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"the love of wisdom"

subject matter of philosophy

1. the most fundamental and universal issues of human life, in particular: being, knowledge, beauty, and morality [studied in the major branches of philosophy]
2. fundamental principles of other disciplines, such as math, music, law, etc. [studied in the minor branches of philosophy]

method used in philosophy

1. "love" -- an attitude of desire for and openness to the truth; willingness to engage in open-minded inquiry and to reject prejudices and preconceptions
2. rational analysis and argument -- philosophy avoids using emotion, faith, and other non-rational psychological capacities

major branches of philosophy

1. metaphysics
2. epistemology
3. aesthetics
4. ethics

minor branches of philosophy

provide fundamental principles to other disciplines; too many to list; most begin with "philosophy of . . ."; thus: philosophy of language, philosophy of math, philosophy of science, etc.


the branch of philosophy that studies being, existence, or reality


the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge


the branch of philosophy that studies morality


the branch of philosophy that studies beauty, art, and the experience of pleasure

branches of ethics

1. descriptive ethics
2. normative ethics
3. applied ethics
4. metaethics

descriptive ethics

the branch of ethics that describes people's ethical behavior, language, and experiences without making normative judgments about it; a part of the social sciences rather than philosophy; not really studied in PHI 220

normative ethics

the branch of ethics that attempts to give a rational account of morality by producing theories of right and wrong

applied ethics

the branch of ethics that applies normative theories to specific issues such as abortion, euthanasia, business, war, politics, etc.


the branch of ethics that studies normative ethics; explains the meaning and logical structure of moral beliefs and theories; explains what normative ethics is and what it means to practice it; discusses the status of moral knowledge, especially whether that knowledge is objective or subjective

normative claim

a statement that makes a value judgment

descriptive claim

a statement that describes a fact, but makes no value judgment about it

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