The undergraduate catalog requires that all Philosophy Majors complete the portfolio and exit interview in order to graduate. This short guide will walk you through these requirements.
You’re going to submit your portfolio during your final semester at Texas State. It’s supposed to demonstrate your progress as a philosophy major. So, we aren’t just interested in your best work; we want it all. This includes:
...and so on. You need to keep a file of all these things so that you can assemble them later on.
During your final semester, you’ll need to organize and annotate everything that you’ve saved. This means that, after you’ve put everything in a binder, you’ll need to go through it and flag certain portions. In particular, we want to know how the contents demonstrate that you’ve achieved these objectives:
An understanding of the history of philosophy includes knowing the seminal figures, their major doctrines and their methodologies.
A proficiency in philosophical investigation includes the ability to interpret texts, explain theories, and identify relevant arguments.
A proficiency in critical thinking includes the ability to ask relevant questions, examine different sides of an issue, and recognize and evaluate arguments.
A proficiency in independent thinking includes the ability to develop and defend original positions.
A proficiency in writing includes being able to state and defend a clear and substantive thesis.
So, for example, if a particular paper (or passage in a paper) is a good example of your independent thinking, then write “IT” on the paper or near the passage, and flag the spot with a post-it note.
After you’ve organized and annotated your portfolio, you need to write an essay that summarizes and evaluates your philosophical development in the five areas above. Offer specific examples of your progress. In addition, please answer at least one of the following questions:
Place this essay at the beginning of your portfolio, followed by a list of all the philosophy courses that you’ve taken and the grades that you earned in them.
The exit interviews are always on the last Thursday of classes, and the faculty needs to review your portfolio before then to determine whether you’ve met the expectations for the program. So, please submit it to the main office (Comal 102) one week prior before that (i.e., by the second-to-last Thursday of classes).
The exit interview is an opportunity for you to demonstrate some of the abilities that you’ve acquired in the program. It’s held on the last Thursday of classes each semester; we always meet at 3:30 PM in the Dialogue Room. (If you are graduating during the summer, you may participate in the exit interview of your last spring semester.)
At your exit interview, please be prepared to:
1. explain an argument that you find especially interesting or compelling, being sure to locate the argument in its historical context,
2. offer an objection to the argument, and
3. answer questions about the argument and your objection.
Here is a brief example.
In Plato’s Euthryphro, Socrates questions Euthyphro about the nature of piety. At one point, Socrates asks him whether “the pious is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved by the gods.” This dilemma is often used to criticize Divine Command Theory – an ethical theory according to which an action is morally required just in case it is commanded by God. Here is the argument.
1. Either actions are right because they are commanded by God, or God commands them because they are right.
2. If they are right because they are commanded by God, then murder could be morally right, since God could have commanded people to murder.
3. Murder could not be morally right.
4. So, actions aren’t right because they are commanded by God.
5. Therefore, God commands actions because they are right.
6. However, if God commands actions because they are right, then God is not the source of their rightness.
7. If Divine Command Theory is true, then God is the source of their rightness.
8. So, Divine Command Theory is false.
You might object that God is essentially good, and so couldn’t command people to murder. If that’s right, then Premise 2 is false. And if Premise 2 is false, then the argument fails: actions could be right because they are commanded by God.
[After presenting this argument and objection, a faculty member might ask you a question like this: Do you think that God’s being essentially good is compatible with God’s having free will?]
Before the interview, be sure to run your argument by Bob Fischer (rf27), Audrey McKinney (am04), or a faculty member with whom you feel comfortable.
Once your portfolio is approved and you’ve completed your exit interview, the Department will notify the Liberal Arts Advising Center so that they can update your degree audit. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Bob Fischer (rf27) or the main office (512-245-2285.)