PHIL150-16B (HAM)

The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy

15 Points

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Te Kura Kete Aronui
School of Social Sciences
Philosophy

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: hmorrell@waikato.ac.nz
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Paper Description

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This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you probably have entertained, in a rudimentary way, some fundamental philosophical problems, e.g., "why is there something rather than nothing?", "am I living the good life?", or "why be moral?" At least one objective of this class is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult, unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. My job is not to indoctrinate you but to educate you, and I will do that by teaching you how to argue skilfully, critically, and logically. Neither fluency in nor a passing acquaintance with the history and practice of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

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Paper Structure

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Students are expected to attend two 50-minute lectures per week and are also required to attend one 50-minute tutorial per week. Sign-up for tutorials will occur during week 1. Tutorials begin week 2.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • To examine important philosophical issues as they are presented in historically significant texts;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • To develop an ability to use the tools of philosophy in evaluating these texts; and
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  • To develop an ability to clearly and persuasively express both your own philosophical views and your arguments for those views.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment

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This paper is wholly internally assessed. Each piece of assessment has been designed to enable students to demonstrate their grasp of essential concepts and techniques at progressive stages of the paper and for teaching staff to assess the progress they are making and to adjust lecture plans if necessary.

Quizzes will consist of 5 multi-choice questions and will be available through Moodle. Quizzes will open at 7:00am and close 11:59pm each Friday of lecture weeks. Once you have started each quiz, you will have just 10 minutes to answer all 5 questions. We will drop your lowest 2 quiz scores. Correct answers will receive 0.2 of a mark and incorrect answers will receive 0.0 of a mark. Quizzes will assess your knowledge of the readings and lectures from the week the quiz falls in. Attending lectures, completing the set readings, reviewing the lecture notes, and creating your own notes will prepare you for the quizzes.

There will be two essays to complete. The first essay will be a maximum of 1000 words, and the second essay will be a maximum of 1500 words. The essays involve a detailed investigation of a question on topics from particular parts of the paper and will especially encourage and test skills of careful expression and presentation as well as understanding of the topic. For both papers, you must draft an argument that supports a conclusion. Detailed instructions for each essay can be found on Moodle.

The final test will be conducted during class, in the regular lecture room, on the last day the class meets. The final test may include questions on any of the topics covered in the paper. It will be 50 minutes in length and requires you pick 2 prompts to write short essays on (from a range of options).

Tutorial participation marks will be based on your contributions during activities and discussions in your weekly tutorial meetings. Being present at a tutorial session does not guarantee you any participation marks, but you must be present to contribute and stand a chance of being awarded participation marks. Up to 1.5 participation marks will be awarded per tutorial. Your lowest scoring tutorial will be dropped from your final tutorial participation mark.

While no parts of the assessment are formally identified as compulsory, in practice you need to take part in all pieces of assessment in order to do well in the paper. As there is no formal exam, and no compulsory piece of assessment, the IC (incomplete) grade does not apply to this paper. If for any reason you do not wish to continue with the paper you should withdraw by 5 pm on the second Friday of the semester in order to receive a refund. After that time it is still possible to withdraw, without a refund, prior to 5 pm on the sixth Friday of the semester. Dropping out without withdrawing leads to a failing grade on your academic record.

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Internally Assessed Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 1:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 1:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of internal markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Online Quizzes
Sum of Best ( 10 )
10
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Essay 1
19 Aug 2016
5:00 PM
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Essay 2
23 Sep 2016
5:00 PM
25
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Final in Class Test
12 Oct 2016
4:00 PM
30
  • In Class: In Lecture
5. Tutorial Participation
Sum of Best ( 10 )
15
  • In Class: In Tutorial
Internal Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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The paper is based around selected chapters from the required text, The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking, by Stephen Law (Headline). This text is available from the university bookstore. Additional texts will be provided on Moodle as needed.
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Online Support

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It is vital for success in this course that you have access to Moodle. If you have any difficulty accessing or using Moodle, please follow this link: ITS Self Help or call (07) 838 4008.
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Workload

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The workload for this paper is 10 hour per week throughout the semester, or 12 hours a week during teaching weeks.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Philosophy is the very crucible from which all other disciplines evolved, so this paper links with every other paper in the offing at university.
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