Department of Philosophy

Great Hall


Philosophy is an activity which aims at an understanding of ourselves, our relationships with one another, and our place in the world. It is centrally concerned with fundamental questions about such topics, critically investigating what other subjects and other human activities take for granted.

One benefit of studying philosophy is that it introduces students to important and intriguing issues that are not dealt with at high school or in other subjects - issues concerning the foundations of their thinking and living. Another is that it acquaints them with thinkers and ideas that are of significant historical importance.

For most students, however, the main benefit of studying philosophy is that it develops their powers of reasoning by forcing them to exercise those powers on especially difficult problems. After only a single course in Philosophy, diligent students are usually better at coming to grips with an argument, getting to the heart of an issue, exposing a fallacy and wrestling with a problem. Their critical capacities are generally enhanced, as are their powers of ordering their thoughts and presenting them in a clear, coherent, and well-organized form.

The Wits Philosophy Department is an internationally respected philosophical centre with a long tradition of research and teaching excellence. Staff members have doctorates from top international universities and regularly publish their work in accredited academic journals. The department is vibrant, diverse, and socially engaged. It is home to the Wits Centre for Ethics.

School of Social Sciences  

News and Events

Dr Edwin Etieyibo will give a Hoernle Research Seminar with the title:

“I Desire Livingly, Therefore I Ought to Believe in God”

Thursday 31st July 2014, Venue: Central Block, Ground Floor, Room CB3C, 16.15. Everyone is invited.


WISER and the Wits Centre for Ethics, based in the Philosophy Department, invite you to join us for a Philosophical Debate.

Venue: WISER Seminar Room, 6th Floor Richard Ward Building, Wits Main Campus

Can we give a clear explanation of what Ubuntu is supposed to be? Is a moral theory based on Ubuntu plausible? Professor Lucy Allais (Wits) will argue that Professor Thad Metz’s (University of Johannesburg) important philosophical work on Ubuntu gives a clear and plausible account of what ubuntu is and why it is important, but that a single-value moral theory based on ubuntu is not plausible (and not plausibly African). She suggests that Immanuel Kant’s conception of morality can, while ubuntu cannot, give a proper grounding of human rights.

Allais will present a paper: “In Defence of an Enlightenment Conception of Reason: a Critique of a single Value Moral Theory based on Ubuntu” and Metz will respond, followed by open debate.


The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that:

Professor Lucy Allais's article "Kant's One World: Interpreting 'Transcendental Idealism'" has been included in the 21st Anniversary Editor’s Choice Collection of the prestigous British Journal for the History of Philosophy


Contact Details

Phone: 27 11 717 4345
Fax: 27 11 717 4359

Physical Address

Room CB9
Ground Floor Central Block
East Campus

Postal Address

Philosophy Department
Private Bag 3, Wits, 2050
Johannesburg, 2000
South Africa


The department's Hoernle research seminar series begins on the Thursday, 23 of February in CB3c. Professor Lucy Allais will be giving a talk entitled "Kant on Giving to Beggars"