Why Study Philosophy?
What Can A Philosophy Graduate Do?
Philosophy Majors Do Better.
Philosophy is not directly practical. No philosopher will ever teach you how to build a toilet.* However, we can teach you how to think better and to write better. These are skills valued by any boss whose employees don’t have to wear a funny paper hat. Is thinking well important? Those who do not value thinking well usually think badly; and, for that reason, it’s hard to change their minds, so let’s not get into it.
*However, our own Dr. Chase Wrenn has an extensive knowledge of the mechanics of the flush toilet – ask him about it.
Even though philosophy isn’t directly practical, philosophy majors score very highly on the LSAT, GRE, and GMAT – as a result, we think, of their training – so they usually do well in the world.
Philosophy majors typically do the best on the GRE verbal section (even better than English majors); 2nd best on the GMAT (behind math majors but ahead of business majors); and 3rd best on the LSAT (behind only math and economics majors). In a recent study, philosophy majors were found to be 10% better than political science majors on the LSAT. In a study of overall GRE scores from 1995 and 1998, philosophy majors came in 3rd out of 26 categories. That probably explains why I got so many graduate school rejections, but I’d rather not elaborate.
Doctors rarely major in philosophy; the Medical School Admissions Requirements book for 2000-2001 shows that only 0.5% of medical school applicants were philosophy majors in 1998. However, 50.2% of these were accepted, which is the second highest rate (just behind history; biology majors were a mere 39.9%). And in 1997, the acceptance rate for philosophy majors was the highest of all at 53%!
Do all these good test scores provide a reason for studying philosophy? Well, if philosophy majors ace standardized exams merely because smarter people are attracted to philosophy, then no, since these good scores would merely betray a selection bias. However, if you’d choose one box in the Newcomb Problem, you might want to become a major anyway. (Ask your nearest philosophy instructor what that means, but don’t say you read it here!)
– Stuart Rachels