The Department of Philosophy offers a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. as well as two joint programs: a M.D.-Ph.D.program and a J.D.-Ph.D program. In addition to the undergraduate major in philosophy, the Department also participates in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), Visual Studies, Cognitive Science and Logic, Computation and Information majors. The Department offers graduate courses in the major periods of the history of philosophy as well as in the major fields of and approaches to contemporary philosophy. It supervises advanced research in a number of areas, including metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of mind, logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, and historical as well as contemporary philosophy.

The Department's strengths in ancient philosophy are complemented by Penn's strong program in Classics, its strengths in the history of modern philosophy by Penn's general strength in intellectual history. The University as a whole has strong commitment to cognitive science. The department overlaps and is strengthened by associated faculty, particular those in the programs of Business Ethics, Medical Ethics and Law.

Aided by the Mezvinsky endowment, the Philosophy fund purchases interdisciplinary political, policy, economic, legal and psychological works that are not part of the traditional philosophical mainstream but greatly inform contemporary philosophical work such as that done by scholars in the PPE program.

1. Chronological

All periods: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary.

2. Formats

Books, monographic series and journals account for most of the material acquired. Streaming video is acquired or licensed for pedagogical and research purposes, usually by request. Microfilm is acceptable when necessary. Ebooks are preferred over print books except when the ebook version is much more expensive or the nature of a title suggests that print use will be preferable. 

3. Geographical

All regions. See separate collection policy statements for African, East Asia, South Asia, and Middle Eastern studies, for collection policies for works in non-European languages.

4. Language

Mainly Greek, Latin, French, German and English. Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Russian are collected selectively.

5. Publication dates

No restrictions, but emphasis is on current material. Older material is purchased selectively to fill gaps in the collection.

In addition to the Library's major approval plan (GOBI) for both university and trade publications in the U. S., there are smaller approval plans for German (Harrassowitz), French (Amalivre) and Italian (Casalini) language material. These are supplemented by slip plans from the same vendors. Philosophy journals are scanned for book reviews, publication announcements and "books received" lists.

No area is excluded, but material about medical and bioethics are mainly purchased by the Biomedical Library and material about business ethics is mainly purchased by Lippincott Library, although interdisciplinary works addressing these issues are of great interest.

The American Philosophical Society Library is strong in the history of modern philosophy, especially during the eighteenth century. Other strong philosophy collections in the Mid-Atlantic region to which Penn faculty and students have access include those of Princeton and Columbia Universities. Borrow Direct and document delivery more broadly are crucial for providing access to specialty, niche or uncommon journals and books to which Penn doesn't provide access.