Gensler's Philosophy Courses
In this course, we'll wrestle with some of the deepest questions of life, learn to think better about morality, and sharpen our general thinking skills.
Our text is Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction, second edition, by Harry J. Gensler (Routledge 2011).
Our course has four parts:
You are required to:
I'll use this grading scale to convert numbers into letters: A = 90s (93 or above = A, 90-92 = A-), B = 80s (87-89 = B+, 83-86 = B, 80-82 = B-), C = 70s (77-79 = C+, 73-76 = C, 70-72 = C-), D = 60s (67-69 = D+, 60-66 = D), F = 50s or below.
Students seeking academic accommodations for a disability must in the first week meet with Services for Students with Disabilities (Sullivan 117) and then meet with me about accommodations.
The authors and readings give a sample of the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition. They emphasize central themes, such as the harmony of faith and reason, the existence and nature of God, the nature of the human person, the nature of being, and the objectivity of the moral law. We will cover a good part of the book, from the beginning to the end.
You are required to do assigned readings by the assigned dates. Most or all of our readings will be from the Anthology of Catholic Philosophy, which you should buy and always bring to class. I'll update homework assignments each class and put them on a Web page (in case you miss class or are unsure of assignments):
You will be required to prepare some selections more thoroughly and give mini-reports about them. A typical assignment might say "Felix - objections to Christianity (Smith-Jones 63-65)"; this means that these two students will prepare the section by Minucius Felix on pages 63-65, which gives objections to Christianity from the early Roman Empire. I will ask a random student from the two some questions about this section, like "Could you summarize this section for us?" or "What do you think of these ideas?" Your class participation, which mostly involves these mini-reports, counts for 20 percent of your grade.
There will be four 10-minute oral exams. I will give you more information on these later. Each oral covers a quarter of the course and counts for 15 percent of your grade.
A paper of 5 to 10 pages in length will be due. Papers can be on readings that we don't take in class - or, with approval, on any other topic. I want the paper in both printed and disk forms and will likely run the disk version through plagiarism software; lateness and plagiarism will be penalized. I'll give you an information sheet about the paper assignment later. The paper counts for 20 percent of your grade.
The final exam is like the other tests; it is a 10-minute oral, covers the last quarter of the course, and counts for 15 percent of your grade.
You are required to attend class. You can miss 5 classes without this itself hurting your grade (these 5 are for sicknesses, funerals, etc.). After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your final course average. Perfect attendance will add a four point bonus to your final course average.
No student use of electronic devices (phones, iPods, tablets, laptops) is allowed during class.
Students seeking academic accommodations for a disability must in the first week meet with Services for Students with Disabilities (Sullivan 117) and then meet with me about accommodations.
This course presumes no previous study of logic. If you've had a previous logic course (e.g., PHIL 174), then some of the beginning material should be familiar; but we'll cover these areas more quickly.
We'll have six half-period quizzes plus a comprehensive final exam (which counts as three quizzes). Missed quizzes count as zero. If you can't take a quiz on time, contact me before the morning of the next class and we might be able to set up another time; but you can't take a quiz after I hand them back. Cheating on a quiz will earn you a grade in the F range. I will use this grading scale: A = 90s (93 or above = A, 90-92 = A-), B = 80s (87-89 = B+, 83-86 = B, 80-82 = B-), C = 70s (77-79 = C+, 73-76 = C, 70-72 = C-), D = 60s (67-69 = D+, 60-66 = D), F = 50s or below.
If you take the course as PHIL 301, then you needn't do a paper. To figure out your grade, then write each quiz score, write the final exam score three times, drop the lowest number, and average the others. (So your lowest quiz drops if it's lower than the final; if the final is lower than any quiz, then it counts as only two quizzes.)
If you take the course as PHIL 444, then you must do a paper of at least eight pages on a topic that I approve in advance; you are to meet with me to help plan your paper and relate it to your interests. You might, for example, take one of the Chapters 16 to 18, begin with a short summary of the chapter, and then go into a more specific topic. Chapter 16 is about history of logic, from Aristotle and traditional logic, through the emergence of classical symbolic logic in Frege and Russell, and then into recent work. Chapter 17 is about deviant logic, including multi-valued logic, paraconsistent logic, intuitionist logic, and relevance logic. Chapter 18 is about philosophy of logic, which deals with epistemological and meta-physical issues about topics like abstract entities, the justification of logical laws, the nature of truth, and the scope of logic. Or you might do something in inductive logic (Chapter 5), or you might use logical tools to analyze arguments in some area or figure that you're interested in (see the end of Chapter 4). Again, see me about topics.
If you take the course as PHIL 444, then your paper counts as three quizzes. To figure out your grade, then write each quiz score, write the final exam score three times, write the paper score three times, drop the lowest number, and average the others. (So your lowest quiz drops if it's lower than the final and the paper; if the final is your lowest score, then it counts as only two quizzes; if your paper is the lowest score, then it counts as only two quizzes.)
You'll do much of your homework on computer using the LogiCola program. Download LogiCola from http://www.harryhiker.com/lc. Send me your scores by e-mail when you take the corresponding written test; I won't accept scores after I return the quiz. Try to do the exercises at an average level of 7 or higher (levels go from 1 to 9). Your exercise scores add a bonus or penalty to your exam score. Let's say your average level (dropping fractions) is N. You get a +1 bonus for each number N is above 7; so you get a +2 bonus if N=9. You get a -1 penalty for each number N is below 7; so you get a -3 penalty if N=4. If you fake scores, your course grade will be lowered by one grade.
You're required to attend class regularly. You can miss 5 classes without this itself hurting your grade (these 5 are for sickness, funerals, etc.). After that, each unexcused absence subtracts one point from your final course average. You can be excused for university functions. Perfect attendance will add a four point bonus to your final course average.
Students seeking academic accommodations for a disability must in the first week meet with Services for Students with Disabilities (Sullivan 117) and then meet with me about accommodations.