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Phi 2010-7: Introduction to Philosophy



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Fall 2007 Phi 2010 7 Introduction to Philosophy Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton FL Dr Jari Niemi Office AL 182 Office Hours MWF 10 00 11 00 F 2 00 4 00 And by appointment Office Phone 297 4304 E Mail jniemi fau edu Phil 2010 7 MWF 9 00 9 50 SO 370 The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co operation or consent of his deliberate reasoning Bertrand Russell Required Textbooks Descartes Rene Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy Hackett 1999 ISBN 0872204200 Hume David An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Oxford 1999 ISBN 0198752482 Locke John Second Treatise of Government ed C B Macpherson Hackett 1990 Mill John Stuart On Liberty With the Subjection of Women and Chapters on Socialism ed Stefan Collini Cambridge Cambridge UP 1990 ISBN 0521379172 Possible additional required readings available on the Blackboard BB Course Description and General Objectives This is an introductory course in philosophy whose aim is to acquaint you with the discipline of philosophy its method of inquiry as well as the central topics concepts and vocabulary We shall attempt to accomplish this through engaging with some of most important and enduring thinkers in the philosophical canon This however does not mean that our concentration will be on the thinkers themselves rather our main focus will be on understanding the central themes ideas and perennial philosophical problems presented in the works In addition to our aim of understanding we shall also endeavor to evaluate the validity of the ideas put forward For example is it true which all of us probably believe that tables chairs cars and other human beings exist What are some of the philosophical arguments for this Against this Can we know that a god exists Can we objectively determine what is just and unjust In other words we all think that at least some of our beliefs are true and secure but on further reflection are they How much do we really know Do our beliefs stand up to close philosophical scrutiny What exactly is the philosophical method Is it distinct from the scientific method Our attempt to answer such questions and many others will not only challenge your existing beliefs it will also hopefully make you a more careful better thinker Specific Objectives Some of the more specific aims of the course are a to understand and identify terms of argumentation such as premise conclusion statement validity among others b to understand identify and distinguish the different fields of philosophical inquiry ontology epistemology ethics political philosophy c to understand identify distinguish and use such central philosophical terms as rationalism empiricism idealism materialism skepticism monism dualism solipsism property freedom liberalism libertarianism socialism among others d to be able to discuss philosophical issues with philosophical sophistication and clarity e to be able to write with philosophical sophistication and clarity including constructing arguments anticipating possible objections stating fundamental assumptions among others f to be able to identify logical and empirical weaknesses in arguments g to be able to distinguish philosophy from other disciplines such as biology history anthropology sociology and psychology and h to understand and distinguish the fundamental philosophical positions and possible disagreements of Descartes Hume Locke and Mill Course Requirements Attendance and Participation You should attend every class be on time and not leave class early Also because your comprehension of the issues in this class cannot be accomplished monologically you must come to class having read the assignments and being prepared to contribute to the class discussion In other words attending class and simply observing the proceedings will not work Having said that I will take attendance only for my own purposes not for determining a part of your grade Exceptional class participation both quantitative and qualitative may have a beneficial effect on your final grade Exams There will be two in class exams combining multiple choice and essay questions One of these exams will be the final which is comprehensive Reading Questions I shall post questions for most possibly all of the readings on the Blackboard prior to the reading assignment You need to provide typed answers to the questions and bring them to class with you Your answer will be analyzed for content and grammar You will receive three possible grades on the reading questions a a check mark for a full credit or b no check mark indicating no credit or c a request to revise your answer for a full credit If c occurs your revised answer is due in the beginning of the next class period Also your resubmission of a revised answer does not guarantee any credit I shall collect eight of these answers unannounced in the beginning of the class five of which will count towards your grade So you should always answer all the reading questions and bring your answers to class Reading Questions cannot be made up for any reason Writing Assignments This course is designated as a Writing Across Curriculum course This means that students must engage in a significant amount of writing minimum 5000 words that the writing assignments will be graded for grammar spelling syntax clarity content that students cannot pass the course unless they also pass the writing component of the course and thereby satisfy the Writing Across Curriculum requirements So in addition to the reading questions which fulfill a portion of this requirement students will write one paper Writing Assignment outside of class which will have a length of approximately 2000 2500 words and consists of both a first draft and a substantially revised product The professor will provide students with substantive feedback on the first draft and students are expected to substantially revise the first draft on the basis of the professor s comments and suggestions The final as well as the rough draft of the paper will be turned in for a grade These papers will be evaluated for grammar spelling syntax and clarity They will also be evaluated for content i e critical understanding of the ideas and or philosophical theories under discussion If any of these components is deemed unsatisfactory the paper as a whole will be considered


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