PHIL1301PCM: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew M. Daude

Synonym: 24226

Fall, 2001

Course Description

The ACC catalogue describes this course as "A study of the nature of philosophy and various traditions. Includes a study of major western philosophers, philosophical problems, and critical thinking."

My theme for this semester’s exploration of philosophy is "Human Knowledge and Reality." We will consider some of the major issues involved in metaphysics and epistemology, focusing on the ultimate nature of reality and the relation between any such reality and human knowledge.

There are no prerequisites for Introduction to Philosophy. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading portion of the TASP is required, and I highly recommend a passing score or the equivalent on the writing portion.

Please note that you must complete the online Orientation prior to beginning work on this course.

Required Texts/Materials

Descartes. Meditations on First Philosophy*
Hume. Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding*
Palmer. Looking at Philosophy (recommended)

Texts marked with an asterisk are are available online; I will post links to these texts on the reading assignments page. These texts are also available in many bookstore(s), if you prefer to do your readings off-line. The recommended text, which is available in ACC's RGC bookstore, is an entertaining overview of the history of philosophy (with explanations of most of the major figures). It may be helpful in filling in gaps or as a resource for your coursework (and paper topics!).

Instructional Methodology

This is an online course, so internet access, including an email account, is required. All written work and other course business will take place by means of email and the web pages for these sections. (To find the main page for your section, go back to the top of this page and click on your section number.) Class discussion will be carried out by means of a listserv set up for this course. The major form of individual assessment will be writing assignments (essays); there will be no exams. I will also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework.

Course Rationale

Philosophy is one of the principal forces that have shaped Western civilization and history, so a basic understanding of the method and subjectmatter of philosophy affords a deeper understanding of ourselves and an informed grasp of the present. In addition, the critical thinking skills are so central to the method of philosophy that the study of philosophy provides an opportunity to learn and practice those skills in a focused way.

PHIL1301 Objectives

Departmental Course Goals

  1. to understand the nature of philosophy as both a process and a subjectmatter.
  2. to learn and practice critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.
  3. to become familiar with major divisions and problems of philosophy.


  1. Students will demonstrate improved critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.
  2. Students will be able to reason philosophically about issues of both personal and universal significance.
  3. Students will be able to identify major divisions and concepts in philosophy.

Coursework and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on written work demonstrating the pursuit of the goals of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  The four application essays form the basic component and are required of all students, . You may complete additional components for a higher grade, as indicated in the following table:

To earn a C
  1. Complete the four application essays
  2. The average of your grades must be at least a C.
To earn a B
  1. Complete the analytical essay
  2. Complete the application essays
  3. The average of your grades must be at least a B.
To earn an A
  1. Complete a research essay 
  2. Complete the analytical essay
  3. Complete the application essays
  4. The average of your grades must be an A.

In any case, the average of your grades will determine the course grade. (For example, if you completed the application essays, the analytical paper, and the research essay, but your average is a B, your course grade will still be a B. Quality should be of greater concern than quantity!) The grading criteria chart gives a detailed exposition of how I evaluate each assignment. 

The grade computation system I use allows for adjustment to writing essays for a philosophy course. I compute the grade for the application essays two ways and use the higher result in the computation of the final grade. One way is the arithmetic mean of the application essays (the average of the four grades weighted equally). The other method is a "weighted average," in which the last three application essay grades are weighted proportionately greater than the first. For a more detailed explanation of this computation, see the grade computation procedure. This weighted average is intended to help people who weren't sure what to expect on the first essay, but did well on the others.

I recommend that you look carefully at my comments and feedback as you prepare for the subsequent essay. If you have questions about a comment, contact me so I can explain what I meant. After each of the application essays, I will post general comments about the assignment in the classroom and some sample essays from our class (which will be posted anonymously). This material will provide some additional feedback and guidance (and discussion) of th5in;plication essays.

Due dates for written work will be posted; please check the main page for your section regularly for announcements and deadlines. You may hand in assignments earlier than the due date, but assignments must follow the stated sequence. (For instance, I will not accept essay 3 before essay 2.) Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work must be submitted by email, with the correct subject heading. Please see the Procedures section of the Orientation for guidelines on email.


Class Atmosphere

I favor an informal and open atmosphere in my classes, but I expect a level of civility conducive to inquiry. Consequently, we will adopt some basic conventions of respect and responsibility. Everyone must respect the views of others. "Respect" does not mean "agree with"; rather, it means that everyone gets a fair hearing. However, I also expect people to take responsibility for their contributions to discussion. Opinions offered in all forms of class discussion (including email discussion!) should be informed, thoughtful, and grounded; hence, all views will be subject to closer inspection and questioning (including my own).

Security and Privacy

The online classroom is a secure area, and you must follow some basic policies in order to help preserve security and to protect the privacy of your classmates.

  1. Do not share the password to the classroom or links to URLs inside the secure area.
  2. You may occasionally see the email addresses of classmates. You may use these email addresses only for course-related communication, unless the recipient specifically gives you permission for non-course-related communication.

In submitting your First Assignment, you agree to abide by these policies and procedures. I will pursue all allegations of abuse of the website, email addresses, course materials, and other material posted in conjunction with this course. Violation of these security policies constitute grounds for disciplinary action (which will include at least being dropped from the course), and may involve criminal or civil penalties as well.

Announcements and Deadlines

I will hold you responsible for information and announcements sent by email or posted on the web pages for your class. This policy applies specifically to course assignments and deadlines, including essay due dates. Unless otherwise stipulated, all course materials (including readings, handouts, essay topics, and other assignments) will be posted on the web site for your class.

I expect all work to be turned in by the deadlines, and I do not accept late work except by prior arrangement or for compelling reasons. "Prior" means before the due date and time. "Compelling reasons" means circumstances beyond your control that were also unforeseeable. 

For specific deadlines and other announcements, check the main page for your course (frequently). If I issue a due date without a specific time, you should have the assignment in before midnight.


The work you hand in should be your own. An assignment that has been plagiarized will automatically receive a failing grade, and students who plagiarize or engage in other forms of academic dishonesty may also be subject to disciplinary action by the College. For further details, see ACC's policy regarding Academic Dishonesty, found in Section J of the Student Handbook.

If you are unclear about which uses of material are and are not permissible, you should familiarize yourself with the notion of plagiarism. A good start is the guide, "Documentation and Plagiarism," published by ACC's Library Services. Reference librarians are also a valuable source of help. If you have further questions, you are welcome contact me.


I do not "automatically" withdraw students. If you intend to drop this course you must do the paperwork yourself. Anyone who remains enrolled in the course will receive a performance grade derived according to the criteria for work and grading set forth in the syllabus. For the drop date (and other important college dates), refer to ACC's Academic Calendar.


I give incompletes only in extenuating circumstances, which must be documented. If you find that you need to request an incomplete, you must arrange a completion plan with me in advance and document that plan on an incomplete form. I will make exceptions to this condition only for compelling reasons, as defined above. Please note that I do not grant "routine" incompletes. I will award a performance grade derived according to the criteria for work and grading stipulated in the syllabus to everyone enrolled, based on whatever work I have received and recorded during the semester.

Final grades

In accordance with ACC policy, final grades will not be posted. I do not notify students of final course grades by telephone or email. If you have questions regarding the computation of your grade, etc., see the Grade Computation Procedure or contact me.

Course Materials

Respect my rights! Most of the materials and the infrastructure for this course are my work and thus are protected by copyright laws. You may make printouts of course materials for your own use. Reproduction of course materials (including email communications) for public distribution or commercial use violates copyright law. For further details on ACC's policy regarding Copyright and course materials, see the "Copyright Policy Notice" found in the Student Handbook.

How to contact me

Office Rio Grande, Attaché 210
Voicemail 223-3012
ACC email
Instructional email
Instructional Web

Office Hours

I will conduct office hours online using MSN Messenger Services and NetMeeting. For more information on Messenger and NetMeeting, see the Orientation. Please consult my instructional web page for office hours and contact information. I will also be available by appointment (online or in my office).

Course Outline

Check the main page for your section frequently for due dates and links to the schedule of readings and coursework.

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This page was last updated 03/01/2009 07:09:03 PM by mdaude.