Letters: Philosophy helps build better thinkers

Cutting programs like philosophy won't build a stronger economy, writers say.

On April 30, it was widely reported that the B.C. government has decided “some courses like philosophy will lose out to business, commerce and sciences” in B.C. post-secondary education.

Yes, philosophy has been around for a long time. One of the first Western philosophers, Plato, founded the first Western university almost 2,500 years ago in Athens.

But philosophy is also very contemporary. When Fraser Valley College began offering courses in 1974, philosophy was included, and a full-time faculty member was hired in 1975. For the 2013-14 school year, about 50 sections of philosophy were offered, almost all fully enrolled.

Philosophy is important for UFV students enrolled in a wide variety of programmes. The course PHIL 100: Reasoning has been required for most liberal arts students for several decades as an extremely practical course that enables students to reason effectively with others and to assess the quality of reasoning in all fields including science, social science, arts, business, ethics and politics.

More specialised philosophy courses examine and critique the history of our thinking so that we can avoid past mistakes in our practical endeavours, e.g., in law, education, religion, logic, decision-making and dispute resolution, public policy, counselling,  environmental ethics, sciences and social sciences.

And there are courses for those focusing on philosophy as part of their programmes, e.g., in political science and other social sciences, environmental studies, law, and philosophy itself.

For more information on employment, type “jobs for philosophy students” into your web browser.

In addition to its practical values for contemporary economic and political life, philosophy broadens the mind through engagement with ideas and questions originating in diverse times and places, encourages deep and clear thinking, and ultimately encourages students to think for themselves in order to cultivate lives that are truly their own.

These skills are essential to our roles as citizens, workers, managers, consumers, parents… Better thinking can help us live better lives.

UFV Philosophy Faculty: Anastasia Anderson, Glen Baier, Wayne Henry, Paul Herman, Moira Gutteridge-Kloster, Jeffrey Morgan, Peter Raabe

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