AP/PHIL1000 6.0 B: Introduction to Philosophy

Offered by: PHIL


Fall 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

An introduction to the basic issues and classic writers in the Western philosophical tradition. Areas such as ethics, metaphysics, theory of knowledge and logic will be surveyed by examining the writings of philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Hume, as well as more modern writers. Course credit exclusion: GL/PHIL 1410 3.00 (prior to Winter 2014), GL/PHIL 1420 3.00 (prior to Fall 2013), GL/PHIL 1690 6.00.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Professor S. Rodde


Office Location:  S417 Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 40901

Office Hours:  TBA

    Expanded Course Description
Philosophical problems arise in many contexts. In this course we will look at a number of these problems, some of the positions that have been taken on them, and arguments that have been put forward in support of those positions. During the first week of class students will vote for the problems that they would like to study and we will investigate the eight topics that received the most votes. The choices are:


ñ  Destiny: Do human beings possess free will? (Edwards, Stace, Kane, Frankfurt)

ñ  Desire: Does the good life lie in the satisfaction of whatever desire we happen to have? (Plato)

ñ  Death: Is death an evil? (Epicurus and Lucretius, Nagel, Williams)

ñ  Dream: Are dreams significant? (Aristotle, Cicero, Freud)

ñ  Doubt: Can we be certain of anything? (Sextus Empiricus, Descartes, Russell)

ñ  Dialectic: Why should we accept scientific theories? (Aristotle, Popper, Kuhn)

ñ  Dualism: Is the mind separate from the body? (Descartes, Smart, Nagel)

ñ  Divine: Is it reasonable to believe that miracles have occurred? (Hume, Mackie, Hudson)

ñ  Diabolic: Does the existence of evil provide a good reason for thinking that god doesn’t exist? (Hume, Mackie, Hick, Rowe)

ñ  Deceit: When is it okay to lie? (Aristotle, Kant, Mill)

ñ  Distributive Justice: What is a fair way of distributing the benefits and burdens of social living? (Mill, Nozick, Rawls, Okin)

ñ  Destruction: Why should we preserve the environment? (Naess, Devall  & Sessions, Warren, Bookchin)


Through an examination of primary texts students will gain an understanding of some of the positions which have been taken on these issues.


    Required Course Text / Readings

No textbook. Links to readings will be posted on Moodle

    Weighting of Course

Reflective Summaries (2). . 20%

Online Commentaries (16). 8%

In-Class Commentary (1). . 2%

Essays (2). . . . . . . . . . . . . .40%

Tutorial Participation . . . . . 10%

Final Exam. . . .  . . . . . . . . .20%


    Organization of the Course

Lectures and tutorials

    Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course you will have read selections from the works of of a number of philosophers and you should have a basic familiarity with their views. In addition you should have developed your ability to:


  • Read and understand difficult and challenging texts
  • Critically assess the strength and weakness of arguments
  • Appreciate unfamiliar ideas and points of view

Express yourself clearly in discussion

    Additional Information / Notes

Reflective Summaries:

Students are required to submit two reflective summaries on the readings, one in the fall term and one in the winter. The reflective summary should be no more than 1200 words in length, and has two parts. The summary should bring out the most important points in the reading. The reflection should address an interpretive or evaluative issue raised by that reading. This summary must be submitted before the material is covered in lecture.

Online Commentaries:

Each term students are expected to submit 10 very short commentaries on the readings, with no more than one commentary per week. Each commentary should be 200-250 words in length and will typically involve a very brief discussion of a key concept/distinction/problem from the readings. Each commentary will be submitted electronically on Moodle before the material has been covered in lecture.

Each commentary will be worth 0.5% of the final grade and will be marked using the excelente/regular/deficente scale.

In-Class Commentary:

In the Fall term students will write one in-class commentary. The question will be similar to those that appear on the online commentaries. Students will not be allowed to use any electronic device. However, they are permitted to print out their own hardcopy of the reading and bring it to class. The in-class commentary will be worth 2% of a student’s final grade.


Students are expected to complete two essays, one per term. The topics for each essay will be given in class. Each essay should be no more than 1800 words in length. Your TA will mark both assignments. Your mark will be based on a general impression of its quality.Your essay will be returned with a grade and comments.


Tutorial attendance is mandatory. Tutorial participation is worth 10% of your final mark and will be awarded by your TA.

Final Exam:

The final exam deals with all of the material covered in the course. All of the exam questions will be drawn from a study guide that will be circulated before the exam. The date will be determined by the Registrar

    Relevant Links / Resources