Phil 2010, Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2010
T Th 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm Aderhold Learning Center 404 CRN 81004

Instructor: Tim O'Keefe
Office: 1105 34 Peachtree
Phone: (404) 413-6108
e-mail: tokeefe AT gsu DOT edu (preferred method of contact)
Office Hours: 1:00-2:00 and 4:00-4:30 p.m. T , 12:30-2:00 Th, and by appointment
Teaching assistant: Dan Griffin, dgriffin18 AT .
Office hours, Fridays 9:00-10:45 am, 12:45-2:00 pm, 1134 34 Peachtree (computer lab)

Course Description and Objectives:

This course will be a topical introduction to philosophy. 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. After a brief introduction to what arguments are and how to evaluate them, we will examine the following questions:

TEXTS: Almost all of the texts for the semester will be available (for free!) on the class ULearn site in .pdf format. A few readings will be available on the internet (I will inform you of these as they come up and provide links).
Three exams 90%
Quizzes and participation 10%

The exams will consist mainly of essay questions I will give you before the exam, plus a few short answers. I will have occasional multiple-choice quizzes at the start of class to encourage students to do the readings for the day.

We will be using uLearn to host a class bulletin board (in addition to the course readings). There will be two 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 main forum will also 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 second forum, I will post my own (rough) class notes.

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, at

Important Dates (subject to change):

Tuesday September 28: First exam
Tuesday Nov. 2: Second Exam
Thurs. Dec. 9 1:30 p.m.: Final Exam

You are 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. If you are absent or late for a class, you will not be allowed to make up any quizzes. Please turn off your cellphone before attending class, and do not use laptops or other electronic devices in class. I reserve the right to withdraw from class students who miss exams.

Please also see the Philosophy department's general syllabus statement for more important information on matters such as withdrawal dates, academic honesty, etc.

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