College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Sakamaki D-301
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8649
Fax: (808) 956-9228


*Graduate Faculty

*T. Albertini, DPhil (Chair)—Renaissance and early modern philosophy, Islamic and contemporary Arab philosophy, women in philosophy
*A. Chakrabarti, DPhil—Indian philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind
*C. Y. Cheng, PhD—philosophy of language and logic, American philosophy, classical Chinese philosophy, Neo-Confucian philosophy
*V. Dalmiya, PhD—epistemology, feminist philosophy
*J. Fine, PhD—Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, history of aesthetics, ethics
*M. Ishida, PhD—classical American philosophy, Japanese philosophy, process philosophy, history and philosophy of mathematical logic
T. Jackson, PhD—specialist, director of philosophy in the schools; logic, comparative philosophy, philosophy for children
*S. Odin, PhD—Japanese philosophy, comparative philosophy, American philosophy
*F. T. Perkins Jr., PhD—classical Chinese philosophy, early modern European philosophy, comparative philosophy
*S. Smith, PhD—Indian Buddhism, philosophy of mind, phenomenology, cognitive science
*J. Tanke, PhD—continental philosophy, aesthetics, historical ontology, social and political philosophy
*G. Tsai, PhD—ethics, social and political philosophy

Degrees Offered: Undergraduate Certificate in Islamic Studies, BA (including minor) in philosophy, Minor in Philosophy for Children, MA in philosophy, PhD in philosophy

The Academic Program

Philosophy (PHIL) is an open inquiry that involves the disciplined examination of our most comprehensive goals, standards, and practice. For example: how should we conduct ourselves in our relations with one another? (ethics); what standards should we use to assess our institutions? (social and political theory); how may we achieve knowledge and understanding of the world around us? (epistemology, philosophy of science); what are the most general structures of thought and reality? (philosophy of logic and language, metaphysics); and what place does art have, or what place should it have, in human life? (aesthetics). In pursuing these questions, philosophy is often led to confront issues about the ultimate nature of reality and value or to consider possible limitations on our ability to answer or even to ask such questions. Philosophy proceeds with its task in part through contributing to ongoing discussions and debates within disciplines and traditions and also by cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural comparisons.

Students majoring in philosophy learn to develop a comprehensive view of the aspirations and achievements of human culture as well as a critical assessment of its failures. In the process, students acquire skills of careful reading and interpretation of texts and rigorous argumentative writing that is able to articulate a positive vision of their chosen sub-field of study while also reckoning charitably with relevant objections. The Department of Philosophy’s faculty has expertise in an unusually diverse range of philosophic traditions. The faculty includes specialists in Buddhist, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, and Japanese thought, as well as in many of the important Western traditions. The department as a whole has long been recognized internationally for its comparative work between philosophic traditions

The Philosophy Department is also home to two specialists from the University of Hawai‘i Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education, responsible for philosophy for children Hawai‘i ( It offers students the opportunity to learn from partnerships across colleges and disciplines within the university as well as the opportunity for an unpaid internship within the UH Uehiro Academy. It also administers the “Minor in Philosophy for Children.”

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete 30 credit hours of philosophy courses, including required courses:

  • Logic: PHIL 110;
  • Two elective courses 200-level or above;
  • Two courses in the History of Western Philosophy, one at the 200-level and one at the 414-level: PHIL 211, 212, 213, or 414 (Alpha);
  • Three courses in the core philosophical fields (of ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, political philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of science): PHIL 301, 302, 303, 304, 306, 307, 308, 321, 402, 436;
  • One course in Eastern Philosophy (Buddhist, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, or Japanese philosophy: PHIL 330, 350, 360, 370, 380 or 406; and
  • PHIL 449
  • a minimum of 12 credits must be taken at UH Mānoa

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to



Students must complete 15 credit hours of philosophy above the 100-level, and a minimum of 9 credits must be taken at UH Mānoa. A minor will have any one of the following concentrations:

  • Eastern Philosophy: PHIL 330, 350, 360, 370, 380, 406
  • Ethics and Law: PHIL 300, 301, 302, 303, 310, 312, 317, 318, 319, 387
  • Science and Society: PHIL 308, 313, 314, 315, 316, 321, 322, 324, 405, 422, 438
  • Humanities and the Arts: PHIL 218, 242, 270, 305, 306, 311, 417, 418, 436
  • History of Western Philosophy: PHIL 211, 212, 213, 414 (Alpha)
  • Philosophy with Children: PHIL 492, 493, 218, 270 or any 300+ course
  • Mini-Major: 1 Eastern, 1 History of Western Philosophy, 1 Core

Students must take 3 courses (9 credits) in their chosen concentration and 2 electives at the 200-level or higher.

Minor in Philosophy for Children


The minor in Philosophy for Children combines courses in the Department of Philosophy and the College of Education. This is relevant to the background foundation for a career in education that includes philosophy and the philosopher’s pedagogy as its central pedagogical approach. Students must complete 15 credit hours of philosophy at the 200-level or above.

  • Two courses are required: PHIL 492 and 493
  • One additional PHIL Elective 200+ is required: PHIL 218, 270, or any 300+ satisfies the requirement.
  • Two elective courses from the College of Education: EDEF 310, EDEP 311, 429; LTEC 442, 448; or SPED 304.

Graduate Study

The department offers graduate training leading to the MA and PhD degrees. Students with BA degrees may apply to the MA program. Students are accepted directly into the PhD program only if they have already received the MA degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution and have met any other departmental requirements

Specific requirements for all graduate degrees are detailed in the department’s “Graduate Student Handbook” at

Although the Western philosophical tradition remains the fundamental frame of reference for the department, the opportunity provided for specialization in the area of Asian philosophy is unique in that UH Mānoa is the only institution of higher learning in the U.S. with a regular program leading to the PhD degree with areas of specialization in Buddhist, Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Japanese, and comparative philosophy. Whatever their field of specialization, graduate students intending to complete a PhD in philosophy at UH Mānoa must acquire a thorough knowledge of the history and problems of Western philosophy. On the basis of this foundation, students may further specialize in one of three areas of study: Western philosophy, Asian philosophy, or comparative philosophy. The area of comparative philosophy is the most demanding; at the PhD level its requirements include proficiency in both the Western and Asian fields. The candidate is expected to gain a mastery of some specific topic that can be approached through the resources of two or more philosophic traditions.

All graduate students shall develop their course of study in consultation with the chair of the graduate program.

The MA and PhD in Asian philosophy are recognized Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, on admission, to enroll at Hawai‘i-resident tuition rates.

Master’s Degree

The MA program can be completed either entirely through course work or through a combination of course work and thesis preparation.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission must have a BA degree, including the equivalent of 30 credit hours in philosophy. Students who lack this preparation must make up deficiencies either before or during graduate study. In the latter case, students will be admitted only conditionally, pending removal of the deficiencies. Deficiencies may also be designated in cases where a student’s background does not include a sufficient number and range of courses in Western philosophy. The GRE General Test is required of all program applicants to whom it is accessible.

Degree Requirements

To be eligible for conferral of the MA degree, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 while completing at least 30 credit hours of course work, at least 18 of which must be in courses numbered 600 and above. In addition, students submit three papers written for PHIL courses for a culminating exam, which includes an oral component. This does not apply to students taking the MA thesis option. Also required for the MA degree are four semesters (or the demonstrated equivalent) of at least one philosophically significant language other than English: typically classical Greek, Latin, French, German, Arabic, classical Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit, or Pali.

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral program consists of two stages. The first stage is that leading to admission to candidacy; the second, to the awarding of the degree. Normally the first involves at least two years of course work beyond the MA in preparation for departmental and language examinations. The second stage involves writing a dissertation and passing an oral examination in its defense. Students must attain certification for PhD candidacy–that is, fulfill all the requirements for the PhD except for the writing and oral defense of the dissertation– within four years of admission to the PhD program.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission must hold an MA degree or the equivalent in philosophy and have earned a minimum GPA of 3.3 in courses taken for the MA. Students may be required to make up deficiencies upon entry into the PhD program (see requirements for MA degree above). The GRE General Test is required of all program applicants to whom it is accessible.

Degree Requirements

To be eligible for conferral of the doctor of philosophy degree, a student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 while completing at least 30 credit hours of course work beyond the requirements for the MA. A minimum of 18 of these credit hours must be taken at or above the 600 level. Students are required to demonstrate competence in each of three general areas: 1) history of philosophy; 2) metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of science; and 3) ethics, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of law. Course listings made available each semester will indicate the general area or areas within which each course fits. Students are required to pass two examinations in an area related to the subject matter of their prospective dissertation, to complete an original dissertation, and to pass a final oral dissertation defense. In addition, students shall demonstrate proficiency in at least one (and where deemed necessary two) philosophically significant language(s) other than English: typically classical Greek, Latin, French, German, Arabic, classical Chinese, Japanese, Sanskrit or Pali. Language proficiency examinations will be conducted through Graduate Division and the department of UH Mānoa responsible for teaching that language.