Philosophy tackles fundamental questions about human life - questions about the meaning of life, the nature of reality, the possibility of knowledge, and the best way to live. These are questions that cannot be answered solely with empirical studies; they require deep reflection, reasoning, and conversation.
Philosophy classes engage with big philosophical ideas that have profoundly affected human life and culture. At Redlands, students consider these both in the Western tradition and through nonwestern lenses (especially in classes on Chinese philosophy). They consider ideas such as human rights, the social contract, skepticism, the relation between mind and body, the significance of family and human relations (a central concern of Confucianism), the natural way of life (Daoism), the path to enlightenment (Buddhism), and many more. At the same time we grapple with contemporary issues that matter to ethics and public policy: Do we have free will? How should we punish criminals? Do animals have rights? What are the moral constraints on medical practice and the implications of medical technologies?
Philosophy students explore fundamental questions in logic, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Survey courses introduce students to a broad range of philosophical problems and techniques. Topical courses, such as philosophy of mind, ethics and social philosophy, allow for greater depth in the investigation of current topics and techniques.
The rigor and precision of philosophical thinking can serve as a model for work in other disciplines and can be invaluable in helping students clarify central issues of values and actions.