Introduction to Philosophy - Spring 2008
Dr. Elizabeth Shadish
Hours: On campus: TTh, 8 - 9:30 am
MW, 4 - 6 pm ("instant email")
said that everyone has some sort of "philosophy of life," and
there is some truth to this belief. Most people do have a "way of
looking" at things, or a "world view," and in this sense
do have a philosophical perspective on life. More precisely, most people
operate under a set of assumptions about what is real (the world of science
only? or the spiritual dimension of religion as well?), what is most valuable
(happiness, justice, power?), and so on.
is an introduction to how - and why - philosophers have reflected on just
these sorts of assumptions. We will look at what major thinkers have had
to say about such things a the meaning of life, the just society, and
the extent and nature of human knowledge and human thinking. The course
is especially designed to expose students to these issues in a debate-type
format, ensuring that multiple perspectives are available for study.
then, this course is designed to familiarize students with the issues,
themes and problems that dominate in philosophy, to develop the student's
ability to think critically about the fundamental questions addressed
in philosophical inquiry and to introduce students to the relevance of
philosophy to social and civic institutions and issues. A bit more specifically,
students will learn to:
- Identify the main areas and problems of philosophy
- Describe and practice what it means to argue philosophically
and critique positions and views on various philosophical issues in
the three main areas of philosophical inquiry, including ethics (theoretical
and applied), metaphysics (existence of God and of the mind, freedom)
and epistemology (knowledge and science)
philosophical issues from multiple theoretical perspectives
- Clarify their own views on fundamental philosophical issues
Waller, You Decide!: Current Debates in Introductory Philosophy
Problems from Philosophy (McGraw-Hill, 2004)
be based primarily on written work. Grades will not be based
on the student's position on any particular issue we might discuss, nor
on how close or far that position might be to my own. As we will see,
philosophical inquiry often deals with issues about which reasonable people
can disagree. Thus, I will be looking for and rewarding accuracy of understanding,
serious efforts to contribute to college-level discussion of our readings
and a willingness to question and challenge all positions, even one's
330 - 297 (90%)
296 - 264 (80%)
263 - 214 (65%)
213 - 165 (50%)
all your graded work in some format - and, for that matter, all
communication that relates significantly to your graded work - is strongly
recommended. While problems related to grades or "missing emails"
and the like are very unlikely, you can always document your concerns
in those unlikely events if you can produce your work. Even
if instructor error is involved in your reasons for discussing a grade
or a prior communication, no changes can be made without such documentation.
is no extra credit for this course. Students may take one make-up test,
if necessary and if your reason for missing a test is unavoidable.
For each exam (if necessary) there will be one specific makeup date
I will arrange. While I will consider all affected schedules, there
is no guarantee that this makeup date will accomodate the schedule of
any one student, and there is no recourse beyond this makeup date/time
to take exams.
submissions will be accepted late, but will be penalized by 10% for
each day that they are late.
Note: in my experience, even one late journal submission can
lead to a lower grade. I strongly urge you to use your option to submit
late journal entries only in genuine emergencies.
reports may not be submitted late (exception:
use the the NQA form). These reports must be submitted in typed/double-spaced
it be necessary to send me work through my ECC email outside our course
site, it is essential that you send your work to me in the
correct format - that is, as a Microsoft
Word document (*.doc), rich text format doc (*.rtf), Adobe Acrobat format
(*.pdf) or a plain-text document (*.txt). Any work I receive
that I cannot open in a timely manner simply because it is in the wrong
format will be penalized as late until I receive it in the correct format,
even if the original, incorrectly formatted work arrived on time. If
you have any problem with this requirement, you must speak with me before
beginning to turn in your assignments.
you find it necessary to drop the course, please do not assume that
I will drop you if you stop participating. Even though I reserve
the right to drop any student who has failed to submit two assignments
in a row, experience has taught me that this sometimes happens when
the student still intends to remain in the class. If you must drop,
it is your responsibility to take care of the paperwork yourself.
because of the actions of some, I must make the following statement:
plagiarism of any sort will not be tolerated. If you plagiarize, you
will automatically and permanently receive a grade of "0"
for the assignment in question, and will lose all rights to petition
for a higher course grade should you be, for instance, only one or two
points from the total necessary for that higher grade. A clear and user-friendly
summary of avoiding plagarism can be found at Purdue University's Online
Writing Lab (OWL - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/).