PHIL1301PCM: Introduction to Philosophy
Matthew M. Daude
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
My theme for this semesters 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.
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
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.
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
Departmental Course Goals
- to understand the nature of philosophy as both a process and a subjectmatter.
- to learn and practice critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.
- to become familiar with major divisions and problems of philosophy.
- Students will demonstrate improved critical reading, thinking, and
- Students will be able to reason philosophically about issues of both personal and
- Students will be able to identify major divisions and concepts
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
- Complete the four application essays
- The average of your grades must be at least a C.
|To earn a B
- Complete the analytical essay
- Complete the application essays
- The average of your grades must be at least a B.
|To earn an A
- Complete a research essay
- Complete the analytical essay
- Complete the application essays
- 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
for guidelines on email.
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
- Do not share the password to the classroom or links to URLs inside the
- 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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Respect my rights! Most of
the materials and the infrastructure for this course are my work and
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
How to contact me
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
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.