Introduction to Philosophy

Dr. Harry P. Reeder



I. Objectives: This course is intended to introduce the student to the nature and substance of philosophical problems, as addressed by some classic philosophical texts. In addition, the student will learn to become a more critical and reflective thinker, reader, and writer.

II. Format: The basic method of philosophy is dialectic, the sharing and debating of ideas and beliefs. This method cannot be learned passively, but must be entered into actively. Therefore, although there will be some lecturing to introduce difficult material, the student is expected to TAKE PART IN CLASSROOM DISCUSSION, and to keep a good set of NOTES. If you must miss a class it is your responsibility to borrow notes from someone else, to get caught up. Such participation, along with careful reading of assigned material, is the best way to prepare for the exams. Philosohy is not a spectator sport!

III. Texts:
Plato: The Trial and Death of Socrates
Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy
Berkeley: Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
Hume: Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

IV. Assignments: There will be three exams in class, and a final exam. The first exam will count 15%, the second will count 20%, the third will count 25%, and the final exam will count 40%. Each exam will contain at least one essay question. "Objective" questions will be used on some (or all) exams, to make sure that you are reading the material and TAKING GOOD NOTES IN CLASS.

Please bring a Blue Book for writing the exam.

MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL NOT BE GIVEN. Students will be permitted to drop their lowest exam grade. The grade will then be calculated in the following way:
  1. lowest numerical grade dropped
  2. simple average of remaining grades calculated
  3. average grade plugged into the slot of the lowest grade
  4. course mark calculated with replaced grade, according to this grade's percentage of the over-all grade
V. Attendance and Drop Policy: Attendance of EVERY class is a minimum requirement of this course. The work done in class in mostly NOT repeated in the text. Each student is responsible for getting notes and announcements from class that he/she has missed. The instructor cannot drop students from the class. To drop, a student must fill out a drop slip (and then in accordance with university rules).

VI. Academic Dishonesty: It is the philosophy of the University of Texas at Arlington that academic dishonesty is a completely unacceptable mode of conduct and will not be tolerated in any form. All persons involved in academic dishonesty will be disciplined in accordance with University regulations and procedures. Discipline may include suspension or expulsion from the University.

"Scholastic dishonesty includes but is not limited to cheating, plagiarism, collusion, the submission for credit of any work or materials that are attributable in whole or in part to another person, any act designed to give unfair advantage to a student or to the attempt to commit such acts." (Regents' Rules and Regulations, Part One, Chapter VI, Section 3.2, Subdivision 3.22)

VII. Americans With Disabilities Act: The University of Texas at Arlington is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 9311—The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act—(ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is a renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens.

As a faculty member, In am required by law to provide "reasonable accommodation" to students with disabilities, so as not to discriminate on the basis of that disability. Student responsibility primarily rests with informing faculty at the beginning of the semester and in providing authorized documentation through designated administrative channels.

VIII. Aid for Students: The University of Texas at Arlington supports a variety of student success programs to help you connect with the University and achieve academic success. They include learning assistance, developmental education, advising and mentoring, admission and transition, and federally funded programs. Students requiring assistance academically, personally, or socially should contact the Office of Student Success Programs at 817-272-6107 for more information and appropriate referrals.

IX. Tentative Course Calendar:
Week
Reading Assignment
Written Assignment
Topic
1 Logic sheets Dialectic: Philosophical Argumentation
2 Plato, Euthyphro Socratic dialectic
3 Plato, Apology What is Socrates up to?
4 Plato, Crito Socrates, the Laws, and Piety
5 Descartes, Med. I-II What do I really know?
6 Descartes, Med. III-IV Exam 1 How can I be sure?
7 Descartes, Med. V-VI How should I study nature?
8 Berkeley, Dialogue I The materialist hypothesis
9 Berkeley, Dialogue II Exam 2 Idealism
10 Berkeley, Dialogue III Sometimes a great notion
11 Hume, Enquiry I-IV Philosophy, thoughts and impressions, "fork," cause and effect
12 Hume, Enquiry V-VII Exam 3 Cause and habit, constant conjunction
13 Hume, Enquiry VIII-X Free will, causal necessity, reason in man and animal, miracles
14 Hume, Enquiry XI-XII Purpose in nature, skepticism, abstract ideas
15 Review and summary
Final Exam (as scheduled by the University: see dates and times on line)

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