About the Department of Philosophy

A word from the chair

Welcome to the Department of Philosophy Web site. By browsing these pages, you will find information about our programs of study, our course offerings, and our departmental activities organized during the academic year, such as our lecture series and reading groups. 

You will also find out about the areas of specialization of our full-time professors. The Department takes both analytical and continental philosophy seriously, and offers students a wide selection of courses to choose from. 

I invite you to browse the site and find out more about our Department. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

 

Paul Rusnock 
E-mail: prusnock@uOttawa.ca

About the Department

Philosophy is the oldest academic discipline, having given birth over two millennia to logic, ethics, physics, psychology, computer science, the last two in the last century alone. While Philosophers themselves quarrel about the nature of the subject, this is because it is the discipline that must ask foundational questions concerning all forms of knowledge, including itself.

Yet interest in the subject has never seemed greater than in recent years, with many turning to it for guidance regarding the troubling questions of theage: Are there universal human rights? Is social inequality unjust? What is our proper relation to the environment? Are minds just sophisticated biological computers, and will artificial intelligence be able to do everything we do?  Do we have free will? Can science ultimately explain us, or the universe?

Philosophy has disparate branches; to name a few: ethics, political philosophy, logic, philosophy of language and of mind, epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics, philosophy of the natural and social sciences, aesthetics.  What seems to unite them is their concern with questions not normally answerable by science or empirical investigation alone; hence their reliance on abstract thought, and emphasis on conceptual and logical clarity.

The training in argumentative clarity that is basic to philosophy explains why disciplines such as law value philosophy degrees so highly. Many philosophy graduates who do not pursue philosophy as a career find their undergraduate philosophical training invaluable as a pathway to careers in law, politics, psychology, linguistics, mathematics, computer science, and the natural sciences. Others pursue higher degrees or careers in philosophy and retain a life-long interest in its subject matter.  Indeed, philosophy has had a profound influence on the past century, from the invention of computers to the movements for gender equality, animal rights, and multicultural accommodation, and on debates over democracy, liberty and equality, world poverty and global responsibility, abortion, linguistic meaning and truth, and the nature of consciousness.

Our faculty has diverse interests, and a wide range of expertise in contemporary philosophy as well as the history of philosophy.  Both the analytic and continental traditions are well-represented. The entire faculty is bilingual, and the department offers programs and courses in both English and French.

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