Introduction to Philosophy - Syllabus


Spring 2002

Mondays and Thursdays, 9:55-11:10; Tuesdays, 2:10-4:30.


1) J. Perry & M. Bratman, eds., Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford University Press). {hereafter, referred to as Perry}

2) Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (Oxford University Press). {hereafter, referred to as Russell}

Class Attendance

Class attendance and participation are expected. You should bring to every class a card with your name and date, which I will be collecting. Think of students who are remiss in matters of attendance and participation as free-riders - as people who expect to reap benefits from, or at the expense of, others [in this case, the students who conscientiously study, attend all classes and try to participate.]

( Class Participation

Class participation is the most effective method for learning. Although I intend to be careful not to penalize students who are not comfortable with speaking in class, I encourage you all to participate in every class. Ideally, the lecture time should be short and our class discussions should occupy the main bulk of our time. You should always come to class prepared to discuss themes and possibly answer questions about the material I will be presenting that day. Class participation will be included in grade computation [see below].


[Read only the pages indicated below, in the order suggested.

Come to class prepared. 10% of your grade depends on class participation.]

Introductory Lecture: Why Should We Study Philosophy?

Perry, pp. 9-12 = Russell, pp. 153-161.

Thursday, Jan. 31

The Limits of Philosophy

Russell, pp. 141-152. [Compare p. 146, on time and space, with Zeno’s paradox, presented in the section Puzzles, in Perry.] [Also, see handout.]


Russell, pp. 91-100 [skip first two paragraphs].

Perry, pp. 12-16.

Mo, Feb. 4

The Philosophical Quest as a Way of Life

Perry, pp. 20-27 [omit sc. V, pp. 24-25].

Thursday, Feb. 7

Perry, pp. 27-42.

Mo, Feb. 11

God, Evil, and Philosophy

Perry, pp. 45-46, 47-49, 49-52, 53-56, 77-82, 91-93, 93-102.

Thursday, Feb. 14

Epistemology [= Theory of Knowledge] and Metaphysics

Perry, pp. 116-121.

Russell, pp. 7-26, 37-45.

Mo, Feb. 18

Perry, pp. 132-139, 190-192, 193-196.

Thursday, Feb. 21

Perry, pp. 217-220.

Russell, pp. 82-90.

Mo, Feb. 25

Problems in Theory of Knowledge: The Problem of Induction

Perry, pp. 230-251.

Thursday, Feb. 28

Perry, pp. 252-262.

Russell, pp. 82-90.

Mo, March 4

Minds and Bodies

Perry, pp. 314-323. [Recall your previous reading of Descartes’ VIth Meditation, Perry, pp. 314-316.]

Thursday, March 7

Lessons from the Study of Artificial Intelligence

Perry, pp. 368-381.

Mo, March 11

Personal Identity and Immortality

Perry, pp. 396-416.

Thursday, March 14

The Problem of the Free Will

Perry, pp. 417-426.

Mo, March 18 and Thurs, March 21

Spring Recess

Mo, March 25

Moral Philosophy: Utilitarianism

Perry, pp. 486-505.

Thursday, March 28

Mid-term Exam – in class.

Mo, April 1

Perry, pp. 512-528.

Thursday, April 4

Kant’s Moral Philosophy

Perry, 529-539.

Mo, April 8

Perry, pp. 539-545.

Thursday, April 11

Perry, pp. 546-551. Recapitulation: Utilitarianism versus Deontology.

Mo, April 15

Contemporary Moral Philosophy

Perry, pp. 598-611.

Thursday, April 18

Perry, pp. 654-668.

Mo, April 22

Perry, pp. 668-678.

Thursday, April 25

Plato’s Republic

Perry, pp. 679-698.

Mo, April 29

Perry, pp. 709-713. Plato’s Cave Narrative, xerox.

Thursday, May 2

Review of Moral and Political Philosophy

Perry, pp. 747-752.

Mo, May 6

Perry, pp. 753-769.

Thursday, May 9

Comprehensive Review Session

Course Assignments

There will be two in-class exams – one mid-term and one final.

Class participation will be counted toward computation of the final grade.

There will be no surprise quizzes.

You are allowed a maximum of two absences without permission.

Grade Computation

Mid-term Exam [in class]: 40%

Final Exam [in class]: 35%

Reaction Paper: 15%

Class Participation: 10%

Statement on Disabilities

If you have any special needs – physical, health-related, or learning-related – contact me, so we can make appropriate arrangements.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. I will let you know when my office hours will be held. I will be also available to meet you by appointment. Good luck.

On-Line Texts

The Cave Allegory from Plato's Republic
Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy
On Kant's Philosophy
On Utilitarianism
Philosophy Site
Proper Style for Term Papers