Phil 2010, Great Questions of Philosophy

Fall 2003
Section 1: 10:00-10:50 MWF Aderhold 206
Section 2: 11:00-11:50 MWF Aderhold 430

Instructor: Tim O'Keefe
Office: Arts & Humanities 405
Phone: O: (404) 651-1418, H: (404) 371-8199
e-mail: tokeefe AT
Office Hours: 2:00-3:30 MW, and by appointment

Course Description and Objectives

This course will be a historical introduction to philosophy. By looking at the works of several influential philosophers at some length, we will explore issues in metaphysics (what exists? and what is its nature?), epistemology (what can we know? and how can we know it?), and ethics (what actions are moral or immoral? and what is the good life for a human being?). We will concentrate on developing the skills needed in order to understand the arguments offered by the philosophers we study, to evaluate those arguments, and to formulate cogent philosophical arguments of our own.


Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates, trans. by G.M.A. Grube, 3rd ed., Hackett Publishing Company
Plato, Republic, trans. by G.M.A. Grube, revised by C.D.C. Reeve, Hackett
The Epicurus Reader, translated and edited by Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson, Hackett
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. by Donald Cress, 4th ed., Hackett.
Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. by James Ellington, 3rd ed., Hackett
Mill, Utilitarianism, Hackett
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, trans. by M. Clark and A. J. Swensen, Hackett

Two in-class exams 40%
Final Exam 25%
Final paper (5-7 pages) 25%
Quizzes and participation 10%

The exams will consist mainly of essay questions I will give you before the exam, plus a few short answers. The final paper will be a position paper--that is, a paper in which you advance arguments of your own in support of a thesis related to the topics we've been studying over the course of the semester.

We will be using WebCt to host a class bulletin board. There will be three forums on the class bulletin board. In the main forum, please post any questions you have about the reading assignment for that day, or about points from previous classes. I will look over it before class, and knowing what questions you have will help me prepare more effective lectures. The second forum will be used for on-line discussion and evaluation of the readings. Please feel free to offer your own thoughts about the philosophers we're studying, and to respond to the posts of others. In the third forum, I will post my own (rough) class notes. By the end of the semester, you should have posted at least ten messages on the class bulletin board. You can access the class bulletin board by going to and clicking on the link 'log on to my WebCt.'

In my lectures, I will be presupposing that you've done the reading for that class. I will occasionally have a short quiz at the beginning of class on the reading assignment for that day. If you've done the reading with a little care, these quizzes should pose no problem for you.

Announcements, copies of this syllabus, links to the bulletin board, regularly updated reading assignments, and a trove of other information are available from the course web site.

Important Dates (subject to change):

Oct. 3: First exam
Nov. 7: Second Exam
Nov. 24: Final paper due
Monday, Dec. 15, 10:15 (section 1) or Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:15 (section 2): Final Exam

If you will be unable to turn in a paper when it's due or make it to an exam at its scheduled time, please let me know beforehand and let me know why you'll be unable to complete the assignment on time. We can arrange for an extension (although your grade may be reduced). I'm usually much more understanding of people who come to me before an assignment is due and say they'll have difficulty completing it on time than I am of those who tell me afterwards that they were unable to do it. However, if you miss the deadline for an assignment, please contact me as soon as possible to arrange to make it up. Unless there is some compelling excuse (e.g., you had to be rushed to the hospital the night before a paper was due), there will be a penalty for tardiness, and there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to make up the assignment.

You're also responsible for attending class regularly. If you know beforehand that you'll be unable to attend a class, let me know so that we can arrange for you to receive notes, discuss the material, or do anything else necessary so that you do not fall behind. If you miss a class without notification, you will still be responsible for knowing course content discussed in the class that day, learning about any announcements made in class, etc. I will not allow students to make up quizzes they've missed unless there is some compelling excuse (again, like being rushed to a hospital).

Return to the Great Questions of Philosophy web site.
Return to the course materials index.
Return to Tim O'Keefe's homepage.