Introduction to Philosophy

PHIL 2000       Fall 2017      Call # 41557

 

Instructor:                   Dr. Kent Baldner (baldner@wmich.edu)

Class:                           TR: 9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m., 1025 Brown Hall

Office Hours:               By appointment (typically M 12-1 and TR 11-12), Moore Hall 3013

Office Phone:               387‑4402

Assistants:                   Mr. Kaleb Terbush (kaleb.j.terbush@wmich.edu)

Labs:                            Wednesday 10:00-10:50, 4201 Dunbar Hall, CRN 43545                   

Wednesday, 12:00-12:50, 3002 Brown Hall, CRN 43546

 

Required Text:    Reason and Responsibility, 16th edition, edited by Feinberg and Shafer-Landau, plus some online reading assignments—links provided below.

 

Class Web Page: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~baldner/introsylw.htm

 

Catalog Course Description:  An introduction to the nature of philosophy by a consideration of major types of philosophical questions, such as the principles of rational belief, the existence of God, what is the good life, the nature of knowledge, the problem of truth and verification. Selected texts from representative philosophers are used to define the questions and to present typical answers.

 

Class Objectives:  This class introduces students to some of the major themes in the western philosophical tradition, including belief in the existence of God, the nature of knowledge, mind vs. matter, and the nature of morality.  These questions, and the various attempts at answering them, form a core component of the history and context of the current Western Culture.  In addition to being inherently interesting, studying these questions hones one’s reasoning skills.  Our focus will be more on understanding, explaining, and evaluating the nature of the questions themselves rather than merely memorizing historical “answers” to them.

 

Grading:  Grades will be based upon multiple-choice tests for the first three topics, given in your discussion sections, worth 40 points each (40 questions); a multiple-choice final exam, given during the scheduled final exam period, Tuesday, December 12, 8:00—10:00, consisting of 40 questions on the fourth topic, and 5 questions on each of the first three topics (i.e., a total of 15 questions on the first three topics), for a total of 55 points; and the best eight out of nine short-essay quizzes, given in your sections (dates below), worth 10 points each.  (I will drop your lowest quiz score, counting only your best eight.)  This makes a total of 255 possible points.

 

Quizzes:  The quizzes will be short answer (one or two paragraphs) essay questions, given in your discussion section (“lab”).  I will count only your eight highest scores, but there will be no make-ups for missed quizzes.  If you miss class, or a discussion section, you have missed something!

 

Make‑Ups:  To be eligible for a make‑up test, you must contact me in advance or no later than the end of the day the test was given.  Make‑ups will be given no later than one week after the missed test.  Each student is eligible for at most one such make‑up.  Again: There will be no make-ups for missed quizzes.

 

Grading Scale:   (Percentages out of the total possible points for the class):

 

92% and up

(235-255)

A

 

85% - 91%

(217-234)

BA

 

 78% - 84%

(199-216)

B

 

71% - 77%

(181-198)

CB

 

 64% - 70%

(163-180)

C

 

57% - 63%

(145-179)

DC

 

50% - 56%

(128-144)

D

 

 Below 50%

(0-127)

E

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2017 Tentative Class Schedule

 

Tuesday

Wed.—Lab

Thursday

9/5  Introductory remarks

9/6

NO LABS

9/7 What is Philosophy?  (General Introduction to Philosophy, No textual assignment

9/12  The Ontological Argument; Anselm and Gaunilo; pp. 31-36; Transition from A Priori to Anselm

9/13

Quiz 1 on

    ¬

9/14  Aquinas: “The Five Ways,” pp. 47-48;  Samuel Clark, “Cosmo. Argument,” p. 49; Anselm Review

9/19 The Problem of Evil: Memory of the Camps

9/20

Quiz 2 on

    ¬

9/21 “Why God Allows Evil  Online Reading: "Why God Allows Evil," Richard Swinburne 

9/26 Review for Test 1

9/27

Test 1

9/28  Whadayaknow? Pollock: “A Brain in a Vat,” pp. 193-195;  Descartes: Meditations: Synopsis and Meditation I, pp. 240-244

10/3 Descartes Meditations, through first 11 paragraphs of Meditation III, pp. 244-250

10/4

Quiz 3 on

    ¬

10/5 Locke on Primary and Secondary Qualities, pp. 274-282; (Transition from Descartes to Locke)

10/10 Locke on Primary and Secondary Qualities (cont.)

10/11

Quiz 4 on

    ¬

10/12 From Locke to George Berkeley, “Principles of Human Knowledge,” pp. 282-290

10/17 Berkeley, continued; Review for Test 2

10/18

Test 2

10/19  What is mind? (Feinberg’s Intro. To Part 3, pp. 355-359), “Are We Really Conscious?, Online Reading: "Are We Really Conscious?" Michael Graziano

10/24 Descartes’ Mind/Body Dualism; Med. II and Med. VI, pp. 245-249, 264-272

10/25

Quiz 5 on

    ¬

10/26 Mental States; Carruthers: "The Mind is the Brain," Online Reading: "The Mind is the Brain," Peter Carruthers

10/31 Frank Jackson: “The Qualia Problem,” pp. 372-376

11/1

Quiz 6 on

    ¬

11/2 Alan Turing: “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” pp. 391-400

11/7 Review for Test 3

11/8

Test 3

11/9 Morality: Plato on Justice, pp. 574-580

11/14 Video from Eyes on the Prize

11/15

Quiz 7 on

    ¬

11/16 Free Will:  D’Holbach,  Online Reading: "Is Freewill an Illusion?" Paul Holbach

11/21 Existentialism:  Online Reading: "Existentialism is a Humanism," Jean-Paul Sartre

11/22

No labs

No quiz

11/23  Thanksgiving—No classes!

11/28 Rawls on Justice, Online Reading"Justice as Fairness," John Rawls

11/29

Quiz 8 on

    ¬

11/30  John Stuart Mill: “Utilitarianism,” pp. 645-660

12/5  Peter Singer: “Famine, Affluence and Morality,” pp. 672-678

12/6

Quiz 9 on

    ¬

12/7 Review for Final Exam


       
Final Exam:  Tuesday, Dec 12, 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.

 

 

 

 

General Education Area II:  This course fulfills Area II (Humanities) of the University’s General Education Requirement. 

 

Course Objectives:  1) Exposure to several core areas of philosophical reasoning about enduring questions concerning the human condition; examples may include (but are not limited to): the existence and/or nature of God; the relation of mind to body; the nature of knowledge and scientific reasoning; free will; the nature of morality.  2) A greater understanding of the role of Philosophy in shaping core components of Western Civilization. 3) An enhanced ability to evaluate reasoning in general, and specifically philosophical argumentation.  4) A greater understanding of how to think critically and reflexively about one’s own life.

 

Classroom Courtesy:  This is a large class, so there is a natural tendency for people to occasionally "chat" with their neighbors during class.  A little of this is to be expected, but it doesn't take much to create a background "hum" which interrupts my concentration, and hinders others from hearing what is going on.  So please have consideration for your fellow students and me and remain quiet during class.  Likewise, please turn off any cell phones, radios, etc.  Finally, if you want to read the paper or catch up on your sleep, please don’t come to class.  There must be more comfortable places to sleep than in this classroom.

 

Academic Honesty: You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog that pertain to Academic Honesty. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.

 

Religious Observance:  (The following is from the University’s Policy on Religious Observance) The University is a diverse, multicultural enterprise and, as a community, we jointly embrace both individual responsibility and dignified respect for our differences. It is our general policy to permit students to fulfill obligations set aside by their faith.

It is our intent that students who must be absent from scheduled classes to fulfill religious obligations or observe practices associated with their faith not be disadvantaged. However, it is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements with his/her instructors in advance.

Instructors should assume that a claim of religious observance has veracity, especially when advance notice is provided by the student. Students likewise must recognize that it is their responsibility to meet all their course obligations. Instructors are not obligated to provide materials to students unless these materials would have normally been distributed to the entire class.

 

Accommodation for disabilities:  Any student with a documented disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact Disability Services for Students at (269) 387-2116 at the beginning of the semester.  A disability determination must be made by this office before any accommodations are provided by the instructor.  For more information, go to http://www.wmich.edu/disabilityservices.