Intro to Philosophy

Introduction to Philosophy

How to Write a
Philosophy Paper
Reading Guides:
Plato's Republic
Descarte's Meditations
Perry: Dialogue on Personal Idendity and Immortality
Sartre: Nausea


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Intro to Philosophy is a "writing-intensive" course. That means you will use a variety of writing assignments as learning tools, and as ways for me to assess your performance. You will have both graded and ungraded writing assignments in this class.

Your ungraded assignments include a philosophy notebook. Use this to write down your thoughts and questions about the reading assignments and class discussions, and to explore ideas for papers. Bring it to class; you'll use it as a jumping off point for class discussions and group work. I'll check sometimes to make sure you're keeping up with it. As long as you are, you will get full class participation credit.

Your graded assignments are three short (two to three page) papers (a paper on Plato, one on Descartes, and one on either Wittgenstein or Leiber); and a take home final exam. You will choose the topics for your three short papers, with help from me and subject to my approval. The final will be approximately equivalent in length and grade value to two short papers, but I will choose the topics.

For each of the three papers, we will go through a class brainstorming session to get you started; and you will hand in a rough draft which will be reviewed and commented on by a classmate and by me. I will grade the final draft. The dates for the three papers are listed below. The three dates listed for each paper are, respectively, the date for the brainstorming session, for the rough draft, and for the final draft.

Paper Due Dates (Brainstorming, Rough draft, Final draft):

Paper 1: (Plato) 9/21, 9/23, 9/30

Paper 2: (Descartes) 10/22, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2

Paper 3: (Wittgenstein) 11/11, 11/16, 11/23*

Paper 4: (Leiber) 12/2, 12/7, 12/14*

* choose either paper 3 or paper 4

You have a choice as to which of the last two papers you do. But you must meet all the deadlines for the papers you submit. In this class, the process of writing drafts is just as important as the finished product. So I will subtract an entire letter grade for each unexcused missing of a step in the process. In other words, if you aren't there for brainstorming, and don't hand in a rough draft for peer review, an "A" final draft would get a "C", and a "C" draft would get an "F".

Late final drafts will be penalized at the rate of one letter grade for each week they are late. If you think you have a legitimate excuse you must clear it with me. Spelling and grammatical errors in final drafts will also be penalized.

Plagiarism Policy: A word to the wise

On all of your written academic work you are absolutely required to say where you got your information and ideas, unless they are your very own original words and thoughts, or they are common knowledge. If the words are not your own, you must put them in quotes and say whose words they are. If the ideas are not your own, you must tell your reader where you got them. Use one of the standard forms for acknowledging your sources, like the one you learned in your freshman composition courses. Not giving your sources is considered plagiarism (copying). All assignments in this class, including the take home final, are governed by the no-plagiarism rule. If you hand me a plagiarized assignment it will get a grade of "F". (That's the minimum penalty for deliberate plagiarism.)

See "How to Write a Philosophy Paper" (sliding menu on left) for some guidelines aobut citations.

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