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Text Box:   
Doug McFerran, Professor of Philosophy

Email:  mcferrdd@piercecollege.edu

So what is this course about?

From the Pierce Catalog:  

Students analyze some of the fundamental issues of philosophy and humanity that includes topics such as knowledge and reality, the foundations of truth and science, and the nature of human consciousness and self.

      (CSU GE Area C2 IGETC Area 3B)   C-ID: PHIL 100

This particular class is often described as being about M & E (metaphysics and epistemology), meaning we are talking about how we are supposed to tell the difference between what is objectively real as against what we might just believe is so.


What do we hope you get from this course (what we call SLOs -- student learning outcomes)?

Statement adopted by the Philosophy department:

Students will have the ability to formulate some of the core questions of philosophy and understand various philosophical responses to them in their historical and present context.

Students will have the ability to analyze and evaluate philosophical claims, arguments and theories using rigorous philosophical methods. 

In short, we hope that at the least you will know some of the textbook stuff specific to Western philosophy, such as the difference between rationalism and empiricism in talking about how we get our ideas or what makes someone a materialist or an idealist or a dualist in how we talk about our minds. 


How does the course work?

Everything will be online through the Canvas portal (ilearn.laccd.edu).  Each week there will be things to read, videos to watch, and activities (short reports or papers and  discussions that you will post to ).  A list of assignments appears below the online syllabus.

We begin with a first look at what philosophy is about, then move on to how a few key figures in its history have talked about the limits of our knowledge.   We will be looking at Socrates in ancient Greece and Wittgenstein in England not that long ago,  at Aristotle and the Dominican priest who used his ideas to prove that God exists and we have mortal souls, at Descartes who tried to do the same thing without Aristotle, at David Hume who denied the very possibility any such proofs,  and finally at a few other thinkers who ask some old questions in interesting new ways. 

I will try to guide you along with help from some of the individuals who have tried to make philosophy, both old and new,  more accessible through YouTube.  Each week I will post something of a preview and several times along there will be a practice quiz that might help you check your progress.

So how are you graded?

Each week's activities  have a point value with a few counting for extra-credit.  The required activities add up to 260 points and the final exam counts for 40 points more.  Below are the point totals for the letter grades.

A: 270+, B: 240-269, C: 210-239, D: 180-209

caution: the Canvas grade page includes percentage scores based on graded assignments and for that reason is not always a reliable indicator of your standing in the course

And a few things about what more Pierce can provide to help you get through

Financial Assistance If you need money to pay for books, supplies, enrollment fees, parking, and other expenses to help you with college, apply for financial aid.  To learn about the financial aid process, visit www.piercecollege.edu/offices/financial_aid (Links to an external site.) or send an email to pierce_finaid@piercecollege.edu.  The office is located on the 2nd floor of the Student Services Building.  The Financial Aid Office uses a virtual queue called QLess which enables students to wait in line virtually.  To learn how to join the financial aid queue, go to http://www.piercecollege.edu/offices/financial_aid/qlessvirtualline.asp

Students with disabilities have access to a number of services.  Please see the Pierce webpage for our Special Services office.

Important dates, especially those affecting withdrawal from a course, are on the calendar on the Pierce website.

And some other things you should know without asking

Disruptive behavior and academic dishonesty (cheating on an exam, plagiarism on a paper) are violations of school rules subject to a range of penalties.  Please see the information about both on the Pierce website. 

There is a legal expectation that all students are entitled to an education in an environment conducive to learning, which calls on all of us to treat each other with respect regardless of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.  In addition, California law now has specific requirements for dealing with instances of sexual harassment on or off campus.