Introduction to Philosophy, S04 PHI 100 @ Cortland College, FA 11



Course Description
Course Goals
Form of Course
Required Texts
Academic Dishonesty
Students with Disabilities

Course Description

Philosophy is a wide and varied topic. As a result, it is often difficult to determine just what philosophy is. Over the course of the semester, we will examine a wide variety of topics that are all considered philosophy, including what it means to be a single person over time, the origins of right and wrong, the nature of reality, and many others. We will examine these topics both in a historical context (stretching from ancient Greece to the enlightenment) and from today’s various points of view. We will question why certain viewpoints have been dominant for so long and examine recent philosophical theories that possibly shed new light on both age old problems and recent conflicts . . . all in an attempt to figure out just what philosophy is.

Note: This course fulfills Gen Ed: Category 7, Humanities and Liberal Arts requirements.

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Course Goals

This course has two goals:

  1. Introduce the various subject matters and methods of philosophy and
  2. Teach how to analyze and engage with real world issues using these subject matters and methods.

To do this, we will touch on historically dominant views and contemporary and modern alternatives. You will learn how to read the texts, pulling out the key concepts and arguments, formulate written and oral responses to the texts, and examine these texts in light of the issues facing us today and those issues in light of the texts. Return to Contents

Form of Course

This course is a combination of brief lectures, whole class discussions, public writing assignments (on the course blog) and group work. In a normal week, the instructor will introduce the topic and readings with a general overview on Tuesday and then oversee a discussion between the members of the class. Each Thursday, we will use the public writing assignments as a jumping off point for further elaborating on discussion points and building understanding. Finally, throughout the semester, students will be working closely in small groups to give feedback on writing assignments and talk through philosophical problems. Return to Contents

Required Texts

Nigel Warburton, Thinking from A to Z. (New York: Routledge, 2007).

ISBN-10: 0415433711
ISBN-13: 978-0415433716

Plato, Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, 2nd Edition. tr. G. M. A. Grube. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2002).

ISBN-10: 0872206335
ISBN-13: 978-0872206335

John Locke; George Berkeley; David Hume, The Empiricists. (New York: Anchor Books, 1960).

ISBN-10: 0385096224
ISBN-13: 978-0385096225

Jean-Paul Sartre. Nausea. tr. Lloyd Alexander. (New York: New Directions Books, 2007).

ISBN-10: 0811217000
ISBN-13: 978-0811217002

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism and On Liberty. ed. Mary Warnock. (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003).

ISBN-10: 0631233520
ISBN-13: 978-0631233527

Friedrich Nietzsche. On the Genealogy of Morals. tr. Douglas Smith. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

ISBN-10: 0199537089
ISBN-13: 978-0199537082

Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic. (New York: Mariner Books, 1972).

ISBN-10: 0156232006
ISBN-13: 978-0156232005

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[Note: Full credit will not be given for late or missed assignments except where arrangements have been made previously with the instructor.]

Contribution [10%]

You will be graded on your overall contributions to the class. Be prepared to ask questions about the text if you are confused, try applying an issue to a problem that you think is relevant, argue against the text or even me. Simply take the time to be ready to add something to the class, even if that is your own bewilderment and confusion! There will be a midterm and final graded self-assessment that will go towards this grade.

Group Work [25%]

At the beginning of the semester, you will be assigned to a small group of students. Throughout the semester, this group will work together on two different types of activities:

Discussion Groups [10%]

Once during each topic, students will break into their assigned groups to work together on the day’s activities (activities can vary from preparing for a debate to designing a simple game to convey a concept).

Paper Comments [15%]

During the semester, students will be responsible for giving constructive comments on their fellow group members’ papers and drafts.

Papers [35%]

Two 2000 word essays will be assigned during the course of the semester. These essays will engage with one specific topic from the course. Students will be able to select from three possible questions for each essay.

First [15%] Second [20%]

Quizzes [15%]

Regular quizzes will be given to test basic textual knowledge. These quizzes will consist of a small number of short answer questions.

Weekly Discussion Questions [15%]

Each week, three questions related to the week’s readings will be posted to the main page of the course blog. Each student should choose one question and respond to it in the comments section of the post. These responses will form the basis of some of the class’ discussions.

Extra Credit: Notes [+10%]

Taking extensive notes can distract from participation in the class. Students choosing this extra credit assignment will divide up the semester and be responsible for taking and posting the day’s notes to the course blog for the benefit of the class.

Full assignment details in the Learning Packet.

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Academic Dishonesty

All students must adhere in their posts to the College’s plagiarism and academic dishonesty policy, which is listed in full in the Student Handbook. By taking this course, the student agrees to adhere to the College’s Honesty Code. Any and all violations of the Honesty Code will be referred to the Academic Honesty Committee and the referred student will fail the assignment. All graded assignments should be worked on by the student submitting the work and no one else, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the syllabus or by the instructor.

As per the Student Handbook, section 340, examples of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to:

  1. Failure to use quotation marks: sources quoted directly must be shown with quotation marks in the body of the project and with the appropriate citation in the references, notes or footnotes
  2. Undocumented paraphrasing: sources "put into one's own words" must have the source cited properly in the body of the project and in references, notes or footnotes
  3. Creating false documentation: purposefully presenting wrong information in references or citations or manufacturing false information used in references, notes and footnote

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Please note that the course blog is public. This means that your work is openly accessible from the web. You are writing not just for me, not just for your classmates, but also for a potential larger audience. Think of your work here as a public presentation of your thoughts and opinions. Keep this in mind when you are editing and revising. Return to Contents

Students with Disabilities

Cortland College is committed to upholding and maintaining all aspects of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you are a student with a disability and wish to request accommodations, please contact the Student Disability Services. Any information regarding your disability will remain confidential. Because many accommodations require early planning, requests for accommodations should be made as early as possible. Any requests for accommodations will be reviewed in a timely manner to determine their appropriateness to this setting. Return to Contents