Course Outline and Requirements


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 Attendance:

Attendance is required. Attendance is taken by having students sign an attendance sheet. Absences must be explained by the student in writing. Excessive absences (more than 3)may result in a lowered grade or a "W". The essays and examination questions will cover material presented in the classroom and not found directly in the texts.
 
 Short Papers:

Ten short papers are required. The papers are to be typewritten unless a special waiver is received from the instructor. The papers are to be typed, double spaced, at least five hundred (500) words long on 8 1/1 x 11" paper.

The topics are similar to those being discussed in the class. The papers are assigned in order to encourage the student's development of an ability to think critically and reflectively. The papers may be rewritten and submitted any number of times until the last week of the semester.
 
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Submission of Papers:

  • Papers are to be submitted on the dates indicated on the schedule for required essays.
  • Papers may be submitted by email or FAX.
  • Papers may be submitted on a diskette ONLY IF the following conditions are satisfied:
  • 3 1/2" diskette DOS formatted 1.44mb or less
  • WORDPERFECT file or DOS formatted file or
  • MS WORD or MS WORD for WINDOWS

Revisions:

Papers may be revised. Papers numbered 1 to 6 may be revised and resubmitted any number of times up to one month before the end of the semester. Papers 7-10 may be revised and resubmitted up to the date of the final exam.

Final Grade:

  • The final grade will be determined as follows:
  • PAPERS 10 papers 10 points each TOTAL 100

Bonus Work: 

There is an opportunity to earn up to 10 additional points to be added to the total from the ten papers. The topic for the essay is at the end of the ten required papers. No more than ten additional points may be earned for all bonus work.

Final Grades:

Thje fastest way to receive your final grade is to email your request to your instructor at the end of the semester and you will receive a reply with your grade.  Those students who wish to have their final grades mailed directly to them by the instructor should avail themselves of the opportunity for such by filling out postcards to be supplied at the time the final exams are scheduled.

 

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EXAMINATION ESSAYS /WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Each student is requested to submit the following papers and essays according to the schedule for the semester. 

Students must type or keyboard their papers and essays.

Students must include citations and references and quotations.

  • No more than two typographical, grammatical or syntactical errors per page.
  • Late papers and essays will NOT be accepted.

Papers may be revised. Papers numbered 1 to 6 may be revised and resubmitted any number of times up to one month before the end of the semester. Papers 7-10 may be revised and resubmitted up to the date of the final exam.

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WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

The CUNY Proficiency Examination will be designed to evaluate a person’s ability to do the following: 

1.     Understand what they have read by summarizing appropriate sections of the readings.

2.     Develop an essay that presents a coherent, organized analysis, point of view, or an argument of some substance that does more than merely summarize the reading or recount personal experience.

3.     Incorporate, as support for own ideas, quotations and references from background reading using formal or informal references to identify the sources.

4.     Write in a clear prose with an appropriate level of correctness (grammar, spelling, punctuation). 

The essays required for this course are designed to have students give evidence of possessing these skills.  They will be graded accordingly. The skills involved above will be referenced in the essays below by the notation-PE1, PE2, PE3,PE4

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1. ESSAY  -do no research before you answer these questions.  Do your best based upon prior knowledge. 

A.   List the five or so most important questions or problems you

     think about. 

B.   If you had virtually unlimited financial resources at your

     disposal what would you begin doing with your life? 

C.   Why did you take this philosophy course? 

D.   What do you expect to put into this course? 

E.   What is Philosophy? 

F.   How do you use the term "philosophy"? 

G.   How do others use the term "philosophy"? Give examples. 

H.   What good is philosophy? 

I.   What importance might philosophy have in your future?

For Essays #2 and 3 you may want to use this system for quotations.  You may cut and paste the passages from the internet text, if you wish, but include citations. 

HOW TO QUOTE PLATO

In most copies of Plato’s dialogues you will see numbers and letters, e.g., 201e by the text. [These numbers and letters refer to the page number (e.g., page 201) and the section (e.g., section e) of the 1578 edition of Plato’s dialogues].  These numbers are called Stephanus numbers.  They are almost universally used to quote Plato.  Assuming your copy of Plato’s dialogues has Stephanus numbers, this is how to reference a quote from the dialogues.

First, you mention the title of the dialogue and italicize it. 

            Symposium

Next, you cite the Stephanus number that begins the quote without italics

            Symposium 222a

Lastly, you cite the Stephanus number that ends the quote. 

            Symposium 222a-222b, or  Symposium 222a-b.

Note, if the Stephanus number that begins the quote and ends the quote is the same (e.g., the quote is contained within 202a) then just write the Stephanus number once.

            Symposium 202a 

 

2. SOCRATES and The Decision to Remain and Die

 Base your answer on class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

 Socrates refuses to go into exile when offered the opportunity to do escape and to go into exile.  He accepts verdict and the sentence posed upon him even though he thinks that there was no reason to charge him and the jury was wrong to convict him and to sentence him to death. 

·       Why , according to Socrates is escaping not the right thing to do?  Why did he think it would be wrong to leave with Crito? CAUTION: Socrates gives SEVERAL reasons, starting with the use of reason itself

·       In the Crito, how does Socrates think his life will be viewed if he escapes?  How does this compare to the way he viewed his own life, as stated in the Apology and Crito?

·       What are his reasons for thinking that if he leaves he will be doing wrong to the state even if the charges and the verdict and the sentence are all wrong?

·       How is Socrates decision to remain in prison and accept the sentence an example of “Socratic  Irony”?

·       How would Socrates leaving the prison make him guilty of the two charges and prove the jury was correct when otherwise they were not correct or just? 

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4 

 

3.     RESEARCH PAPER- PLATO’s  SYMPOSIUM 

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

A.    Summarize Phaedrus’s, Pausanias’, Eryximachus, Aristophanes’, and Agathon’s view on the nature of love in Plato’s Symposium. Be clear and complete as to the essentials of each view. 

B.    In the passage 201d-212c in the Symposium, Socrates presents Diotima’s instruction on the nature of love and the ascent of the soul to a truer love and understanding of knowledge.  Describe how this passage about love represents Plato’s key philosophical ideas.

C.    Describe how Alcibiades’s love for Socrates is an example of love already spoken about in the dialogue.  In your answer, describe how Alcibiades regards Socrates. 

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

 

4.     RESEARCH PAPER-PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION- 

This has two (2) parts.  Answer both parts. Use the textbook and any other sources you may choose.  In your essay indicate that you are at least familiar with the materials in the texts.

In your essay, be sure to use the textbook by citing relevant passages. 

 A.    ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

 The arguments for the existence of god have weaknesses.  Some have more problems than others.  Some seem more attractive and some stronger than others. 

  1.  What do you think the value of these arguments to be?

  2.  Why do humans care about these arguments or proofs?

  3.  Since they all have problems, are they necessary for the believer in god?

  4.  Select any one argument and point out what its attraction would be and what use a believer can make of it despite its problem. 

B.    The Problem of EVIL 

Many believe that the Problem of Evil can not be solved.  The resolution of the conflict between God’s characteristics and the existence of evil can only result in the changing of the properties of the deity or a recasting of the idea of evil so that it really is not evil at all.  What is your position? Defend it against the other possible views. 

1. The problem can be solved and the believer can accept the existence of God with all of the traditional characteristics and the existence of evil at the same time. THEODICY

2. The problem can be solved in this way: the idea of evil is altered and evil is seen as not the horrible thing it is thought to be but as some necessary part of the whole creation and in some way a good thing and as being created by god. LEIBNIZ

3. The problem can be solved in this way: the idea of god is altered and god is seen as not the all good or the all knowing or the all powerful being that the western traditions associate with the deity. PROCESS THEOLOGY

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

 

5.  RESEARCH PAPER- Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections.  Use the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY or a Dictionary of Philosophy or other basic textbooks. 

METAPHYSICS

A. Describe at least four issues that are fundamental to metaphysics, e.g., reality, being , space, time, god, soul, causation, values, truth... 

B. What do you think of the theory that there can be simultaneous multiple realities?  Do you believe that what one person believes may not agree with another person’s belief and so what may be real to one person may not be real to the second person?  Do you think that each group and each person is entitled to their own reality?  What is to be done when there is a conflict between two different “realities”?

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

 

6. RESEARCH PAPER- Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

EPISTEMOLOGY

A. Describe transcendental idealism (KANT). 

B. Describe three different theories of truth: correspondence, coherence and pragmatic.   How do the pragmatists criticize the correspondence theory?  What problems are there with the pragmatists theory of truth?  Is it possible to use all three theories at once and how may they all be employed in a fourth theory (science or objectivism)?  

C. Richard Rorty and other Pragmatists correct about the end of objective truth? What do you think of the theory that there can be simultaneous multiple truths?  Do you believe that what one person believes may not agree with another person’s belief and so what may be true to one person may not be true to the second person?  Do you think that each group and each person is entitled to their own truth?  What is to be done when there is a conflict between two different "truths"?

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4


7. RESEARCH PAPER- THE MIND BODY PROBLEM

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

METAPHYSICS OF MIND

Adopt a metaphysical position on the nature of the relationship between the mind and body.  State what a body is according to that position.  State what a mind is according to that position.  State what the relationship is between the mind and body according to that position.  Present a reasoned criticism of the position.  Present a reasoned reply to the criticism.  

Possible metaphysical positions are listed below. Do NOT explain all of them.  Adopt ONE of them and defend it! 

I.                 Dualism

A. Causal Interaction

B. Parallelism

                        i.Pre-established Harmony

                        ii.Occassionalism

II.               Monism

A. Idealism

B. Dual Aspect

C. Materialism

a.      Epiphenomenalism

b.     Radical Behaviorism

c.      Logical Behaviorism

d.     Identity

e.      Eliminative Materialism

f.       Structuralism

f.    Functionalism 

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

 8. Research paper- FREE WILL

Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

Do Humans have free will, if so, how free is it?  Are all human actions determined, if so how so? to what degree? Adopt a metaphysical position on the nature of freedom or determinism.  State what determines human actions according to that position.  Present a reasoned criticism of the position.  Present a reasoned reply to the criticism.  Possible metaphysical positions are listed below. Do NOT explain all of them.  Adopt ONE of them and defend it! 

Which of these three theories do you think is most accurate in describing the human condition and why do you think so?  Why do you prefer that theory to the other two?  How do you refute the critiques of your position? 

DETERMINISM

LIBERTARIANISM

COMPATIBILISM

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

 

9. RESEARCH PAPER- Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

ETHICS 

A. List at least three things that are wrong with or problems with each of these theories:

EGOISM

UTILITARIANISM

CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

NATURAL LAW

THEORY OF JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS-MAXI MIN

WILL TO POWER

CARING

NORMATIVE ETHICAL RELATIVISM

 

B. Which of the theories listed above do you think is the theory with the most acceptable disadvantages?  That is to say, which is the most acceptable theory to serve as the basis for a moral order in a society in which you would want to live?  Why do you think so?  Give reasons which take into consideration both:

 1.the criticisms of the theory you prefer

 2.the advantages of the theory you prefer

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4

10.RESEARCH PAPER- Base your answer on research, class readings, class notes and your own reflections. 

 LEGITIMACY OF THE STATE AND GOVERNMENT 

A. List and explain five theories that legitimize government?

B. How does Hobbes theory of government and its purpose differ from Rousseau's theory? 

C. With any theory of a just state there must be some way to resolve the tension between public interests and individual interests.  For each of the following thinkers describe how they would resolve the tension, which interest would be more important that of the individual or that of the group? 

PLATO, HOBBES, LOCKE, MILL, RAWLS, MARX, HOSPERS 

CUNY skills: PE1, PE2, PE3, PE4 

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BONUS ESSAY-  worth up to 10 points- submitted at the last scheduled class meeting

What is your position on the justification of the state?  Which theory do you prefer and why do you prefer it?  State one criticism of it and why you prefer it despite the criticism. Why is the criticism not effective in causing you to change your position?

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The Basis for Evaluating Short Papers

This set of criteria is useful for both student and instructor since it provides a set of standards that are reasonable, clear and somewhat objective. Based on a 10 point maximum grade.

Grade Characteristics :

F: 0 points A paper which does any of these:

  1. fails to address the topic;
  2. does not present any evidence to support the thesis affirmed;
  3. consists largely of unintelligible discourse;
  4. relies solely on the arguments of others.

D: 6 points A paper which is free of the aforementioned defects but which conspicuously and predominantly does  any of these:

  1. uses jargon, rhetorical questions, and emotive discourse;
  2. misuses English to such an extent as to be incoherent, obscure or vague;
  3. fails to adduce adequate reason to support the thesis which it affirms and fails to analyze terms adequately.

C: 7 points A paper free of the aforementioned but which is fundamentally any of these:

  1. poorly organized;
  2. fallaciously argued.

B: 8 points A paper free of the aforementioned but which does either of these;

  1. fails to express significant thought;
  2. include many careless errors.

A: 9-10 points A paper free of the aforementioned and which includes all these:

  1. subtle analysis;
  2. rigorous argument;
  3. significant thought.

Code to Abbreviations Used in Evaluating Papers

G= poor grammar

S= poor syntax

P.W. = poor wording

P.E. = poor expression

Sp = spelling is wrong

mis= mis-stated

ref= check your reference

expand = elaborate further, explain yourself, supply missing links

? = what do you mean by this ?

?? = what is it you mean to say ?

source ? = cite the source you are quoting or paraphrasing

coherency = passage does not appear to make sense. The sentences do not follow from one another or relate to one another.

contradiction = Sentences appear to be related in such a way that if one is true the other must be false yet the writer claims both are true.

inadequate = explanation or support offered is insufficient to establish the point.

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Assistance with Writing the Essays

As this course is an introduction to Philosophy and as Philosophy is a mental activity the primary objective is to have students understand and appreciate what Philosophy is and to some degree develop their own mental abilities becoming more critical in their thinking and more clear and precise in their expression.

The principle means for the instructor to evaluate how well students have come to develop their thinking skills and knowledge of philosophical matters is to examine their thinking. This can only be accomplished through communication revealing both the student's thought process and knowledge. This in turn would require either lengthy oral discussions, oral dialogues and hopefully a dialectical inquiry or else evidence of such skills as would be involved in the oral exchanges in written form, such as in essays and term papers. Thus there are written requirements.

The Library

The instructor understands that some students may not have as much experience in writing and in research as they would like and further that some students may not have all the time required for written assignments and even that some students have little or no access to word processors. Students are advised to seek assistance in the Writing Center and in the Library where they have access to the following resources:

Literature for research:

  • Research Tools, e.g. Philosopher's Index; Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Research Assistants-Librarians
  • Word Processors- Library -First Floor


Helpful Texts:

  • Seech, Zachary. Writing Philosophy Papers. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993.
  • Woodhouse, Mark. A Preface to Philosophy. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub. Co. 1984.

Personal Assistance:

The instructor has office hours.  Inquire directly or by email for the hours this semester.

Safety Advise

Students are advised to use word processors and save their files because the instructor will permit and encourage students to revise their essays and revisions are much easier using word processors

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