Phil 1000: Intro to Philosophy

Fall 2013

Course Syllabus

Schedule and Readings (Subject to Change)

Unit #1: Epistemology, Logic and Critical Thinking

M, Aug 26

Lecture Topic: About this course—An Intro to Intro to Philosophy
No reading assignment

W, Aug 28

What is Philosophy and Why Study It?
Reading:  Russell, “The Value of Philosophy” 

F, Aug 30

Fallacy Friday (every Friday)
Critical Thinking
Haskins, “A Practical Guide To Critical Thinking
Suggested Film: "Sherlock Holmes"

M, Sep 2

Labor Day- No Classes!

W, Sep 4

 Critical Thinking (continued) – no new reading

F, Sep 6

Logic (soundness and validity)
Reading: Layman, “Logic” 
Suggested  humorous reading: Dave Barry “How to Win an Argument

M, Sep 9

Logic continued
Reread: Layman, “Logic” 

W, Sep 11

Finish Logic, Overview of Philosophical Topics
Reading: Jim Pryor “Guidelines on Reading Philosophy

F, Sep 13

Campus closed- no class

M, Sep 16

Class cancelled due to flood

W, Sep 18

Descartes- Knowledge, Skepticism, and the Method of Doubt
Reading: Descartes, “Meditations on First Philosophy” Meditation 1
                       Suggested film: “Inception”

F, Sep 20

Descartes- Knowledge, Skepticism, and the Method of Doubt
Reading: Descartes, “Meditations on First Philosophy” Meditation 2

M, Sep 23

Skepticism- Do we know that we have a physical body?
Reading: Pollock, “A Brain in a Vat” 
Required film: “The Matrix”” (Available under "Week 4" on D2L site)

W, Sep 25

What is knowledge?
Readings: Baker, Knowledge as Justified True Belief
Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

Unit #2: Metaphysics

F, Sep 27

Finish Knowledge Readings

M, Sep 30

Personal Identity
Parfit, “Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons
                       Suggested film: “Blade Runner”

W, Oct 2

The Mind-Body Problem- What is the mind, and is it non-physical?
Reading: Churchland, “The Ontological Problem” (p.7-21)
                       Suggested film: “Freaky Friday”

F, Oct 4

The Mind-Body Problem (continued)
Reading: No new reading

M, Oct 7

The Mind-Body Problem (continued)
Reading: Churchland, “The Ontological Problem” (p.23-35)

W, Oct 9

No new required reading
                       Suggested film: “Transformers”
Optional fun reading: Matt Pike’s Transformers paper: “Can Metal Be Mental?

F, Oct 11

The Mind-Body Problem (continued)
Reading: Churchland, “The Ontological Problem” (p.36-49)

M, Oct 14

Free will- Do we have it, or are our actions determined?
Reading: Van Inwagen, “Freedom of the Will
                       Suggested film: “Groundhog Day”

W, Oct 16

Free will (continued) – Reading TBA

F, Oct 18

Is time travel possible?
Reading: David Lewis, “Paradoxes of Time Travel
                       Suggested films: “Back to the Future”, “Primer”, "Harry Potter 3"

M, Oct 21

Review Day

W, Oct 23


F, Oct 25

God's Nature, Ontological and Cosmological arguments for God’s existence-
Reading: Pages 1-7 of 3 Arguments for God

M, Oct 28

Design Argument
Reading: Pages 6-10 of 3 Arguments for God

W, Oct 30

Finish "3 Arguments for God" Reading

F, Nov 1

Exam Review/Fine-Tuning
Optional Reading: Collins "The Fine-Tuning Design Argument"

M, Nov 4

Pascal's Wager
Reading: Chad Vance- Notes on Pascal's Wager

W, Nov 6

The Problem of Evil argument against God’s existence
Reading: Tooley, selections from “The Problem of Evil
                       Suggested film: “Star Trek T.N.G.: Q Who” (or any episode with Q)

Unit #3: Values/Ethics

F, Nov 8

Problem of Evil- continued

M, Nov 11

No new reading.

W, Nov 13

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

F, Nov 15

Cultural Relativism
Reading: Rachels, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism"
                       Suggested film: “Apocalypto”

M, Nov 18

Readings: Mill, “Utilitarianism” excerpt
Greene, “Moral Dilemmas and ‘The Trolley Problem’”
                       Suggested film: “Sophie’s Choice”

W, Nov 20

Utilitarianism (problems)
Reading: Rachels “The Debate over Utilitarianism
                       Suggested film: “The Village” or any of the “Saw” series

F, Nov 22

*****PAPER DUE*****
Utilitarianism, Objections and Deontology
Reading: start Rachels, Chapter 9 "Are There Absolute Moral Rules?"

M, Nov 25

Fall Break, No Classes

W, Nov 27

Fall Break, No Classes

F, Nov 29

Fall Break, No Classes

M, Dec 2

Reading: Rachels, Chapter 9 & 10 "Absolute Moral Rules/Kant Respect for Persons"
                       Suggested film: "Cabin in the Woods" or “Watchmen”

W, Dec 4

Finish Deontology, start Applied ethics- World hunger
Reading: 1st half of Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality

F, Dec 6

Applied ethics- World hunger (continued)
Reading 2nd half of Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality

M, Dec 9

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

W, Dec 11

The Meaning of Life (continued)
No new reading required
Optional Reading:  Nagel, “The Absurd
                        Suggested film: “I (heart) Huckabees”

F, Dec 13

Finish Meaning of Life
Suggested film: “Monty Python and the Meaning of Life”    

Final Exam              On official day scheduled by Registrar’s office (posted in your


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!

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