Introduction to Philosophy
Prof. K. DeRose
T, Th 11:30-12:20, WLH 208; disc 1 HTBA
Course Description: An introduction to philosophy that seeks to familiarize the students with the general nature of the philosophical enterprise through an investigation of such topics as skepticism, the nature of the self, freedom and determinism, and the existence of God. The intent is to engage in – as opposed to merely learn about – philosophical thought.
Discussion Sections: Discussion sections should begin during the third week of classes. Sign-up for sections should be during the second week of classes. Attendance at discussion sections is mandatory.
Instructor’s Office hours: Tu 12:30-1:30; Th 9:30-11:00; CT 107
Books: The following book is required and should be available at Book Haven (290 York Street):
- M: Peter van Inwagen, Metaphysics, Second Edition, Westview Press, Dimensions of Philosophy Series, 2002
Written Work. Written requirements will consist of an in-class test (on Oct. 16) a paper (6-8 pages, typed, double-spaced, due Dec. 2 at the start of class), and a final examination (Dec. 18, at 2 PM).
The Oct. 16 test will be on the material covered in lectures and the readings through Oct. 14. It will consist of essay questions about this material. Students will have to answer either two or three questions in blue books provided. The questions will not be distributed in advance. If we start getting ahead of the posted schedule or start falling behind it, the test will still be given on Oct. 16, and will be on the material actually covered through Oct. 14, not the material that was scheduled to be covered at that time.
Information on the papers, and the first possible paper topics, will be distributed on Sept. 11. Other topics from which students can choose will be announced as the semester progresses.
The final exam will consist of essay questions. A list of questions will be distributed on Dec. 2, and the questions that actually appear on the final will be taken from that list. The final will be cumulative, covering the lectures and readings of the whole semester, but will emphasize the material covered after the Oct. 16 test.
Other course requirements: Attendance at lectures and discussion section.
Grading. Grades will be based roughly on the following formula, though allowances will be made for insightful classroom and section participation and for marked improvement over the course of the semester: Test: 25%; Paper: 40%; Final Exam: 35%. Lecture and section attendance are mandatory, and repeated unexcused absences are grounds for the lowering of one’s grade and, in severe cases, for failure — even if one’s written work is good.
Topics and Readings (dates tentative):
Introduction: Sept. 4
PvI, Chapter 1 M, pp. 1-18
Objectivity: Sept. 9, 11
Alan Sokal, "Transgressing the Bondaries: JSTOR link, pp. 217-224; html link. Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity": read the opening and the first three sections.
PvI, Chapter 5 M, pp. 73-85
Descartes & Skepticism: Sept. 16, 18, 23, 25, 30
Descartes, Meditations I-VI html link.
DeRose, "Descartes, Epistemic Principles, html link. Epistemic Circularity, and Scientia"
DeRose, "How Can We Know That We're Not html link. Brains in Vats?"
Berkeley & Externality: Oct. 2, 7, 9, 14
A Treatise concerning the Principles Past Masters, under Berkeley Works, vol. 2; of Human Knowledge, Part I, sects. 1-156 also available on-line here and here.
PvI, Chapter 3 M, pp. 42-55
Test: Oct. 16
The Nature of People: Dualism, Physicalism, and Personal Identity: Oct. 21, 23
PvI, Chapter 11 M, pp. 187-201
God: Ontological Argument: Oct. 28
PvI, Chapter 6 M, pp. 91-114
God: Cosmological Argument: Oct. 30
PvI, Chapter 7 M, pp. 115-134
God: Design Arguments: Nov. 4, 6, 11
PvI, Chapters 8 and 9 M, pp. 139-165
Free Will, Determinism, and “Scientiphicalism”: Nov. 13, 18, 20, Dec. 2*, 4
*Papers due Dec. 2, at start of class
PvI, Chapter 12 M, pp. 202-217
(Note: Unger, "Free Will and Scientiphicalism" is no longer assigned, but if you want to read it anyway, it should still be here: pdf.)