Philosophy 101 Introduction to Philosophy

(T,Th, Ed Center 111)


         Ned Hettinger                                                          Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201

         Spring 2016                                                             Office Hrs: Wed 10-2

         Office Phone: 953-5786                                         (Also by appointment or stop

         Email:                                            by my office)

         Class web page:


Course Description


What makes actions right or wrong? Are morality and beauty in the eye of the beholder? Is religious belief rational? Can society legitimately tell individuals what to do? What do we owe animals or the environment, if anything? Are women different than (or inferior/superior to) men? What is it to be a man or a woman? Is everything (including our minds) purely physical? Are we determined to behave as we do?


This course explores these questions while introducing you to some major areas of philosophy: ethics (our main focus), aesthetics, philosophy of religion, environmental philosophy, epistemology, social and political philosophy, and metaphysics. Its main goal is for you to more deeply and clearly develop your own thinking about the course questions.


General education student learning outcomes and assessment: (1) Students analyze how ideas are represented, interpreted or valued in various expressions of human culture, namely philosophical thinking. (2) Students examine relevant primary source materials and interpret the material in writing assignments. The assessment of these outcomes will be measured in the student’s major paper.

Reading Material 


James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (8th edition)

Readings on the class webpage:


Midterm Exam (23%) Thursday, Feb 25th

Final Exam (23%)

This will focus on the material from the second half of the course, but may also include necessary material from the first half.

Major Paper (including a paper proposal) (34%)

5-7 page paper exploring a philosophical dimension of some issue You will choose your topic and I will also provide a list of some possible topics. A paper proposal is due on Friday, March 18th, by email to The paper is due on Friday, April 8th, 1pm, paper copy delivered to inside mailbox,14 Glebe street.

Reading Quizzes (10%)

There will be unannounced quizzes on the reading for the day (approximately 10 for the semester). I do not give quiz makeups, but I give “free quizzes opportunities” that can be used to substitute for a missed quiz. Also, if you will be absent, you may email me a summary of the reading for that day before (and I emphasize before!) the class begins and this will count for the quiz should there be one.

Class Participation and Attendance (10%)

This includes general quality of class involvement and attendance. Attendance is particularly important in this class. I want you to learn from each other and from class discussion. Developing the skill of thinking philosophically requires practice and following examples. These can't be adequately done on your own. Poor attendance will lower your grade; extremely poor attendance (missing over 3 weeks of class) is sufficient grounds for failing the course. If you have a good reason for missing class, please email me an explanation. Please also come to class on time: Assignments, reading quizzes and an attendance sheet are given at the beginning of class. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet. If the sheet somehow misses you during the class, please come up after class and sign it.


Grading Scale:  I use the College’s numeric grading scale: A = 4.0 , A- = 3.7, B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7, C+ = 2.3, C = 2.0, C- = 1.7, D+ = 1.3, D = 1.0, D- = 0.7, F = 0.0