PH101 Intro to Philosophical Thinking

for F2HH 2005

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Course Number and Title: PH 101, Introduction to Philosophical Thinking (GE)

Instructor: Dr. David K. Vaughan

Telephone: (H) (937) 427-1552; (C) (937) 304-9068


Term: Fall II (17 October-18 December) 2005

Class Meeting Time: Thursday evenings, 5:30-10:30 PM

Course Description.  An entry into Philosophy by one of two routes: an exploration of philosophical problems through reading and discussing selections from the great thinkers, or a lecture-discussion survey of philosophy conceived in the broadest fashion. No prerequisite. 3 credit hours.

Faculty Educational Philosophy. The instructor’s educational philosophy is to establish an atmosphere of interaction in the classroom and to encourage interest and enquiry towards the subject.

Course Learning Outcomes. The course is intended to familiarize students with the logical methods and developments in philosophy associated with established philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Mill, Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Neitzche, and Kuhn. Areas of philosophic theory include ethics, social philosophy, political philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophies of science, art, and religion. At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to: recognize the distinctive styles and modes of expression of the philosophers studied in the course; show the derivations and interrelationships of major philosophical ideas; identify and describe the basic issues associated with individual philosophic topics; describe and understand the following terms: metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, categorical imperative, utilitarianism, social determinism, existentialism; demonstrate acceptable proficiency in developing and expressing the processes and results of logical reasoning.

Course Text. The course text is Robert Woolf, About Philosophy (9th ed), published by Pearson/Prentice Hall (2006), and associated learning tools. Abbreviated in the course schedule as AP.

Course Policies. Class sessions will consist of a combination of lecture, class discussion, and exercise sessions. Students are expected to arrive promptly and remain in class for the full period of time. Only official travel or illness are considered excused absences, both of which must be supported by written documentation. According to long-standing Park University policy, two consecutive unexcused absences will result in administrative withdrawal from the course with a resulting grade of "F." Students should notify the instructor if they expect to be absent from class, and they should arrange to obtain information and instructions pertaining to class assignments which were given out during their absence. Plagiarism (the intentional use of the work of others without giving appropriate acknowledgment) will result in course failure and the possible expulsion from Park University. Course written assignments will be word-processed, double-spaced, with a title page showing name, date, course, and paper title. Homework, papers, or tests completed late will be penalized 10% of the earned score unless absence was excused.

Faculty members are expected to dismiss from their classrooms students whose behavior is detrimental to good order in the classroom. Such behavior includes, but is not limited to, the use of abusive or obscene language, attending class under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or otherwise disrupting the learning experience in the class. Students who are dismissed from class may be given failing grades, suspension, or expulsion from Park University. Cell phones and pages should be turned off while class is in session.

Class Schedule and Assignments.

Date Topic Assignment Homework

Question due

20 Oct Introduction AP, Ch 1 (pp. 1-45) No

27 Oct Philosophy of Art AP, Ch 7 (pp. 356-390) #1

03 Nov Philosophy of Science AP, Ch 4 (pp. 140-176) #2

10 Nov Theory of Knowledge AP, Ch 2 (pp. 46-90) #3

Metaphysics AP, Ch 3 (pp. 98-131)

17 Nov Review; Midterm Exam No

24 Nov Ethics AP, Ch 5 (pp. 190-244) #4

01 Dec Social / Political Philosophy AP, Ch 6 (pp. 288-341) #5

08 Dec Philosophy of Religion AP, Ch 8 (pp. 404-449) #6

15 Dec Review; Final Exam No

Course Requirements. The grade in the course will be derived from grades earned on the following assignments: Midterm Examination, 25%; Final Examination, 25%; Course Paper, 15%, Homework, 30% (6 x 5%); Class participation, 5%. A numerical scoring system will be used with scores corresponding to letter grades as follows: A = 90.00 - 100; B = 80.00 - 89.99; C = 70.00 - 79.99; D = 60.00 - 69.99; F = 59.99 and below. The course grade will be a letter grade based on the weighted average of points earned on course assignments.

Late Submission of Course Materials:  Homework, papers, or tests completed late will be penalized 10% of the earned score unless absence was excused. 

Classroom Rules of Conduct: Classes will consist of lectures, class discussion, and exercise sessions.  Students are expected to arrive promptly and remain in class for the full period of time.  Only official (work-related) travel or illness (with doctor's slip) are considered excused absences, which must be supported with written documentation. 

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 pages 85-87. 

Attendance Policy:  Students who are absent will lose class participation points unless absence is excused.  All assignments are to be turned in or all points will be lost for the assignment.  See Park University administrative office for current policies regarding Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration benefits. 

Disability Guidelines: Park University classes are designed to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.  Further information can be found at





PH 101

Introduction to Philosophical Thinking

Course Handout

Homework Questions

Instructions: Answer each of the following questions with well-supported but concise 1-page essay answers (typed, double-spaced). Work for clarity and precision of expression.

Homework Question #1 (due on the second class meeting): What is Plato's basic complaint about art and why was he so adamant about it?

Homework Question #2 (due on the third class meeting): What was the central idea of Francis Bacon's statements about the importance of the observation of nature and why was it so revolutionary?

Homework Question #3 (due on the fourth class meeting): What does epistemology mean and why is it so important to the study of philosophy?

Homework Question #4 (due on the sixth class meeting): Identify and discuss two significant objections to Bentham's doctrine of Utilitarianism.

Homework Question #5 (due on the seventh class meeting): Identify and discuss the most important problem with Rousseau's concept of the social contract.

Homework Question #6 (due on the eighth class meeting): Which of the three arguments for the existence of a God presented in the text is the most convincing and why?


Course Paper

The course paper will be a 5-6 page paper (typed, double-spaced) in which you discuss some aspect of philosophical thought. It may describe an important current (or historical) philosophy; it may describe how a particular philosopher developed his or her particular philosophy; it may describe a current ethical or social issue. Past topics include justifying/attacking high salaries paid to sports/entertainment figures; the ethics of lotteries; epistemology in modern life; how to make Rousseau relevant again; clashing theological philosophies; and a philosophy of personal living. The paper should include at least three sources and include a recognized documentation method (MLA/APA/CMS).