Dr. Shannon Kincaid's SS-610 Course Page

Introduction to Philosophy

SS610-sections: C,D, & E (3 credit hrs)

Shannon Kincaid, Ph.D.

Spring Semester, 2004

Course Description:

This course is designed as an introduction to the philosophical approaches to questions concerning the nature of knowledge, existence, and human values. Through the use of classical and contemporary texts, students will be introduced to some of the major theoretical approaches to epistemology, metaphysics, ontology, and axiology. Students will also develop their capacity to analyze abstract concepts, to think critically about philosophic problems, and to write clearly.

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand historical and contemporary approaches to philosophic analysis and judgment
  • Apply effective critical thinking strategies
  • Differentiate among various epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological doctrines
  • Critically analyze the complex philosophical assumptions underlying contemporary social and political issues
  • Research and debate complex philosophical issues
  • Understand the basic framework for effective argumentation

Required Textbooks and Readings:

  • Abel, Donald C. 2003. Fifty Readings in Philosophy (Second Edition). New York, McGraw Hill.
  • Approximately 2 copies of the New York Times
  • Other short essays and handouts will be provided in class or on the course website

Course Requirements:

Areas Points
1 Midterm Examination 25
1 Final Examination 25
1 journal (8 1-2 paragraph entries) 10
1 Term Paper (6-10 pages) 30
Attendance and Class Participation 10
Total Points: 100 Points

Polices on Grading and Attendance:

  • Attendance is MANDATORY. Unexcused absences (after 4) will be assigned a five percent reduction in the overall course grade.
  • Please be punctual, as excessive lateness will be penalized. Every two “latenesses” will be counted as one absence.  Also, any student who is more than 15 minutes late for class will be marked as absent.
  • There will be NO late assignments accepted without a written excuse.
  • Readings MUST be completed prior to class. The instructor reserves the right to conduct periodic checks (including random checks of individual preparedness, as well as short, unannounced quizzes) to ensure required readings are completed on time.
  • All essays (both on exams and in written assignments) will be graded on argumentative clarity and structure, use of assigned readings in citation and reference, and effective responses to potential objections. Cheating and plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated.
  • Students are expected to participate in classroom discussions and debates. Failure to do so will result in grade reductions assigned at my discretion.
  • Disruptive behavior (lateness, lack of respect for other students and their ideas, cell-phone use, failure to follow basic rules of classroom etiquette) will NOT be tolerated.

Course Outline: (See course schedule for dates of readings and discussions)

  1. Course Introduction
    1. What is Philosophy?
    2. Argumentation and Logic.
    3. Relativism, Culture, and Philosophy.
  2. Epistemology
    1. How Do We Know?
    2. Theories of Knowledge: Rationalism, Empiricism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism.
  3. Metaphysics
    1. What is the Nature of Reality?
    2. The Existence of G-d.
  4. Axiology
    1. Theories of Ethics
      1. Deontological Ethics
      2. Consequentialism
      3. Virtue Ethics
    2. Crtiques of Traditional Ethical Theories
      1. Feminsim, Pragmatism, and Relativism Revisited
    3. Social and Political Philosophy