Philosophy 101: Introduction to Philosophy: Beliefs & Values
Spring 2006 ( ECTR 111, MWF)

Ned Hettinger
Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201
Off Hrs: MWF 1-2, T 12-1 (Also by appointment or drop by my office and see if I'm free.)
Course webpage: Office Phone: 953-5786

Course Description and Goals

This course will introduce you to philosophy through an examination of issues in ethics, philosophy of religion, aesthetics, environmental philosophy, social and political philosophy, and feminism. The focus is on ethics, both theoretical and applied. Topics in theoretical ethics include the nature of morality, ethical relativism, egoism, utilitarianism, the ethics of respect, the ethics of care, and virtue ethics. Topics in applied ethics include homosexuality, the treatment of animals, and the justification of punishment. In the philosophy of religion, we will examine arguments for and against the existence of God, a humanistic criticism of religion, and a defense of the idea that it is permissible to believe that one religion is better than others. Topics in social and political philosophy include the limits of governmental authority over the individual and the idea that government is based on a social contract. We will examine whether science is important for the aesthetic appreciation of nature and the tensions between animal liberation and environmental ethics. We will also examine the ideas of radical feminism.

The aim of this course is to get you to think, speak, and write clearly, critically, and imaginatively about a number of important philosophical issues. Rigorous philosophical thinking encourages the development of these skills. I encourage you to become involved with the course questions and to relate them to your own life and thought. This is the best way to begin thinking philosophically for oneself and to actually do philosophy. This is the most important goal of the course.


James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 4th edition
Articles available on the Library's Electronic Reserves ( (password: hettinger) and on the course web page


Major Paper (including a description of the project) (34%)

5-7 page paper exploring a topic you choose in the areas of philosophy covered by the course. The paper must relate your topic to the course material that is relevant to it. A paper proposal is due on Thursday, March 23th. The final paper is due on Thursday, April 13rd.

Midterm Exam (23%)

March 1st. On all assigned readings, lectures, and class discussions. May also include questions on important material from the reading that was not discussed during class.

Final Exam

The exam will stress the material from the second half of the course but may also include relevant material from the first half.

Reading Quizzes (10%), Class Participation (5%), and Attendance (5%) (20%)

There will be brief quizzes at the beginning of class on the reading for that class period, typically one per week. There will be no make-ups for these quizzes, but you can send me an email before the class you miss briefly describing the reading for that class and this will count for the quiz. I also offer "free quizzes" that allow students to replace missed quizzes. Class participation includes general quality of class involvement. Attendance is particularly important in this class. I want you to learn from each other. Also, 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 two weeks of class) is sufficient grounds for failing the course. If you have a good reason for missing class, please write it on a piece of paper (with the date missed and your name) and give it to me. I give assignments and distribute an attendance sheet at the beginning of class. Please come to class on time. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance sheet. Introduction to Philosophy: Beliefs & Values
Philosophy 101.003 (MWF, 10-10:50, ECTR 111)