About Philosophy

Our Program and Courses

Philosophy is a major and minor at F&M. You’ll deep-dive and analyze seemingly everyday questions, examine the historical traditions of philosophy, and explore a broad range of contemporary philosophical issues and topics — all while cultivating skills in critical thinking and philosophical argument. All philosophy majors share a common core of coursework and complete the major by exploring current work in philosophy, during which leading scholars in the field will visit and share their current research. 

Curious what philosophy courses are like? Explore our course catalog to discover the types of classes available to you.

Our Faculty and Staff

Lee A Franklin

Professor of Philosophy, Interim Director of the Faculty Center

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Bennett W Helm

Elijah E. Kresge Professor of Philosophy

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Stephan A Kaufer

John Williamson Nevin Memorial Professor of Philosophy, Program Chair of Scientific & Philosophical Studies of Mind

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Nick Kroll

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department Chair of Philosophy

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Michael McCourt

Adjunct Assistant Professor

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David A Merli

Associate Professor of Philosophy

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Kelly E Schenke

Academic Department Coordinator

Philosophy; Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Learning Outside the Classroom

Our highly committed professors actively seek to engage you in cutting-edge scholarship, discussion, and research. They’re dedicated to tailoring your education to your interests and goals, and helping you to discover independent study and study-abroad opportunities that will broaden your understanding of the discipline. 

Research Opportunities

If there’s a philosophical area or idea you’re eager to explore, you won’t have to wait until graduate school to launch your investigation. Every student at F&M has extraordinary opportunities to work closely with professors in faculty-led research or engage in an independent research project.
Explore research at F&M

Off-Campus Study

Off-campus study, in the U.S. and internationally, is encouraged. Previous philosophy majors have studied abroad in England, Italy, Japan, Germany, and have even spent a semester at sea.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

Success Beyond F&M

What do philosophy majors typically do after college? Philosophical skills can be applied to any subject, issue, challenge, or topic. Many of our graduates go on to enjoy successful careers in a wide range of professions and attend excellent graduate programs. 

Graduate School

Philosophy majors frequently go on to study in graduate programs, pursuing a wide range of advanced degrees at institutions such as Columbia University, Stanford University, Princeton University, New York University, Yale University, Georgetown University, and Carnegie Mellon University. Our graduates have gone on to study: 

  • Philosophy
  • Law
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Creative Writing
  • Cinematic Arts
  • Business

Career Paths

The ability to think critically about multiple views and communicate your perspective clearly will serve you well in just about any career you choose. Philosophy graduates are prepared for a wide array of careers, including in law, education, business, medicine, and government. They hold positions such as: 

  • Professor of Psychology
  • Professor of Philosophy
  • Department Chair of Philosophy
  • Teacher
  • Law Associate
  • Attorney
  • Assistant Prosecutor
  • Assistant General Counsel
  • Assistant District Attorney
  • Federal Prosecutor 
  • Senior Bibliographic Specialist
  • Physician
  • Director of Mental Health Services
  • Creative Director
  • Project Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Director of Sales
  • Software Developer

F&M Certificates: Explore Innovative Fields of Study

Certificates are supplemental educational pathways you can pursue at F&M. Certificates are not tied to your major or minor, but can be added to your resume to demonstrate a specialized level of training and education in a particular area. Philosophy is a major component of several of F&M’s certificates: Diversity and Equality in Education, Legal Studies, Health Humanities, Data Science, and Language and Communication.

Learn more about F&M certificates »

Alumni Spotlight

Studying Hope, Solidarity and Cognition

Maceo Whatley '22 is drawn to the “existential, phenomenological approach to looking at human existence,” he said. In particular, the moral psychology major examined the conditions of hope and solidarity. His research — which drew on methods and literature from moral psychology, philosophy and cognitive science — surrounded agency (the capacity for individuals to make their own free choices) and the influence that structures such as social class and ethnicity have on such agency.
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Alumni Spotlight

'A Little Medicine, A Little Philosophy'

Dr. Ben Lin, a 2017 Franklin & Marshall graduate, and Associate Professor of Philosophy David Merli are unraveling the complexities of dementia and advanced directives. Merli describes the research as "a little medicine, a little philosophy." Lin's interest in medical ethics traces back to Merli's mentorship at F&M. "I found the philosophy of moral ethics to be really fascinating. I figured I'd try to write a philosophy paper of my own around medical ethics," said Lin.
Read More »

Related Fields of Study

Cognitive Science

How do minds fit into the natural world? When you study cognitive science at F&M, you’ll employ intellectual tools from several disciplines to understand the nature of the mind and how it works, functions, and behaves.

Moral Psychology

What leads people to engage in selfless — or selfish — acts? Study moral psychology at F&M and investigate the psychological processes of humans in moral contexts through a blended lens of science and humanities.


F&M’s Department of Government has earned a reputation as one of the finest in the country. Study government at F&M and examine power, politics, justice, equity, and change while developing skills in language, economics, mathematics and philosophy.

A Glimpse at Philosophy at F&M

March 22, 2022

'A Little Medicine, A Little Philosophy'

An F&M professor and his former student — now a doctor — teamed up to explore an ethical puzzle: What if a patient's current best interests conflict with their past living will directives?

October 14, 2021

Research Fair: Senior Studies Hope, Solidarity and Cognition

Moral psychology major Maceo Whatley '22 worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Elana Cuffari and George Fourlas, visiting assistant professor of philosophy and government, on individual projects and an ongoing, joint project centered around microagressions, implicit bias and anti-racist ethics.