Welcome to the Philosophy Program!
The Philosophy Program offers a wide range of undergraduate courses that examine contemporary moral problems, bioethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, existentialism, philosophy of religion, philosophy of crime and justice, philosophy of mind and psychology, and aesthetics among others. In addition, courses are offered in the history of philosophy and other traditional areas such as logic and critical thinking. The department also hosts Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, a journal in critical thinking . We are very excited to announce our new Minor in Ethics.
Our visiting and adjunct faculty members are engaged in cutting-edge research. Our majors and minors are an essential part of our program, and we encourage them to engage in undergraduate research projects. Our philosophy students engage in critical reflection of ideas through the Philosophy Club and Phi Sigma Tau.
Philosophy Program Statement of
We, the undersigned, on behalf of the faculty of Philosophy at Sam Houston State University, stand in solidarity with the Black community and with all marginalized communities in this time of outrage, grief, and struggle for justice.
As philosophers, we are trained to question what is otherwise taken for granted by deploying reason to unearth subterranean logics from life’s mysteries, our experiences, and socio-cultural systems. Though this questioning plays an essential role in the ongoing struggle for justice, this is a time when affects like discomfort, anxiety, anger, and despair threaten to overpower our efforts to think clearly.
For, despite the fact that the canonized history of philosophy in the global North is almost entirely a matter of the testimony of dead White men, critical philosophers (of race, feminist theory, and political economy) have long understood that complex mechanisms of power function to promote the interests of some to the exclusion of others. Such exclusive functions of power target “others” through disparities in income and social mobility, through lack of access to resources, and, as the global pandemic of COVID-19 has made plain, through suffering from comorbidities that disproportionately increase susceptibility to illness. Moreover, since identity in large part determines one’s place in this network of marginalization and privilege, in its most nefarious forms, exclusive power costs its targets their dignity, their hopes and dreams, and, as recent events have once again reminded us, even their lives.
We have witnessed the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police just as we have witnessed the continual targeting of Black people by police, by vigilantes, and by perpetrators of hate crimes that lead to murder. Though these may seem at first glance to exemplify a failure of reason, a tragic expression of the world gone mad, in truth these events are testimonies to a system that functions as it was designed to function. This is neither the first time (nor will it likely be the last) that those targeted by the system and their allies will cry out for justice. Thus, in the critical spirit of philosophy, we join our voices with those who say, “Enough!” and stand with all who make it their mission to expose the function of this power so as to dismantle it in the hopes of building a better world.
To do so, we must make clear that we understand “power” is neither a neutral term nor an empty concept. In America, the system’s power has a history and a legacy that converges on the central organizing principle of White supremacy. Philosopher Charles W. Mills said it best when he asserted that “Whiteness is not really a color at all, but a set of power relations” (The Racial Contract). We condemn the logic and the operation of White supremacy, even as we pledge to deepen our study of its entrenchment in American life so as to better resist and destroy it.
As a program, we commit to acknowledge and promote critical philosophies of race – and, indeed, all critical philosophies that confront the injustices that plague our world. Because all too often such pledges remain only that, pledges that fail to be enacted, in our role as teacher-scholars at SHSU, we commit ourselves to the following: as scholars, we will further develop and extend our research in critical philosophies, and, as teachers, implement them in curriculum and pedagogical practices. We will be vigilant in our efforts to root out our own implicit biases, to intervene on racist practices when we encounter them, and to use our position to mentor and advocate for the flourishing and academic success of our students of color by being sensitive to their struggles in the face of systemic racism. We will hold space. We will listen.
We call upon the University to support our endeavor to keep the critical spirit of philosophy alive by allocating real resources to our initiatives. And, in full recognition that such efforts require a diversity of perspectives and thrive when informed by the voices of the community, we urge you to share with us your thoughts, concerns and suggestions via Philosophy@shsu.edu or call 936-294- 1174.
- Jessica S. Elkayam
- Zachary Bachman
- Ian K. McDaniel
- Harris B. Bechtol
- Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin
- Maria Botero
- Thomas Brommage