Mission and Vision | UMSL

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Mission and Vision


Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." His observation inspires the mission of UMSL Philosophy: to examine, explore and advance our understanding of the world and our place within it through innovative research, teaching and service.



The overarching goal of the UMSL philosophy department is to make manifest, through research, teaching, and service, the appeal and wide-ranging application of our discipline. We hope to see ourselves, at the end of ten to twelve years, a flourishing, medium-sized department whose energetic and productive faculty offer the best M.A.-only program in the country. To this end, we aspire to nurture the research programs of our faculty. First and foremost, this produces conference presentations and highly visible publications. But the resulting energy and excitement also fosters the creation of new courses, forges new modes of interdisciplinary cooperation, and establishes new opportunities for public discourse.

Our faculty explore a broad range of philosophical topics. Their current research programs address traditional and contemporary problems in metaphysics, epistemology, ancient philosophy, moral philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, cognitive science, philosophy of social science, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of law, aesthetics, applied ethics, Asian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, and more. Thus philosophy is not insular. From ancient times, philosophers have addressed the big questions, and today their inquiries illuminate myriad subject matters and yield practical as well as theoretical consequences. Despite these advantages, philosophy is often a well-kept secret. Since it is not taught in primary or in secondary school, many students come to UMSL unaware of our discipline. They discover philosophy only by chance when they dabble with an elective or fulfill a one-course requirement that embellishes an otherwise vocational course of study.

We are eager to remedy this situation. Because philosophy offers both an inherited subject matter and a distinctive methodology, it can meet a variety of interests and needs. Some participants are drawn to the inherent interest of the problems philosophy addresses; others appreciate the practical payoff that philosophical methods can deliver. The analytical skills and habits of mind inculcated in each and every philosophy class are highly portable. Attention to analysis, evaluation, argumentation, and proof can aid in the negotiation of any subject matter. We offer intro-level courses that display the wide range of philosophical inquiry and carry Gen Ed credit. Our more advanced courses support an undergraduate major as well as an M.A. program that is ranked among the top 8 in the nation. Overall, our classes prepare students not only for the further study of philosophy, but also for success in other pursuits and for the pleasures attendant on an examined life.