How should we live? What gives our lives meaning and purpose? What should we believe, and how can we be confident that our beliefs are true? These are the questions that have occupied philosophers for centuries, and that occupy us as we live our lives. Philosophy seeks to give rigorous, well thought out answers to these questions, or, at least, to help us frame the right approaches in the search for truth. At Marquette, we pursue these and other perennial issues primarily through the study of Western philosophical traditions from their Greek origins to contemporary thought.

The Philosophy Department has 27 regular full-time faculty, with a wide range of teaching and research interests. The department has a long tradition of research strengths in Medieval Philosophy and Continental Philosophy. During the past fifteen years, the department has greatly expanded teaching and research strength in ethics, social, and applied philosophy.

For undergraduates, the department offers a major with three specialization tracks: History of Philosophy; Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy; and Ethics and Values. For graduate students, we offer a Ph.D. that allows for specialization in all areas of the history of philosophy as well as many systematic areas. We also offer an M.A with specializations in the History of Philosophy and Social and Applied Philosophy.

Philosophy Department Mission Statement 

          The Philosophy Department at Marquette University aims to enable students in all disciplines with the development of interpretive, critical, analytical and communicative skills necessary to personal intellectual and moral development, cultural literacy, and achievement in the complexities of life in the Twenty-First Century. The Department aims to foster among faculty and students a climate of mutual respect and support for engaging in scholarship, learning, and service that embraces diversity, respect for historic traditions, and the pursuit of knowledge in historic and contemporary approaches to philosophy. The department aims to extend the role of philosophy beyond the university through its publications and leadership in the profession and through innovative programs that engage alumni and community members. As a philosophy department in a Jesuit Catholic University, the Department encourages students and faculty to engage in exploration of the Catholic tradition in the history of philosophy and an examination of the role of philosophy in a life of faith and service. The Department understands its mission in the context of the University’s Mission statement. (Adopted 08/2009)

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Philosophy Major Named Outstanding Senior

Congratulations to the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences 2014 Outstanding Senior, Ciara McHugh. Ciara's majors include: Philosophy, International Affairs, and French. She is a graduate of the Honors Program, and she served as president of Phi Sigma Tau and Pi Delta Phi. This summer she will teach in France, and when she returns to the US, she will begin a year serving with the JVC Northwest.

Dr. Nancy Snow receives largest humanities grant in university history

Dr. Nancy E. Snow, professor of philosophy in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of a $2.6 million grant that will fund interdisciplinary research on virtue, character and the development of the moral self. The three-year grant was awarded by the Templeton Religion Trust, which funds discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. Snow is leading the large-scale research initiative, "The Self, Motivation, and Virtue," with Dr. Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

The initiative will include the seeding of 10 new research projects, an interdisciplinary forum, interdisciplinary conferences with international scholars, a project website and several book projects. According to Snow, the project will study how individuals develop virtue in their lives and how it is translated into practical efforts such as education. The researchers hope their work will ultimately impact important societal issues, such as bullying, and focus on how to counter them – a goal that Snow said aligns perfectly with Marquette's Catholic, Jesuit mission.

"We will also look at the development of virtue in the emerging person – what happens as we grow up and develop into people," Snow added. "We want to take a deeper dive into whether the development of virtue involves memories, genetics, etc. In this way, we can develop a more comprehensive picture of how key periods in our lives – adolescence, retirement, physical decline, traumatic incidents – play a role. Ultimately, we want to generate an appreciation of what virtue is, the importance of motivation to virtue and how virtue can be cultivated."

The project will officially begin on Sept. 1, 2014. The project's first big event, the Interdisciplinary Moral Forum, will be held at Marquette in spring 2015 and will feature research presentations by international scholars.

Three Undergraduate Students Receive
Department Awards

Trevor Gundlach has received the Rev. John Naus, S.J. Award for excellence in academic achievement in the studies of ethics and values.
Kyle Nilsen has received the James H. Robb Award for excellence in academic achievement in the study of the history of philosophy.
Calvin Nixon has received the Francis X. Boden Award for excellence in academic achievement in the study of social, political and legal philosophy.
Congratulations to all of these fine students!          

Rev. Harry Gensler, S.J. is Wade Chair for Spring 2014

The Philosophy Department welcomes Rev. Harry Gensler, S.J. as the Spring 2014 Rev. Francis Wade, S.J. Chair.  In addition to teaching a Philosophy Department Theory of Ethics course, Fr. Gensler will deliver the Wade Public Lecture, entitled "The Golden Rule" on April 8, 2014 at 4:00 P.M. in the Raynor Library Beaumier Suites. 

Pol Vandevelde wins Prix Mercier Award

Professor Pol Vandevede has been awarded the prestigious "Prix Mercier" by the Institut Superieur de Philosophie of the Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium, for his last book on Heidegger and the Romantics: The Literary Invention of Meaning (Routledge). 

This is what the description of the prize says:  "The Prix Mercier, a prize of € 2,500 to be awarded biennially by the Foundation Cardinal Mercier of the Université catholique de Louvain, honors a publication of exceptional merit on metaphysics, first philosophy or ontology and their relevance to the contemporary world.

Former recipients from the US include Nicholas Rescher (University of Pittsburgh), William Desmond (University of Leuven and Villanova University), John Whippel (Catholic University of America).