Rowan University
Ellen Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy & Religion
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Office: 117 Linden Hall

Office Phone:  856-256-4835

Dr. Ellen Miller
Home Page
Curriculum Vitae
Current Courses
Introduction to Philosophy   (Mon. & Weds.)
Introduction to Philosophy   (Tuesday)
Introduction to Ethics
Philosophy and Gender


   Previous Courses

Contemporary  Moral Problems
Philosophy and Society
Logic of Everyday Reasoning
Feminist Theory
Western        Humanities

Library of Congress
Philosophy Library
Rowan University

Rowan Univ.
About The University
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Philosophy Dept.


Click Here for Assignments

Introduction to Philosophy (Tuesdays)


Click Here for Web Links


Review Descartes, Read Suzuki and begin Nochlin article for next week

 “Why Are There No Great Women Artists, by Linda Nochlin:Read 602-609 up until the “Question of the Nude”  Skim rest of the article, but concentrate on pages 602-609.

  Paper Assignment #2, Click

  Quotes on women and veiling in Islam: Click here

  Paper Assignment #1, Click here

Course Description and Objectives

Philosophy—what the heck is it and why might I want to read it?? Philosophy is the oldest discipline. Other disciplines in university originally were covered under philosophy: sociology, psychology, mathematics, communications, literature, even physics! One of the reasons I love philosophy is because it covers so many different areas of life. Even though philosophy is sometimes difficult to read and sometimes seems removed from everyday life—I try in my own writing and teaching to show how philosophy is relevant to the most important parts of life. Philosophy includes questions such as: what does it mean to lead an ethical life, how do my decisions affect others in the community, what role should the government play in our personal lives, does God exist, what truths might I learn from art, how is the mind related to the body, how do other cultures understand the world? Philosophical questions are all around us even in unlikely places: popular movies (one of my favorite places to look!), television (the Simpsons is actually a very philosophical cartoon), the media, our personal lives, our communal lives. In this class we will do a lot of reading and writing…and THINKING!! One of the most valuable aspects of this course is the opportunity to learn how to better express your own ideas, beliefs, viewpoints and to appreciate and articulate viewpoints that differ from your own. I am not here to persuade you of any particular belief but rather to help you better articulate your own beliefs and ideas. This is a valuable life skill that should help you in the workplace (it’s crucial to be able to express your views clearly and to understand other’s views in a fair manner) and beyond. I love philosophy and I love teaching—now all we need is your willingness to share your ideas, questions, and thoughts and this should be a wonderful class!

I have tentatively arranged the course to cover 6 areas: The Value of Philosophy, Morality, Philosophy of Religion, Political Philosophy, Metaphysics (the nature of the universe and the nature of the human person), and Philosophy of Art. Readings will be assigned for each of our class meetings. Please read the assigned material prior to our class meeting, as you will get more out of classroom discussions if you have already engaged with the issues addressed. There will be frequent informal writing activities in class as well as group work, and advance preparation is essential if we are to have enjoyable and productive classes together. Quality participation is not the same as talking a lot in class. Active listening to your peers is equally important to the learning process.

If you need an accommodation for any type of physical or learning disability, please come see me so we make any arrangements necessary.

  1. Texts (available in Rowan Bookstore)
  2. 1. Philosophy and Choice: Selected Readings from Around the World, 2nd edition, edited by Kit R. Christensen (PC)

    2. Anne Michaels Edwards, Writing to Learn: An Introduction to Writing Philosophical Essays (WL)

  3. Assignments and Grading
  4. Participation/In-class Writing/Group Work 10%  
    Weekly reading analysis and reflections (1-2 paragraphs each) 20% (collected randomly during class)See Ch3 WL
    Quizzes (In-class) Lowest will be dropped 10% These cannot be made up
    Philosophical Gifts 5% Gifts to be brought to class: newspaper clippings, notice of films relevant to course, music that has philosophical content relevant to course. These will help make the class more your own! Five per semester
    Short Paper #1 15% **** See below
    Short Paper #2 15%  
    Presentation and Paper based on Presentation: Philosophy Today—Application of class reading to a real life issue, concern, movie, book 25%  

    Details, Details, Details

    A. Class Participation

    You all have valuable and important insights to make to the course—The more you contribute to the class discussions, the more the course will become your own which is one of my goals as an instructor. Participation is a central part of the course. Participation is judged on 1). Students’ grasp of the assigned reading material; 2). their ability to apply ideas developed in the readings to new situations, including their own experience; and 3). their ability to listen to, and respond relevantly to, the comments of other students in the course. Students are expected to complete reading assignments prior to class and to make careful note of all class announcements. Students are expected to bring questions to class concerning aspects of the readings that are difficult (Questions are crucial for philosophy!!—I welcome them always!). There will be frequent in class writing assignments and group work. You will need to be in class in order to benefit from these activities and receive credit for them. These class activities cannot be made up. Respect for your classmates’ arguments and thoughts is required in all classes.

    B. Essays

    Specific instructions for papers will be given as the course progresses. Criteria for evaluation are indicated in this syllabus. Please read these carefully. There will be more discussion about suggestions for writing philosophy papers in class. The most important criteria used for evaluating papers will be the quality of argumentation, clarity, coherence, and creativity. Students are graded on their ability to present established views in their own words and articulate their assessment of those views. Those papers that display these attributes along with originality and creativity will receive the highest marks. I am never judging what your particular stance is on a given issue or whether your own views are the same as mine. I am concerned with how you articulate your own views.

    ****Students have the option of re-writing one of the position papers for the course. The re-write is due exactly one week after papers are returned. The grade for the two papers will then be averaged. Please note, a student’s grade on the re-write may go down as well as improve. For example, if a student receives a 60 on the paper and then re-writes and gets a 75, the overall grade will be 68.

  5. Reading and Writing (Please read carefully)
    1. Reading Skills

    By Rowan standards, this course is reading and writing intensive. The course fulfills a writing intensive requirement for graduation. Reading the required articles should by your first priority. That is, it is better to read and reread the course texts than to seek out lots of secondary literature. The first assumption in this regard is that you are capable of reading and comprehending 30-40 pages per week. This requires that you possess a college level vocabulary and that you exercise good thinking skills. You will need to read and re-read material sometimes in order to understand the views/language being presented. I will do all I can to adjust assignments according to class needs. Although technical terms peculiar to moral philosophy and ethics will be explained by the instructor, students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the meanings of new terms and concepts encountered in the readings. In this connection, every student should own a comprehensive collegiate dictionary (i.e.: Merriam Webster’s or The American Heritage College Dictionary. In addition there is a Dictionary of Philosophy included in our assigned course texts. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy has concise and helpful summaries of major philosophical theories and figures. Weblinks will be provided throughout the course to beneficial online resources. Please keep in mind that the instructor is always available to assist you in clarifying any term, concept, idea or argument that is initially confusing.

    B. Writing

    In this course, will not only learn about Philosophy, we will also learn about the process of writing. Writing is difficult! In this class, we will practice writing, discuss elements of good writing, receive feedback about our writing in order to better express our opinions, beliefs, arguments, and ideas. Sometimes we will engage in writing that will not be evaluated in order to practice and evaluate our own work. Please feel free to ask questions about writing any time we are together in class.

    C. Communicating

    In this course, we will discuss difficult and sometimes personal issues. This involves a willingness to share your own views. I will do the same in class, though part of my job is to present all sides of an issue and let students decide for themselves what their views are. Philosophy is an amazing discipline where you can learn how to appreciate opposing viewpoints and learn to better articulate your own views. This requires courage though. I am never grading you on whether I agree with your position or not. I have given poor grades to papers I completely agree with and great grades to papers that express views I totally disagree with. This is important to keep in mind. Our classes will be much better if we work towards creating an open environment where students feel able to express their views. I will do my best as an instructor to create this environment, but I’ve learned that I can’t do all of this! This is YOUR CLASS—Let’s make it great!!

  6. Academic Honesty Policy
  7. All forms of academic dishonesty, namely, cheating on exams, submitting plagiarized or fabricated work from another person’s book or website, submitting another person’s work without informing the instructor, or engaging in any kind of deception that would bear on the evaluation of submitted work will be dealt with in a strict manner (minimally failing the course). If you find yourself questioning whether you have documented your sources properly, it is your responsibility to come see me about these issues prior to submitting an assignment. If you find yourself thinking about submitting work that is not your own due to pressure, frustration, or perfectionism, please come talk to me. I am here to help you resolve these issues before they become a problem for your academic career.

  8. Attendance, Lateness, and Class Policies

This course will emphasize dialogue, exchange and debate with your peers and professor. You need to be here in order to participate! Discussion focused classes can be a wonderful learning experience, but only if all participants are diligent in attending class meetings so we can have a good discussion each day. I would like to avoid the situation where only 1 or 2 people are the ones who speak each week (I think you would, too). If circumstances beyond your control do prevent you from attending a class, pleas inform me IN WRITING or by phone as soon as possible. There will be opportunity for students to practice writing through informal writing activities in class.

    • Please arrive for class on-time
    • Please turn off cell-phones, pagers, beepers before class
    • In order to enhance student learning, please do not engage in side conversations during class
    • In-Class writing assignments and quizzes cannot be made up
    • More than 3 unexcused absences will result in grade depreciation due to missed classroom activities

Late Papers and Work

  • Students are responsible for assignments and homework missed due to illness or emergency.
  • If you have an emergency, please notify instructor as soon as possible (before an assignment is due) to arrange an extension. Extensions will be granted at the discretion of the instructor only for legitimate reasons. I understand that life involves lots of unforeseen events, and I am more than willing to work with students who face such events. However, having too much work/too many classes, printers that don’t work the day before assignments are due are not legitimate reasons for missed/late work. You will have ample notice of assignment due dates, please adjust your schedule, computers, printers accordingly!
  • In order to be fair to all students, unexcused late work will receive a grade deduction. Late work will receive a half letter grade deduction (5%) for each day late.
  1. Proposed Calendar (Subject to change in order to respond to class needs—I am very open to class suggestions—I will adjust reading assignments according to class comments—I know the readings are difficult…keep working and bring your questions to class so we can work through them together!!)

VII.Criteria for Evaluating Philosophy Essays

Appropriateness. Does your essay answer the assigned question? Does your essay address the main topic stated in your thesis?


Clarity of exposition and argument. How clearly have you explained the arguments and concepts from the course material that are relevant to the assignment? How clearly have you expressed your critical evaluation of the arguments contained in the readings? Have you clearly stated the reasons behind your evaluations?


Critical understanding of the material. Have you demonstrated a detailed, thorough understanding of the relevant course readings? Is there any important part of an argument that you have not considered? Do your accounts of the arguments make sense in light of what you know about the larger context in which they are set?


Fairness to the authors' arguments. Are your interpretations of the authors’ arguments charitable? Have you done your best to interpret them as good, strong arguments? If you think a certain argument is badly flawed, can you identify any beliefs that the author may have held which would make the argument stronger than you first thought? If you have expressed doubts about whether a certain premise of the author’s argument is true, have you supplied an argument to show that that premise is probably or certainly false?


Coherence of your explanations and arguments. Does your essay make sense as a whole? Is it well-organized? At each stage of the essay, is it easy to tell what you are saying and how that fits in with what you have already said? Are there any conflicts between things you say at different points in the essay? Do your arguments flow logically from your premises to your conclusions?


Ability to anticipate objections to your point of view. Have you considered how the authors of the articles you discuss (or someone else who read your essay and disagreed with you) might respond to your arguments? Are your arguments open to any obvious objections? Have you committed any glaring errors of reasoning? Are any of the assumptions you make obviously false?


Creativity and Originality. Does your paper include analysis of parts of texts we did not discuss in class? Does your paper offer your unique perspective and examples to the questions at hand? Does your paper present arguments in a creative way? Do you create your own examples and arguments to illustrate your points about the texts?


Documentation of works cited. Have you noted where you refer to the work of writers other than yourself? Have you included page numbers in parentheses in the text of your essay to mark where you refer to works on the course syllabus? Have you included full endnotes/ footnotes to mark where you refer to works other than those on the course syllabus? Have you included a bibliography listing all the bibliographical information about books you refer to that are not on the course syllabus?


Copyright 2002 Dr. Ellen Miller. All rights reserved. Document last modified