Philosophy 100, Fall 2003

Dr. J. Michael Russell, Professor of Philosophy and Human Services 

Appointments and schedule, fall 2003 (subject to change):

Monday & Wednesday 7:00 -- 8:15 a.m.  Phil 100, Introduction to Philosophy, H414

Monday 11--1:00 Philosophy Department events*

Monday & Wednesday 1:00-2:15, Philosophy 448, Death, Aging & Meaning, H 413

Tuesday & Thursday 10:00--11:15 Human Services 480, Case Analysis, EC 124

Tuesday 11:30--1:00  Office hours by appointment: H 311-B*

Wednesday 2:30ó4:00 Office hours by appointment; H311B*

Wednesday 4:00--6:45 Human Services 490, Practicum In Group Leadership, EC 109

Thursdays, 11:30--1:00, Academic Senate*

Times  marked with an asterisk (*) are good for an appointment, when not in conflict with some other meeting.  Advance appointments are very strongly encouraged.  Make an appointment telling me at which of these times you plan to come, and how I may reach you if I am not available then.  Give me one or two days advance notice in case I canít make your proposed time.

J. Michael Russell, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy and Human Services

   (714) 278-2752
Humanities Building H 311 B Fax: (714) 278-1274
Cal State Fullerton
P.O. Box 6868, Fullerton CA 92634-6868 

In order to get critical course material and announcements you must sign up for and regularly check BLACKBOARD.   Go to and follow the instructions to create an account.  If you have problems, email me.  Then for the first few days of the semester, in case you canít get into Blackboard, I can email you information directly.

This is an introduction to philosophy in which you can expect to become familiar with many of the famous names and concepts in the history of Western philosophy, and get some exposure to key ideas from some non-Western thought.  The course is supposed to meet certain goals for General Education courses: I list these below, and then indicate specifically how this course aims to do these things: 

General Education Categories and General Education Learning Outcomes:

This course meets the requirements for GE category III.B.2, Introduction to the Humanities. The learning goals for this category are as follows:

a)      To understand the distinctive characteristics of the humanistic perspective.

b)      To understand the historical and cultural factors, in a global context, that led to the development of the humanistic perspective.

c)      To understand the differences between the humanistic and other perspectives, as well as the differences among the humanistic disciplines.

d)      To understand and appreciate the contributions of the humanities to the development of the political and cultural institutions of contemporary society.

e)      To be familiar with and understand major texts (both written and oral), key figures, significant traditions, and important themes in the humanities.

f)       To analyze the meaning of major texts (both written and oral) from both Western and non-Western cultures, either in English or, if appropriate, in the language of the texts being analyzed.

g)      To apply the humanistic perspective to values, experiences, and meanings in oneís own life, and demonstrate how understanding the humanities can shed light on what it means to be human today.

Course Learning Outcomes:

The specific Course Learning Outcomes are listed below, followed by the specific GE Learning Goals each learning outcome meets.

By the end of the semester students should:

1)   Be able to understand the distinctive approach philosophy takes to questions regarding the nature of reality (metaphysics), the pursuit of truth (epistemology), the moral and ethical dimension of human existence, and the nature of the human person and relation to human society (GE Learning Goal III.B.2.a);

2)   Be able to comprehend and characterize the major philosophical positions taken regarding these questions, including classic figures in philosophy, their historical and cultural background, and their contribution to the discipline, as well as their impact on world history and society (GE Learning Goals III.B.2.b and III.B.2.e);

3)   Be able to understand the relationship between philosophy and other disciplines in the academy, including the natural sciences, the social sciences, and other humanities such as literature and history (GE Learning Goal III.B.2.c);

4)   Be able to demonstrate an ability to read complex philosophical texts and to advance reasons for or against various positions philosophers have taken on these issues and to evaluate the strength of their arguments and claims (GE Learning Goal III.B.2.f).

5)   Be able to identify the ways in which political and social institutions, such as government, religion, and sciences, have been impacted by philosophical developments; to critique contemporary cultural institutions insofar as they are or are not expressive of contemporary or historical philosophical ideal; and further to identify ways in which these philosophical ideals could be instantiated in individual lives and in our shared communal lives (GE Learning Goal III.B.2.d).

6)      Be able to defend through argument a comprehensive philosophical position that expresses their own beliefs regarding how their life should be lived and that demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of the philosophical issues considered in the course (GE Learning Goal III.B.2.g).

To receive at least a grade of D, or "poor," the student should be able to give some evidence of understanding some basic ideas from text and lecture,  be able to express these in at least minimally acceptable English, and, if called for, be able to indicate some relevant personal opinion about some of this.
To receive at least a grade of C, or "acceptable but less than good," the student should be able to do the above, with an acceptable demonstration of understanding the material, expressed at an acceptable level of writing. The C student might have a better than C level of understanding, hampered by poor writing, or a better than C level of writing, hampered by poor grasp of content. In this course "C" does not mean "average" and there is no reason, in principle, why all students might not be graded as at least "good."
To receive at least a grade of B, or "good," students must have a generally good grasp of the material, generally express this well, and have some relevant and interesting ideas or formulations of their own. Strengths in two of these areas may balance out weakness in a third.
To receive a grade of A, or "excellent," students must express themselves very well, demonstrate an understanding of main points and subtleties, and demonstrate insight or creativity or formulations or personal application or something indicative of excelling beyond work that is good.
Your final grade in the course will depend not only on the specific grades on written work and examinations, but also my impression of your attentiveness, preparedness, and participation. Active participation in email discussion on Blackboard figures heavily in my overall impression of you.   NOTE: I expect regular attendance, and may reduce your final grade for excused absences, and am very likely to do so for unexcused absences.  An excused absence is defined as one about which you do the courtesy of stating to me in a timely way that you will be or were absent. If you arrive after I have taken role it is your responsibility to inform me of this on that day. An unexcused absence is one you donít bother to mention to me.  I will be strict about the University restrictions on grades of Incomplete. I do not think I do anyone a favor by granting incompletes, and will be strongly disinclined to give any. These syllabi are supposed to include mention of policies on dishonesty, and on make up examinations. Policies regarding academic dishonesty will follow those stated in the University Catalog, pages 95-96. Basically, I expect written work to be your own, with collaboration appropriately acknowledged. Cheating or plagiarism could result in failing the course, and in notification made to the Dean of Students.   Make-up examinations are possible when there is what I think a good reason for missing an exam; however, as stated above, "A" grades mean you excel by comparison with others who do good work, and it is hard to make that comparison if you don't take an exam under comparable conditions, so it is harder to convince me that you excelled.   


Brooke Noel Moore & Kenneth Bruder, Philosophy:  The Power of Ideas (Brief 2nd edition, Mayfield 1995, i.s.b.n. 1-55934-435-0)



Notice: This course meets at 7:00 a.m.  Iím sure many of us will occasionally feel like complaining about this.  Even so, attendance is expected and unexcused absences will affect your grade negatively.  Class participation and the appearance of being mentally present can affect your grade positively.  Reading and lectures will sometimes be plainly difficult; other times they will be seemingly simple where in fact they call for detailed note taking and review.    You are advised to take detailed notes.  You are welcome to tape record.  You are encouraged to form study groups.  You are required to participate by computer in the Blackboard Discussion Board for this class.  You are responsible for all information posted on the class Blackboard web site.

Subject to change:

First examination: September 22, 2003, on all lectures and on chapters 1, 2, 3, 4. Be able to answer questions or explain terms, thinkers, etc., reviewed at the end of each chapter.  Pay particular attention to those terms, etc., also addressed in class.

Second examination: October 29, on all lectures and on chapters 5, 6, portions of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, to be announced. Be able to answer questions or explain terms, thinkers, etc., reviewed at the end of each chapter.  Pay particular attention to those terms, etc., also addressed in class.

Third examination, November 19, portions of chapters 10, 11, 12, and 13, to be announced.  

Final examination:  Friday, December 19, 2003, 7:00ó8:50 a.m.  Remaining chapters and the  selections from primary works, appendixes I, II, and III (376-403), and anything from earlier in the course which receives attention in lectures since the previous exam.