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Philosophy 194 Introduction to Knowledge and Reality Winter 2009


									                                          Philosophy 194
                             Introduction to Knowledge and Reality
                                           Winter 2009
                                   Professor Matthew Davidson
           (allow up to 2 days for a response, put "Philosophy 194" in the subject line)
                                Office Hours: TuTh12-2, VA 228
                                         Phone: 537-7727

                                        Course Description.

This course will examine the nature of the mind and personal identity through time, the
coherence of holding people morally responsible for what they do, the dependence of the world
on our mental activity, and an argument for the existence of God.

There is one required text, as well as readings available on the website. The required text is

Metaphysics (3rd. Ed.) by Peter van Inwagen

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman (recommended)•\also available for
checkout at UH 052.

On the website is:

"Moral Luck" by Thomas Nagel

"Epiphenomenal Qualia" by Frank Jackson

"God, Design, and Fine Tuning" by Robin Collins

You need to print these out and bring them to class.

                                         About the Class

I expect you to come to class each day having done the assigned reading and with questions to
ask. It will not be possible for you to read the material assigned for the course without having
questions. You need to take notes on what you are reading, and you need to write down your
questions and bring them to class. The material will be hard. This class will focus on critically
evaluating ideas through class discussion and reflection both inside and outside class. I will not
feed you information which I expect you to memorize, write down for a test, and forget. The
goal of this class is to assist you in thinking. This often has little to do with memorizing facts.
Also, just because you're not being fed a spate of information you shouldn't think you shouldn't
be taking notes. You should be thinking hard about what is being discussed in class, and you
should be taking notes as you think through problems and listen to what your classmates or I
have to say.

                                      Assignment of Grades

The grade will consist of a midterm (30%), a final exam on the last day of class (10%), n short
critical papers to be assigned randomly throughout the quarter and to be turned in the next class
period (worth 25/n% each), and a final paper due the day of the final worth 35%. There may be
pop-quizzes given. Each will be worth 3% of the grade, and these points will be taken from the
final exam, final paper, and midterm; in that order. The papers should be typed, and double-
spaced in 12-point font. No papers will be accepted late without a very good reason. You
should e-mail me to find out what you missed in class if you miss class; not knowing about the
assignment isn't sufficient grounds for an extension on it. Always keep extra copies of your
papers. All students should be familiar with the University regulations on plagiarism, as stated
in the Bulletin. You may find a link to the Bulletin and information on plagiarism on the

In addition, there is an extra credit paper on Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard
Feynman, the late Caltech physicist. It will be worth 6% of the grade. For many of my students,
reading this book has a deep impact on them. It is due in the sixth week of class. It can be
turned in by the last day of class for 5%.

Final grades will be assigned as follows: n0% will suffice for a grade G-. n3% will suffice for a
grade of G. n8% will suffice for a grade of G+. (So, 80% is a B-, 83% is a B, and 88% is a B+)

                                       Classroom Conduct

Please turn off cell phones and put them away. Please do not talk while others are talking. If
you have to leave class early, please let me know and sit by the door. If you have some sort of
condition which causes you to have to leave the classroom often, please let me know and sit near
the door.

No knives (other than penknives), guns, or other weapons (throwing stars, nunchakus, garrottes,
galleys, halberds, catapults, etc.) are allowed in class. If you have any of these in class, you
forfeit your right to continue in the course, and may be ejected from the class and/or referred to
the University for further disciplinary action.

If you are in need of an accommodation for a disability in order to participate in this class, please
let me know ASAP and also contact Services to Students with Disabilities at UH-183, (909)537-

This class is a rare opportunity to have your minds challenged and stretched, your thinking
deepened and clarified. This has obvious practical benefits, but apart from these I hope that you
will see that thinking and learning is good for its own sake•, intrinsically good.

Furthermore, if philosophy is something that interests you, I encourage you to consider taking
further courses, and, maybe even consider majoring in philosophy. Feel free to talk to me about
other classes you might take, or have a look at the department website here.


The following is a rough schedule of readings and assignments. We may deviate temporally
from the schedule as our interests dictate, and we may examine additional materials to aid in our
understanding of the texts.

Week 1: Introduction; Arguments, Who Am I?
Week 2: Objectivity: van Inwagen ch. 5
Week 3: Objectivity—van Inwagen
Week 4: "Moral Luck" by Thomas Nagel (download and print from website)
Week 5: "Moral Luck"
Week 6: van Inwagen ch. 10, Midterm
Week 7: Jackson "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (download and print from website)
Week 8: van Inwagen ch. 11—Personal Identity
Week 9: Collins (download and print from website) and van Inwagen ch. 8, Rough Draft Due
Week 10: Continue Collins and van Inwagen ch. 8, Last Exam

The final paper is due the day of the scheduled final exam period.
Additional course materials will be available on the webpage.

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