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PHIL 2101: Introduction to the Problems of Philosophy (Lurz): Syllabus

PHIL 2101: Introduction to Problems of Philosophy

Course Information



PHIL 2101 TR9

Fall 2021

Online class meetings: 
Tuesdays & Thursdays: 9:30 – 10:45 AM


Instructor: Professor Lurz


Virtual Office Hours: Tues. & Thurs.: 10:45 -11:45 

Downloadable Syllabus

Course Objectives

By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to clearly express (in writing and speech) a few perennial philosophical issues (e.g., freedom of the will, the question of personal identity, the possibility and scope of knowledge, the objective status of moral values) and philosophical theories (e.g., determinism, compatibilism, skepticism, idealism, realism, relativism, and dualism). Students are expected to be familiar with a number of important philosophical figures (e.g., Descartes, Kant, and Mill), and be able to interpret and analyze key selections from the writings of these figures. Finally, students are expected to be able to identify, explain, and evaluate philosophical arguments.

Course Materials

Course Schedule


Assignments & Readings

Aug 26 Sept. 9

Unit 1: Read excerpt from Nagel’s What Does It All Mean?; Watch videos on What is Philosophy? and on Deductive Arguments ; Review Power-Point slides on What is Philosophy?

Sept. 14-23

Unit 2: Read Meditation 1 (pp. 144-149); Watch video on John Cottingham on Descartes; Review Power-Point slides on Knowledge & Certainty.

Sept. 28

Unit 2: Written response paper # 1 due

Sept. 28 – Oct. 14

Unit 3: Read Meditation II (pp. 149-157); Watch video on René Descartes “I think therefore I am”; Review Power-Point slides on Foundations of Knowledge.

Oct. 14

Written response paper # 2 due & Review for Midterm Exam

Oct. 19th

Midterm Exam – 9:30 – 10:30 AM

Oct. 21- Nov. 9

Unit 5: Read chapter 2 of Mill’s Utilitarianism; Watch the videos on Peter Singer on Utilitarianism and on The Trolley Problem; Read excerpts from Kant’s Groundwork (pp. 88-91; 95-98); Watch video on Right and Wrong: Kant’s Axe; Review Power-Point slides on Ethical Theories

Nov. 11

Written response paper #3 due

Nov. 11 – Dec. 7th

Unit 6: Read Taylor’s “Freedom and Determinism”; Watch the video on Sam Harris on Free Will; Review Power-Point slides on Two Concepts of Free Will.

Dec. 9

Written response paper #4 due & Review for Final Exam

Dec. 21

Final Exam 8:00 – 9:00 AM