of the syllabus
Course: Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Daniel Immerman
MWF 5:05 - 5:55 in 206 DeBartolo
Office: 109 Malloy
Office hours: 1:15 - 3:15 on Monday or by appointment
You do not need to purchase any texts for this class; all readings will
be available on the website.
course will introduce students to some of the topics that philosophers
discuss and to some of the ways they go about discussing them. We will
look at various texts, both historical and contemporary, focusing on
the following questions:
- When is it ok, if ever, to disobey the law?
- Do humans have free will?
- What is the meaning of life?
- What is art?
- What is beauty?
- Is it rational to have emotional responses to fiction?
- Is evil incompatible with God's existence?
- What does it mean to say God is all-powerful?
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
- What makes up my identity?
In this course you will:
- Become familiar with the main branches of philosophy and several
particular debates within philosophy.
Improve your ability to identify an author's claims, arguments, and
objections in a text, to restate them in your own words clearly and
precisely, and to state and evaluate responses to them.
- Learn how to identify a philosophical topic you are interested in,
find others who have written on it, identify a research question
related to it, and write a paper on it.
- Work out for yourself your own position on several of the debates we
order to ensure that these goals are achieved, you will need to do your
part. In particular, many of the course goals require you to develop
your philosophical skills, which in turn requires practice.
- With each reading assignment, I will provide some questions for you
to think about as you do the reading. Answering these questions will
help you hone your philosophical skills.
- In addition to practicing these skills at home, you will also be
practicing them in class. To accommodate this, the classes will not
have much lecturing in them. Because most of the time spent in class
will be time when you are talking, it is integral that you come to
class prepared and participate in class discussions.
Here is the breakdown of grades in the class:
- During the first two thirds of the
course, I will assign mini papers, which will usually be about a page.
Together these will be worth 30 percent of your grade in total. I will
drop your lowest mini paper grade.
- During the second half of the course, you will be working on a longer
paper, which will ultimately be at least 1500 words. I will not assign
a topic, instead, you will be responsible for selecting it. Early in
the second half of the semester (November 4), you will turn in a short
document called a prospectus that will describe the topic you have
chosen, some relevant readings, and what you plan to argue in your
paper. This prospectus will be graded pass/fail/didn't turn in and
worth 2 percent of your grade.
- Near the middle of the second half of the course (November 23), you
will turn in a rough draft of your paper. This will be graded
pass/fail/didn't turn in and worth 2 percent of your grade.
- The final draft of the paper will be due near the end of the semester
(December 13), and worth 35 percent of your grade.
- On at least ten days in the
semester we will have pop quizzes. There won't be any before the third
week of the semester. The material on these will come from that day's
readings plus material from previous classes. They will be worth 10
percent of your grade in total. They can't be made up, but if you miss
one because of an excused absence, I'll drop that one from your grade.
I will drop your lowest pop quiz grade.
- You will give a short
presentation on one of the branches of philosophy. This will be graded
pass/fail/didn't give and worth 2 percent of your grade.
- I will also be grading you
based on participation. I will pass out a rubric on the first day that
indicates what you need to do to get a good participation grade.
Participation is worth 15 percent of your grade. I'll check in with you
regarding how you're doing on participation at some point in the middle
of the semester, but you should also feel free to contact me at any
point if you want to know how you're doing on participation.
- Sometimes during class I'll have you jot down answers to questions
regarding what you've learned in the last week's debate, how your
skills are developing, what questions you yourself have going forward,
etc. For each one, failure to turn it in will result in 1 point off
your participation grade, unless you have an excused absence.
- Two times during the semester, once near the middle (October 14) and
once at the end (December 9), I will have you write a brief paper
outside of class reflecting on your progress. These papers will be
graded pass/fail/didn't turn in and worth 2 percent of your grade each.
I will be using a 15 point scale:
15 = A
14 = A-
13 = B+
12 = B
11 = B-
10 = C+
9 = C
8 = C-
6 = D
3 = F
0 = Didn't turn in
I may on occasion give
assignments a 16, which would correspond to an A+, or a 17, which would
correspond to an A++. (The highest final grade I can give is an A).
rounding: when calculating your final grade, if the first decimal of a
grade is 5 or higher, I will round up, and if it is 4 or lower, I will
round down. So e.g. an average of a 9.499 is a C, while an average of a
9.500 is a C+.
Dame students are expected to abide by Academic Code of Honor Pledge.
"As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not participate in or
tolerate academic dishonesty." The university academic code of honor is
available at http://honorcode.nd.edu.
philosophy department also has a document on plagiarism, which is
available at http://philosophy.nd.edu/assets/77703/plagiarism.pdf?.
I take issues of plagiarism very seriously. If you're ever in doubt
about an issue in this area, please come talk to me.
If you think you might need an accommodation because of a disability,
you can contact me privately. Please also contact the Office of
Disability Services. Their contact information is available at http://disabilityservices.nd.edu/about/contact
I don't take off points for attendance, but
missing class without having a valid excuse will keep you from being
able to complete certain in-class assignments, e.g. pop-quizzes, that
may affect your grade.
will not accept late mini papers because we will be discussing them in
class. This includes papers that you printed but forgot to hand in,
papers you meant to email but forgot to attach to the email, email
attachments that are corrupted, etc. (When you email me papers, I
always email back to confirm that I've gotten it.) But you can turn in
one other paper up to 48 hours (2 days) late with no penalty to your
grade. In particular, you can use this for your prospectus, rough
draft, final draft, or one of the two longer reflection papers. If you
turn in further late items, I will take off 1 grade point for every day
it’s late (see grading scale). I don't round down on days. That means
that if you turn in a paper an hour late, that counts the same as
turning it in 23 hours late.
Reading Drafts of Papers
will read as many drafts of papers as you care to send me, with the
following exceptions. I will not read a draft turned in less than 48
hours (2 days) before the paper is due. Also, if I send a draft with
comments back to you, you should wait at least 48 hours (2 days) before
sending me a new draft to look at.