Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

BA in Philosophy: Social Justice Emphasis

The BA in Philosophy with social justice emphasis forms in our students the habit of critical and positive reflection on the questions that challenge humanity today. Within the discipline of philosophy there are many subdisciplines, of which Social Justice is one of the most ancient and yet most relevant to our own day and the University's Mission.

The social justice emphasis has a distinctive theoretical-plus-applied character. The philosophy department already offers a significant number of strong undergraduate courses in this area, including not only various foundational studies in the nature of justice, but also the workings of justice in contemporary social and political contexts. The courses for this program will be offered in a carefully planned sequence and the faculty who teach them will make a conscious effort to highlight the Social Justice dimensions of their respective subject matter. For example, the program will have as its anchor course a special section of PHIL 321, Ethics and Society, modified to include a service learning component along the lines of the Magis program, and offered primarily for philosophy students who have declared a major with this emphasis. Also, the scheduling of the capstone seminars required of all philosophy majors (392-399) will ensure that an appropriate number are devoted to justice issues, for philosophy majors specializing in Social Justice.

Required Courses

There are eleven (11) courses that make up the Philosophy Major with an Emphasis in Social Justice. The required courses for this program are the same as those for the regular Philosophy major, except that Phil 321, and three upper-level electives and the capstone seminar must have a Social Justice orientation. Note that 300-level courses have a prerequisite of two philosophy courses.

  • One lower level philosophy course in the ethics group (181, 182, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, or a 300-level equivalent)
    *182 (Social and Political Philosophy) is strongly recommended
  • One lower level philosophy course in the metaphysics or epistemology group, including Being Human, but not Logic (271, 272, 273, 275, 276, 277, 279, or a 300-level equivalent)
  • One course in logic (274 or 301)
  • One course, Ancient Philosophy (304)
  • One course, Classical Modern Philosophy (309)
  • One anchor course, Ethics and Society (321)
  • One 300-level social justice elective*
  • One 300-level social justice elective*
  • One 300-level social justice elective*
  • One open philosophy elective (any philosophy course at any level)
  • One capstone seminar (395-399) with a social justice orientation

*Social-justice-oriented electives include: 326 (Phil of Law), 326 (Political Phil), 327 (Topics in Political Phil), 375 (Phil of Marxism), 388 (History of Ethics). They may also include, depending on content, 322 (Perspectives on Women), 324 (Topics in Ethics), 389 (Contemporary Phil Issues) and 300-level courses pertaining to Bioethics when they focus on justice issues. Such decisions about course content will be made by the Social Justice Emphasis Director.

Learning Outcomes

Graduating Philosophy majors from Loyola University of Chicago are expected to demonstrate progress in three areas of philosophical knowledge – the history of philosophy; moral philosophy and related areas; and in the perennial philosophical problems related to knowledge and reality – as well as progress towards the mastery of philosophical methods and modes of expression.

1. In the history of philosophy students should…

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with major figures, schools and debates ranging from ancient Greece through the 20th century.
  • Be able to recognize the significance of historical philosophy to ongoing philosophical debates and contemporary issues.
  • Be able to recognize and appreciate the diversity of philosophical methodology across history.
  • Be able to apply insights drawn from their study of the history of philosophy to ongoing philosophical debates.

2. In moral philosophy students should…

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with the major theories of normative ethics.
  • Be able to explain the issues at stake in some of the standard meta-ethical disputes in philosophy, for example moral relativism and other issues related to the objectivity of morality.
  • Be able to apply such philosophical theories to analyze a range of moral issues from the individual to the social and political.

3. Regarding perennial philosophical problems, students should…

  • Demonstrate a general familiarity with classical philosophical problems related to the nature of knowledge; the relationship between other varieties of inquiry, especially natural science, and philosophical wisdom; the nature of reality; the nature and existence of God; and the nature of human persons.
  • Explain the significance of these problems and the arguments for and against various proposed responses to them.
  • Be able to apply this understanding to construct and defend their own positions on at least some of these issues.

4. Regarding philosophical methodology, students should be able to …

  • Interpret philosophical texts, especially be able to recognize and isolate central philosophical claims and the reasons offered in their defense.
  • Recognize and evaluate the structure of a philosophical argument.
  • Construct and articulate philosophical claims of their own, including the use of other philosophical work to clarify that claim and place it into appropriate context.
  • Defend a philosophical claim, both orally and in writing, demonstrating especially a self-critical awareness of the weaknesses of one’s own position and the value of rigorous argument and clarity of expression.

Suggested Sequence of Courses

  • First year—two core courses—in metaphysics/epistemology and ethics/social political (27x, 18x)
  • Second year—three courses—in logic, ancient philosophy, and classical modern philosophy (274/301, 304, 309)
  • Third year—three courses—the anchor course 321, and two 300-level social justice electives
  • Fourth year—three courses—two electives (of which one is 300-level social justice), plus a capstone social justice seminar

Double-Dipping Policy

  1. Students may not major and minor in the same discipline.
  2. Majors: Not less than 21 credit hours in the individual student’s transcript must be unique to each major; that is, the courses in question are considered as actually fulfilling requirements of one major, not of more than one major.
  3. Minors and interdisciplinary minors: not less than 8 credit hours in the individual student’s transcript must be unique to each minor; that is, the courses in question are considered as actually fulfilling requirements of one minor, not of more than one minor or major.
  4. General exceptions to Rules 2 and 3 will be made if approved by the chairs/directors of the department(s)/program(s) housing each affected major and minor. A list of standing general exceptions will be maintained by the Dean's office.
  5. Individual student exceptions may be made in appropriate cases by department chairs and program directors.
  6. Departments and Programs may enforce stricter double-dipping policies than those stated above, which also should be provided to the Dean’s Office.

Course Checklist

For further information, contact the Social Justice Emphasis Director, Dr. Thomas Wren, at twren@luc.edu.