Department Chair

  • Jennifer McErlean
    Professor of Philosophy
    Siena Hall 414
    (518) 783-4129
    mcerlean@siena.edu



Mission and Learning Goals

Philosophy Department Mission Statement

The Department of Philosophy seeks to stimulate reflection on fundamental issues such as justice, freedom, the nature of reality, the human condition, beauty, and God. The Department’s courses contribute to intellectual growth and maturity by providing a perspective that helps students view themselves and their relations to others, the world, and God in a responsible and intelligent manner.

Committed to teaching excellence, the Philosophy Department plays a central role in the liberal arts core curriculum, offers major and minor programs of study, and prepares students for careers in education, law, medicine, business, journalism, ministry, and government. Philosophy courses stress logical thinking, analysis, sound argument, and clear writing. They do so while introducing students to the rich intellectual traditions that have shaped western and non-western cultures.

The Department serves the liberal arts mission of Siena College by fostering scholarly thought and intellectual inquiry. Through its faculty’s writings, colloquia presentations, lectures, support of interdisciplinary and honors programs, and sponsorship of clubs, the Philosophy Department encourages exchanges of powerful ideas at Siena and elsewhere.

Major Program Learning Goals

Competence in the Discipline:
History of Philosophy: Students will achieve an understanding of the central figures and texts in the history of philosophy, especially both ancient and modern philosophy.
Ethics: Students will achieve an understanding of the four traditional theories of ethics (virtue theory, natural law theory, deontology, and consequentialism) together with an understanding of the nature of justice.
Logic: Students will achieve an understanding of the formal techniques used in much of contemporary philosophy – e.g., standard approaches to deductive logic and inductive logic, philosophically important extensions of these logics, and elementary philosophy of logic.

Critical and Interpretive Skills: Students will be able to articulate and critically evaluate various philosophical positions through oral and written presentation. This includes being able to carefully read, comprehend and compress written material, being able to compare and contrast a range of positions on a given philosophical topic, being able to defend a specific position on a philosophical topic, and being able to write clearly and in an organized fashion (appropriate to the content and context, and appropriate for a graduating major).

Reflective Development: Students will develop the ability to apply philosophical thought to other academic disciplines and to matters of public interest. This involves applying the norms of clarity, careful analysis, critical reflection, rational argumentation, sympathetic interpretation and understanding, and impartiality to central problems in other academic disciplines and to matters of public interest.

Appreciation of Diversity: Students will increase their understanding and respect for diverse viewpoints. This includes an increased understanding and intellectual appreciation of diverse cultures and identities, as well as the general ability to sympathetically present and evaluate positions that differ from their own and the ability to discussion alternative positions with intellectual honesty and respect.

Minor Program Learning Goals

Competence in the Discipline:
Ethics: Students will achieve an understanding of the four traditional theories of ethics (virtue theory, natural law theory, deontology, and consequentialism) together with an understanding of the nature of justice.
Logic: Students will achieve an understanding of the formal techniques used in much of contemporary philosophy – e.g., standard approaches to deductive logic and inductive logic, philosophically important extensions of these logics, and elementary philosophy of logic.

Critical and Interpretive Skills: Students will be able to articulate and critically evaluate various philosophical positions through oral and written presentation. This includes being able to carefully read, comprehend and compress written material, being able to compare and contrast a range of positions on a given philosophical topic, being able to defend a specific position on a philosophical topic, and being able to write clearly and in an organized fashion (appropriate to the content and context, and appropriate for a graduating major).

Reflective Development: Students will develop the ability to apply philosophical thought to other academic disciplines and to matters of public interest. This involves applying the norms of clarity, careful analysis, critical reflection, rational argumentation, sympathetic interpretation and understanding, and impartiality to central problems in other academic disciplines and to matters of public interest.

Appreciation of Diversity: Students will increase their understanding and respect for diverse viewpoints. This includes an increased understanding and intellectual appreciation of diverse cultures and identities, as well as the general ability to sympathetically present and evaluate positions that differ from their own and the ability to discussion alternative positions with intellectual honesty and respect.