Philosophy 101: Introduction to Western Philosophy   

M & W 1:30 - 2:45 in Maclean 167 

Begins January 11, ends May 11, 2016

Theodore Gracyk 
Office: Bridges 359B     Phone: (218) 477-4089   

Office hours: M&W 10-Noon (physically in my office) and T&H 10-Noon (online & available by email) & by appointment
My office phone has voice mail.

Course Objectives

In this course you will be exposed to some basic issues, theories, and methodologies of the discipline of philosophy. The course presupposes no prior exposure to philosophy. We will address problems that have, in one form or another, puzzled people since the earliest times of Western civilization.

While we may not achieve definitive answers to these problems in an introductory philosophy course, our goal is to grapple with the issues and to clarify your thinking on these topics. To facilitate your thinking about these topics, we will be reading, discussing, and writing about the works of several historically crucial philosophers.

Dragon Core Goals for this course -- Middle Cluster: The Humanities (Area 6)

  • Students will demonstrate, in writing and/or discussion, awareness of the scope and variety of works in an area (or areas) of the arts and/or humanities.
  • Students will explain how those works are expressions of individual and human values within historical and social contexts.
  • Students will analyze and/or critically evaluate works of human imagination and thought in discussion and/or writing.  
  • Students will articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and/or humanities.


Text needed:  

  • PHILOSOPHY 101: INTRODUCTION TO WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: A Text With Readings, by Theodore Gracyk

This book can only be purchased from the University bookstore.

Bring the book to class every time we meet.

Course Requirements and Due Dates

  • 7 sets of study questions -- 70% of course grade
    (Due Dates for Study Questions: Jan. 25, Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 7, March 30, April 6, April 27
  • 2 short papers -- 25% of course grade (each one is 12.5% of course grade)
  • Final exam (essay exam) -- 5% of course grade
    This is an essay exam and is scheduled for May 11 (Wednesday) 11:30 am


Jan. 11: Begin Section One

Jan. 18: MLK HOLIDAY: No Class

Jan. 25: Begin Section Two

Feb. 8: Begin Section Three

Feb. 15: President's Day HOLIDAY: No Class

Feb. 22: Begin Section Four

Feb. 24: Short Paper #1 is due at start of class

March 7: Begin Section Five

March 14-18: Spring Break: No Class

March 28: No Class

March 30: Begin Section Six

April 6: Begin Section Seven

April 13: Short Paper #2 is due at start of class

April 27: Begin Section Eight

May 4: Study Day: No Class

May 11: Final Exam begins 11:30 AM


Due Dates for Study Questions: Jan. 25, Feb. 8, Feb. 22, March 7, March 30, April 6, April 27

 Grading Policies

Late work that does not receive prior authorization to be late cannot receive a grade above C+.
Prior authorization must be obtained at least 24 hours in advance of the time it is due.

Official University Events and medical emergencies for self or immediate family are the sole basis for exceptions to the above policies, and will require evidence (e.g., a note from your athletics coach for a university sports event or evidence of a doctor or clinic visit).

There is no "extra credit" or "make-up" work.

The course grade will be assigned on a plus/minus basis. (It is possible to get an A-, or C+, etc.)


Plagiarism is passing off somebody else's writing or ideas as your own. There is nothing wrong in consulting any number of sources to help you understand what we are studying (whether an article in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy or a web site or Cliffs Notes) but it is stealing to take material without first paraphrasing it completely into your own words, or without placing it in quotation marks. (Rule of thumb: if you take more than two consecutive words from a source, put them in quotation marks, and if the idea behind a sentence comes from an outside source, acknowledge that source!) Any time you consult and draw on ideas from any source, you should cite your source. Taking ideas from another person and pretending that they are your own, original thoughts, is also plagiarism. The fact that your source was an assigned text for the course does not mitigate or lessen the seriousness of plagiarism.

Students sometimes claim unintentional or accidental plagiarism. It is difficult for an instructor to judge whether the plagiarism was intentional or unintentional. Basically, the latter occurs when a student reads a secondary source or takes notes, writes a paper without looking at the source or the notes, and accidentally uses phrasing and ideas from that source. Or a student may attempt to paraphrase an author's ideas, but fails to put it completely into his or her own words. (If you paraphrase and don't cite your source, that's evidence of intentional plagiarism.)

If evidence demonstrates that you have plagiarized any part of any written assignment for the course, the offense will be reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs and you will receive a failing grade for the course.

In short, if you use an outside source, simply provide footnotes or citations in parentheses where appropriate.

For further information, click here


Grade of "A": An excellent essay in all respects. Clear, grammatical, well organized, and progresses logically, with all elements relevant to the topic. Exhibits both original thought and an accurate grasp of the material. Grammatical errors kept to a minimum.

Grade of "B": A good essay, but not outstanding. Overall organization is clear and coherent, although minor weaknesses may be present. Accurate presentation of material, but generally presents the minimum needed. Limited original thought. A few minor or subtle errors in punctuation and/or spelling.

Grade of "C": A satisfactory paper. Shows basic understanding, with some deficiencies. Organization not always clear and transitions abrupt or lacking. May contain irrelevant material. Weak support of ideas. Occasional grammatical mistakes, or sloppiness which could have been avoided.

Grade of "D": Minimally acceptable work. Marginal grasp of material, ineffective or confusing presentation. Summarizes the most obvious aspects of the material, but otherwise tends to be irrelevant. Little or no organization. Contains major grammatical problems.

Grade of "F": Unsatisfactory. Superficial, incoherent, and/or irrelevant. Writing ability verges on illiteracy. Plagiarism.


Last updated Dec. 14, 2015

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