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The New Major & Minor Concentration in Philosophy, Politics, & Society

In fall 2009, the Philosophy Department added to its current and longstanding concentration to the major another concentration with an emphasis on philosophy, politics and society. This second concentration is now an option for completing the philosophy major. 

This new major concentration is designed to enable students with interests in political and social theory, or with career objectives in law, government, diplomacy, business, philanthropy, and other practical or helping professions, to construct a major in philosophy that is tailored to their interests and objectives.

It has been the case for some time that many students at Hunter College are attracted to philosophy because of their interest in studying political and social ideas, something that can be done to an extent in other departments, but that has been a traditional strength of this department as well. This focus is appropriate given the centrality of politics and society in the concerns of many major philosophers and canonical texts, from Plato’s Republic to Rawls’ Theory of Justice. However, the specialization that is evident in the contemporary philosophical discipline has led to a corresponding focus in the teaching of philosophy on aspects of the subject (e.g., symbolic logic, philosophy of mind, etc.,) that often have little direct bearing on this political/social focus.

The major program in this department has recently been revised and intensified to incorporate this specialization and expansion of the discipline. However, this may have made it harder for students with political and social interests to pursue a philosophy major while simultaneously studying history, geography, political science, sociology, or other related fields. Creating a concentration in Philosophy, Politics, and Society will, we believe, be an appropriate way to modify the major requirements so as to meet the needs of this part of the student body.

Like the current philosophy major, it requires students to take the history sequence PHILO 212, 215 and 218, 9 elective credits of which 3 credits must be at the 300-level, and 3 credits in the intensive study of a major philosopher. However, unlike the current philosophy major, 6 of the elective credits may be taken from a select group of non-departmental courses relevant to social and political theory.

Furthermore, students are recommended to do intensive study of a major philosopher whose work is relevant to social and political philosophy. For the remaining 9 credits of the 30 credit major, students will be required to take PHILO 246 (Political Philosophy), instead of being given the option of choosing between it, PHILO 244 (Moral Philosophy) and PHILO 258 (Aesthetics); they will be required to take either PHIL0 248 (International Ethics) or 250 (Problems of Ethics and Society), instead of PHILO 171 (Symbolic Logic); finally, they will be required to take PHILO 346 (Justice in Contemporary Society), instead of a course in metaphysics or epistemology.

Recommended Prerequisite: PHILO 106 - "Philosophy, Politics, and Society"
The above course is recommended; it does not count toward the major requirements, though it (or an appropriate substitute: see Program Prerequisites, above) is a prerequisite for enrolling in 200- and 300-level classes and for declaring a major.

Major Requirements

30 credits, distributed as follows:

  • 9 credits in the history of philosophy:
    PHILO 212
      Classical Greek Philosophy: Plato and Aristotle
    PHILO 215  Foundations of Modern Philosophy
    PHILO 218  Revolutions in Modern Philosophy
  • 3 credits in political philosophy:
    PHILO 246
      Political Philosophy
  • 3 credits in social philosophy, selected from the following courses:
    PHILO 248
      International Ethics
    PHILO 250
      Problems of Ethics and Society
  • 3 credits in the intensive study of a major philosopher, preferably concerning their political and/or social ideas, such as PHILO 380 (Plato), PHILO 381 (Aristotle), etc.
  • 3 credits in the study of recent issues in political and social philosophy:
    PHILO 346
      Justice in Contemporary Society
  • 9 credits in electives chosen from 200- and 300-level PHILO courses (excluding PHILO 203 or 204, but including PHILO 171); 6 credits of this requirement may be taken from the nondepartmental courses listed below. It is also recommended that 3 credits be taken on philosophical approaches to class, race, or gender; the following philosophy courses satisfy this recommendation: PHILO 220 (Radical Philosophy), PHILO 226 (African American Philosophy), or PHILO 230 (Feminism: Philosophical Theory and Practice).

    AFPRL 401
    AFPRL 402  African American Political Thought
    HIST 331
      European Culture in the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries
    HIST 332
      Modern Culture from the 18th o the 20th Centuries
    POLSC 201
      Ancient to Early Modern Political Thought
    POLSC 202  Modern Political Thought (1600-1900)
    POLSC 203
      Political Thought since 1900
    POLSC 204
      Contemporary Issues in Political Theory
    POLSC 209
      Women and Gender in Western Political Thought
    POLSC 301
      American Political Thought
    POLSC 303
      Democracy and Dictatorship
    POLSC 304
      Contemporary Issues in Political Theory
    POLSC 305  Democratic Theory
    POLSC 307
      Theory of Revolution
    POLSC 309  Feminist Political Theory
    POLSC 311
      Utopian Theory
    POLSC 316  Political Theory of Human Rights
    PUBPOL 400 Capstone Seminar on Public Policy
    SOC 221  Classical Sociological Theory
    SOC 223  Current Sociological Theory
    SOC 360
      Feminist Social Theory

Elective credits should be carefully chosen to focus students’ programs on their present interests and future needs. The following courses are recommended for students with particular interests.

Graduate study in philosophy:
  Introduction to Symbolic Logic
  Moral Philosophy

Admission to law school:
PHILO  171  Introduction to Symbolic Logic
PHILO  252  Problems of Law and Morality

Careers in public administration:
 Problems of Ethics and Society (in satisfaction of the social philosophy requirement listed above)
 Capstone Seminar on Public Policy
An additional course relating philosophy to public policy

Careers in foreign service:
 International Ethics (in satisfaction of the social philosophy requirement listed above)
  Political Theory of Human Rights
An additional course relating philosophy to international relations

Careers in social welfare:
PHILO 250  Problems in Ethics and Society (in satisfaction of the social philosophy requirement listed above)
SOC 221  Classical Sociological Theory
SOC 223  Current Sociological Theory

Note: Certain new, ad hoc, or independent study courses may be taken in partial satisfaction of requirements listed above, if they are approved by the Philosophy, Politics, and Society major concentration advisor.



For students who wish to minor in the Philosophy, Politics, Society (PPS) concentration, see the The Standard Major & Minor Concentration page for requirements.

Non-philosophy courses listed above, which count toward the major in the PPS concentration, do not count toward the minor in PPS.

However, students who take elective courses outside of philosophy are encouraged to minor in the department which offers these courses. For students who major in the PPS concentration, minors in History or Political Science are especially recommended; minors in Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Anthropology, Economics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Psychology, Public Policy, Sociology, Urban Studies, or Women’s Studies are also appropriate.


Senior Exercise

3 credits in one of the following courses is recommended for majors (in addition to the 30-credit major requirement); it is not required for the major, though PHILO 494 is a requirement for graduation with honors.

  • PHILO 492  Independent Study in Philosophy
  • PHILO 494  Honors Tutorial in Philosophy
  • PHILO 498  Internship
May 2013 »