PHIL1301PCM: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew M. Daude, Ph.D.

Synonym: 12464
1:25-2:40 PM,
CYP 1042

Spring, 2004

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 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 review the online Course Policies and submit your First Assignment 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 Objectives/Outcomes

  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

The class will consist predominantly of in-class discussion with a required web-based component. I may use a variety of media in my presentations, including web material, etc.

Internet access and an email address are required. I will post readings and assignments, along with a number of supplementary materials and other items of interest on the PHIL1301 web pages. See my instructional web for details. All written work should be submitted by email and we will use the web page for course organization . (To find the main page for your section, go back to the top of this page and click on your section number, or follow the URL to my instructional web.) The major form of individual assessment will be the online quizzes and writing assignments (essays); there will be no exams. I may 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 have posted 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. Additional guidelines for these assignments and for due dates may be found on my instructional website.

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 Course Policies for guidelines on email.


Review my Course Policies online. There are links to the Course Policies on the main page of my instructional web and on the main page for this course. The Course Policies page is part of this syllabus.

Course Outline

There is a complete Course Calendar in the online classroom. Check this calendar frequently for due dates and important links.

First Assignment

Your First Assignment for this course is to complete a web-based form. Have the following information information ready:

  • the course in which you are registered and the five-digit synonym number
  • your full name as reflected in ACC records
  • a telephone number at which you can be reached
  • your primary email address

This information is required, but there is also a voluntary (fairly brief) survey in the First Assignment form. I encourage you to complete the survey, as it provides information that may help me support your work in this course.

When I receive your First Assignment, I will verify your enrollment. If you are officially enrolled in the course, I will send you a password to the online "classroom." If there is a problem with your enrollment, I will notify you. If you do not hear from me within 48 hours (not including weekends!) of submitting your First Assignment, contact me.

Please note! Submitting a First Assignment is your certification that

  1. you accept the policies and procedures set forth in the Syllabus and the Course Policies, and
  2. you agree to communicate by email with me regarding matters related to this course. This means that certain confidential information, including your grades, will be transmitted by email.

Read this information carefully, and if you have questions or concerns about the policies and procedures for this class, please let me know before you complete this First Assignment.

The First Assignment is due in the first week of class. Click here if you are ready to submit your First Assignment now, or you may submit the First Assignment Blackboard.

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