Philosophy 101: Introduction to Western Philosophy        
Summer 2002
Theodore Gracyk

Office: Bridges 359B Phone: 236-4089 

Required Texts:

Fieser and Lillegard, Historical Introduction to Philosophy

Grading Policies:

You will be graded on five things:

  • Three reaction essays (You may not submit two in the same week)
  • Frequent in-class writing
  • The final exam on Friday, July 5

Each of these five elements of the course will be graded equally.

Late work that does not receive prior authorization to be late cannot receive a grade above C+. The best way to receive prior authorization by speaking to me or by telephoning me and leaving a message on my voice mail. Email is unreliable because I may not have time to see it before the due date for the work.

In-class writing is automatically late if not handed to the professor during the class period in which it is written. In-class writing will often draw upon the assigned readings and on the questions in the text.

Reaction Essays

These essays are short, focused analyses of a philosophical thesis. It must be typed or word-processed, doubled-spaced, and about 600 words in length. (That's at least two full pages of 12-point type.) The content is simple:

  • Clearly state a major philosophical thesis that we discussed within the past week.
  • Explain the thesis. Use your own words as much as possible. Your target audience is someone who has never taken a philosophy course. Explain the thesis so that such a person will understand it. Use appropriate examples to illustrate its complexity.
  • Evaluate it. Discuss arguments for and against the thesis. (State the best arguments for it, and the best objections to it.) Based on these, end with your own conclusion about its truth.



Reading Assignments:

Read the assignment in advance of class on the date indicated.

Ancient Philosophy: Socrates and Plato

Tuesday, June 4        Socrates, pp. 37-45

Wednesday, June 5    The Theory of Forms, pp. 71-95 

Rationalism: Descartes

Monday, June 10           Astronomy, pp. 281-84; 
                               Descartes, pp. 319-26

Tuesday, June 11       Descartes, pp. 326-36

Wednesday, June 12   Descartes, pp. 336-46

Empiricism: Locke and Hume

Monday, June 17       Locke, pp. 403-410; Hume, pp. 463-69

Tuesday, June 18      Hume, pp. 469-79

Thursday, June 20      Hume, pp. 480-91

Recent Philosophy: Wittgenstein

Tuesday, June 25       Wittgenstein, pp. 629-47


Friday, June 28      J.S. Mill, pp. 581-93

Monday, July 1       Kant, pp. 532-40

Thursday, July 4     No class

Friday, July 5          Final exam


First Reaction Essay (Due no later than Monday, June 17)

Your essay must have a cover page with a title and with your name. Do not put your name anywhere else on your essay.


Final Exam: Friday, July 5

The final exam will be an in-class written exam. You must bring a "blue book" (an exam booklet available in the MSUM bookstore). You will have access to your books and notes.



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 May 28, 2002