Philosophy M.A. Program at U of I & WSU.
I want to strongly recommend the joint program for a Masters of Arts in Philosophy at University of Idaho and Washington State University. The U of I page for this is here and the WSU page is here. Here is the main philosophy department page for University of Idaho, and here is the main page for the University.
The three professors I have worked with this last year, as both instructors and advisors, are Michael O’Rourke, Douglas Lind, and Joe Campbell. All three have been very helpful, diligent, and kind, and all three are highly gifted and accomplished in their areas of expertise. Moving on to a PhD program is not the most exciting thought since it is hard to believe I will find three advisers as pleasant to work with.
Michael O’Rourke’s web site is here. O’Rourke has classes on Mind, Language, Logic, as well as a great introductory class to philosophy. O’Rourke has won awards for his teaching diligence and style. He is also known as one of the most charitable instructors in the American educational system as far as I can tell. For those of you who like me, I should say that I can thank O’Rourke for some of my better intellectual traits. Also, O’Rourke’s sacrificial help over the years since I had him as an instructor while an undergrad earned him a good amount of trust with me, which is what made the decision to complete my M.A. here in Moscow an easy one.
Michael O’Rourke and Joe Campbell have been instrumental in creating the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference (INPC), which is flourishing and gaining a solid reputation. You can see the web page for this here. Some 80 philosophers come to the Palouse each year to contribute to this professional and hospitable event. You can see last year’s program here. Notice the inclusion of a Public Forum, involving an interdisciplinary discussion with local scholars and professionals. Many world famous philosophers contribute to this conference and its associated yearly philosophy journal, Contemporary Topics in Philosophy, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press
You can see Douglas Lind’s web site here. Douglas Lind has earned both a PhD and a JD, and he is currently Professor & Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Idaho. Lind is also Director of the Tribal Law Exchange. Lind practiced as an attorney before pursuing a PhD in philosophy. When not in the classroom or writing, Lind is busy instructing judges, or future judges, about the nature of their craft; he just recently returned from Kazakhstan:
Decision Drafting and Legal Analysis (16 Hours), Training for Kazakh judges and professors and students from the Kazakh Institute of Justice, Astana, KAZAKHSTAN, 11/14–15/2006.
And he has accomplished two other teaching trips earlier this year:
The Art of Legal Reasoning (3 Hours), Wyoming State Bar, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, 08/17/2006.
Logic and Legal Reasoning (4 Hours), Maryland Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals, sponsored by the Maryland Judicial Institute, Cambridge, MD, 05/17/2006.
Lind’s classes in the Philosophy of Law and Wittgenstein are top rate. The extent of his ability to use literature in teaching law is something I doubt I will have the opportunity to enjoy again. I have never thought to research and write on the basis of work done by one of my professors before (but for one time an instructor challenged me to a dual), but I have found myself writing on two of Lind’s papers:
“Constitutional Adjudication as a Craft-Bound Excellence,” in Wittgenstein and Law, D. Patterson, ed., Ashgate, 2004.
“Azdak, the Rascal Judge,” Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 12 (1999), 223-252.
You can see Joe Campbell’s WSU page here. Campbell’s class in Metaphysics is simply a must for anyone at all interested in time, time travel, free will & moral responsibility, the problem of evil, and challenges to traditional conceptions of the perfections of the classical God. Campbell is a leading scholar on the topic of free will and determinism, arguing for a compatibilist position, and he provides a perspicuous map of the contemporary land. He has another essay on this topic coming out in the prestigious journal Analysis next year. This is a very inviting class for all views, particularly those of the theist – something not always found in classes like this. Campbell has also received a campus-wide award for his teaching; he is very laid back and enjoyable in and out of the classroom.
Given the free and collegial atmosphere of the programs at both U of I and WSU, my experience with these three instructors, and the success of the yearly philosophy conference, I would highly recommend this Master’s program. I have been in another similar M.A. program elsewhere, and so I have other experience to back up this claim. If I were to do it all over again, and if I could have gone anywhere in the U.S. for a M.A. program in philosophy to launch me into a future PhD program, I can’t imagine choosing another program. The quiet setting, nestled within the beautiful rolling hills of Palouse, is also perfect for a two-year philosophical get away. Given that I’m not one to play politics or engage in sophistry, I hope you will accept this as my sincere evaluation.