Welcome to the MIT Philosophy Undergraduate Program

Over the last 2,500 years, philosophy has transformed physics, biology, logic and mathematics, economics, politics, linguistics, psychology, religion, culture, and our understanding of how we should live.

You can join that tradition at MIT by simply taking an introductory philosophy course, or by digging deeper with a philosophy concentration, minor, or major. Don’t let your time at MIT go by without some exposure to the discipline that questions our deepest assumptions. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Professor Tamar Schapiro, the Undergraduate Officer and Advisor.

And don’t forget about MIT’s Undergraduate Philosophy Club! The club provides an opportunity for students interested in philosophy (majors, minors, concentrators, and anyone else) to meet each other and to engage in informal philosophical discussion. It sponsors a variety of events: dinners, lunches with faculty, movie nights, and mixers with philosophy students from nearby universities. All those interested can join the mailing list.

Congratulations, MIT Philosophers Class of 2020!

Major in Philosophy

This traditional undergraduate philosophy major (24-1) is designed to provide familiarity with the history and current status of the main problems in epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics; mastery of some of the technical skills requisite for advanced work in philosophy; facility at independent philosophical study; and work at an advanced level in an allied field.

Required Subjects

One Introductory Philosophy subject 24.00-24.09*. An appropriate Philosophy Concourse subject may be substituted.
(*may not also satisfy the departmental distribution requirement listed below)

One History of Philosophy subject:

24.01 Classics in Western Philosophy (CI-H)
24.201 Topics in the History of Philosophy (CI-M)
or another subject with a history of philosophy orientation, as determined by the major advisor in consultation with the instructor.

One Knowledge and Reality subject:

24.05 Philosophy of Religion
24.08J Philosophical Issues in Brain Science (CI-H)
24.09
Minds and Machines (CI-H)
24.111 Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics
24.211 Theory of Knowledge
24.212 Philosophy of Perception
24.215 Topics in the Philosophy of Science
24.221 Metaphysics (CI-M)
24.251 Introduction to Philosophy of Language (CI-M)
24.252 Language and Power
24.253 Philosophy of Mathematics
24.280 Foundations of Probability

One Value subject:

24.013 Philosophy and the Arts (CI-H)
24.02
Moral Problems and the Good Life (CI-H)
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food (CI-H)
24.04J Justice (CI-H)
24.06J Bioethics (CI-H)
24.07 The Ethics of Climate Change (CI-H)
24.120 Moral Psychology (CI-M)
24.140J Literature and Philosophy
24.222 Decisions, Games and Rational Choice
24.230 Metaethics
24.231 Ethics (CI-M)
24.235J Philosophy of Law (CI-M)
24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice
24.237J Feminist Thought (CI-M)

One Logic Subject:

24.118 Paradox and Infinity
24.241 Logic I
24.242 Logic II
24.243 Classical Set Theory
24.244 Modal Logic
24.245 Theory of Models
or a logic subject from another department (e.g., Mathematics) with the approval of the major advisor.

and

24.260 Topics in Philosophy (CI-M)

Restricted Electives
A coherent program of five additional subjects, of which two must be in philosophy, with the approval of the major advisor.

Notes on Major

  • No more than four of the total number of philosophy subjects for the major may be introductory philosophy subjects.
  • At least three of the total number of philosophy courses must be at the 200-level or above.
  • All but [2] HASS requirement subjects can be from the department program.

Contact Information:

Tamar Schapiro | Undergraduate Officer & Advisor | tamschap@mit.edu
Jennifer Purdy | Undergraduate Administrator | purdy@mit.edu

Major in Linguistics & Philosophy

Program 2, also known as the Program in Language and Mind, aims to provide students with a working knowledge of a variety of issues that currently occupy the intersection of philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive science. Central among these topics are the nature of language, of those mental representations that we call “knowledge” and “belief,” and of the innate basis for the acquisition of certain types of knowledge (especially linguistic knowledge). Students have the option of pursuing either a philosophy track or a linguistics track. Both require a core set of subjects drawn from both fields and are designed to teach students the central facts and issues in the study of language and the representation of knowledge. Each track requires, in addition, a set of subjects drawn primarily from its discipline and is designed to prepare students for graduate study either in philosophy/cognitive science or in linguistics.

Required subject for both tracks:

One of the following:

24.900 Introduction to Linguistics (CI-H)
24.9000 How Language Works

note: 24.900 and 24.9000 are equivalent subjects; credit cannot be received for both

Students choose either a linguistics or philosophy track

Minor in Philosophy

For a minor in the field of philosophy, students must complete six philosophy subjects, chosen in accordance with the options given below. All subjects carry 12 units.

First Level

an introductory philosophy subject numbered 24.00-24.09 or an appropriate Philosophy Concourse subject.

and

a logic course (24.118, Paradox and Infinity, 24.241, Logic I, 24.242, Logic II, 24.243, Set Theory, 24.244, Modal Logic, 24.245, Theory of Models, or a logic course in another department (e.g., Math) if approved by the minor advisor).

Second Level

Three non-introductory philosophy subjects, approved by the minor advisor.

Third Level

24.260, Topics in Philosophy

Please go to HASS Minors Requirements and Guidelines for more information.

Students needing further help should contact the philosophy minor advisor, Jack Spencer, 32-D929, 617-253-5744, jackspen@mit.edu.

Concentration in Philosophy

Philosophy is wide-ranging. It includes ethics and logic, but also the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of history. The philosophy concentration gives students an opportunity to explore both the questions that occupy philosophers and the tools used to solve them.

1. The Requirement

Concentration in the field of philosophy requires a total of three (9 or 12 unit) course 24 subjects in philosophy. Of these three subjects, one may be an introductory subject numbered 24.00 -24.09. No more than one introductory subject can count for concentration purposes, and all three concentration subjects may be non introductory subjects. The selection of three subjects must be “well-distributed”, as determined by the concentration advisor, Professor Jack Spencer, 32-D929, 617-253-5744, jackspen@mit.edu.

Course 24 subjects that are cross-listed in another department can be used for the concentration in philosophy even if the student registers for them using the other department’s subject number.

Philosophy subjects taught at MIT’s Concourse Program are allowed to count as introductory course 24 subjects for concentration purposes. Because Concourse subjects count as introductory subjects, they cannot be used in conjunction with subjects numbered 24.00 – 24.09, or with other Concourse subjects, as part of a philosophy concentration.

Besides subjects offered at MIT, subjects originating through transfer credit from another university will be counted toward the concentration requirement if MIT transfer credit has been given for a specific MIT philosophy subject. Other subjects originating through transfer credit from philosophy departments elsewhere may also be used, but only if approved by the philosophy transfer credit examiner, Justin Khoo (32-D962, 617-715-4298, jkhoo@mit.edu).

2. Application Forms

Concentration credit in philosophy is obtained by submitting an on-line proposal form and afterwards submitting a certificate of completion form. Proposal and completion forms can be found at http://studentformsandpetitions.mit.edu/. Both forms are reviewed and approved by the philosophy concentration advisor.

3. Consultation

Professor Jack Spencer is available for consultation. Please contact him at 32-D929, 617-253-5744 or jackspen@mit.edu for an appointment.

Ms. Jennifer Purdy in 32-D812 (x3-9372; purdy@mit.edu) will also be glad to be of help, both in giving general information and in directing students to the faculty advisors.

Concentration in Ethics

Ethics is the study of questions about how we should live and how things should be. For example:
  • How much should we give to the poor?
  • How should we distribute scarce bio-medical resources?
  • Should we violate the rights of individuals when we can bring about the greater good by doing so?
  • How should a society be organized if it is to count as just?

This concentration will give you a variety of different theoretical tools to help ask and answer such questions.

1. The Requirement

Students must take three of the following subjects:

17.051 Ethics of Energy Policy
17.055 Just Code The Ethical Lifecycle of Machine Learning
21A.302J/WGS.271J Dilemmas in Biomedical Ethics
21A.305J/STS.062J Drugs, Politics, and Culture
21A.410 Environmental Struggles
24.02 Moral Problems and the Good Life
24.03 Good Food The Ethics and Politics of Food
24.04J/17.01J  Justice
24.06J/STS.006J Bioethics
24.07 The Ethics of Climate Change
24.120 Moral Psychology
24.131 Ethics of Technology
24.230 Meta-ethics
24.231 Ethics
24.235J/17.021J Philosophy of Law
24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice
24.237J/17.007J/WGS.301J Feminist Thought
STS.032 Energy, Environment, and Society
STS.049 The Long War Against Cancer
STS.085J/6.805J Foundations of Information Policy

At least one of the three must cover ethical theory (24.02, 24.04, 24.120, 24.230, 24.231).
Only one of the following three subjects may count towards the concentration: STS.032, STS.049, STS.085J.
A concentration proposal must be approved by the Ethics Concentration Advisor. If appropriate, the Ethics Concentration Advisor may approve courses other than those listed above.

2. Application Forms

Concentration credit in philosophy is obtained by submitting an on-line proposal form and afterwards submitting a certificate of completion form. Proposal and completion forms can be found at http://studentformsandpetitions.mit.edu/. Both forms are reviewed and approved by the philosophy concentration advisor.

3. Consultation

Professor Jack Spencer is available for consultation. Please contact him at 32-D929, 617-253-5744 or jackspen@mit.edu for an appointment.

Ms. Jennifer Purdy in 32-D812 (x3-9372; purdy@mit.edu) will also be glad to be of help, both in giving general information and in directing students to the faculty advisors.