Phil 1000: Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2015

Course Syllabus

Schedule (subject to change!)

Below is a tentative schedule of what topics we will cover, and what reading(s) you should complete BEFORE each class meeting.

T, Aug. 25

Lecture Topic: About this course—An Intro to Intro to Philosophy
Reading assignment: None

R, Aug. 27

A Brief Intro to Philosophy and its Methods
Reread course syllabus
Read: T.I.P. (This Is Philosophy) “Preface”
Required Video (1.5 hrs)- History of the World

T, Sep. 1

Critical Thinking
Reading: Haskins “Critical Thinking” (all pdfs available on course website)
Short Video:
Suggested film: Idiocracy

R, Sep. 3

Logic (soundness and validity)
Reading: Layman, “Logic Ch.1” 
Suggested  humorous reading: Dave Barry “How to Win an Argument
Suggested TV show: “Sherlock” or “Elementary”

T, Sep. 8

Logic- Continued
Re-read: Layman, “Logic Ch.1” 

R, Sep. 10

Epistemology- Truth, Evidence and Knowledge
Reading: T.I.P. Chapter 7, part I (p. 223-246)    
Suggested film: “Inception”

T, Sep. 15

Knowledge, Skepticism, and the Method of Doubt
Reading: Chapter 7,  part II (p. 246-262)
Suggested Reading: Descartes, “Meditations on First Philosophy” meditations 1-2
Suggested film: “The Matrix"

R, Sep. 17

Knowledge and Skepticism (continued)
Reading: Pollock, “A Brain in a Vat
Suggested reading: Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”
Suggested film: “The 13th Floor”

T, Sep. 22

Free will- Do we have it, or are our actions determined?
Video: Sam Harris- Free Will (1hr- not required to watch Q&A)
Suggested Reading:  TIP Ch. 4
Suggested film: “Groundhog Day”

R, Sep. 24

The Mind-Body Problem- What is the mind? How is it related to the physical body?
Reading: TIP Ch. 6 (p. 189 -202)
Suggested video: John Searle - Philosophy of Mind - Dualism, Descartes Legacy
Suggested film: “Freaky Friday”

T, Sep. 29

The Mind-Body Problem (continued)
Reading: TIP Ch. 6 (p. 202-217)
Suggested Video (22min): David Eagleman: Brain over mind?
Suggested film: “Transformers”
Optional fun reading: Matt Pike’s Transformers paper: “Can Metal Be Mental?

R, Oct. 1

The Mind-Body Problem (continued)
Re-read: TIP Ch. 6 (p. 202-217)

T, Oct. 6

Is time travel possible?
Reading: David Lewis, “Paradoxes of Time Travel
Suggested films: “Back to the Future” or “Primer”

R, Oct. 8

**MID-TERM EXAM** (35% of grade)

T, Oct. 13

Arguments for God’s existence
Reading: TIP Ch. 3 (p. 63-95)
Video: (Preview- 10min) The God Delusion Debate—Lennox vs Dawkins
Suggested videos: Lennox vs. Dawkins Debate- Has Science Buried God?
Lennox- God Does Exist
Suggested TV Show: Family Guy S8 Ep.1 "Road to the Multiverse"

R, Oct. 15

Arguments against God’s existence- The Problem of Evil
Reading: TIP Ch. 3 (p. 95-108)
Suggested Video (50 min): Dawkins- The Root of All Evil
Suggested TV Show: “Star Trek T.N.G.: Q Who” (or any episode with Q)

T, Oct. 20   

Finish Problem of Evil
Start Ethics/Values: Divine Command Theory
Reading: TIP Ch. 1 (p. 1-10)

R, Oct. 22

Mid-term exams returned
Divine Command Theory- Is God the source of morality?
Reading: Shafer-Landau, “Does Ethical Objectivism Require God?”

T, Oct. 27

Reading: TIP Ch. 1 (p. 11-24)

R, Oct. 29

Cultural Relativism (continued)
Reading: Rachels, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism
Suggested film: “Apocalypto”

T, Nov.3

Readings: TIP Ch. 2 (p. 27-42)
Video: “The Trolley Problem”
Suggested Reading: Mill- Utilitarianism (excerpt)
Suggested film: “Sophie’s Choice” or “Ender’s Game”

R, Nov. 5

Objections to Utilitarianism
Reading: Rachels “The Debate over Utilitarianism
Suggested TV show: “Dexter”

T, Nov. 10

Responses to Objections to Utilitarianism
Reading: re-read Rachels “The Debate over Utilitarianism
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
Optional Video: Sam Harris - What can science tell us about morality?

R, Nov.12

Reading: TIP Ch. 2 (p. 42-52)
Suggested film: “Watchmen”

T, Nov 17

Finish Deontology
Re-read TIP Ch. 2 (p. 42-52) on Deontology

R, Nov. 19

Virtue Ethics
Reading: TIP  Ch. 2 (p. 52-61)on Virtue Ethics
Short excerpt from Ben Franklin's Autobiography
Suggested films: Gandalf in “Lord of the Rings” or Dumbledore in “Harry Potter”
*****Homework assignment (given in class)*****

T, Nov.24

Fall Break- no class

R, Nov.26

Fall Break- no class

T, Dec. 1

Applied ethics- World hunger
Reading: Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality
Poverty Facts and Stats
Foreign Aid Infographic
Video: Singer on the Colbert Report 
**Homework Assignment DUE**

R, Dec. 3

The Meaning of Life
Reading: Taylor, “The Meaning of Life
Suggested film: “The Razor’s Edge”

T, Dec. 8

The Meaning of Life (continued)
Reading:  Nagel, “The Absurd
Suggested film: “Meet Joe Black”

R, Dec 10

Summary day: How should I live a good life?
Reading: United Nations: “Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Video: Randy Pausch- “Last Lecture”
Suggested film: “Monty Python and the Meaning of Life”


Exam date and time scheduled by Registrar’s office (posted in your mycuinfo)



Additional Resources for Students

Guidelines on writing a philosophy paper (J. Pryor)
Writing Philosophy Essays (M. Tooley)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Oh the power of learning philosophy...

7/3/19: I am thrilled to have accepted a position as an Instructor at the University of Colorado at Denver! I was extremely impressed by the students and community when last I was there, and am excited to be returning to now teach all the core classes for the UCD Philosophy of Science Minor!

5/6/16: I'm honored to be the first person to receive both the CU Boulder Philosophy Department Morriston Teaching Award (2016) and the University of Colorado-Boulder Graduate Teaching Excellence Award (2014-2015)! My thanks go out to the many great teachers and students with whom I've been lucky enough to learn!

Office Hours: By appointment
Location: Remote via Zoom

Please feel free to drop by with any questions, or simply to chat about philosophy, life, the universe and everything...

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