Philosophy 100 - Introductory Philosophy - 2003-2004

Professor: W. Sweet
Office: 518 Nicholson Hall
Telephone: 867-2341
Office Hours: M. 3:15 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; 7:00-10:00 p.m.; T. 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.; W. 3:15 p.m.-5:00 p.m. and by arrangement.
Home page:

The objectives of this course are to provide students with an opportunity to develop critical thinking and clear expression and to introduce them to the history of philosophy and to some of the traditional problems of philosophy.

Course outline

(For a 'historical' outline, click here.)

I. What is philosophy and the 'philosophic life'? [What is life about? Is there a meaning to life? Are there answers to these questions?]

II.  Metaphysics / Philosophy of Religion

Introductory Critical Reasoning - (Re)Presenting Arguments
Readings and arguments to analyse
Plato's Phaedo: the immortality of 'the soul'; Aquinas, Anselm, Paley; Hume, miracles, problem of evil

III. Ethics
Readings and arguments to analyse
What is 'justice'? What is 'holiness'? (from the Euthyphro and Republic); Westermarck on ethical relativism, ethical theories: 'natural' law; Kant and Kantian deontology (or click here for an edited version of Kant); Mill and Mill's arguments for utilitarianism

IV. Contemporary Ethics
Readings and arguments to analyse
James Gould on pornography; Primoratz on the morality of prostitution; ethics, moral subjectivism and egoism

V.  Epistemology, Part  I
Readings and sample arguments
the origin of knowledge in reason and argument (e.g., Descartes (Descartes, Biography / discussion of Descartes), Spinoza)

VI. Epistemology, Part II

VII. General questions in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics

The texts we shall use are:
Students should also have a good dictionary available.

Students might consult web pages on:

Philosophy Pages (from Garth Kemerling):

Method of the course and the role of the student:

The class will have a `lecture and discussion' format. The professor will introduce a topic with a summary of the relevant arguments or a commentary on a text. This will be followed by questions and discussion of the material by the class as a whole (e.g., points of clarification or criticism and of comparison; comments on the relations between or among different issues).

Students are expected to have prepared the readings before class, to attend all of the classes and to participate in discussion. Students who have more than 4 unjustified absences in a term will be subject to sanctions.

It is essential in learning how to do philosophy that students be prepared to ask and answer questions in class.


Attendance, class notes, and (surprise) quizes (20%); Christmas examination (20%); 2 written assignments (test in mid October - 10% and a short essay in early March - 15%);  Final examination (35%)