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PH 316 Philosophy and Skepticism
Clark, Kenneth W.


PH 316 Philosophy and Skepticism

Fall 2005

August 23-December 13, 2005

Tuesdays and Thursdays

10:10 a.m. to 11:25 a.m.

PREREQUISITE(S): None

CREDIT HOURS: 3

Instructor: Ken Clark, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor of Philosophy

FACULTY OFFICE HOURS: after class Tuesdays and Thursdays

913-334-9441

Kenneth.Clark@park.edu

kclark18@earthlink.net

 

Mission Statement 

The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.

Vision Statement 

Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.

COURSE TEXTBOOK(S): Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll, Skeptical Philosophy for Everyone, Amherst, New York, Prometheus Books, 2002

COURSE DESCRIPTION: An approach to Western philosophical thought by examining the use, meaning and tradition of skepticism within the philosophical tradition. Beginning with the Greeks and then focusing on the radical skepticism of the Hellenistic period, attention will be paid to how skepticism has shaped Western philosophical thought through figures such as Empiricus, Montaigne, Descartes, Hume, and selected contemporary thinkers. Particular attention will be paid to skepticism in ethics, politics, religion, literature, and scientific inquiry.

FACULTY’S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY: A collaborative study of the scholarship of the subject matter between professor and students will be emphasized. Socratic method of posing questions and seeking answers best fits courses in both philosophy and skepticism, and will be utilized in class. A critical inquiry calls on students to be regular in attendance and to come prepared for class ready to discuss and evaluate the assigned material. Brief lectures with maximum time allotted to discussion of assigned material is desirable. Appropriate testing in philosophy is essay in format over questions we spend time discussing in class. A major research paper allows the student to peruse a topic relevant to our subject and of interest to that student.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

1. To understand why people philosophize

2. To learn the six ingredients of a philosophical problem

3. To appreciate that philosophy deals with both practical and purely intellectual dilemmas.

4. To analyze the empirical and rational nature of skepticism.

5. To compare skepticism with science and common sense.

6. To explain Plato's rationalism and contrast his philosophy with skepticism.

7. To state Plato's and Socrates' response to the Sophists and Skeptics.

8. To contrast assertive and non-assertive skepticism.

9. To contrast radical and mitigated forms of skepticism.

10. To explain Descartes' method of doubt.

11. To explain and critique Descartes' metaphysics.

12. To understand the empiricist and skeptical theses of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

13. To critically appraise the theses of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

14. To make sense of Kant's answers to the empiricist tradition.

15. To critically appraise Kant's responses to Hume.

16. To examine two prominent twentieth century skeptics: Bertrand Russell and Jacques Derrida.

17. To critically examine G.E. Moore's "common sense view of the world".

18. To study Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Socratic methods.

19. To learn the monotheistic claims of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

20. To outline the differing views of Catholicism and Protestantism.

21. To interpret the additions to Judaism made by Christianity.

22. To evaluate the critical attack on religion made by skeptical philosophers.

23. To analyze the arguments for God's existence.

24. To examine religious beliefs based on faith.

25. To apply religious philosophy to problems posed by religious ideas.

26. To define and expose the assumptions of the moral model.

27. To study the support by moral dogmatists and the attack by skeptics of the moral model.

28. To understand the methods and moral doctrines of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle and the         responses to them by skeptics.

29. To examine religious based ethics and their skeptical challenges.

30. To critically appraise the modern ethical theses of Kant and Utilitarianism.

31. To apply ethical philosophy to dilemmas presented by ethical issues.

32. To discuss the different views on who should rule, systems of justice, freedom of speech, classified information, and modern democracy.

33. To examine the skeptical response to various issues in political philosophy.

34. To apply political philosophy to problems posed by political ideas.

35. To make sense of the debate between Popkin and Stroll supporting and rejecting skepticism respectively.

36. To apply philosophical skepticism to additional philosophic issues and problems.

COURSE ASSESSMENT: Four essay exams will be submitted over material in the text, additional assigned readings and lectures, worth 100 points each. Class attendance, contributions to discussion and class participation will receive a possible grade of 100 points. A ten-page research paper will be assigned comparing and contrasting a philosophical dogmatist and philosophical skeptic in their analysis of a philosophical idea. A rough draft with outline and works cited page (with at least three outside sources along with our textbook) for this paper will be worth 50 points possible, and a final draft with outline and works cited page will constitute 100 points possible. Be sure to save copies of your research paper to disk or hard drive, and print out paper copies for backup purposes. Opportunities to share these papers in class will be encouraged for additional credit.

GRADING PLAN:

Exams #1= 100 points possible.

Exams #2= 100 points possible.

Exams #3= 100 points possible.

Exams #4= 100 points possible.

Attendance, class participation = 100 points possible.

Research Paper Rough Draft (including outline and works cited) = 50 points possible.

Research Paper Final Draft (including outline and works cited) = 100 points possible.

Scale: 90% = A, 80% = B, 70% = C, 60% = D.

LATE SUBMISSION OF COURSE MATERIALS: Delays in taking make-up exams, for whatever reason, or research papers submitted late will receive a reduced grade.

CLASSROOM RULES OF CONDUCT: Come to class on time and stay for the full class period. Pagers and cell phones are to be turned off during class time. Contact your instructor either by e-mail or phone as early as possible if you need to miss a class or have a scheduling conflict. Make-up exams will only be given for excused absences. Delays in taking exams or papers turned in late will result in a grade penalty.

COURSE TOPICS/DATES/ASSIGNMENTS:

Week

Date

Topics/Assignments

1

8-23, 8-25

Chapter One:

"Why Do People Philosophize?"

2

8-30, 9-01

Chapter Two: "Does Anyone Ever Know Anything" pages 35-58

3

9-06

9-08

Exam#1: Chapters 1 & 2 Chapter 3: pages 59-79; Descartes - Locke.

4

9-13, 9-15

Chapter Three: pages 79-100; Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

5

9-20, 9-22

Chapter 4: pages 103-142

Russell through Derrida

6

9-27, 9-29

Exam #2: Chapters 3 &4.

Chapter 5: pages 145-168

Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

7

10-04, 10-06

Chapter 5: pages 168-187

Proofs of God’s existence, Fideism.

8

10-11, 10-13

Chapter 6: pages 189-228 Moral Model, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle

9

10-18, 10-20 (Oct. 15-23)

Fall Break.

10

10-25, 10-27

Chapter 6: pages 228-244 Religious Ethics, Kant &Utilitarianism

11

11-01,

 

11-03

Chapter 6: Further Issues in Ethics (Readings to be determined)

Exam #3: Chapters 5, 6 and Further Issues.

12

11-08, 11-10

Chapter 7: pages 245-267 Political Philosophy

13

11-15, 11-17

Chapter 7: Additional Issues in Political Philosophy (Readings to be determined).

Rough Draft of Research Paper, with outline and works cited page are due.

 

14

 

11-22

 

Chapter 8: Skepticism Today, pages 291-323

14

11-24 (11-24-11-27)

Thanksgiving Recess

15

11-29, 12-01

Additional Issues in Skeptical Philosophy (Readings to be determined).

16

12-06, 12-08

Final Drafts of Research Paper, with Outline and Works Cited page due.

Class Presentations of Research Papers

17

12-13

Exam #4: Chapters 7,8 and Additional Readings

     
     
     
     
     
     

ACADEMIC HONESTY: "Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life." Park University 2005-2006 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-87

PLAGIARISM: "Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another’s idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing." Park University 2005-2006 Undergraduate Catalog Page 85-87.

COURSE POLICY ON PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism in the research paper may result in an "F" grade without the opportunity to correct the paper.

UNIVERSITY ATTENDANCE POLICY:

Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.

Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.

In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "WH".

A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.

Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.

Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

NOTE: Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

Park University 2005-2006 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89

COURSE ATTENDANCE POLICY:

A grade will be recorded for attendance and participation in class discussions. Unexcused or excessive absences will effect the student’s grade. Contact your instructor either by phone or e-mail as soon as possible when you must miss a class. Make-up exams will be allowed for excused absences only. Delays in taking make-up exams will be penalized with a reduction in grade.

DISABILITY GUIDELINES: Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University’s policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all learners that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to learners concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University’s policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding learners with disabilities and, to the extent of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University’s policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: http://www.park.edu/disability .

COPYRIGHT NOTIFICATION: This material is copyright and can not be reused without author permission.

Note: A syllabus is not a contract and is subject to change at the discretion of your instructor.