PHIL2317: Modern Philosophy

phil2317-001-47202 and phil2316-003-43714
Spring, 2012

Matthew M. Daude Laurents, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy and Religion

Contact Information

Office Rio Grande Campus, Room 3369
ACC email
Instructional Web

Instructional Office Hours

Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 to 12:00 online (Blackboard)

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 Modern Philosophy. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading and writing portions of the college assessment is required.

Course Materials


Ariew and Watkins, Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources, 2nd edition (ISBN-13: 9870872209787)
Thomson, G. On Modern Philosophy. (ISBN 0072204405)

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


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

The required texts are are available in the ACC Bookstore.

Instructional Methodology

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 collaborative and written work demonstrating the pursuit of the objectives of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  These are the components and relave weights for grades up to a B:

Component Approximate Weight
Reading Journal 25%
Research project 10%
Argument Analyses (4) 10%
Analytical Essays (2) 30%
Class participation/project 25%

To earn an A in the course, you must submit and earn an A on a 1500-word research essay on the topic that you have developed for your project. You must have an A average on prior written work to be eligible to submit the A essay. Students must submit all written assignments to earn a grade higher than a D. This means that a missing assignment is not merely a 0 for that assignment.

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

Due dates for written work will be arranged in class and posted on the main page for your 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 participate after having read and thought about the assignments. Religion can be a difficult subject for open discussion, and people sometimes have wildly differing views of which topics are offensive. Consequently, the conventions of respect and responsibility discussed in the Course Policies are of particular importance in this course. If you do find some aspect of the class discussion offensive, please discuss the matter with me, bearing in mind that people do have different levels of tolerance for critical investigation of religious topics. "Respect" does not necessarily mean "agree"; however, to the best of our ability, we will approach the topics of our discussion from the perspective of philosophical inquiry.

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 Coursework Calendar on Blackboard for a more detailed list of topics, reading assignments, and exercises. Check the CWCalendar frequently for due dates and other announcements.

Proceed to the Orientation.

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This page was last updated 01/17/2010 08:34:29 PM by mdaude.