision, philosophy offers alternatives for integrating a student's diversified experiences. As a source of critical analysis, it equips the student with a variety of methodological skills. As a source of self-knowledge, it provides the student with ample occasions for personal examination of presuppositions, values, goals, and beliefs. As a critic of institutions, methods, and fields of study, philosophy reaches out to all of the other disciplines. Thus there is the philosophy of law, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of art, etc. The department welcomes students with an in-depth acquaintance with other fields to participate in the dialectic of argumentation that characterizes philosophy.
Required courses give students broad exposure to the field. Five additional courses for the major are taken as electives, allowing students to develop and apply their own interests.
Every year, the Senior Seminar concentrates on a single theme, such as postmodernism, or on the work of one seminal philosopher, such as Hegel, Wittgenstein or Davidson. Each student develops and presents an individual position paper on an issue or theme of the student's choice, and many participate in a national or regional undergraduate conference.Because anything is potentially a resource for philosophical inquiry, Knox's philosophy department has taken advantage of the unique features of its campus and its environment. The class in environmental ethics has studied at Green Oaks, the College's 700-acre biological research area. The senior seminar, studying Foucault's "Discipline and Punish," met in the historic Knox County Jail. Another class has examined the architecture of Knox's Old Main and its links to the beliefs held by the College's founders.
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