PHI 1500: Major Issues in Philosophy

Strategies for Success

-> Midterm Grade Report

-> Pre-Final Grade Report – REVISED 12/11/16

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The course schedule is subject to change. Look out for updates via email!!

1. August 29th 2. August 31st
Introduction to the course

Session 1 Slides

“All About Arguments”

Session 2 Slides

September 5th – NO CLASS 3. September 7th
Baruch Closed for Labor Day Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (excerpt)

Session 3 Slides

4. September 12th 5. September 14th
NO LECTURE! (Prof. at a conference)
Read slides on “Critical Thinking with Statistics” slides and complete this
short quiz by midnight on the 12th for attendance credit
Russell, “Appearance and Reality”

Session 5 Slides

*last day to drop the course without any marks on your transcript*

6. September 19th 7. September 21st
Descartes, Meditations I & II

Session 6 Slides

James, Pragmatism (excerpt)

Session 7 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #1**

8. September 26th 9. September 28th
Hobbes, Leviathan (excerpt)

Session 8 Slides

Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (excerpt)

Session 9 Slides


October 3rd – NO CLASS 10. October 5th  &
11. October 6th (Classes on a Monday schedule)
Baruch Holiday Held, Non-Contractual Society: A Feminist View” (for Oct. 5th)

Session 10 Slides

Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism” (for Oct. 6th)

Session 11 Slides

October 10th – NO CLASS   October 12th – NO CLASS
Baruch Closed for Indigenous People’s Day
(recommended video: Columbus Day
– How is This Still a Thing?
Baruch Holiday
12. October 17th 13. October 19th
Strawson, “Your Move: The Maze of Free Will”

Churchland, “The Big Questions: Do We Have Free Will?”

Session 12 Slides

Milgram, Obedience to Authority (excerpt)

Session 13 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #2**           

14. October 24th 15. October 26th
Montero, On the Philosophy of Mind (excerpts)

Session 14 Slides

Ryle, The Concept of Mind (excerpt)

Session 15 Slides


16. October 31st 17. November 2nd
Churchland on Eliminative Materalism (video)

Session 16 Slides 

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (excerpt)

Session 17 Slides

18. November 7th 19. November 9th
Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpt)

 Session 18 Slides

O’Neill, “A Simplified Account of Kant’s Ethics”

Session 19 Slides

*last day to withdraw from the course with a grade of ‘W’ (Official Withdrawal, no GPA penalty)*

20. November 14th 21. November 16th
Thomson, “Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem”

Session 20 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #3**

Young, “Five Faces of Oppression”

Session 21 Slides

November 21st – NO CLASS November 23rd – NO CLASS
(by email, or leave in my mailbox in the Philosophy Dept office, VC 5-295)
Happy (early) Thanksgiving!
22. November 28th 23. November 30th
De Beauvoir, The Second Sex (excerpts)

Session 22 Slides


Fraser, “A Feminism Where ‘Lean In’ Means Leaning On Others”

Session 23 Slides

24. December 5th 25. December 7th
Mills, “But What Are You Really?: The Metaphysics of Race”

Session 24 Slides

Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (excerpt)

Session 25 Slides

26. December 12th December 19th, 5pm
finishing up Session 25 Slides

**Download Take Home Exam #4**


(by email, or leave in my mailbox)

December 21st, midnight



460 thoughts on “PHI 1500: Major Issues in Philosophy

  1. Russell, “Appearance and Reality”

    Russell begins with, “In daily life, we assume as certain many things which, on a closer scrutiny, are found to be so full of apparent contradictions that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe.” We see, touch, taste, hear and smell similar things to other people. If there is a smooth brown oak chair sitting in the corner of the room, people will see it the same way. The same brown chair. However to a painter it is not. They see the different color spectrum of the brown color and the lighting of the chair also differs it from the other chairs. “the distinction between ‘appearance’ and ‘reality’, between what things seem to be and what they are.” A colorblind man can see the chair as orange or yellow but still is looking at the same chair. When we speak about the color of the chair, we talk about it from a person’s point of view and the accordingly to the light illuminated on it.

  2. Session 21 Response
    This particular lecture affects me on a personal level because I have experienced oppression before, just as many others have too. Oppression in the United States is structural. Being a caucasian male can give you the greatest opportunities, while being a female minority can hinder all your potential. I don’t think eliminating groups would ever happen. One has to identify with something. Whenever one describes themselves, they say “I am this” or “I am that”, thus identifying themselves with certain groups, exposing themselves to whatever some may stereotype them to be.

  3. Mills, “But What Are You Really?: The Metaphysics of Race”

    When we meet someone, we first see the color of their skin, their facial features, and how close their eyes are to their nose. Those small aspects of a person’s body determine their race. Race was first introduced when African Americans are brought to America and sold for slavery. That was when Caucasians start to discriminate them as colored people. When we first see someone, we always pondered, “But What Are You Really?” We are not asking where are they born in, or where they grew up. We ask for their ethnicity, their race. We are curious about the origins of their ancestors and why the color of their skin is what it is to be.

  4. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

    The excerpt from Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle was one that I found resourceful. The thing that separated this reading from the rest was that it was more practical as he spent majority of the excerpt is more about bettering yourself as a person rather than straight out philosophy. I feel like he actually gives out good solid advice in the reading as he describes the main goal for people is to be virtuous, in order to be truly good. That there needs to be a balance of both pleasure and pain and that everything has to be in moderation. The best course of action to Aristotle is one of moderation and balance, because when something is made in moderation it is carefully thought of and considerate. However people sometimes do not make the best choices which is why society has laws and constructs to hold everyone in moderation and regulation for the virtue of everyone. In a way, Aristotle’s ideas are tied to governments and the politics.

  5. Post 10

    W.E.B Dubois posted a very profound concept of the “the veil”. For DuBois, the veil refers to three things. First, the literal dark skin of the blacks. Second, the colored eye the white people see black people with (a sense of supremacy) and that they cannot perceive blacks as “true” Americans. And third, blacks could not shatter the limitations and boundaries the white prescribed for them; on the other words, they could not see themselves clearly. Although there is a veil that shades the view of both Blacks and Whites, the reason why Blacks traditionally have a better understanding of whites than the reverse is because of this “two-ness” lived and felt by Black Americans. In other words, upon coming to the realization of being Black and what that has historically meant in America (or arguably presently means in America), Black people have long known how to operate in two Americas— one that is white and one that is Black.

  6. Session 22 Response
    The inequality that is apparent in today’s time cannot be just stopped with a law. Equality de jure does not guarantee equality de facto. It must be put into practice. Even though The United States of America passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women are still paid less than men. I think it’s really messed up because if you work the same your deserve the same compensation. I hate work personally and if I am not paid the same as someone else who does the exact same work I do I would be pissed. I believe inequality and oppression have to be correct ed in society.

  7. Mills, “But What Are You Really?: The Metaphysics of Race”
    This article made me think about my own racial identity, which I commonly receive questions about. I identify as Russian Jewish. Usually, when I tell this to people, they first ask me if “Jewish” is a race or religion. This question is complex even for me because I think about the beliefs that come with a Jewish identity and how anyone can convert. However, Jewishness is also associated with a certain history which can not be converted into. I have also heard of blood tests which can distinguish Jewish blood. There are also common genetic disorders specifically in Ashkenazi Jews. The complexity stems from all these factors combined. Even when my rabbi was asked, the answer was unclear to me because he gave a broad answer about how being Jewish is a spiritual entity. I also commonly get asked how I came to be both Russian and Jewish. I think race is a combination that started from groups of people in certain parts of the world who shared genetic backgrounds and formed communities with shared history/beliefs.

  8. Young, “Five Faces of Oppression”
    I agree that ignoring race does not solve any problems, since we cannot erase this instilled idea from out heads. It is more beneficial to address the social causes of the racial hierarchies. Then we can come to understand how certain races have been made more prominent or valued by society. I think that pretending to ignore race, “I dont see color”, only worsens racial tensions by ignoring the ways that races are exploited and disadvantaged. Having lectures about Young’s theory is a good first step in getting future generations to understand racism.

  9. Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpt)
    I believe that what is right comes from both the outcome of a decision and one’s reasoning for their decision. Life is not like a movie, where people self pronounce themselves a villain. Only fictionous characters like the joker actually call themselves evil. Everyone else, like Hitler, will justify their actions as done for the right reasons. For example, Hitler believes in everything he said for the sake of humanity. However, that did not make his actions morally acceptable because his reasoning was not valid and it did not fully tie in with other moral people have about murder.

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