Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Expectations Part II: What Do We Do in a Philosophy Class?

For many of you, this is your first philosophy class.  Some of you have never had a Humanities course, either.  This means that it is natural that many of you will not know what to expect from this class.  In short, you can expect, text-based, critical argument-based inquiry.

Text-Based.  Coursework will focus on assigned readings.  You will be expected to complete reading assignments before lecture.  Sections will be used to clarify and expand the issues that Dr. Bernecker discusses.  Although you will have some freedom to determine the content of our discussions in sections, knowledge of the texts themselves will help our discussions to be more focused, rigorous and productive.  Additionally, written papers will require familiarity with those texts and the arguments contained therein.

Critical & Argument-Based.  We will focus not just on topics and questions but also on the arguments that philosophers use to support their positions regarding relevant issues.  Arguments consist of two kinds of statements: premises and conclusions.  Conclusions are the statements that represent the point of the argument or what the argument is attempting to prove.  Premises are statements that support, or prove, the conclusions.  If an argument has all true premises and a proper logical form, the conclusion is logically proven.  For more on the basics of logical argumentation, see my other post on logic basics:

For a dated (but funny) exploration of arguments, visit this link:

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