A quick supplement to my post earlier this morning.
In a non-Christian setting especially, philosophy is the place where a student will encounter ethics in its most potent form. As I will argue in subsequent posts, they should also encounter ethics in history, literature, and other parts of the liberal arts curriculum.
But philosophy can and should set the stage for discussions on the meaning of life and the significance of virtue and beauty. Philosophy should challenge utilitarian assumptions while also demonstrating their potential value. On a Christian campus, these discussions interact naturally with faith and Scripture.
Ethics will be the primary way in which faith integrates with the content of several other disciplines. For example, in business and economics, it is not enough to know the principles of how to make money. One should also know the importance of ethical considerations. Philosophy questions whether the making of profit is an appropriate end-in-itself.
In any case, I didn't want to leave the importance of philosophy in a liberal arts curriculum without mentioning this most important piece. Individual disciplines may know the content of ethical issues in their discipline the best, but philosophy reigns as the meta-discipline best equipped to process that content.