Philosophy Collection Development Policy


The collection supports CAS and GSAS philosophy programs through the Ph.D. level. Departmental emphases are Metaphysics, Epistemology, Logic (Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language) and Ethics, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Law, Political Philosophy, Medical Ethics as well as the History of Philosophy.

The collection also supports course work and research in the following programs or areas: Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies; European Studies, Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, Religious Education; French Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Philosophy of Education; Politics; History; Fine Arts; Law and Society, Linguistics; Literature and Literary Theory; Professional Ethics.

Because philosophy is a discipline fundamental to all branches of knowledge, an attempt is made to develop a well- balanced collection with emphasis on areas of departmental focus.


  1. Language

    Emphasis is on English language materials; however, the writings of major philosophers and important critical editions in the original languages are routinely acquired.

  2. Geographical Areas

    Emphasis is on the philosophical traditions of the United States, Europe, and, to a lesser extent, East Asia.

  3. Chronological Periods

    The collection covers ancient to modern philosophy.

Types of Materials

  1. Included

    General reference and bibliographic works; general and national histories of philosophy, and histories and surveys of the various disciplines (ethics, logic, etc.); critical editions of collected works and single texts; annotated editions; all significant secondary sources. Monographs, monographic series, serials, proceedings, reprints, microforms, databases (full-text and bibliographic).

  2. Excluded

    Dissertations, manuscripts, textbooks.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Collection

The philosophy collection is strong in the history of philosophy for all periods. Bobst's holdings are relatively w eak for the philosophy of science (mathematics, physics, etc.) and symbolic logic, which are areas that, to some extent, are collected by the Courant Institute of Mathematics. The Bobst collection will need to improve in these areas, however, considering the added foci of the philosophy department. Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, and Ethics, especially legal and medical, are areas that need strengthening.

Philosophy materials are among the most heavily used resources of the collection, and systematic review of missing, worn, and damaged books in need of repair or replacement is a regular and essential feature of collection development in this area.

A project to replace missing books was completed in 1999. However, efforts to replace missing or worn volumes of standard works must continue, as well as the acquisition of multiple copies of works in heavy demand as far as these can be predicted.

The philosophy department introduced a Ph.D. program as recently as September 1, 1997. Retrospective collection building was begun in 1997 to remedy gaps especially in the reference and primary source collections. The latter has been given additional support through the creation in 1998 of a separate section in the library for primary texts in the humanities. The change of vendors for North America in 1996 increased the reliability in coverage of new titles. Retrospective collecting of titles from previous years has been undertaken, but major efforts are still needed to compensate for past deficiencies as well as build a research collection beyond the master's level.

Other Resources

Local resources include: The Courant Institute of Mathematics Library (for the Philosophy of Mathematics and of Physics, and for Symbolic Logic), New School for Social Research Library (for Social Theory and German philosophy), New York Public Library (for the history of philosophy) and the NYU Law Library (for legal ethics).

See also policy statements for Classics, Religion, Linguistics, Psychology, and Near Eastern Studies.

Subject & Collection Levels

LC Class Subject DES
B 108-708 Ancient C
B 720-785 Medieval & Renaissance C
B 790-5802 Modern C*
BC 1-199 Logic C
BD 95-131 Metaphysics D
BD 418 Philosophy of Mind D
B 143-237 Epistemology C
BH 1-301 Aesthetics C
BJ 1-1725 Ethics D
P 101-120 Philosophy of Language D
Q 175 Philosophy of Science C

* With the caveat of limited collecting in certain geographic areas (e.g. oriental philosophy) as well as certain subject areas of philosophy (e.g. parapsychology and etiquette).

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