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Introduction to Philosophy

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Introduction to Philosophy
INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY 07 F15
SYLLABUS
Introduction to Philosophy
Meetings: 12-1:20pm Mondays and Wednesdays in Tillett 111
Instructor: Pamela Robinson
Contact: [email protected]
Office Hours: ~3pm on Mondays and Wednesdays
Course Description and Goals
This course provides an introduction to a number of important philosophical problems,
including the existence of God, the possibility of free will, the nature of the mind, and the
requirements of morality.
Doing philosophy builds highly transferable skills. Some of the abilities you’ll have an
opportunity to develop and hone in this course are: (a) the ability to understand, evaluate
and create arguments, (b) the ability to respond well to criticism, (c) the ability to approach
controversial topics rationally, (d) the ability to express yourself clearly and directly, (e) the
ability to understand complex concepts and debates, and (f) the ability to think carefully,
logically, analytically and abstractly.
This course meets the Core Curriculum Learning Goal: Examine critically philosophical and other
theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and/or cultural
production.
Course Materials
You will need a paper copy of Problems from Philosophy (Third Edition) by James
Rachels and Stuart Rachels. Additional required readings will be made available on Sakai in
the Resources folder.
Writing clearly and grammatically is one of the most useful skills you can develop. A useful
book to have on hand for this course and for university in general is Janis Bell’s Clean, WellLighted Sentences. (Available for under 12$ on Amazon as I write this.)
Course Schedule Summary
September 2
MODULE 0
First Day!
Argument Components and Analysis
Dates
September 8, 9, 14, 16
Readings
Rachels Ch 1, Sakai supplement
INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY 07 F15
MODULE 1
Arguments For and Against the Existence of God
Dates
September 21, 23, 28, 30
MODULE 2
Readings
Rachels Chs 8, 9, Sakai supplement
Mind and Body
Dates
October 19, 21, 26, 28
November 2, 4, 9
MODULE 4
Readings
Rachels Chs 2, 3, Sakai supplement
Free Will
Dates
October 5, 7, 12, 14
MODULE 3
SYLLABUS
Readings
Rachels Chs 4, 6, 10, 7, 5, Sakai
supplement
Morality
Dates
November 11, 16, 18, 23, 30
December 2, 7
Readings
Rachels Chs 11, 12, Sakai supplement
December 9: Review Day
December 21: Final Exam (12-3pm)
** Before the beginning of each module, I’ll post a detailed schedule on Sakai (in the
Resources folder) which will include the quiz dates as well as due dates for readings,
forum contributions, homework, peer reviews, etc.
Assessment
Your final grade will be decided by how many points you earn over the course of the semester.
Work
Module 0 quizzes
Modules 1-4 quizzes
Homework
Module 2 forum
Module 3 forum
Module 4 forum
Peer Review
Final exam
(12 + 18)
(80 × 3)
(5 + 10 + 5)
(25 + 50 + 25)
(40 + 80 + 40)
Max Points
Final Grade Conversion
30
240
100
20
100
160
50
300
950+
850-949
800-849
750-799
700-749
600-699
0-599
Total
1000
+Forum bonus points
??
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à
à
à
à
à
à
A
B+
B
C+
C
D
F
INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY 07 F15
SYLLABUS
Course Policies
Attendance and Lateness
If you miss class or arrive late for any reason, you are responsible for finding out
from other students what information and materials you missed. When you return to
class, I will assume that something important came up and that you have been caught up.
Missed Quizzes
All quizzes will begin within the first ten minutes of class, and answers will be revealed
immediately. You’ll also do each quiz once on your own and once as a team. Because of this,
missed quizzes cannot be made up or re-taken. Since there will be 4 module quizzes and
only the best 3 will count toward your total quiz score, you have one ‘free pass’ available for
occasions on which you must miss class or you arrive too late to take a quiz. You’re advised
to pay special attention to making it to class on time for the first day of modules 1-4, and to
treat each quiz like a mini mid-term exam. The module 0 quizzes cannot be dropped.
Late Homework
Late homework will not be accepted.
Late or Missed Forum Contributions
Forum contributions submitted after the deadlines are very welcome, but are no
longer eligible for points. If you’re submitting something for points, double-check that it
has been successfully posted. (If you want a safeguard against Sakai glitches or mishaps, I
recommend taking screen-shots of each of your posts embedded in their threads once
you’ve submitted them. That way you’ll have this evidence to show me if anything goes
wrong, and you can delete the screen-shots once you’re sure the posting was successful.)
Acceptable Excuses
To be excused from coursework, you must have a reasonable and confirmed excuse. Such an
excuse is had only if either: (i) you must observe a religious holiday on a quiz day, (ii) you are
ill and have a note from a health care provider, or (iii) you have a personal or family
emergency and a note from the office of the Dean of your college confirming this. If you
have an acceptable excuse for missing a quiz or piece of homework, you will not have the
chance to earn points for it, but the other quizzes/homework will be adjusted so that they’re
worth more points.
INTRO TO PHILOSOPHY 07 F15
SYLLABUS
Personal Electronic Devices
Studies have been piling up about the bad effects of allowing the use of personal electronic
devices in the classroom. It’s been shown to be detrimental both to individual students and
to classes as a whole. Students seem to have a difficult time restricting their use of these
devices to course-relevant material, and can’t seem to help checking (e.g.) social media. But
more importantly, there is very good evidence that even when students manage to stay on task (e.g.
using the device for note-taking), their comprehension and retention of course material
suffers. So on this basis, no personal electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, laptops,
etc.) may be used during class at any time without my prior approval. Approval will
only be given to students with a doctor’s note informing me of a condition that requires
such devices.
Disruptions and Distractions
To ensure that class time is productive for all, students must not engage in secondary
discussion or otherwise make secondary noise while I’m speaking or other students are
speaking to the class. To enforce this rule, teams will be docked 1 point each time any of
their members disrupt or distract class.
Cheating
Cheating threatens the credibility of Rutgers and harms the vast majority of students who
earn their grades honestly. It also harms the cheaters, as they rob themselves of the
opportunity to build skills important to their success later in life. I don’t expect any of you to
want to try this, but if you’re that desperate, think again. Cheating and plagiarizing will
result in a zero on the relevant quiz/exam/assignment. If you’re caught cheating more
than once, you risk failing the course and having the incident noted in your permanent
academic record. It is the responsibility of all students to familiarize themselves with the
official Rutgers policies on this matter. (See http://academicintegrity.rutgers.edu/policy-onacademic-integrity.)
Team Conflicts
Working with your team should be fun. While I don’t expect there to be conflicts, if they do
arise first try to resolve them as a team. It’s in the interest of your team to resolve them
congenially. If this is unsuccessful, you can come see me, either individually or as a group,
and I will do my best to help!
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