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:
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, and the objectivity of the moral law. We will cover a good part of the book, from the beginning to the end.
You'll do READINGS by the assigned dates. Nearly all of our readings will be from the Anthology of Catholic Philosophy, which you should buy and always bring to class. I'll display homework assignments each class and also put them on the Web at: http://www.harryhiker.com/hw
You'll give MINI-REPORTS on some readings. An assignment might say "Felix - objections to Christianity (Smith-Jones 63-65)"; this means that Smith and Jones will prepare the section on pages 63-65. I'll ask one of the students things like "Could you summarize this section for us?" or "What do you think of these ideas?" Graduate students may have more mini-reports. Your class participation, mostly mini-reports, counts for 20 percent of your grade.
You'll write a PAPER (due Nov 16) of at least 8 pages in length (12 pages for graduate students) on a topic that I approve in advance (by Nov 9). I'll tell you more about the paper later. This paper counts for 20 percent of your grade.
You'll take three 10-minute ORAL EXAMS (Sep 24-25, Nov 2-3, Dec 3-11); I'll tell you more about the orals later. Each oral counts for 20 percent of your grade.
I'll use this grading scale: A = 90s or above (90-92 = A-), B = 80s (87-89 = B+, 80-82 = B-), C = 70s (77-79 = C+, 70-72 = C-), D = 60s (67-69 = D+), F = 50s or below. To figure out your COURSE AVERAGE, write your numbers for class participation, the paper, and the three orals - and then divide by five.
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 course average. You can be excused for university functions. 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're undergraduate and 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're graduate or take the course as PHIL 444, then you must do a paper of at least eight pages on a topic that connects with logic and 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're graduate or 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. E-mail me your scores 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.