Philosophical Issues

Dr. Robert Sutton Phone: 251-5633
PHI 215 Office Hrs: MW 3-4:00;TTH, 7-30-8:00 &3:30-4:30
Fall 2000 or by appointment
E-Mail: MAIL BOX: S312
or, Home Page:

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course introduces fundamental issues in philosophy considering the views of classical and contemporary philosophers. Emphasis is placed on knowledge and belief,   appearance and reality, determinism and free will, faith and reason, and justice and inequality. Upon completion, students should be able to identify, analyze, and critique the philosophical components of an issue

OBJECTIVES: The following are the aims toward which the students are expected to direct their efforts.

  1. Define certain philosophical terms as they pertain to the study of philosophy.
  2. Identify certain authors of philosophy with their respective philosophical writings.
  3. Associate particular philosophical concepts and traditions with the historical circumstances and philosophical situations in which they developed.
  4. Discuss the apparent strengths and weaknesses of certain philosophical ideas and practices.
Melchert, Norman. The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy,  3rd ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1999.
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. New
York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1995.
The order and pace of assigned readings will depend upon the demands of the class and will be assigned at the discretion of the instructor. While reading most of the Melchert text, we will focus our attention on the primary sources found in the text and the the handouts mentioned above.

REQUIREMENTS: Reading, analyzing, interpreting, writing, and arguing about texts are the basic activities of most college courses and of most managerial and professional careers. This is especially true of philosophy. As a discipline, one of its key characteristics, in my opinion, is that it is a public activity of entering into and continuing discussion on variously entertaining and, sometimes, important matters. To enter into this conversation, one must be able to read and discuss texts, broadly conceived. To that end, you will be asked to write papers to accomplish certain tasks (see "Task Driven Writing Assignments," prepared by Thomas Bridges), since writing in everyday life is always done to fulfill some task.

The Papers: There will be 3 "Expository Essays" of 2 pages in length. These will be on (1) Socrates' Euthyphro, (2) his Phaedo, and (3) Descartes' Meditations. (These three essays, combined with the bibliography described below, will be 30% of your total grade)

In addition, there will be 2 "task-driven" papers of 4 pages in length. The first is an argumentative paper on Socrates' Crito and Martin Luther King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail."  The second  paper will be an analytical paper on the Jean-Paul Sartre essay, "Existentialism as a Humanism." (Each paper will be 30% of your total grade)

On select evenings before papers are due, you will be given a chance to discuss your work in small group discussions and one-to-one meetings with the instructor.

Due dates for these papers will be announced.  The "Expository Essays" must be a minimum of 2 typed, double spaced pages and the "Task-driven Papers" a minimum of 4 pages. All papers must conform to the MLA Handbook rules for writing papers. Your grade will be determined in accordance with the guidelines in "Grading Standards." No late papers will be accepted.

One of the desired outcomes for this course is to create lifelong learners. One tool required in the pursuit of this goal and for your continued academic success is an ability to do research. Thus, in addition to the graded papers, all students will hand in a quarter long project, a bibliography, detailing the hard and electronic research resources on one off the persons discussed in the Melchert text.  Again, the citations of references must conform to the MLA Handbook. Detailed instructions will be given you on how to find and store sources from the World Wide Web. CFCC librarians will offer their support in how to find traditional, hard copy resources. The first draft will be due Sept. 21.  Final bibliography is due Nov. 30. (Counts as described above.)

Class format is lecture-discussion. All assigned readings must be completed prior to class. Students are expected to critically participate in class discussion and participation (or lack there of) can significantly affect one's grade. To encourage your attendance and participation, I will award 4 points to your final grade average, deducting 1 point per hour of absence.

The Syllabus: There are various ways to look at the first day handout that have a profound relationship on how you view a course. Often, students think of the syllabus as a blueprint, analogous to an architect's drawing of a house. Such a conception leads to the conclusion that a course simply follows steps until one arrives at the end where one can measure the outcomes in relationship to the plans. I would urge you to think of the handout as a map. Like a blueprint, the map provides us with information necessary to arrive at our destination. But, the analogy of the map alerts us to the fact that a journey, like a course and all good education, is to be enjoyed and meaningful from the moment one begins the adventure, not simply when one arrives.

CAPE FEAR ATTENDANCE POLICY: CFCC policy requires 80% attendance. Thus, a grade
of No Credit is issued on the 10th hour of absence, no exceptions. It is your responsibility to keep
track of your absences.

GRADING: School wide grade scale is as follows:

       A=100-92(4), B=91-84(3), C=83-76(2), D=75-68(1), F=67(0), WP, WF, I, NC

No withdrawals will be granted without a face to face consultation with the instructor and it is CFCC
policy that, "Students who withdraw after the eighth week of classes must obtain permission in
writing from the Dean of Student Development."


Return to Course Guide or Main Page