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CCU PHIL 101 - SYLLABUS

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PHIL 101: Introduction to PhilosophyFall 2008M-W 4:30-5:45 PMProfessor: Dr. Julinna C. Oxley Email: [email protected]: Edwards 279 Office Phone: x6548Office Hours: M-W 2:00-4:30 PM; T-TH 2:15-2:45 PM and by appointmentSupplemental Instruction (SI) Leader: Amanda Price Email: [email protected] Hours/Sessions: TBALocation: Library or TBAAmanda will hold weekly tutorials and office hours to specifically help you succeed in this course. Please take advantage of the sessions she offers throughout the semester. If you make below a C on any worksheet or exam, you are required to meet with Amanda before the next assignment is due.I. Course Description and GoalsThis course is an introduction to philosophy, philosophical questions, and philosophical thinking. Philosophers generally attempt to answer such questions as, is there a God, and how do we know that he exists? What is knowledge, and how is it distinct from other kinds ofbelief? What is the nature of reality? Is it in our minds or independent of our perceptions? How should we live, and what is the good life? What is the meaning of life? Since these questions are quite complex, and it would be impossible to cover all of these topics adequately in one semester, we will focus on a few of these topics so that you are able to work through a variety of answers for yourself. It is likely that, on several of these topics, you may already have your own opinions. Of course, the point of doing philosophy is not to have an opinion, but to have an argument, and rational justification for your opinions. Thus, to genuinely get something out of the course, you must critically reflect on your own beliefs and opinions, and ask whether you have good reasons for thinking and believing what you do. You must be willing to think that your own ideas and opinions might be incorrect, and that others have reasons and beliefs that are more justified. The point of taking the course is to openly reflect on one’s views and come up with plausible justifications for the views that one has. It is quite common for students of philosophy (myself included) to change their views on certain topics after reflecting on them philosophically.II. Learning ObjectivesAfter taking this course, students should be able to:- Know the major terms and concepts used in philosophy such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, meta-ethics, subjectivism, relativism, teleology, the problem of evil, falsifiability, skepticism, justification, determinism, and free will. - Identify philosophical questions, and distinguish those questions from questions in other disciplines.- Articulate and evaluate arguments on both sides of a specific philosophical debate.1- Describe arguments in favor of one’s views on various topics in philosophy, such as the existence of God, evolutionary theory, the nature of knowledge, freedom and determinism,and moral relativism.- Write and explain philosophical arguments using premises and conclusions.- Criticize philosophical arguments by identifying problematic premises in an argument.- Know the major fallacies made in arguments: circular reasoning, straw man, and begging the question.III. Text and ReadingsThe text for this course is Elliott Sober’s Core Questions in Philosophy: A Text With Readings, 5th Edition, ISBN 0-13-243778-3. The text is well-written and provides lots of examples, but you will probably find it tough going, since philosophy is difficult. You shouldplan on doing the reading at least twice before the class in which we discuss it, in order for you to have a minimal grasp of the material. There is a Blackboard page for our course containing news and useful information, links to important documents, a threaded discussion board, and the gradebook. Blackboard can be accessed through a link from CCU’s main webpage, or by going to http://www.coastal.edu/blackboard/. The Blackboard page for the course is very important, and if you need help accessing it, please let me know.IV. Course Requirements and GradingA. Class Attendance and ParticipationStudents are required to follow Coastal's attendance policy, which requires attendance; absences of more than 25% of the course may result in failure. In general, this includes excused or unexcused absences. Class participation is not required but is highly encouraged; a borderline grade will be rounded up with regular class participation.Please note: You will not pass the class if you do not attend. Philosophy is very difficult and in order to understand the readings, you will need to come to class.B. Short Answer/Essay Worksheets and Other Assignments (45%)Throughout the semester, you will be required to complete a short answer/essay worksheet oneach topic we cover in the course. This includes defining vocabulary terms, explaining concepts, recounting arguments, and answering discussion questions. These worksheets cover all of the material relevant to a particular section, are a way for you to work through thematerial on your own, and are considered ‘open-book’ homework exercises. Late worksheets will be docked 5 points per day that they are late. Each Worksheet counts for the following amount:Philosophy of Religion (10%)Philosophy of Science (10%)Epistemology (10%)Philosophy of Mind and Ethics (10%)Several in-class assignments during the semester count for 5% of your grade.C. Exams (55%)2There are 4 exams in the course, and they are weighted as follows:1. Reasoning and Arguments (5%) on September 112. Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Science (20%) on October 183. Descartes and Epistemology (15%) on November 84. Philosophy of Mind and Ethics (15%) on December 11 or 13D. Extra Credit Short (5 page) PapersYou have the option of writing two papers for 3 points of extra credit each. The topics you can choose from include Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, or Epistemology. Please note that these papers are philosophical, argumentative papers in which you defend your own views on a particular subject. Suggested topics, along with guidelines for the structure and format of the paper, will be distributed to those who are interested. To write the paper, you are required to meet with me at least once regarding your argument and the format of the paper.E. Plagiarism and CheatingPlagiarism will be treated with zero tolerance. You will automatically fail the course if you arecaught plagiarizing. Plagiarism consists in copying another person’s work, handing


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