Syllabus contents:

Course Description

Assignments and Grading Policy


Class Schedule and Required Readings

Department of Philosophy Policies


Writing Checklist

PHIL 100  Introduction to Philosophy
Quarter 2012


Instructor: Prof. Michael Rosenthal
Office: Savery 364
Office Hours: Tuesdays11am-12pm; Thursdays 2-3pm; and by appointment.
E-mail: rosentha@u.washington.edu
Phone: (206) 685-2655

Class Meeting Times and Location:
MWF 11:30-12:20am (Gowen 301)


AA TTh 10:30-11:20 WFS 105 (M. McClain)

AB TTh 10:30-11:20  MLR 411 (C. Schimke)

AC TTh 11:30-12:20  CHL 105 (M. McClain)

AD TTh 11:30-12:20 CMU 120 (B. Schwartz)

AE TTh 11:30-12:20  DEN 314 (E. Springfield)

AF TTh  11:30-12:20 LOW 114 (C. Schimke)

AG TTh 12:30-1:20 SAV 168 (B. Schwartz)

AH TTh 12:30-1:20 SAV 155 (E. Springfield)

TA E-mail  Addresses:

Meghan McClain:  mcclm@uw.edu
Chris Schimke:  schimke@uw.edu
Ben Schwartz:  bhs3@uw.edu
Eric Springfield:  espringf@uw.edu

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with several of the major themes in classical Western philosophical thought and to provide an overview of their historical development.  What is real?  What can we know?  What is the basis of a good life and a just society?  We will examine these questions and various answers to them through reading excerpts from the works of some of the great philosophers in chronological order, from the ancient to the modern period.  We will also pay particular attention to the different styles and methods of philosophical argument.  Students will be encouraged not only to master the material itself but also to develop their own critical and philosophical skills.  The format of this course will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. 


Assignments and Grading Policy

Participation:  There are several basic skills involved in philosophy, including reading critically, writing argumentatively, listening carefully, and talking constructively about ideas.  If you do not attend class and section regularly you will not be able to participate and develop some of these skills, especially listening and talking.  Lack of participation may affect your final grade in a variety of ways.  All assignments will be given out in class.  I will not send you assignments via e-mail.  If you miss class you will have less time to prepare your assignments. You will be less prepared to write your papers and take the final exam.  You may well miss the section quizzes and so receive a lower score on this assignment as well.  It is in your interest both in terms of your grade and your education to participate regularly in class. 

Grading System:  Below are listed the graded assignments.  The papers, exams, and quizzes, will be graded on the basis of points, which will add up to a total of 400.  The skills assignments will only be graded as satisfactory or unsatisfactory but you must complete satisfactorily at least three of them to pass.  You have the option of completing six assignments for extra credit.  The grading scale for each paper and the final exam, as well as the conversion scale for the final point total will be posted on the course website.   Click here for tenative grading scale.

1) Papers:  You will be required to write two short papers (5 pages each).  For each paper you will be able to choose between two or three assigned topics.  The first paper will be due at the beginning of your section on Thursday, October 18th.    The second paper will be due at the beginning of your section on Tuesday, November 13thNo papers will be accepted via e-mail or fax.  More detailed instructions will be provided with the paper topics approximately two weeks before the due date of each paper.  Each paper will be worth 100 points, i.e., 25% of your final grade.  Together, both papers will be worth a total of 200 points, or 50% of your final grade.  To pass this assignment you will need 106 points total for your two papers.

2) Skills Assignments:  Most weeks I will present a basic philosophical technique or concept and you will be given a relatively simple assignment to test your understanding of it.  Each assignment will be given out in class on Friday and due at the beginning of your section on Thursday.  The due dates for these assignments are noted in the schedule below.  No assignments will be accepted via e-mail or fax.  Late assignments will not count for your total.  Each assignment is worth 10 points for a total of 50 points, i.e., 12.5% of your final grade.  You have the option of completing all six assignments.  If they are all satisfactory, then you will receive an additional 10 points in extra credit.  To pass this assignment you need a minimum of 30 points.    

3) Section Quizzes: Every week in your section, sometimes on Tuesday, sometimes on Thursday, there will be a brief quiz, consisting of two questions concerning the text being discussed that day.  There will be no make-up quizzes except under the following circumstances:  (1) illness supported by doctor’s note; (2) death in the family.  Each quiz question will be worth 2.5 points for a total of 50 points possible over the quarter, i.e., 12.5% of your final grade.  To pass this assignment you need a minimum of 26.5 points.

4) Final Exam:  On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 2:30-4:20 pm in Gowen 301, there will be a required final exam.  The exam will cover all material in the course, though it will be weighted with questions concerning texts and lectures during the last several weeks of the course, and will be based on lectures and assigned readings.  The exam will consist both of multiple-choice type questions and some short essay questions as well.  The exam will be worth 100 points, i.e., 25% of your final grade.  To pass this exam you will need at least 53 points.

This class is a “W” designated course.  If you successfully complete these assignments and if you are taking this course for a grade (and not satisfactory/non-satisfactory S/NS), then you will satisfy the requirements for the University Writing Requirement.  For more information on this requirement, see:  http://www.washington.edu/uaa/advising/degreeplanning/writreqs.php.  

Important Notes: 

1) Passing and Failing.  In order to pass this class, you must achieve the following minimal standards:  (a) you must have a minimum total of 215.5 points; and (b) you must pass three of the four categories of assignments.  The minimum required to pass each assignment is noted above.  Please note that the mere completion of the assignments does not guarantee that you will pass the course.  They have to meet the minimum standard of quality set by the instructors.  If you have enough total points to pass but do not pass three of the four categories of assignments, you will fail the course, i.e., receive a grade below 0.7, which is the minimum required to receive credit.  In addition, as noted below, if you are found to have cheated on any assignment, you will be given 0 points for that assignment and also fail the course.  Absolutely no exceptions will be made to this policy.

2) Academic Misconduct.  Cheating in any form (including plagiarism, of course) will result in automatic referal to the Dean’s office.  If you are found to have cheated on any assignment, you will be given 0 points for it and also fail the course.  You are assumed to understand the university rules concerning inappropriate academic conduct, including what constitutes plagiarism.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the instructor or the TAs.

3) Classroom Behavior:

  • Please make every effort to arrive in class on time.  If you know you may be late, please notify the instructor ahead of time.  Please do not leave the class before the period is over.  If you have to leave the class early, please notify the instructor ahead of time.  Please wait for the lecture to end before you pack your bag to leave.  I will make every effort to end at the moment the period ends.
  • You are expected to treat the instructor and your fellow students with respect.  That means, among other things, not interrupting, shouting at, or demeaning other people. 
  • You are required to turn your cell phones or other electronic messaging devices off during the class period.  If a cell phone goes off in class, you can either give it to me for the duration of the class, or you will be asked to leave the class immediately. 
  • The use of a laptop in class is also strongly discouraged, except in the case where it accomodates a disability (see below).  If you do need to use a laptop, you should use the first or second row on the right side (facing the board) of the class.  If you use your laptop in another section of the class you will be asked to turn it off or move to the appropriate section.  If you have to use a laptop and you are found to be engaging in an activity unrelated to the class, you will be asked to either hand the laptop to the instructor for the duration of the class or you will be asked to leave the class immediately. 
  • Please note that these are not exhaustive guidelines.  Other forms of disruptive behavior will not be tolerated.

Disabled Student Services.  If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).  If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me within the first week of the course so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class.



Required text available in the University Bookstore:

-Classics of Western Philosophy, 7th edition, ed. Steven M. Cahn, Hackett Publishing Co., 2002 (ISBN:  0-87220-859-1).


Class Schedule and Required Readings

Note:  (1) Please remember that although I have tried to be as specific as possible this schedule is only a guide.  (2) I reserve the right to get behind or go more quickly through the readings or even change them.  (3) Please read the whole week’s assignment before the first class of each week and then re-read each assignment before each class.  (4) All page numbers refer to the required text.  (5) Bold text reminds you of due dates for assignments.

Week 1 – The Life & Death of Socrates

9/24     What is Philosophy?

9/26     NO CLASS

9/28     Plato, Apology (29-41)

Week 2 – The Life & Death of Socrates

10/1     Plato, Apology (29-41) & Plato, Crito (42-48)

10/3     Plato, Crito (42-48) & Plato, Phaedo (49-81)

10/4     [Skills Assignment #1 – Argument – due in section]

10/5     Plato, Phaedo (49-81)

Week 3 – Aristotle and the Idea of Virtue

10/8     Nicomachean Ethics, Book I, (260-269)

10/10   Nicomachean Ethics, Book II-III, (269-282)

10/11   [Skills Assignment #2 – Definition & Analysis– due in section]

10/12   Nicomachean Ethics, Books X (303-312)

Week 4 – Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God

10/15   Anselm, Proslogion, Gaunilo’s Reply, and Anselm’s Reply (413-433)

10/17   Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Question II (450-453); Question XIII, XIX, & XII (454-461)

10/18   [First Paper due in section]

10/19   Meditation Preface & I (484-492)

Week 5 – Descartes’ Meditations

10/22   NO CLASS

10/24   Meditation II (492-496)

10/25   [Skills Assignment #3 – Dilemma – due in section]

10/26   Meditation III (496-503)

Week 6 – Descartes’ Meditations

10/29   Meditation IV (503-506)

10/31   Meditation V (506-509)

11/2     Meditation VI (509-516)

Week 7 - Hume

11/5     An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Sections I-IV (763-776)

11/7     An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Sections V-VII (776-792)

11/8     [Skills Assignment #4 – Counterexample – due in section]

11/9     An Enquiry…, Sections VIII, X, XII (792-802, 804-815, 822-828)

Week 8 – Kant’s Moral Philosophy


11/13   [Second Paper due in Section]

11/14   Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Preface and Section I (981-991)

11/16   Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II (991-1011)

Week 9 – Mill’s Utilitarianism

11/19   Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Section II (991-1011)

11/20   [Skills Assignment #5 – Reductio – due in section]

11/21   Utilitarianism, Chapters I-II (1058-1071)


Week 10 – Nietzsche’s Critique

11/26   Utilitarianism, Chapters III-IV (1071-1078)

11/28   Utilitarianism, Chapter V (1078-1090)

11/30   Twilight of the Idols (1100-1114)

Week 11 – Conclusion and Review

12/3     Twilight of the Idols (1100-1114)

12/4     [Skills Assignment #6 – Irony – due in section]

12/5     Twilight of the Idols (1100-1114)

12/7     Review Session

<>FINAL EXAM:  Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 2:30-4:20 pm, GWN 301.




 Last Updated:

Contact the instructor at: rosentha@u.washington.edu