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Syllabus: Philosophy 201—Introduction to Philosophy
Time: M/W 2:00 p.m.—3:50 p.m.
Class Location: Bldg. 5/Rm. 124

Instructor: Scott Dixon
Office: 1-319
Phone/Email: 909-869-4592/4766(Department Office)/
Office Hours: Mon. 12:45 p.m.—1:50 p.m., Wed. 12:45 p.m.–1:50 p.m., Fri. 7:30 a.m.--8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.--10:00 a.m.
    & by appt.
Course Website:

Required Texts

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, David Hume, Ed. by J. B. Schneewind, Hackett Pub.

Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes, Third Ed., Trans. by D. A. Cress, Hackett Pub.

The Handbook (Encheridion), Epictetus, Trans. by N. White, Hackett Pub.

Language, Truth and Logic, A.J. Ayer, Dover Pub.

Reader to be passed out that includes: John Wilson, Conceptual Analysis; Thomas Nagel, Subjective and Objective, Death;
Laura Ekstrom, Paradise Island;  Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus; David Hume, Suicide; St. Anselm, Proslogion;
St. Thomas Aquinas, The Five Ways; William Paley, The Design Argument; Ernest Nagel, Defending Atheism; Michael Martin,
The Scope of Nonbelief; C. Van Til, Why I Believe in God; Charles Peirce, The Fixation of Belief, How to Make Our Ideas Clear;
and Gilbert Ryle, Descartes' Myth.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to some of the basic issues in philosophy. Specifically, we will cover four main areas: logic, metaphysics,
epistemology, and ethics—all through original source materials. Philosophical movements to be presented and discussed include
idealism, rationalism, empiricism, pragmatism, ideal language, and ordinary language. Topics include: death, suicide, basic logical
notions, free will, determinism, subjectivism, skepticism, virtue, the existence of God, personal identity, the relationship between science
and philosophy, metaphilosophy, and the practical value of philosophy. Students will also learn a method of doing philosophy through
conceptual analysis.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students will have a good grasp of some of the significant issues and schools of thought in philosophy.
They will also improve their writing and reasoning skills, along with increasing their verbal articulation abilities.

Course Requirements

There will be three tests of competency.

 1. Essay Exam on Epictetus, Conceptual Analysis, Argumentation, and related issues. 60 points
 2. Essay Exam on Descartes, Ryle, Peirce, and related issues. 60 points
 3. Final Essay Exam on Hume, Ayer, and Metaphilosophy. 100 points

All exams are take-home. You will have at least one week to complete them. No late exams for full credit will be accepted without
prior approval. If you choose to turn it in late, you will be penalized one letter grade for everyday it is late (except for the Final
Exam which cannot be turned in late). All exams will be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and in a standard font—Arial,
Times New Roman, or New Courier. You will have your choice of a few questions. You should end up with about one typed page
for each question. If you want to work together on the exams, that’s fine—as long as you understand the following: just make sure
your work is not the same and is independent enough so that I don’t have any questions about who did it. IF you submit the same
exam as your partner(s), you will both/all receive failing grades for that assignment and possibly for the course.  Please see the
essay exam guidelines attached to the syllabus for further information.

For the remaining 135 points, the distribution is as follows:

5. In-Class Quizzes: I will give 5 in-class quizzes of which the 4 best will be counted. 4 @ 20=80 points. These quizzes will come
directlyfrom the course notes and my lectures. I will usually give an indication that there will be quiz the next class session. However,
if attendance is particularly poor on one day(s), those of you that come will be rewarded with an unscheduled, open-note quiz. I also
reserve the right to quiz more than once during any class period. There are no make-up in-class quizzes.

6. In-Class Group Participation: Regularly you will be put into groups to analyze a problem that is dealt with in that day’s lecture.
One member of the group will report to the class the consensus of the group’s discussion. Each member will report at least two times
during the quarter. Also, I may also meet with groups individually for intensive discussion following the normal group work. 30 points

7. In-Class Assignments: I will give a variety of in-class writing assignments to initiate philosophical thinking on your part. 20 points

8. The remaining points will be assessed on your contribution to the course outside of  the group work and the quizzes. 5 points

Total Possible for 1-6: 355 points

Grading Scale (tentative)
A: 90-100%                 D: 59-69%
B: 80-89%                   F: below 59%
C: 70-79%

Course Outline
 1) Introduction
 2) Metaphilosophy (Part 1)—General Introduction to Philosophy and Wilson
 3) Metaphilosophy (Part 2)—Stoicism, Rationalism, Pragmatism, Ordinary Language, Logical Positivism and Nagel on Sub./Obj.
 4) What is an Argument? An Introduction to Reasoning and Logic (QUIZ#1 ON LECS. 1-3)
 5) Epictetus on the Practical Value of Philosophy
 6) Epictetus and Ekstrom (QUIZ#2 ON LECS. 4-6)
 7) Epictetus and Camus/Nagel/Hume on Death/Suicide (Epictetus Exam Passed Out)
 8) Descartes, Med 1-3
 9) Descartes, Med 4-6 (Epictetus Exam Due)
 10) Peirce/Peirce  (QUIZ#3 ON LECS. 8-10)
 11) Ryle and the Linguistic Arguments (Descartes Exam Passed Out)
 12) Ayer, Ch. 1
 13) Ayer, Ch. 2 (Descartes Exam Due)
 14) Ayer, Ch. 3
 15) Ayer, Ch. 6, 102-114/Hume
16) Ayer Ch.6, 102-114/Hume (QUIZ#4 ON LECS. 12-16)
17) Anselm, Aquinas, Paley and Van Til
18) Ayer Ch.6, 114-120/Nagel and Martin
19) Ayer Ch.7 (QUIZ#5 ON LECS. 17-20)
 20)  Ayer Ch.8, Review, and Final Exam Passed Out

You have three options for turning in your final exam to me:
        1) Your final exam is scheduled for 6/10/2002 from 1:40—3:40 p.m. I will be in my office from 2:00—4:00 p.m. on that day if you
                would like to turn it in or if you have questions.
        2) You can also turn it in to me on 6/12/2002 between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. in my office.
        3) Or if you prefer to turn it in when I am not there, leave it with the Philosophy Dept. Secretary, Sue  Baird—make sure you
                get her to date and time stamp it. NO WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 12th.

Some Advice

This course looks easier than it really is especially the Epictetus, Ekstrom and conceptual analysis portions; however it requires
your constant effort. Many, if not all of you, will find Ayer, Hume, Peirce, and Ryle very difficult. I recommend reading each week’s
material at least once before class and at least once after class. While there is not a lot of reading required per class session, the
material is dense. Be prepared to struggle with it. Philosophy is difficult. To paraphrase P.F. Strawson, there is no shallow end of
the pool inphilosophy; it is all deep.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to come and talk with me. Make use of my office hours. Feel free to e-mail me with any
questions. Please do not hesitate to ask questions or stop me in-class when you do not quite understand something. It is trite, but true,
to mention that if you have a question, undoubtedly others do, so please ask it in class; the ensuing discussion will benefit us all.
There are no stupid or obvious questions. Indeed, the hardest questions are the most obvious.

Course and Classroom Conduct

Philosophy courses, in general, often contain discussions of issues where strong opinions are held.  I expect all students to be
respectful of each other and of the instructor. To this end, any disrespectful or inflammatory behavior will be dealt with immediately.
Repeated behavior of this type will result in the student being excused from the class and subsequently dropped from the course.

All students should familiarize themselves with the University policies on cheating and plagiarism found in the University’s Schedule
of Classes and Course Catalog. The instructor will not be held responsible for misunderstandings resulting from the student’s lack
of knowledge. Thus, it is imperative that each of you is aware of 1) what constitutes cheating; 2) what constitutes plagiarism;
3) the avenues of university response; and 4) your student rights.

Remember, if you are in doubt about citing a source, then you should cite it. Points are not taken off for citing a source, but not citing
a source can cause you to lose not only the grade for that assignment, but for the course as well. You are required to cite anything
used from the class notes. When in doubt, cite!

No late work will be accepted without prior approval of the instructor—and in general will not be granted. I will not provide class
notes to those that do not attend class in any form: paper or electronic. I will not e-mail in-class assignments, paper topics, or tests
to those that choose not to attend that session. If you are not here when I pass out the additional readings, you need to come to my
office to get them. It is your responsibility as a student to make sure you have what you need to effectively complete the course.
As well, extra-credit work will not be provided to make-up for missed assignments. I expect you to come to class on time, ready to
discuss the material, and stay for the full duration of time. lt will be difficult to pass this course if you do not attend regularly. So, if
you cannot attend on a consistent basis, you should take another course.

Finally, this is a writing intensive course. The vast majority of your grade will come from the three essay exams. If you are not a
good writer or have not had at least English 104, preferably English 105, this course may be very difficult. A good command and
facility with the English language is necessary to express the ideas of the course. If you have any doubts about your preparation,
please come talk to me early in the quarter.

Essay Exam Guidelines for Philosophy 201

1. Title page: Exam Topic, Student Name, ID#, Date, and Instructor Name

Plato Essay Exam


Cal Poly Student

ID: 000-01-0000
Date: 4/2/2002
Instructor: Scott Dixon

2. Number your pages in the following way: 1 of 2, 2 of 2. That way I know if something is missing. You can do it by hand.
    Don’t count the title page.

3. State the essay question you are answering.

1. What does Plato mean by anamnesis?

4. Answer the question. Try to be as clear as possible.

5. Any sources you use please cite in some form. If you use anything from the class handouts, you are required to cite them as well.
    It is good practice. Footnotes or endnotes are both acceptable.

1. Metaphilosophy class handout, pg. 2
2. Plato, Euthyphro, p. 29.
3. Hume, p. 15

6. Try to aim for about one full page per question unless otherwise stated.

7. Exams with too many grammar and spelling errors will be marked down. Use the grammar and spell check programs on your
computer, not to mention a dictionary. Also, make use of the writing center. There is no excuse for not improving your writing with
all of the resources available to you on campus. If you get your paper/exam done early enough, I will be glad to look it over and
make suggestions.

PHL201— Class Procedures, Additional Course Policies, and General Information


    The general format of the class period will proceed like the following:
          Lecture: 20-55 minutes
          Group Discussion: 15-40 minutes
         I ntensive Discussion (if necessary): 20-30 minutes

During my lecture I will go over and add to the handout that you should have downloaded from the web page. It is imperative that
you have the notes before class starts. Since I lecture for a relatively short period of time, you need to be to class on time; otherwise,
you’ll miss things you need to know for your exams and papers. You need to pay attention and be focused during the lecture
because you’ll miss the subtleties if you don’t.

During the group discussion, I will give you a problem or question to work on with your group. One person from your group will
report on your results when asked to. Every group member will report at least two times during the quarter.

During the intensive discussion, I will ask two-three groups to stay and we will consider the day’s problem or another problem
previously assigned in greater detail. This discussion period should be used to ask me any questions you have that you might not
feel comfortable asking in class. In order to show me that you've considered the question(s) assigned for your group, you are
required to turn in a typed paragraph. In addition, since I believe oral discussion is integral to any philosophical education, all students
will participate. It is not simply enough to think about philosophy, you also need to be able to articulate it to others.

I highly recommend you take the discussion portions of this course very seriously. You will learn a lot and it will carry over to the rest
of your Cal Poly education. Philosophy is hard to talk about and if you can do it in even the most minimal way that is intelligible, you
will gain a greater confidence to speak openly in other courses. More so though, if you’ve thought about something and talked
about it in detail, your testing and writing for this course will go much easier.

In the past, some students have chosen to leave daily after the lecture. Make sure you note that roughly 1/3 of your grade is
determined by participation in one form or another. Consistently, those that don’t participate in the group work have the lowest grades
in class. This is not only because they lose participation points but it shows in the lack of competency in their other work for the course.
Since I rarely keep a class for the full period, there is really no excuse for leaving early and not participating. To be clear:

I pass out supplementary readings for each section of the course. You should do your best to get through these readings, as you
will be tested on them. The readings will further your understanding of the primary texts and of philosophical issues in general.
I will go over these readings in class; however, given that they are primary source materials, they can be difficult.


One criterion for the satisfactory completion of the mandatory assignments includes meeting all of the ethical requirements of academic
scholarship. It is your responsibility as a student that you complete all assignments with respect to the rules regarding academic
misconduct. By failing to take this responsibility seriously, you will not only be penalized and failed for neglecting to complete the
assignment in an acceptable manner, but you will also subject to any appropriate penalty for academic misconduct. © J.A. Johnson

I don’t expect you to have original thoughts on the subjects of this course. However, what I do expect is that you are honest and
document your sources whether they come from my course notes, the textbook, the class readings, the Internet, or any other
secondary source. Cite the material and give the author his/her correct due. Taking someone’s work as your own is plagiarism
and as the paragraph above states, not only will I fail you for that assignment (and possibly the course), I will also turn it over to
Academic Affairs. The same goes for cheating in class during quizzes/exams. If you choose to try it, make sure it is worth possibly
ending your academic career at Cal Poly.

It is imperative that you have regular web access. I post class notes for every section of the course that you need to download.
The notes will help you understand the readings and with your exams. The notes are posted for a specific period of time and then
taken off of the site; thus, you need to download them while they are available. You should also check the site regularly--I would
recommend before every class. If for some reason I cannot make it, I will post it. Study guides for quizzes are posted if there is enough
class participation.


Make use of my office hours if you have questions. I’ll also make appointments if my hours don’t work for you. If you are a new Freshman,
a returning student, or someone who has avoided philosophy, I would especially like to speak with you about any concerns you might
have about the course or the subject. While the material in the course can be daunting, it is understandable with effort and time.
Feel free to e-mail me 24/7 if you have questions about anything.