Class: PHL100 Problems of Philosophy
Classroom: Mahar 122
Class time: MWF 9:10 am - 10:05 am
Class final: TBA
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office Hours: MF 1:45 -- 3:00 p.m. and by appointment
This class is an introduction to philosophy. We will explore a few of
the questions that are central to philosophy. The goal is to become
familiar with some of the concerns, techniques, and accomplishments of
philosophy as a tradition and discipline.
These questions will be:
- Can we have certain knowledge?
- Can we prove there is a god?
- Is the mind a kind of body (probably mostly brain) activity?
- What is a person?
- Are you free?
- Does the universe, or do at least you, have a purpose?
There is one book that you are asked to purchase and which is required for this
Rene Descartes, Meditations
We will read also many other things, but these other texts will be
made available on the web, as electronic texts, or as handouts. Please do
not take this course if you are unwilling to read and grapple with difficult
We are going to go see two plays, also. You will be asked to watch a movie
or two in addition.
Assignments and exams
There will be assignments built around each of our themes that include
answering questions about the readings; short papers; and other kinds
of exercises. You can expect 1 or 2 short assignments per week.
There will also be two exams.
If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your
ability to successfully complete any of the assignments of this
course, please contact the Disability Services Office.
The raw grade will be determined in roughly the following way:
See my grading policy for a brief note
on how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.
Class exams: 40% (20% each)
If you miss an exam and have an excused absence for the day you miss
the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you
are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange
any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the
exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I
cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the
Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification
with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical
visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting
events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in
writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must
notify the Philosophy Dept. secretary, Jane Santore, before you are
going to be absent, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at
x2249. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of
the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a
request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your
information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my
phone or email for some reason.
Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before
the end of the semester I recommend that you ask me to review the
grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any
College Policy on Intellectual Integrity
Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to
individual growth and development through college course work. When
academic dishonesty occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously
undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these
reasons, any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and
is therefore prohibited.
The full intellectual integrity policy can be found at
In addition to the listed office hours, I encourage you to make
appointments. I am available quite a bit; the only problem is that
I tend to have lots of irregular meetings so it is hard for me to promise
a reoccuring time. That just means if you want to meet Wednesday or Tuesday,
write me an email.
Please try to come to office hours with specific questions in mind.
You can of course come with a general request for help, but it is
always helpful if you spend a little time thinking about how I can
best help you out.
By the end of this class, you should understand and be able to explain:
- Deductive and inductive arguments;
- Valid and sound deductive arguments;
- Reductio ad absurdum arguments, and how to structure one;
- Rationalism and empiricism; foundationalism, coherentism;
- The "cogito ergo sum" argument;
- The historical attempts at a proof of the existence of
God from reason alone, with recognition of some of the
- A "philosopher's god";
- The problem of free will, and libertarian and
- Dualism and physicalism in the philosophy of mind, and
example applications like the problem of consciousness;
- The problem of personal identity (over time),
and Locke's solution, and challenges to Locke's solution;
- The problem of teleology.
I will frequently update an online schedule of readings and
assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for
the class at least every other day!