Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

Revised 1-22-01

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 120

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Introductory Philosophy

Catalog Description:

120 - Introductory Philosophy - 3 S.H.

An introduction to major areas in philosophy, considering some fundamental problems and concepts. Typical issues include some of the following: the existence of God, what we can know, what reality is, how mind and body are related, whether we have free will. Traditional and intellectually chic theories on these or other topics are critically reviewed. Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Ed Slowik

 

Email: eslowik@winona.edu

 

Arts & Sciences Core—Humanities

 

 

 

INTRODUCTORY PHILOSOPHY

PHIL 120

University Studies—Humanities

 

 

 

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Introductory Philosophy, as its name implies, introduces the student to some of the basic issues in the Western philosophical tradition. These issues include the fundamental questions concerning metaphysics (which studies the nature of existence and reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, politics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion, to name only a few. Besides learning positions that have been taken on these issues, the student is also taught the methods by which philosophers investigate these problems and concepts.

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

 

 

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

Some of the main areas of study in Introductory Philosophy are listed above, but the main emphasis in the course will be on epistemology, i.e. the theory of knowledge, and metaphysics. Some of the questions addressed are: To what extent are there objective truths about the world, ourselves, etc.? Is a relativist theory of truth coherent? What is the nature of reality? Does God exist? All topics covered are in the Humanities discipline.

 

 

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

Issues of history, culture, and gender arise in all topics covered in Introductory Philosophy, but, in particular, the theory of knowledge investigates whether our personal beliefs and concepts, as well as our particular culture and group, determine the content of our experiences of the world. This notion is thus investigated in great detail with respect to each topic, although the radical interpretations of this doctrine come in for criticism.

 

 

3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

In common with all philosophy courses, Introductory Philosophy is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of human experience. Consequently, the interpretation and evaluation of the products of human thought form the central core of Introductory Philosophy, and are applied to all topics covered in the course. For example, critical analysis is devoted to such topics as: truth, justification, etc.

 

 

INTRODUCTORY PHILOSOPHY

PHIL 120

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Humanities

 

Sample Syllabus

 

 

 

Instructor: Ed Slowik/325 Minne Hall/Office phone: 457-5663

 

Office Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00 AM, and 3:00-4:00 PM, and by appointment.

 

Texts (Required):

 

Philosophical Traditions: A Text with Readings, L. Pojman (Wadsworth)

 

How To Think About Weird Things, 2nd ed., T. Schick, Jr. & L. Vaughn (Mayfield)

 

Course Objectives:

This course will examine basic issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion, and ethics, mainly through contemporary and classic readings. We will be concerned with such questions as: What is the relationship between matter and mind?, Can we know the exact nature of the universe?, Does God exist?, Are actions morally right or wrong?, etc. We will also examine the alleged difference between science and pseudo-science (e.g., ESP, astrology, etc.) as a means of introducing the student to concepts in introductory logic and the philosophy of science.

 

 

Course Requirements:

Although the course will employ the lecture/discussion format, we will also utilize (to a large extent) the team-teaching approach, which places considerable emphasis on learning through group work. (After the first week, I will form groups of 6-7 people.) On Mondays, students will take a short quiz (multiple-choice, true-false, short answer) on the readings assigned for that week. Directly after, the groups will form and take the same quiz as a whole (i.e., all group members will work together on the same quiz). I will collect the quizzes and go over the answers before the day's lecture/discussion, and all students will (individually) receive the group grade. On Wednesday, after a class lecture on the material, the groups will meet to answer questions that accompany the chapter (covered that week), which we'll call the Group Project, and will turn in their answers. On Fridays, the group project answers will be reviewed in class (where, once again, individual students will receive the group grade--which will be factored into the group quiz grade).

The breakdown of the grade is as follows: 2 Midterms, 20% each (which will be in-class true/false, multiple-choice, essay exams); Individual Quiz grades, 15%; Group Quiz grade, 15%; Final Exam, 30% (which will be comprehensive). Overall, there will be 10 individual quizzes, group quizzes, and group projects, but I will drop the lowest 2 grades out of the 10. (This is your extra-credit.) The tests will largely cover the notes I give in class (which are based on the readings), so it is important to show up each day to get the notes! As an extra-credit assignment, I will also allow students to write a short term paper (5-7 pages, double spaced) to replace one of the tests (in which case I will drop the lowest one of the four grades). Let me know if you would like to work on a term paper, since you will need to receive precise details from me on how to write it (more will be said about this option later in the semester).

 

Course Outline:

I. Introduction, Basic Logic

II. Philosophy of Religion

A. Cosmological Arguments

B. Teleological Arguments

C. Ontological Arguments

D. Arguments from Religious Experience

E. Problem of Evil

F. Faith and Reason

III. Theory of Knowledge

A. Introduction: Descartes/Kant

B. Skepticism: Hume

C. Perception: Locke/Berkeley

D. Truth and Rationality

IV. Metaphysics

A. Dualism: Descartes

B. Materialist Monism

C. Personal Identity

V. Freedom and Determinism

A. Determinism

B. Libertarianism

C. Compatibilism

VI. Ethics

A. Introduction

B. Ethical Relativism

C. Ethical Egoism

D. Utilitarianism

E. Kantian Ethics

F. Religion and Ethics

VII. Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

A. Existentialism

B. Freedom

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies required course outcomes in Introductory Philosophy 120 in the following ways:

The purpose of Humanities...to provide a framework for understanding the nature and scope of human experience. Humanities courses explore the search for meaning and value in human life....

Introductory Philosophy, as its name implies, introduces the student to some of the basic issues in the Western philosophical tradition. These issues include the fundamental questions concerning metaphysics (which studies the nature of existence and reality), epistemology (the study of knowledge), ethics, politics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion, to name only a few. Besides learning positions that have been taken on these issues, the student is also taught the methods by which philosophers investigate these problems and concepts.

 

These courses must include requirements and learning activities that promote students' abilities to...

1. Identify and understand specific elements and assumptions of a particular Humanities discipline.

Some of the main areas of study in Introductory Philosophy are listed above, but the main emphasis in the course will be on epistemology, i.e. the theory of knowledge, and metaphysics. Some of the questions addressed are: To what extent are there objective truths about the world, ourselves, etc.? Is a relativist theory of truth coherent? What is the nature of reality? Does God exist? All topics covered are in the Humanities discipline.

 

 

2. Understand how historical context, cultural values, and gender influences perceptions and interpretations.

Issues of history, culture, and gender arise in all topics covered in Introductory Philosophy, but, in particular, the theory of knowledge investigates whether our personal beliefs and concepts, as well as our particular culture and group, determine the content of our experiences of the world. This notion is thus investigated in great detail with respect to each topic, although the radical interpretations of this doctrine come in for criticism.

 

 

3. Understand the role of critical analysis in interpreting and evaluating expressions of human experience.

In common with all philosophy courses, Introductory Philosophy is devoted to the critical analysis of concepts and issues pertaining to all aspects of human experience. Consequently, the interpretation and evaluation of the products of human thought form the central core of Introductory Philosophy, and are applied to all topics covered in the course. For example, critical analysis is devoted to such topics as: truth, justification, etc.