Philosophy 101: Introduction to Philosophy

(T, TH, ECTR 111)

            Ned Hettinger                                                                                                 Office: 16 Glebe, Rm. 201

            Fall 2009                                                                                                        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 me what to do? Do we have obligations to animals or the wider environment? Is everything (including our minds) purely physical? Are we determined to behave as we do? Are women different than (or inferior to?) men? This course explores these fundamental philosophical questions and will introduce you to some major branches of philosophy: ethics (our major focus), aesthetics, philosophy of religion, epistemology, social and political philosophy, and metaphysics.



James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy (6th edition) – available at bookstores

Readings available from the Library’s E-Reserves page: (Password: hettinger) and on the class webpage (see above).


Midterm Exam (23%) Thursday, October 15th (right after fall break)

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 issue from one of the branches of philosophy that we examine. You will choose your topic and I will provide a list of some possible topics. A description of the proposed paper is due on Friday, October 30th, 1pm, 14 Glebe mailbox. The paper is due on Friday, November 20th, 1pm, 14 Glebe mailbox.

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” 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 the class 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 is sufficient grounds for failing the course. If you have a good reason for missing class, please write it on a piece of paper or email it to me and include the date missed. Please 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