Philosophy 101-005 Basic Issues in Philosophy Syllabus Spring 2014

URL Reggienet and ISU101sys14.htm

PHI 101-002 STV 350A 1:35-2:50 MW

Dr. Jeffrey Carr email (Please include 101-005 in 'Subject'); Office: STV 301, hours: 11-11:50 MW and by appointment

Course Description:

We will develop familiarity with the main philosophical problems, and the most influential answers given in world philosophical thought, to promote our own analytical and critical thinking skills, and develop the answers we believe true concerning what our world is like, the sources of knowledge, the place of human beings in a causally ordered universe, the relation between mind and body, and how we ought to behave, plus others. Mini quizzes, exam questions and discussions will constitute the course score.

From the Department's Official Description: This course is an introduction to a wide variety of philosophical issues. We will engage problems in metaphysics (the theory of reality), ethics and politics (the theory of right and good), and epistemology (the theory of knowledge). And we will consider the development of these issues in the history of philosophy. A variety of class formats is central to the course. While there will be some lecture (as is appropriate), there will also be class discussion, possibly "Roundtable" discussions, panel debates or oral presentations. Required graded assignments include several argumentative papers and one or two exams. As with most humanities courses, grades in this course are largely earned through careful completion of written assignments. Students are expected to be serious about learning something and open to becoming involved in significant philosophical inquiry.


We will gain an enhanced awareness of the nature of philosophical inquiry, its important theories, and the relevance of these to daily issues, including our own values and careers. The critical assessment of the major views will receive great attention, in an effort to promote one's own scholarly development and moral commitments.


John Hospers. An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. 4th ed. Prentice Hall, 1997. My online notes to J. Hospers (101Overheads.pdf on Reggienet "Resources") are strongly recommended. Other readings will be available through Reggienet.

Various local and remote internet pages will be required reading (links provided here, on Reggienet, or as announced); some are recommended but not required. Many original texts are available on-line (from The LOGOS Collection of Electronic Books, the Internet Archive, or Project Gutenberg), some of which will be linked from these pages/Reggienet announcements.


The tentative schedule for the (what would be the online) course is available at ISU101sch.htm; pay attention to Reggienet announcements for other readings and assignments. The in class schedule will be posted shortly on Reggienet.


As you read the assigned readings from the text for each class, you should identify the main views of each passage, (even for each section) and why the author believes them to be true. Make as much use as possible of the features of logical analysis that you are familiar with, particularly the technical notions: what is the conclusion? what is the argument? When you find something in the argument which is relevant to your interests, take note of it. In our online discussions, you will be asked to comment to the rest of us, and discuss the interepretations of others. Regular contributions ("weekly") are important. Note: data on online instruction proves that the more contributions you make, the better you will do, not only because part of your grade is based on it.

The greatest part of the grade will be determined by your skill at defending the different views on major philosophical issues. You will be expected to argue for it, since that is the currency of doing philosophy. You will show your skills at finding arguments within the texts, and assessing their credibility. Portraying this on exams will account for the bulk of the course grade, based on short essay questions. Written work must show awareness of the readings. Standards of proper scholarship will be required and maintained, especially concerning plagiarism.

You will have three major online exams (one of which is the final), each of which constitutes 25% of the course grade. Dates/deadlines will be announced on Reggienet. You will be provided with a selection of (usually 6) questions, from which you must answer a specific portion, There will be an initial quiz early in the course, worth 5%. Your online discussion contributions will also be assessed twice. For those, details will be provided in Tests and Quizzes, with notification through Announcements. You will be expected to initiate new threads, and also to comment on the threads of your colleagues.

My grading strategy explains some of the comments you might receive on your work, and how I calculate a number grade out of letter grades. This linked from the resources section Reggienet,.

The Honor Code and Class Attendance standards of Illinois State University are to be honored. Homework and Class Assignments are to be turned in on time or will be lowered at the discretion of the instructor. Please note that instructors are legally forbidden from sending scores by email, or communicating them by telephone. Scores are generally posted on Reggienet when they become available. Also, contributing your work via email attachments must be by approval. If approved, they must be 'saved as' Word 2002 or earlier (no '.docx'). Reggienet has facilities for importing Word documents.

Scorecard (if you want a backup to Reggienet)

1 Quiz: Intro



2 Exam: on Being



3 Quiz 2



4 Exam: on Human interests



5 Quiz 3



 6 Cumulative Final



Course grade


"Illinois State University provides a welcoming atmosphere for individuals with disabilities by assisting each in functioning independently within the University community and providing equal access and opportunity in accomplishing educational, professional and personal goals." If you need an accommodation because of a documented disability, you are required to register with Disability Concerns preferably at the beginning of the semester. Contact their Counselors at 350 Fell Hall or call (309) 438-5853 to make an appointment..

Useful and Worthy Aids to Work in Philosophy include:

How to Write Philosophy Exams, by Michael Menlowe

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by Ronald Hepburn

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by Doug Mann

How to Write Philosophy Papers, by James Pryor

Other Links


Go to Jeffrey Carr's Page

Go to the ISU Homepage

August, 2013