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Department of Philosophy

Philosophy Department Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

What should a philosophy student know, and what should he or she be able to do?

1. Students should be able to reconstruct any given philosophical position from a written exposition.

2. Students should be able to reconstruct a system of arguments offered in defense of a philosophical theory.

3. Students should be able to critically evaluate merits of particular arguments and systems of such, identifying those that are invalid, those that are valid, and those that, while valid, rely on contentious premises.

4. Students should be able to construct philosophical theories in their chosen sub-domain.

5. Students should be able to construct a defense of a philosophical theory in their chosen sub-domain.

6. Students should be able to identify the open questions upon which a controversy depends, while taking into account a diversity of perspectives.

7. Students should be able to convey understanding of a philosophical position and its defense in written form.

8. Students should be able to construct extended argumentative essays in clear prose.

9. Students should be able to use semantic methods to assess the validity of arguments in sentential logic, and should be able to construct derivations in first order logic.

10. Students should be familiar with a range of important contemporary theories in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and social and political philosophy.

11. Students should be familiar with central philosophical theories in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology in ancient philosophy, and the place of these theories in the history of ideas.

12. Students should be familiar with the transitional early modern philosophical theories of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and social and political philosophy, and with the place of such theories in the history of ideas.

13. Students should know how to construct essays which conform to standards of professional ethics -- how to properly reference ideas developed by others, how to assess positions and arguments with an open mind (avoiding, e.g., straw-man and ad hominem arguments, while developing and assessing the most crucial and strongest arguments on either side).

14. Students should be familiar with a diversity of opinions regarding the origins and nature of moral obligations, the relation between law and morality, and the proper forms and limits of political association and other social institutions, and they should be familiar with a diversity of views regarding the metaphysical realities underlying these opinions, e.g., what sorts of things are entitled to moral standing and on what basis such standing is sometimes denied (gender, race, religion, species) and whether or not moral obligations are objective.