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Philosophy Dept | Library Philosophy Guide

PHIL 2101H Introduction to the Problems of Philosophy (Shottenkirk): Home

Professor Dena Shottenkirk

Course Objectives

  1. Students will gain a basic understanding of the broad discipline of philosophy.
  2. Students will develop their ability to write and verbally communicate their ideas; in general, they will be able to formulate an argument in support of or in opposition to a claim, and specifically, they will be able to formulate an argument in relation to key philosophical questions with regard to the issues examined in the course.

Course Information

Philosophy 2101
Fall 2021
Dr. Dena Shottenkirk

Downloadable Syllabus

Course Policies


  1. Every Monday, at 3:40 – 4:55, I will give a zoom lecture on that week’s readings (which would include the readings for both Monday and Wednesday). The zoom link will be posted every Monday along with the Blackboard assignments (see below).
  2. Those lectures will be recorded, and though technically the lectures themselves cannot be mandatory, I though encourage you to attend. I will send you those recordings after they happen. They will be downloaded onto dropbox and then I will post that link onto Blackboard.
  3. Every Wednesday, I am available all day by phone. My cell is (347) 276-5913. You may call me if you have any questions. This replaces one-to-one in-person (pre-covid) office visits and is also more productive than zoom sessions. You can ask me about anything you haven’t understood and I will explain it in detail. Though this is not mandatory, I highly encourage you to call me.



  • Each student is assigned on Blackboard to be part of a group of four/five students. This is found in the “Groups” heading.
  • On Blackboard in the Discussion section: Every Wednesday I will post two prompts on blackboard. These will correspond to the following week’s readings.
    • There will be one prompt per reading.
    • Each student must respond to each prompt with a minimum of 200 words. Those entries must be completed by Wednesday of the following week. For example, prompts regarding Plato’s Apology & The Meno would be posted on August 25 and then we would discuss the readings on the following Monday, August 30, and you would have your Blackboard posts due on Wednesday, Sept. 1. That gives you a few days to think about the posts before the lecture and then a few days after the lecture to write the posts.
    • Each student must also provide a thoughtful response to at least two other group members (e.g., it cannot be “I agree with Mike”). Those are also due on Wednesday of every week.


  • Paper #1: Write a 5-page paper (Times New Roman, 12 font, 1” margins top, bottom, sides) that is critical analysis of any two readings to date, which means any readings up to and including the readings before Sept. 22; (this paper is an exegesis only – do not include your viewpoint).
  • Paper #2: Write a 5-page paper (Times New Roman, 12 font, 1” margins top, bottom, sides) that is critical analysis of any of single reading up to and including Nov. 15, although not of course on the topic you covered in your first paper. It should be exegesis only for the first 3 – 31/2 pages; the rest of the paper is your viewpoint.

Submit them through blackboard. They are due on the date of the syllabus. Any late papers will be given a demotion of two-third grade for each day it is late e.g. An A paper turns into a B+ paper.


The final exam is T/F and is not graded on a curve.

Assessment and Grading:

Paper #1: 20% 
Paper #2: 20%
Final Exam (not graded on curve) is T/F: 30%
Online Blackboard discussion: 30%

Write a 2-page paper on Albert Camus’ The Absurd (password-protected PDF) for an additional of 2% on your total cumulative grade e.g., if you have scored 95% for all grades at the end of the semester, then it will be raised to 97%.

Will not be tolerated.  Plagiarism consists of copying something and not giving credit to the author. All words must be your words, otherwise they must be properly cited.  See here.
Email: I will be available to interact with students every Monday from 11-12, and all day Wednesday. My cell is (347) 276-5913.
Office hours: Wednesday 1-2, 4300 Boylan.
I do not check email on the weekend. Please limit emails to essential communication. Most things are better discussed over the phone, as that form of communication is far more efficient.
How to succeed in this class:  
  • Keep up on readings; expect to read the texts at least twice.  Outline the main points.  Quiz yourself or have a classmate quiz you.
  • Participate in your online group discussions. This is your primary space for sorting through the readings. For any remaining questions after that, you may call me on a Wednesday.
  • Study for the test with your online group.

Students must request academic accommodations within first two weeks of semester. Please talk to me privately if there is an issue you would like me to help you with.  In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations, students must first be registered with the Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS). Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to set up an appointment with the director of the CSDS, Valerie Stewart-Lovell, 138 Roosevelt Hall, 718.951.5538. If you have already registered with the CSDS, please provide me with the paperwork.

Regarding Religious Holidays: Please note page 66 in the Undergraduate Bulletin and its reference to the state law regarding non-attendance because of religious beliefs.

Unless otherwise noted, this OER site was curated by Professor Dena Shottenkirk for Brooklyn College in 2019 and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. [Detailed license and acknowledgements]