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Among the many questions philosophers ask — What can I know? Who am I? Does God exist? What is the nature of time? — one of the most pervasive may be What is philosophy?

It’s been defined as the love of wisdom; the search for truth through reasoning; and a discipline that comprises metaphysics, logic, ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics. The Philosophy Department at Lewis & Clark believes such definitions have their purpose—but the only way to truly understand philosophy is to engage in the study and practice of philosophical inquiry.

In philosophy courses, you’ll investigate the questions above, and many others as well. Professors cover the ideas of ancient philosophers (such as Plato and Aristotle), modern philosophers (Descartes and Kant), twentieth-century thinkers (Heidegger and Quine), and such recent theorists (Foucault and Lewis). Topics include ancient philosophy, 19th century philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the philosophies of religion, science, and law.

Outside the classroom, students are active in the Philosophy Club and regularly attend where visiting philosophers, philosophy faculty, and fellow students present papers and posit questions about the fundamental natures of society, life, and knowledge. These talks are always followed by active, lively discussion, giving students a great chance to engage the ideas they’re exploring in classes.

We have a vibrant philosophy colloquium featuring renowned philosophers both here in the Northwest and across the country. All are welcome and the colloquia series can be accessed below.

Philosophy Colloquium Series 2015-2016




October 16th, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “Knowledge as Justified Stable Belief” by Avram Hiller (Portland State University)
    Epistemologists are (almost) in agreement that Edmund Gettier (1963) refuted the account of knowledge according to which knowledge is justified true belief (JTB). This paper provides a novel explanation of why the JTB account was wrongheaded from the outset. Using an analogy between knowledge and soundness, I argue that knowledge should never have been understood as having an independent truth condition, although I do not deny that knowledge is factive. The post-Gettier move to pursue a theory of warrant – whatever it is that must be added to true belief to yield knowledge – is thus misguided, as is the longstanding debate about whether warrant entails truth. Instead of modifying or jettisoning the J condition on knowledge, or adding a fourth condition, we ought simply to replace the T condition. And so rather than seeking an account of warrant, epistemologists should seek an account of what I will call stability, which can be defined at the outset as that condition, whatever it is, that must be added to justified belief to yield knowledge. Knowledge is thusjustified stable belief (JSB). Unlike other approaches, the K=JSB view clearly distinguishes internal and external components of knowledge, and I show that it is thus salutary for fallibilist internalist accounts of justification. I then take some steps in explaining what stability is and in differentiating the JSB account from alternative views. One of the main goals of this paper is to provide a framework of a theory of knowledge which is an alternative to Timothy Williamson’s view that knowledge is prime, and so I also show how Williamson’s arguments fail to undermine the reductive nature of the K=JSB account.

October 23rd, 2015

  • Image preview 3:30pm: “A New Paradigm of Anti-Racism: Why Discourse of White Privilege, Justice, and Equality Do Not Work” by Naomi Zack (University of Oregon)
    Naomi Zack’s recent books are White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide​ (2015), The Ethics and Mores of Race: Equality after the History of Philosophy  (2011), and Applicative Justice: A Pragmatic, Empirial Approach to Racial Injustice (2016). She now presents a new way to think about racial oppression and other forms of present injustice. She rejects White Privilege discourse, Rawlsian Ideal Theories of Justice, and the idea of Equality. Instead, Zack proposes a comparative approach––blacks should not be treated as whites are not treated.

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