Introduction to Philosophical Thinking Professor Heath White
PAR 101-006 MWF 11:00 Bear 100 Contact Info: Bear 277, x24002
PAR 101-007 MWF 12:00 Bear 261 firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Hours: MW 9am-11am
& by appt.
Undergraduate Catalog Description
An introduction to various philosophers and philosophical problems from historical,
critical, and other perspectives.
In this course we will wrestle with some of the questions that thoughtful human beings have
Am I in control of my life?
What am I ultimately responsible for?
What makes me the person I am?
What can I know, and how?
Is there a God?
Are right and wrong genuine, objective aspects of reality?
What is right and wrong anyway?
Students will be encouraged to respond to these questions on both personal and critical levels, and
to form some views of their own.
This course is credited toward the University Studies requirement in Historical and Philosophical
Approaches, and is required for Philosophy and Religion majors.
By the conclusion of this course, students will be able to
describe and explain philosophical questions, positions, and arguments [HPA1]
understand and explain the differences and similarities between various
philosophical positions [HPA3]
analyze and evaluate philosophical positions and arguments critically and
bring philosophical positions and arguments to bear in confronting issues of
contemporary importance [HPA4]
These goals represent widely acknowledged intellectual standards. Everything in this course-
—the readings, the class discussion, the assignments, even the rule to turn off cell phones—is
oriented toward helping you develop toward these goals. Your grades will be measures of
how well you are meeting these standards.
Grades and Assignments
The assignments in the course are designed both to assist and to measure your progress toward
the goals of the course. They consist of three ‗argument‘ papers of increasing length and weight,
three in-class ‗peer review‘ sessions for the argument papers, and contribution to class discussion.
Note that later paper assignments count for more than earlier ones; the goal is to give you chances
to improve over the course of the semester.
Your grade will be calculated as follows:
First argument paper (3 pp.) + peer review 17% + 3%
Second argument paper (3 pp.) + peer review 27% + 3%
Third argument paper (4 pp.) + peer review 37% + 3%
Class contribution 10%
I will accept papers up to a week late, with a penalty of 1/3 of a grade (A to A-, A- to B+, etc.) for
every class day they are late. It will be your responsibility to make sure I receive any late papers.
You have one required text, Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings,
4th edition, ed. Louis P. Pojman and James Fieser.
The Honor Code and Academic Honesty
UNCW adheres to an Academic Honor Code which contains this summary paragraph, the Honor
"The University of North Carolina Wilmington is a community of high academic
standards where academic integrity is valued. UNCW students are committed to honesty
and truthfulness in academic inquiry and in the pursuit of knowledge. This commitment
begins when new students matriculate at UNCW, continues as they create work of the
highest quality while part of the university community, and endures as a core value
throughout their lives."
Every student at the university has also signed the Honor Pledge:
“As a student at The University of North Carolina Wilmington, I am committed to
honesty and truthfulness in academic inquiry and in the pursuit of knowledge. I pledge to
uphold and promote the UNCW Student Academic Honor Code.”
This class is committed to the ideals expressed in the Honor Statement and the Honor Pledge.
You are responsible for knowing what counts as academic dishonesty (primarily,
cheating and plagiarism) in the Academic Honor Code, and you are encouraged to familiarize
yourself with it. If you do not understand these guidelines, or are not sure how to apply them, see
me or the Writing Center or the University Learning Center.
Absences with a reasonable document reason may be excused at the discretion of the
professor. More than three unexcused absences will result in 2 points per absence being
taken off your final grade.
If you have a handicap, learning disability, or other condition which requires special
consideration, contact the Office of Disability Services (962-7555). Please give me a copy of the
letter you receive from Office of Disability Services detailing class accommodations you may
need as soon as possible.
Cell Phones and Other Class Disruptions
Turn off your cell phones and stow them when you enter class. Do not check your cell phone, or
send text messages, during class. Do not listen to an iPod, MP3 player, or similar device while in
class. You may take notes on a laptop, however, do not surf the web during class. Drinks of
water, trips to the restroom, etc. should be taken care of before or after class.
Reading is to be done before you come to class.
Holidays and anything that affects your grade is in ALL CAPS.
Jan 6 Welcome to class
8 Plato, ―Socratic Wisdom‖ (selection from the Apology)
11 d‘Holbach, ―A Defense of Determinism‖
13 Taylor, ―Libertarianism: A Defense of Free Will‖
15 Stace, ―Compatibilism: Free Will is Consistent with Determinism‖
18 MLK JR. DAY – NO CLASS
20 Frankfurt, ―Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person‖
22 Strawson, ―The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility‖
Moral Responsibility and Punishment
25 Menninger, ―The Crime of Punishment‖
27 Lewis, ―Against the Humanitarian Theory of Rehabilitation‖
Feb 1 Locke, ―Our Psychological Properties Define the Self‖;
Hume, ―We Have No Substantial Self‖
3 Parfit & Vesey, ―Brain Transplants and Personal Identity‖
5 PEER REVIEW
Knowledge – Rationalism
Note: I recommend you read the Meditations online at
8 Descartes, Meditations I & II
ARGUMENT PAPER #1 DUE
10 Descartes, Meditations III & IV
12 Descartes, Meditations V & VI
Knowledge – Empiricism
15 Wrap up Descartes
17 Locke, ―An Empiricist Theory of Knowledge‖
19 Hume, ―An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding‖
The Limits of Knowledge
22 Kant, ―The Copernican Revolution in Knowledge‖
24 Maynard Smith, ―Science and Myth‖
26 Kornblith, ―Distrusting Reason‖ – get from Blackboard
Philosophy of Religion – Arguments for the Existence of God
Mar 1 Aquinas, ―The Five Ways‖
3 Paley, ―The Watch and the Watchmaker‖
5 Anselm and Gaunilo, ―The Ontological Argument‖
8-12 SPRING BREAK – NO CLASS
Philosophy of Religion – Arguments against the Existence of God
15 Russell, ―The Problem of Evil‖
17 Swinburne, ―A Theistic Response to the Problem of Evil‖
Philosophy of Religion – Faith and Reason
22 Pascal, ―Faith Is a Rational Wager‖;
Clifford, ―The Ethics of Belief‖
24 Plantinga, ―Religious Belief without Evidence‖
26 PEER REVIEW
Ethics – Relativism and Objectivism
29 Herodotus, ―Custom is King‖;
Benedict, ―In Defense of Moral Relativism‖
ARGUMENT PAPER #2 DUE
31 Fleuhr-Lobban, ―Anthropologists, Cultural Relativism, and
Universal Rights‖ – get from Blackboard
Apr 2 HOLIDAY – NO CLASS
Ethics – Moral Theories
7 Aristotle, ―The Ethics of Virtue‖
9 more on Aristotle
12 Hobbes, ―Contractualism‖
14 Kant, ―The Moral Law‖
16 Nagel, ―Moral Luck‖
19 Mill, ―Utilitarianism‖
21 Ayer, ―Emotivism and Prescriptivism‖
26 PEER REVIEW – Last day of class
28 11:30am Final meeting for 11:00 section – ARG PAPER #3 DUE
30 11:30am Final meeting for 12:00 section – ARG PAPER #3 DUE