Department of PhilosophyWestern Arts and Humanities


Philosophy has been taught at the University of Western Ontario since the first days of the university in 1878. In those early days, the university consisted of a number of relatively autonomous colleges, and the colleges dispensed education in philosophy as they saw fit. It was only in the 1960s when Professor Robert Butts was charged with constructing a modern academic department from the remnants of the university’s dismantled college system that Western truly became a centre of scholarship in philosophy.

Today, the Department of Philosophy is home to 32 faculty members. As befits a department of this size, we aspire to be well-rounded, though there are a few areas in which we are particularly strong.

We are committed to broad general education in philosophy and beyond, while also being home to many faculty members and students who work in specialized areas. We are a department where the history of philosophy is held in high regard. At the same time, we maintain strong ties with the departments of law, pure and applied mathematics, biology, physics and astronomy, medicine and epidemiology, women’s studies, psychology, the Brain and Mind Institute at Western and with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo. A generous donation from Joseph Rotman led to the creation of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy in 2008. This institute broadens our research profile by bringing together philosophers and scientists to focus on theoretical issues and their practical and ethical implications in various areas of science, from cosmology to conservation ecology, evolutionary biology, and medicine.

We offer undergraduate education. Whether you’re working towards a BA in philosophy or just taking a course or two, we undertake to provide excellent teaching in philosophy. We offer introductory and historical courses, courses in the core areas of epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and ethics, as well as courses in more recent and specialized areas such as the philosophy of biology, decision theory, and biomedical ethics, to name only a few. Whatever your interests, we are committed to developing and honing your skills as a reader, a writer, and an analyst.

We offer graduate education in philosophy, leading to the MA and the PhD. We strive to maintain an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual support in which every student receives the individual attention that he or she needs to thrive.

We hope you will join us.

lagerlundHenrik Lagerlund