Syllabus: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew Daude Laurents, Ph.D.

phil1301.050-28539 Fall, 2010

Contact Information and Office Hours

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 skills assessment is required.

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

Course Materials

Required

Descartes. Meditations on First Philosophy (ISBN 002367170X)*

Hume. Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding(ISBN 0812690540)*

Recommended

Palmer. Looking at Philosophy (ISBN-13 9780072828955)

Birkenstein and Graff. They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (ISBN-13 9780393924091)

The required 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. I do not recommend a particular translation or edition; however, the ISBN will help you find an edition that is quite similar to what is online. If you decide to purchase the texts, you may find that the translation or pagination do not match the online versions.

The recommended texts (which are widely available) include an entertaining overview of the history of philosophy (with explanations of most of the major figures) and a guide to academic writing. It may be helpful in filling in gaps or as a resource for your coursework.

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, which are found on Blackboard.  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.

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.

Coursework and Grading Policy

Coursework includes reading assignments, online lectures, quizzes, and essays. The Coursework Guide provides a more detailed discussion of the coursework. We will also use a bulletin board and a virtual classroom for class discussion. I encourage you to post questions and comments about the course material, but I will remove material that is not substantially relevant to the coursework.

Your grade for this course will be based on written work demonstrating the pursuit of the goals of the course. Students must submit all written assignments to earn higher than a D. A missing assignment is not merely a 0 for that assignment. The final grade is determined by the grades on these elements, weighted according to the following chart:

Assignment Points
Reading Journal
240
Argument Analyses (4)
140
Quizzes
125
Analytical Essays (3)
600

Please review the Grading System for a detailed exposition of my approach to evaluation. You will find additional guidelines for each assignment in the Coursework Guide. 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.)

Course Policies

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 may return your assignments, including your grades, by email. If you are concerned about the privacy of your grades, you may want to discuss the matter with me.
  4. I do not publicize student email addresses. Nevertheless, your email address may be seen by classmates and ACC officials in the normal conduct of the class and other ACC business.

By submitting a First Assignment, you acknowledge and 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 identification information (such as student ID numbers, etc.) by email.

Announcements and Deadlines

I 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 that day ends (11:59 PM). For the purpose of deadlines, Sunday will be considered the end of the class week, so weekly assignments will be due before Sunday ends.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism involves passing off someone else's work as if it were your own. The term "plagiarism" does not imply intent: one may commit plagiarism with or without an intention of passing off someone else's work as your own. If someone else's words or sequence of ideas appears in your writing without proper documentation, then you have engaged in plagiarism irrespective of whether you meant to do so.

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 They Say, I Say, which is on the recommended list for this course. The guide, "Documentation and Plagiarism," published by ACC's Library Services is also a valuable source of help. If you have further questions, visit a reference librarian! And of course, you are welcome to contact me as well.

Students will receive no credit for any assignment in which there is evidence of plagiarism, and such assignments may not be resubmitted for additional credit. 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.)

Withdrawal

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.

Incompletes

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 the 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, nor do I notify students of final course grades by telephone or email. If you have questions regarding the computation of your grade, etc., see the Grading and Evaluation System or contact me.

Course Materials

Respect my rights! Most of the materials and the design 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 class interactions, 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 the student in conjunction with the course.

Scholastic Dishonesty

According to ACC's Student Discipline Policy, Section C,

"Academic work submitted by students shall be the result of their own thought, research or self-expression. For purposes of these regulations, academic work is defined as, but not limited to exams and quizzes, whether taken electronically or on paper; projects, either individual or group; papers; classroom presentations; and homework.

"When students borrow ideas, wording or organization from another source, they shall reference that information in an appropriate manner."

Cases of scholastic dishonesty will be pursued according to the procedure set forth in the Student Handbook, Student Discipline Policy, Section J, "Academic Dishonesty Process."

Office of Students with Disabilities

"The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) assists students with documented disabilities to access reasonable accommodations. To request ACC accommodations, students must submit appropriate diagnostic documentation to the OSD supervisor at their primary campus. Students attending multiple campuses must meet with the OSD supervisor at each campus where accommodations are needed. Accommodations must be requested before each semester they are needed. NOTE: Students are urged to apply for accommodations at least three weeks before the star t of each term." (Student Handbook, Office for Students with Disabilities)

Course Outline

A complete Coursework Calendar, which includes course assignments, is available in the online classroom in (Blackboard). Check the Course Calendar frequently for due dates, announcements, and important links.


Proceed to the Orientation.

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This page was last updated 5/24/2010.