Marcy P. Lascano

Marcy P. Lascano

Introduction to Philosophy from Spring 2015

Course Description

This class is an introduction to philosophy concentrating on core issues in the field such as metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and logic.  The course will be conducted through lectures and discussion.

Course Learning Objectives

The course objectives are threefold: (1) to familiarize students with philosophical questions, major figures in the history of philosophy, and philosophical methodology; (2) to encourage and facilitate careful and thoughtful reading of text, including the identification of arguments; and (3) to improve critical thought and reasoning, including the evaluation of arguments.

Course Requirements

Exams (63%):

There will be three in-class exams. Each exam is worth 21% of your course grade (100 points each).  The exams will be a combination of multiple-choice and true/false questions regarding the readings, course lectures, films, and formal arguments.

Quizzes and Participation (21%)

Quizzes: There will be 11 online quizzes. These quizzes will be administered through Beachboard. The quizzes are on the course reading, and test your ability to identify philosophical theses, and understand key terms and dialectic. The quizzes are due BEFORE the class during which we will discuss the reading. This is to ensure that you are keeping up with the reading and coming to class prepared. The due by dates for the quizzes are listed on the course schedule. Ten quizzes will count toward your final grade (10 points each). If you take more than 10 quizzes, your lowest quiz grade will be dropped.

Film Guides/Responses (16%)

Film Guides/Responses: For each of the three films we watch in class, each student will be expected to turn in a completed film guide/response paper (25 points each). The film guides are due before the first class meeting after the completion of the film and must be turned into Dropbox on Beachboard. Film guides are graded credit/no credit. If you do not turn it in, if it is incomplete, if it does not makes sense, is unresponsive to the material, does not show thoughtful consideration, etc., you will not receive credit.

Missed Work:

In this course, documentation is required for each excused absence.  If you have a documented excused absence, notify the professor immediately.  How work will be made up will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

University policy on EXCUSED ABSENCES:

1.     Illness or injury to the student.

2.     Death, injury, or serious illness of an immediate family member or the like.

3.     Religious reasons (California Education Code section 89320).

4.     Jury duty or government obligation.

5.     University sanctioned or approved activities (examples include: artistic performances, forensics presentations, participation in research conferences, intercollegiate athletic activities, student government, required class field trips).

Lecture Topics, Reading Assignments, and Exams

January 21st – Introduction to Course, Syllabus, Course Expectations

Course Section 1: Why is there Something rather than Nothing?

January 26th  – “The Value of Philosophy” Bertrand Russell

January 28th – “Why Anything? Why This?” Derek Parfit QUIZ 1 DUE

February 2nd  – “The Wider Teleological Argument” Peter van Inwagen QUIZ 2 DUE

February 4th – “Problem of Evil” [Read 392-398 and 413-418 only] Eleonore Stump

February 9th  – Plato's “Timeaus” & John Leslie “A Cosmos Existing through Ethical Necessity” [Read 172 – end of first paragraph on 178 and 182 to 187 only] QUIZ 3 DUE

February 11th  – Film, Brian Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos, “Universe or Multiverse” Nova

February 16th  – Review for Exam 1 FILM GUIDE DUE


February 23rd  – Exam 1

Course Section 2: What is the Meaning of Life?

February 25th  – Film, American Beauty, the Meaning of Life, and Death

March 2nd  - Film, “American Beauty”

March 4th  -- “The Absurd” Thomas Nagel QUIZ 4 DUE/FILM GUIDE DUE

March 9th  – “The Myth of Sisyphus” Albert Camus

March 11th – “The Meaning of Lives” Susan Wolf QUIZ 5 DUE

March 16th – “Apology: Defense of Socrates” Plato

March 18th – “Death” Thomas Nagel  QUIZ 6 DUE

March 23rd – Review Exam 2

March 25th – Exam 2




Course Section 3: What is the Nature of Persons?

April 8th – “What is it Like to be a Bat?” Thomas Nagel QUIZ 7 DUE

April 13th  – “The Correspondence of Descartes and Elisabeth” Rene Descartes, Princess Elisabeth

April 15th  – “Against Substance Dualism” [read section 8.2 only] Patricia Churchland QUIZ 8 DUE

April 20th  – “A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality” First Night  John Perry

April 22nd  – “A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality” Second Night John Perry  QUIZ 9 DUE

April 27th  - “A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality” Third Night John Perry QUIZ 10 DUE

April 29th  – Film: Scenes from Back to the Future and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

May 4th – “The Paradoxes of Time Travel” David Lewis QUIZ 11 DUE/FILM GUIDE DUE

May 6th  – Review for Final Exam (Exam 3)

Final examination Wednesday, May 13, 2015 12:30PM - 2:30PM