Philosophy is the inquiry into the nature and structure of reality in all of its various forms. As the most fundamental intellectual discipline, philosophy reflects on the essence and foundations of every other discipline.


The Philosophy Department’s learning goals can be found HERE.


Twelve credits in philosophy with a grade of at least C- in each. The twelve courses must be distributed in the following way: one Logic course (i.e., either PHIL 205 or PHIL 255); Ancient Greek Philosophy (PHIL 281); Early Modern Philosophy (PHIL 283); Modern Philosophy (PHIL 288); three additional upper-level courses (i.e., 282 or above); five electives at any level. Normally, upper-level courses must be taken at Trinity, although some study-away programs (such as that offered in Vienna, Austria) offer courses that satisfy these requirements.

Majors are not required to take PHIL 101; however, they are strongly urged to take it, and to do so during their first or second year of study. Senior majors are required to complete the senior exercise, for which instructions will be provided by the department.

The departmental offerings are divided into five categories:

  1. Introductory Courses: These courses have no prerequisites. There is no single or best way to be introduced to philosophy, and the department offers a number of different introductory courses. All 100-level courses are introductory, as are courses numbered 200 through 250.
  2. Logic Courses: PHIL 205 (Symbolic Logic) or PHIL 255 (Philosophy of Logic). A student may not receive credit for both 205 and 255.
  3. History of Philosophy Courses:
    • PHIL 281. Ancient Greek Philosophy
    • PHIL 283. Early Modern Philosophy
    • PHIL 288. Modern Philosophy
  4. Upper-level Courses (i.e., those courses numbered 282 or above): These courses are appropriate for students who have progressed beyond introductory level study of philosophy.
  5. Individualized courses: These courses give students an opportunity to design, in conjunction with an adviser in the department, their own course of study. The student should see the department chair if in doubt as to who might be an appropriate adviser for a given topic. The following three course designations count as individualized courses:
    • PHIL 399. Independent Study: Independent, intensive study in a field of special interest requiring a wide range of reading and resulting in an extended paper. Normally there will be only a few meetings with the supervisor during the course of the semester.
    • PHIL 466. Teaching Assistantship: Work conducted in close consultation with the instructor of a single course and participation in teaching that course. Duties for a teaching assistant may include: holding review sessions, reading papers, or assisting in class work. In addition, a paper may be required from the teaching assistant. This course may count as one of the twelve total required credits for the major, but will not count as one of the three required upper-level (282 and above) courses.
    • PHIL 499. Senior Thesis: A two-credit course culminating in an extended paper to be read by two or more members of the department. This is a required course for all students who wish to graduate with honors in philosophy. In order to be eligible for this course a student must have an A- average in the major or must successfully petition the department for an exemption. The senior thesis does not count towards the twelve courses required for the major.

The Writing Intensive Part II requirement is fulfilled by one of the following courses: PHIL 281, 282, 283, 285, 288, or 306.

Capstone/Senior Project: The senior exercise in the philosophy department consists of a senior philosophy conference. During the conference each senior major will present a paper (20-25 minutes long) on some philosophical topic of their choice. The paper might be a chapter from a senior thesis, a revised version of a paper submitted for a course, or something composed especially for the conference. The conference will give each senior the opportunity not only to share their ideas with fellow students and faculty, but also to find out what other senior majors have been working on during the year.