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HONORS COURSE IN SELECTED TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY
SPRING 2004
 


Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903).  Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1898)
 

Instructor: Paul Leclerc, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Social Sciences Office: Flanagan 1244
Day, time, and location: to be determined Tel.: 401-886-4107
E-mail: logos53@juno.com  



COURSE DESCRIPTION

An advanced, independent, directed study of: 1) A major philosopher, such as, but not limited to: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Plotinus, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Locke, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Mill, Peirce, Russell, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Dewey, James, Habermas, etc., or 2) A selected problem in any of the main subfields of philosophy: metaphysics/ontology, epistemology, ethics, and logic. Options include, but are not limited to: the question of personal identity, the mind-body problem, the nature of reality in general, ontological structures of the human mode of being, the nature of morality, epistemic foundationalism, religion and science, the nature of reason/rationality, the role of logic in philosophical inquiry, rationalism and empiricism, the problem of methodology, the relation between philosophy and history, the nature of language, the existential status of ideal and perceptual objects, the critical function of philosophy, the epistemological role of reflection, the nature of consciousness and interpretation, contemporary philosophical critiques of metaphysics, the nature of knowledge and truth, the philosophy of religion, social-political philosophy, philosophical anthropology, or any problem currently discussed in established professional journals.

This course is designed to provide CCRI honor students, and qualified students from other educational institutions, a structured yet flexible academic framework conducive to independent, scholarly philosophical research.

COURSE FORMAT

Seminar sessions will be the primary form of teacher-student interaction in this course. A schedule of sessions will be arranged at the mutual convenience of all parties. The student’s independent study will be enhanced and strengthened by these seminar sessions. This dynamic, interactive form of philosophical activity is designed to complement and enhance your independent research. It provides a forum for the individual presentation, exploratory discussion, and constructive criticism of the varying projects. Since the course is scheduled at the Flanagan campus these seminar sessions will be held there. Date, time, and room will be arranged to accommodate all participants.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  • Consistent attendance, philosophical participation, and project presentations at scheduled seminar sessions.
  • Timely completion of assigned proposals, drafts, outlines, bibliographies, questionnaires, etc.
  • Final, timely completion of independent research project.
  • Writing is a requirement. However, several optional formats are available to you, ranging from several shorter papers to one long paper.

REQUIRED TEXT

Anthony J. Graybosch, Gregory M. Scott, Stephen M. Garrison, The Philosophy Student Writer’s Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1998.

COURSE GOALS

  • Establishment of independent research skills in philosophy.
  • Improvement of analytical skills, conceptual clarity, critical reasoning, and constructive synthesis in philosophical thinking, dialogue, and writing.
  • Achievement of an articulate, well-argued, scholarly, critical, interpretation of a major philosopher or specific philosophical problem.
  • Heightened historical awareness of the traditional influence and contemporary relevance of your philosopher or problem of interest.


 EVALUATIVE CRITERIA AND COURSE GRADE

A. Assignments.....................................................................................10%

Assignments will include: project proposal, outline, drafts, and bibliography of print and electronic sources, and completion of questionnaire. They are designed to facilitate the philosophical quality, sound scholarship, and organized progression of your chosen research project. They will be graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. The following evaluative criteria will be applied to assignments:

  • Completion by due date
  • Adequate degree of detail given the specific assignment
  • Explicit evidence of genuine effort
  • Strict adherence to assignment directions and format

B. Oral presentations and participation................................................20%

These relatively brief (15-30 minutes) oral presentations are designed to improve the overall philosophical quality of your research. They constitute a constructive interactive context in which the student-researcher may outline, advocate, and elaborate on his or her project. They also provide a critical setting for the dialogical solicitation of informed input, questions of clarification, and philosophical objections from seminar participants. Oral presentations and participation will be assessed according to the standard grading scale. Please note percentage weights below.

B.1
Presentations on independent project.................................................15%
B.2 General participation in all seminar sessions........................................5%

The following assessment standards will be applied to oral presentations and participation:

  • Coherent organization
  • Logical consistency
  • Precise analysis
  • Conceptual clarity and comprehensiveness
  • Capacity to receive and offer constructive criticism
  • Analytic and synthetic reasoning skills

C. Completed research project..........................................................…70%

Your final written work will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Clear and coherent organizational structure
  • Concise and straightforward style
  • Clearly stated, focused thesis statement
  • Well-argued elaboration and defense of thesis
  • Accurate exposition of the views and arguments of a philosopher, school, etc.
  • Analytic and synthetic reasoning skills
  • Explicit definition and consistent usage of technical terms
  • Anticipation of, and reasoned response to, likely objections
  • Standard, scholarly use of language
  • Appropriate degree of detail
  • Scholarly documentation of sources (format, footnotes, bibliography, etc.)
  • Manageable aim and execution
  • Clarifying use of concrete examples
  • Originality and insight
  • Logical cohesion and consistency
  •  

Due date:


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