Professor Talbott                                                                                               Autumn 2012

Office:  Savery 387                                                                                           Philosophy 410A:   

Phone:  543-5095                                                                                              Social Philosophy

Email:                                                                                 TTh: 1:30-3:20 pm

Office Hours:  Thurs. 3:30 – 4:30                                                                     SAV 136

and by appointment                                         




PHILOSOPHY 410A.  Social Philosophy:  The Priority of Liberty (5 Credits/“W” Course)


            Disability Resources For Students.  If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS), 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).  If you have a letter from DRS indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class. 


            I. Course Goals:  In spite of the best efforts of many governments to prevent it, liberty, especially negative liberty, is expanding all over the world.  In this course, we do two things:  (1) Investigate the most significant philosophical explanations and defenses of schemes of negative liberty; (2) Apply the philosophical theories to difficult issues concerning liberty, especially issues concerning freedom of speech and paternalism.  This course is intended to help you to develop the ability to read and comprehend difficult philosophical texts and to improve your expository and critical writing. 


II. Course Readings.  There are three required texts, one course reader, and three readings available on Electronic Reserve.  Texts.  The texts and reader are available for purchase at the University Book Store:  Judith Jarvis Thomson, The Realm of Rights (RR); John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (OL); and John Rawls, Political Liberalism (PL).  There is also an additional Course Reader. 


            III. Course Requirements:


            1. CLASS PREPARATION AND ATTENDANCE.  The class meets TTh from 1:30 to 3:20 pm.  Everyone is expected to do the assigned readings in advance and to attend and to participate in the discussion.  See the separate handout of Course Readings and the Study Questions posted on the PHIL 410 Web site.  Class participation can improve your grade but cannot lower it. 


            2.  EMAIL.  I will send out important class and individual messages to your U.W. email account.  You should check that account regularly.  I also encourage you to use email to contact me.  My email address appears above.  I usually answer email messages within 24 hours during the week and within 48 hours on weekends and holidays.


3. END-OF-CLASS QUESTIONS.  (1-5 Points Each).  At the end of each class, except the day of the midterm exam and the original position assignment, you will be asked to give a written answer to a question based on the readings or the discussion in lecture.  These assignments will provide practice for writing answers to exam questions.  Answers to end of class questions may not be turned in late, unless the absence is excused.  If you are present or have an excused absence and receive less than 1/2 credit for your answer to an end-of-class question, you may resubmit for up to 1/2 credit.  All answers to end of class questions for excused absences and all resubmits must be received before the term paper deadline.


            4. MIDTERM EXAM.  There will be a Midterm Exam (worth 100 points) in class on Tuesday, Oct. 30.  A list of potential exam questions will be distributed in class on Thursday, Oct. 18.  The actual exam questions will be selected from the list.  Please bring a pen and blank exam books with no pages missing to the exam. 


            5.  PAPERS.  (a) Paper #1, a 6-8 page paper on Thomson (110 points).  See the instructions for Paper #1 on the PHIL 410 Web page. 

            (b) Term Paper (270 Points).  The term paper replaces the final exam.  See the instructions for the term paper on the PHIL 410 Web page.  

            There is a separate handout of Paper Guidelines.  Please make sure you review the Paper Guidelines before turning in your papers.  PAPERS THAT DO NOT COMPLY WITH THE GUIDELINES WILL BE PENALIZED.  Undergraduates—especially those who have not taken an upper level philosophy course before—are encouraged to have a draft of your paper read by one of the tutors in the Philosophy Writing Center (SAV 362). 


            IV. Extensions Of Time.  Extensions of time should be requested in advance of the deadline. I am quite willing to grant finite extensions of time, especially for the term paper. Unexcused, late work will be penalized.  However, late work still earns partial credit.  All late work must be submitted before the term paper deadline.   I DO NOT INTEND TO GRANT ANY INCOMPLETES, EXCEPT IN CASES OF GENUINE EMERGENCIES. 


            V. Course Web Site.  All handouts, transparencies, discussion questions, paper topics, and end-of-class questions will be available on the course Web site (see URL above).  So if you are ever absent, you can check the course Web site to find out what you missed.


            VI. Academic Integrity. Whenever you turn in any assignment in this course, the understanding is that what you are turning in is your own original work, except to the extent that you explicitly credit others for their contributions. You have an obligation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, by always attributing any argument or idea that you have borrowed, even if you have modified it, to its source.  The source may be written or oral.  For example, if an argument was suggested by a fellow student, include that information in a footnote.  If it is determined that there has been cheating that involves one student copying another's work on an assignment or exam, if both students were aware of the copying, both will receive zero credit for the assignment or exam, in addition to any other sanctions that might be imposed.


            VII. Grades.  Grades will be based on total points (out of a total possible of approximately 530 points) as follows:  In-class assignments (approx. 70 points); paper #1 (110 points); midterm exam (100 points); and term paper (270 points).  Grades are based on total points earned, as follows:  96% = 4.0; 95% = 3.9; 90% = 3.5; 80% = 3.0; 65% = 2.0; 50% = 1.0.  Your contribution to discussion in class can improve your grade, but cannot lower it.


            VIII. Course Evaluation.  Thursday Dec. 6 in class.  The course evaluation is your opportunity to evaluate my performance and to provide suggestions for improving the course.



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