PHIL2317: Modern Philosophy

Matthew Daude Laurents, Ph.D. Synonym: 13379 (pcm)

Synonym: 13378

MW, 12:00-1:15 PM, RGC 017
Spring, 2008

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 the history of early modern Western Philosophy focusing on the attempt to understand the source, nature, and limits of human knowledge as pursued by the rationalists, the empiricists, and Kant.

History of Philosophy is intended for philosophy majors. Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL1301) is required for registration in History of Philosophy II. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading and writing portions of the college assessment is required.

Required Texts/Materials

Ariew and Watkins, Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources (ISBN 0872204405)
Thomson, G. On Modern Philosophy. (ISBN 0072204405)

The texts will be available in the ACC bookstore. Handouts and additional readings will be posted to the instructional web.

Instructional Methodology

This class is a combined section that includes both an "in-class" and an online section, and consequently it has been designed to provide opportunities for these distinct groups of students to collaborate. We will make extensive use of online collaboration tools and the Blackboard classroom.

The class will consist predominantly of discussion of the readings, led by me and by class members, both in class and online. I will use a variety of media in my presentations, including web material, etc. There may also be group work and group presentations to the class, which will be posted online.

The major forms of individual assessment will be writing assignments (essays, etc.). I may also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework. Course assignments must be submitted by email or via the Blackboard classroom.

Course Rationale

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

Course Objectives

Departmental Course Objectives

  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 the history of philosophy.

Coursework and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on written and collaborative work demonstrating pursuit of the objectives of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  These are the components of the course for grades up to a B:

Component Weight
Analytical Essays (2) 40%
Argument Analyses (4) 40%
Course Participation 20%

To earn an A in the course, (1) you must submit a research essay of about 5 pages on a topic that you develop in consultation with me and (2) the essay grade must be an A. (A longer essay may be submitted in lieu of one or more of the analytical essays.) You must have an A average on prior written work to be eligible to submit the A essay.

Please review the Grading and Evaluation page for a more detailed exposition of my approach to evaluation.

Due dates for written work and exam dates will be posted online on the calendar page for our course. Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work done outside of class must be submitted by email or posted on the Blackboard site for our class. Please see the orientation for further instructions.

I expect everyone to participate in class discussion. Class participation should be informed. By this I mean that everyone should come to class having read and thought about the assignment.

Course Policies


Review the Course Policies page and the policies set forth in the online Orientation. The Course Policies set forth are to be considered part of this syllabus.

Course Outline

This is a very brief overview of the course content:

  1. Introduction: Why study the history of philosophy?
  2. Descartes and the rationalists
  3. Reactions against rationalism: The Empiricists
  4. Hume
  5. Kant
  6. Philosophy after Kant
  7. Conclusions

Refer to the course calendar on Blackboard for a more detailed list of topics, reading assignments, and exercises. Check the course calendar frequently for due dates and other announcements.

Proceed to the Orientation.

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This page was last updated 12/22/2009 05:21:00 PM by mdaude.