Intro to Philosophy (Distance Ed)

Course Description

This course introduces the student to a variety of philosophical issues in metaphysics, theory of knowledge, and ethics, as well as the methodology used by philosophers to address those issues. The origins of Western philosophy as well as its impact on Western civilization will be emphasized. The course systematically explores and evaluates the concepts of reality, value, knowledge, reason, truth, language, definition, beauty, justice, human nature, personal identity, religion, meaning, and freedom. Analysis and synthesis will be stressed for these and other topics of interest to students and/or instructors.

Course Requirements

Readings

This course will be taught, in part, using the Socratic method. This requires that students come to class prepared. Assigned material must be read and understood, and the student should be able to discuss the subject matter intelligently. The college recommends that students spend at least two hours of study at home for each hour spent in class. Expect to spend six hours per week preparing for class.

Pop Quizzes

While I graciously give two participation points for attending class, these points are not deserved if the student is not prepared. Therefore, if overall class preparedness is a problem, the pop quizzes will be used to determine who has come to class prepared and make appropriate adjustments to the class participation points. No make-up pop quizzes will be given.

Pop quizzes will be given if the class is not studying the assigned material or is not prepared to discuss it intelligently. Each pop quiz will consist of one short essay question which will be substantially more difficult than the questions that I generally ask in class. Pop quizzes do not contribute positively and may contribute negatively to the day’s participation points. The grading is as follows: An “A” or “B” will result in no change to the day’s participation points. A “C” will be considered minimally prepared, for a reduction of one point. Below a C will result in a reduction of the day’s participation points by two.

Examples:
  • Getting a “D” or “F” on a pop quiz will result in a score of “0” for class participation for the day. However, points may still be earned through class participation (with a maximum of 8 points possible for the day).
  • Getting a “C” on a pop quiz will result in a score of “1” for class participation for the day. However, points may still be earned through class participation (with a maximum of 9 points possible for the day).
  • Getting an “A” or “B” on a pop quiz will result in a score of “2” for class participation for the day. Additional points may still be earned through class participation (with a maximum of 10 points possible for the day).

Midterm

There will be an in-class multiple choice midterm. The midterm exam counts as 25% of the total course grade and is open book and open note. No makeup exam will be given, unless prearranged (with a good reason) or in the case of medical emergency (note required). The midterm is designed to aid in your development of critical thinking.

Current Events Paper

The Current events paper is a short two-page paper that does not require academic research. One page should be devoted to the “pro” side of a political issue, and the other page should be devoted to the “con” side of the same political issue. Students will be able to sign up for their topic during class. During the last few weeks of the term, we will discuss political issues within the context of Philosophy. In order to avoid those classes being a soliloquy, students will need to be versed on the subject matter. This paper is 5% of the total course grade and is graded on a pass/fail basis.

Critical Thinking Paper

There will be one written paper that will demonstrate your understanding of and your ability to think critically about one of the issues in philosophy being discussed in the course. It counts as 20% of the total course grade. The paper must be 1500 – 3000 words in length, typed in a 12 point font, double-spaced, and carefully proofread (use a spelling and grammar checker AND have someone proofread the paper). The ability to write is central to a college education. Therefore, excessive grammar errors and misspellings will result in a reduction of points for the paper. Only new and original (no previous) work is acceptable. Plagiarism is not tolerated, will result in a score of 0 on the paper, and will be reported to the appropriate individuals for academic discipline. The paper must clearly exhibit your mastery of the critical thinking concepts and techniques studied in the course. There is no “rewrite” option for papers, but I am happy to comment on drafts during office hours before the due date, or via email (deadline for submission of email drafts for review is 1 week prior to the due date). No extensions to the due date of the paper will be granted. Late papers will be accepted up to 24 hours late, with a 25% penalty (or partial day – one minute late is a 25% penalty). The paper is designed to aid in the development of your critical thinking and writing. For your benefit, an ungraded draft will be due two weeks prior to the final assignment due date. A full draft should be done by that date, but if it is a partial draft, please submit whatever is completed. The final and draft must be submitted both on paper and via email.

Final

There will be an in-class essay final. The midterm exam counts as 25% of the total course grade and is open book and open note. No makeup exam will be given, unless prearranged (with a good reason) or in the case of medical emergency (note required). The midterm is designed to aid in your development of critical thinking.

Class Participation

You are required to attend class regularly and to participate in class discussions. Participation in class sessions is 25% of your final grade and is critical to the education process. Each class session is worth 10 points. Missing class results in a 0 for the class session. Showing up on time earns two points. Being late to class counts as an absence, however, the full 10 points may be earned, at the Professor’s discretion, for participation. The remaining eight points are earned by volunteering to answer questions, offering discussion, challenging assumptions and demonstrating preparedness when called on to answer questions. Every student will be called on, repeatedly, through the course of the semester.

Required Readings

Books

Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn. Custom Version of Philosophy: The Quest for Truth. 7th edition. Oxford University Press, 2010. This book is available at the Cypress College bookstore and is designated in the Course Schedule as “Pojman7.” Note Well: No earlier editions are acceptable! Feel free to purchase a newer edition if you can save some money.

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. Penguin Books, 2008.

Articles

Articles will be distributed as needed to supplement the reading.

Resources