PHIL1301PCM: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew M. Daude, Ph.D.

Synonym: 07873

Fall, 2003

Contact Information

Office Rio Grande Campus
Peach Street Office Building, Room 2-I
ACC email
Instructional email
Instructional Web

Instructional Office Hours

Monday 9:00 to 10:30 AM RGC, Peach Street, 2-I
Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00 AM online (Windows Messenger or Blackboard)
Wednesday 9:00 to 10:30 AM RGC, Peach Street, 2-I

Other times by appointment

Course Description

Students will be introduced to various significant philosophical issues and thinkers and to the practice of philosophical analysis.

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 course prerequisites for Introduction to Philosophy. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading and writing portions of the TASP is required.

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

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 both as a process and as 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.

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.) The major form of individual assessment will be writing assignments (essays) and quizzes; there will be no major exams. I will also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework.

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!).

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 quizzes and two application essays form the basic components and are required of all students. This means that, in order to earn a C, you must complete the quizzes and two application essays, regardless of your average at any point in the semester. You may complete additional components for a higher grade, as indicated in the following table:

To earn a C
  1. Submit two application essays
  2. Take the quizzes
  3. The average of your grades must be at least a C.
To earn a B
  1. Submit three application essays
  2. Take the quizzes
  3. The average of your grades must be at least a B.
To earn an A
  1. Submit the analytical essay
  2. Submit three application essays
  3. Take the quizzes
  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 someone completed the quizzes, three application essays, and the analytical paper, but his/her average is a B, the 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 grades weighted equally). The other method is a "weighted average," in which the initial application essay grade is weighted proportionately less than the remaining essay grades. 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 on your essays as you prepare for the subsequent writing assignment. If you have questions about a comment, contact me so I can explain what I meant. There are two online opportunities for discussion, the discussion board and the virtual classroom. Take advantage of these features!

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.) The analytical essay will not count toward your final grade unless you have submitted three application essays by the end of the semester.

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. Report violations of this policy to me immediately.
  3. I will return your assignments, including your grades, by email only to the email address that you provide. If you are concerned about the privacy of your grades, you may want to discuss the matter with me.

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 a failing grade in the course), and may involve criminal or civil penalties as well.

Please note that, except as specified above, I do not send student information (such as student ID numbers) by email.

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. See the "Academic Dishonesty" section below.)

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 to 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 elvet. 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 structure of this course are my work and thus are protected by copyright law. 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.

Academic Freedom

Students have the right to believe whatever they happen to believe and, within the appropriate constraints that follow from the organization of a course and its class meetings, to express those beliefs. Grades will never be based on the beliefs that a student maintains, but only on the quality of the philosophical work performed by a student in conjunction with the course.

Academic Dishonesty

Cases of academic dishonesty will be pursued according to the procedure set forth in the Student Handbook, “Student Rights and Responsibilities,” Section J, “Academic Dishonesty."

Students with Disabilities

ACC is committed to full compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are entitled to accommodation and have not done so already, contact the Office for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible to request appropriate accommodations.

Course Outline

The Course Calendar includes a complete outline for the course. Check the Course Calendar frequently for due dates, announcements, and important links.

Return to top or proceed to the Orientation.

This page was last updated 08/23/2009 08:16:54 PM by mdaude.