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Philosophy, Politics & Law Major


PPL (Philosophy, Politics, Law) is a liberal arts degree designed to prepare a thoughtful and engaged citizenry. The major exposes students to various normative questions integral to politics and the rule of law such as the nature of justice and political legitimacy, as well as debates, current and historical, concerning the nature of democracy, freedom, rights, and representative government. Students will also pursue these and aligned issues through electives housed in other departments and programs within the college, thus providing a multidisciplenary experience of philosophy, politics, and law.

NOTE: All classes that count toward the major or minor must be taken for a letter grade.

PPL Major (36 credit minimum)

PPL Major (36 credit minimum)

To complete the major, students must earn 36 credits minimum including:

PHIL 110 Logic (4 credits)

PHIL 220 or 220W History of Political Philosophy (3 or 4 credits - historical survey of primary texts and issues)

PHIL 300 Metaphysics and Epistemology (3 credits - exploration of two philosophical sub-disciplines integral to law and politics: epistemology and metaphysics)

PHIL 321 Philosophy of Law (3 credits)

PHIL 488 Capstone Seminar on Philosophy, Politics, and Law (Must be taken in the student's senior year)

Five Electives* (the first two from other departments and programs in the college):

  • One non-philosophy elective on politics (includes all POLS classes)
  • One non-philosophy elective on law
  • One philosophy elective at the 400-level
  • Two philosophy electives at any level

*In some cases, students will need to take an additional elective in order to meet the 36 credit hour requirement.

Required Electives

Pre-Law Advising

In the past decade, Emory Philosophy Undergraduates have gone on to study law at some of the best law schools in the world, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, NYU, Columbia, Virginia, Michigan, Vanderbilt and Emory, among others. This is not surprising because many students have an interest in law and the study of philosophy provides excellent preparation for the rigors of law school and legal practice beyond.

Through the study of philosophy generally one can learn how to make strong arguments, give due consideration to competing points of view and place those arguments in the service of a larger vision. Beyond this, a great deal of the substance of modern law owes its formation to the substantive contributions of philosophers over time to questions concerning the nature of justice and the good life.

Philosophy doesn’t just help students master the kinds of logical inference and critical reading required for the law school admission test (LSAT), it helps students invoke their imagination when confronted with contested and competing interpretations of written texts, and the skills developed are useful whether one is debating the meaning of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the US Constitution, or Brown v. Board of Education.

Finally, there are many opportunities in philosophy to develop the ability to write which is central to both law school and legal practice. Philosophy is a great field of study for its own sake regardless of what your future plans hold. It asks questions at the heart of human life concerning justice, knowledge, beauty and the good. But in addition to this, it has proven to be of high value to those who choose law as a profession.

A pre-law advisor will soon be assigned.