PH316 Philosophy & Skepticism

for SP 2007

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PH 316 Philosophy and Skepticism


SP 2007 HO


Clark, Kenneth W.


Adjunct Faculty


Ph.D., Philosophy, Southern Illinois University
M.A., Philosophy, University of Kansas
B.A., Philosophy, Kansas State University at Manhattan

Office Location


Office Hours

As per appointment

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

Jan.19-May 11

Class Days


Class Time

12:25 - 1:40 PM

Credit Hours



Richard H. Popkin and Avrum Stroll, Skeptical Philosophy for Everyone, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2002.

Other materials as assigned.

Additional Resources:
Study questions handed out in class.

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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 Sextus Empiricus, Montaigne, Descartes, Hume, and selected contemporary thinkers. Particular attention will be paid to skepticism in ethics, politics, religion, literature, and scientific inquiry. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
     Student learning is facilitated by maximizing participation in classroom discussions.  Therefore, lectures are kept at a minimum and study questions over reading assignments will form the primary basis for reviewing the material assigned to the students.  Students also benefit from writing essays over philosophic questions, so essay exams will be our exam mode.  Moreover, a research paper encourages the students to study an issue of interest in greater depth, and so a paper over a subject consistent with skeptical philosophy and mutually agreed upon by student and instructor will be required.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. To study the great ideas of the history of philosophy & skepticism.
  2. To review the critical ideas within the main branches of philosophy.
  3. To learn of the contributions to thought of skeptical thinkers.
  4. To develop the student
Class Assessment:
     Students will be assigned readings and given questions to answer both for class discussion and testing.  Participation in discussion will be credited.  We will schedule four essay exams spaced roughly equally through the term.  In addition, a ten-page research paper, including outline and works cited page,  will be assigned.


  • Attendance and participation will receive a maximum grade of 100 points.
  • 4 essay exams will be scheduled, each worth a possible 100 points.
  • A research paper over a mutually agreed upon topic in skeptical philosophy in worth a possible 150 points, 50 points for a first draft and 100 points for  a final draft.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
     A make-up exam for an excused absence will be permitted within a three-day period after the exam is scheduled.  Late drafts of research papers will be penalized 5 points per class after which they were due.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:
    Students are expected to come to class on time and stay for the full period.  Books and notes are to be brought each class period.  Reading assignments and study questions are to be completed before the class for which they are due. Participation in discussing study questions over the readings assigned is expected.

January 19 Friday

Syllabus explained

Reading Assignment: pp 11-21

Introduction to Text, Euthanasia

Jan. 22, Monday

Introduction to Text, Euthanasia

Assignment: pp 21-33

6 Ingredients of a Philosophy Problem

Jan. 26, Friday

6 Ingredients of a Philosophy Problem

Assignment: pp. 35-43

Is Radical Skeptcsm Believable

Jan. 29, Monday

Is Radical Skeptcsm Believable

Assignment: pp.43-57

Plato's Theory & Ancient Skepticism

Feb. 2, Friday

Plato's Theory & Ancient Skepticism

Assignment: pp.59-71

Descartes' Method of Doubt

Feb. 5, Monday

Descartes' Method of Doubt

Assignment:Review for Exam I

Review pages 11-71

Feb. 9, Friday

Exam #1

Assignment: pp.71-83

Locke and Berkeley
Research Topic Due

Feb. 12, Monday

Locke and Berkeley

Assignment: pp. 83-93

David Hume

Feb. 16, Friday

David Hume

Assignment: pp. 94-100

Immanuel Kant

Feb. 19, Monday




Feb. 23, Friday

Immanuel Kant

Assignment: pp. 103-121

Bertrand Russell & G.E.Moore

Feb. 26, Monday

Bertrand Russell & G.E.Moore

Assignment: pp. 122-142

Wittgenstein & Jacques Derrida

March 2, Friday

Wittgenstein & Jacques Derrida

Assignment: Review for Exam #2

Review pages 71-142

March 5, Monday

Exam #2

Assignment: 145-156

Religious Skeptcsm
Judeo-Christian Att

March 9, Friday

Religious Skeptcsm
Judeo-Christian Att

Assignment: pp. 156-168

Pagan Philosophers

March 11-18




March 19, Monday

Pagan Philosophers

Assignment: pp. 168-187

Cosmo& Ontological

March 23, Friday

Cosmo& Ontological

Assignment: pp.189-204

Morality and Skepticism

March 26, Monday

Morality and Skepticism

Assignment: pp. 205-219

Socrates & Plato

March 30, Friday

Socrates & Plato

Assignment: pp. 219-228


April 2, Monday


Assignment: Review for Exam #3

Review pp 145-228
First Drafts Due

April 6, Friday




April 9, Monday

Exam #3

Assignment: pp.228-244

Religious Ethics
Two Modern Theories

April 13, Friday

Religious Ethics
Two Modern Theories

Assignment: pp 245-253

Who Should Rule?

April 16, Monday

Who Should Rule?

Assignment: pp 254-263

Skeptcal Considertn
America & France

April 20, Friday

Skeptcal Considertn
America & France

Assignment: pp.263-274

Systems of Justice
Freedom of Speech

April 23, Monday

Systems of Justice
Freedom of Speech

Assignment: pp.274-289

Classified Info
Modern Democracy

April 27, Friday

Classified Info
Modern Democracy

Assignment: pp. 291-323

Skepticism Today

April 30, Monday

Skepticism Today


Final Draft Due

May 4, Friday

Papers Shared

Assignment: Review for Exam #4

Review pp 232-323

Exam #4 (To be Scheduled 5/7-5/11)

Exam #4
Papers Returned.



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 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87-89

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 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

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

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. 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 "W".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Park University 2006-2007 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90
7. Report absences ahead when possible and refer to assignment schedule in syllabus for work missed.

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. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .

Additional Information:
This syllabus is not a contract.  It is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.


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Last Updated:12/7/2006 9:40:40 PM