Philosophy is the rigorous study of questions that the natural and social sciences are not equipped to answer on their own. Such questions arise in almost every sphere of human endeavor, including, but not limited to, medicine, law, politics, economics, physics, biology, mathematics, psychology, and computer science.
You should study philosophy if you’re interested in the kinds of questions that philosophers ask. Philosophy is the only discipline in which you’re likely to encounter people making a serious, competent effort to find out whether the conscious mind is something over and above the physical body, or whether the government has the right to force people to pay for things they don’t want, or whether the world described by physics has any room for freedom of will, or whether God exists, or whether it’s morally acceptable to kill animals for food, or whether anything besides pleasure is good for its own sake.
Here are some signs that you should seriously consider majoring in philosophy:
- Philosophy is your favorite subject.
- You enjoy friendly debate.
- You are creative, but also disciplined.
- You like to understand things in depth, and not just well enough to get by.
- You have a low tolerance for vagueness in language and thought.
Popular culture sometimes portrays philosophers as starry-eyed mystics with no concern for life’s practical demands. This portrayal is completely inaccurate. Among Arts and Social Sciences graduates, Philosophy graduates around the world are second only to Economics graduates when it comes to mid-career salary, and Philosophy graduates consistently outperform graduates of other disciplines on examinations for admission to advanced degree programs.
Philosophy is also a good choice for a second major or a minor. This is because many philosophy modules complement study in other fields, such as Economics, History, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, and Psychology.