Office: Bridges 359B Phone:
Fieser and Lillegard, Historical
Introduction to Philosophy
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.
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
- 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.
Read the assignment in advance of class
on the date indicated.
Ancient Philosophy: Socrates
Tuesday, June 4
Socrates, pp. 37-45
Wednesday, June 5 The Theory of Forms, pp.
Monday, June 10
Astronomy, pp. 281-84;
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.
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
5 Final exam
First Reaction Essay (Due no later than Monday, June
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
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
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,
INTERPRETING YOUR GRADE
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