Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Introduction to Philosophy
TR 2:00 – 3:15
Don Berkich, Ph.D.
Hours: By appointment only, video remote or outside.
Office#: 3976 (do not leave a message, send email or text to mobile instead)
Mobile#: 361-944-2756 (never after 9:00 p.m., texts much preferred--be sure to identify yourself!)
Hours: By appointment only. Available to meet on a limited, as her studies permit, basis.
Mobile#: 501-230-0786 (texts only--be sure to identify yourself!)
Welcome to the Philosophy Gym, where we exercise our minds, no question or puzzle is off-limits, discussions are open, and we rediscover the importance of playing with ideas.
Student Learning Outcomes*
Successful completion of the course provides you with a foundational understanding of Western philosophical thought. In particular, you will be familiar with basic logical, epistemological, and metaphysical issues discussed in classic and contemporary literature. These outcomes will be measured through in-class quizzes, tests, and take-home essay assignments. By the end of the course, you will also know the basic elements of logic (e.g. recognizing arguments, argument forms, and using terms of appraisal) and be able to compose philosophical essays on topics such as the mind-body problem, the existence of God, and freedom of the will. Ideally, you will develop a coherent understanding of the nature philosophical inquiry and begin forming a philosophical perspective of your own. Since much of our time is spent on close textual analysis, you will also improve your reading comprehension skills and strengthen your abilities to construct logical arguments.
*Ignore this. It's just something we're required to have on our syllabi. Pointless drivel. A requirement of the University for accreditation purposes only. A result of the contemptible commodification of education and the corporatization of its institutions. Used as the basis for a pre- and post-test in a facile attempt to demonstrate quality in teaching and learning. Fails to reflect any grasp of the distinction between training and education by presupposing that understanding, discovery, and knowledge can be precisely measured, economized, and thereby controlled. An embarrassing academic fad and an affront to the towering intellects whose investigations we have the privilege of pursuing this semester.**
**The professor whose course this is has been informed by the administration that the above statement repudiating Student Learning Outcomes is both 'uncivil' and 'sets a poor example for students'. The professor is deeply grateful to the administration for their protest and takes no small pride in their having echoed (albeit unwittingly and however distantly) Meletus' charges against Socrates. Frankly, there can be no greater honor for those who find inspiration in Socrates the gadfly, Socrates the midwife, and, above all, Socrates the self-stinging stingray.
All readings will be provided as necessary by the professor.
There will be exactly five essays as indicated on the course schedule. Instructions and prompts will be provided on the essay page. All but the last essay will be take-home.
Extra Credit Pop Quizzes:
In an effort to encourage and reward attendance, there will be five short (at most ten minute) in-class pop quizzes scattered throughout the semester. Since these count for extra credit only, no make-up quizzes will be provided.
Students should be prepared to contribute to class discussion, solve problems with the class, and be actively engaged in helping others solve problems.
Midterm Course Grade
The University has determined that students cannot be trusted to be responsible for their own grades and thus requires midterm grades be assigned. Midterm Course Grades, which do not count for anything other than reporting purposes and obliging University policy, will be either 'SP' (Satisfactorily Progressing) or 'UP' (Unsatisfactorily Progressing), judged using all of the professor's available evidence, including attendance, participation, and scores to date, if any. Any student receiving a Midterm Course Grade of UP is strongly advised to contact the professor as soon as possible to discuss the matter.
Final Course Grade Formula
There are 1000 points possible as follows:
Essays: 50pts Essay I; 100pts Essay II; 175pts Essay III; 275pts Essay IV; 400pts Essay V.
Total Points = sum of the Essays plus.
Course Grade is determined by the following scale:
B 800 - 899
C 700 - 799
D 600 - 699
F 000 - 599
Note that there are an additional 100 extra credit points possible from the sum of the five Extra Credit Pop Quizzes, which will simply be added to Total Points prior to applying the above scale. A student with 786 Total Points and 74 Extra Credit Points will then have earned not a strong 'C' for the course but a healthy 'B' because with strong attendance and a decent performance on the Extra Credit Pop Quizzes, she will jump from a 786 to an 860 on the grading scale.
The professor assumes that students enrolled in this course are sincere student-scholars. That is, the professor shall treat students with the respect due scholars, and students shall do their best to live up to the standards of scholars. To wit,
Scholars carefully read assignments in advance of class, take notes on their reading, explore specific issues in discussion with fellow scholars, and follow-up class by re-reading portions of the required readings and exploring suggested readings.
Scholars are eager to respectfully, openly, and critically discuss arguments and issues raised by the readings. Scholars are adept at following a line of reasoning wherever it may lead. Most importantly, scholars welcome the insights and criticisms of their peers: A scholar understands that it is possible to entertain a proposition without believing it, just as it is possible to present an argument without personally endorsing the argument. Scholars enjoy vigorous deliberations and are always careful to treat fellow scholars with patience and good humor.
Scholars fully immerse themselves in assignments and never assume that an assignment is only legitimate if it will be covered on a test. Scholars are naturally curious and see every assignment as an opportunity to explore new issues, see old issues in new light, and hone their growing skills.
Due to a raft of recent research and the professor's own experience, no scholar will use a screen (laptop, tablet, cellphone, reader, or what have you) in class absent some specific requirement or special need discussed with the professor in advance. Failure to respect this policy will result in dismissal from the class.
Scholars are very careful to give proper credit and maintain the highest standards of scholarly conduct. Scholars who fail to meet their responsibilities let themselves down, the professor, and, most importantly, their peers. In an effort to protect this community they will be prosecuted by the professor to the fullest extent allowable by university guidelines.
Scholars always attend class barring serious injury, illness, or disaster. Scholars view class-time as rare and valuable for the thought it evokes and the opportunities it presents. Scholars arrive early for class and never leave class early without obtaining prior approval from the professor. Scholars who miss class are responsible for obtaining class-notes and doing the readings.
Individual Responsibility Post-Covid-19
Scholars recognize that their health is of paramount importance in pursuing their studies, which is a daunting proposition during a pandemic. Scholars rightly foresee that the decisions they make about their own protections from an airborne and highly infectious virus that causes a highly variable and potentially disastrous disease affect not only themselves but all with whom they interact: never has 'all for one, one for all' meant so much to scholars. Further, struggling to earn expertise themselves, scholars readily recognize the extraordinary value of hard-earned expertise and afford it the respect it merits. During a pandemic, then, scholars scrupulously defend their own health and the health of their community of scholars by 1) carefully monitoring their own health and their exposure to those who have had symptoms before allowing themselves to attend class and notifying the professor immediately upon discovering exposure, 2) wearing masks as appropriate, particularly indoors when engaging with those of unknown vaccination status, and, most importantly, 3) insisting on getting fully vaccinated at the earliest time possible.
This syllabus is authoritative and tentative. That is, the syllabus as it appears on this page in its most recent form supersedes any other version with which it conflicts. At the same time, any change to the syllabus will be made here and announced in class. Further, no change will be made which would be detrimental to the student's grade. The professor and the students are only responsible for the syllabus as it appears in its entirety here, including particularly the schedule on the course home page, which should be considered part of this syllabus.
Any student missing a due date must provide a documented, acceptable reason according to university guidelines. Students with a proper excuse for missing a due date will be given a reasonable extension.
Subject to professor discretion, students without a proper excuse for missing a due date will lose 20 points per day after the due date.
Required University Note to Students with Disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please call or visit Disability Services at (361) 825-5816 in Corpus Christi Hall 116. If you are a returning veteran and are experiencing cognitive and/or physical access issues in the classroom or on campus, please contact the Disability Services office for assistance at (361) 825-5816.
Required College of Liberal Arts Note on the Grade Appeal Process: As stated in University Procedure 13.02.99.C0.03, Student Grade Appeal Procedures, a student who believes that he or she has not been held to appropriate academic standards as outlined in the class syllabus, equitable evaluation procedures, or appropriate grading, may appeal the final grade given in the course. The burden of proof is upon the student to demonstrate the appropriateness of the appeal. A student with a complaint about a grade is encouraged to first discuss the matter with the instructor. For complete details, including the responsibilities of the parties involved in the process and the number of days allowed for completing the steps in the process, see University Procedure 13.02.99.C0.03, Student Grade Appeal Procedures. These documents are accessible through the University Rules Web site at https://academicaffairs.tamucc.edu/rules_procedures/index.html. For assistance and/or guidance in the grade appeal process, students may contact the Dean’s office in the college in which the course is taught or the Office of the Provost.
Required College of Liberal Arts Note on Academic Advising: The College of Liberal Arts requires that students meet with an Academic Advisor as soon as they are ready to declare a major. Degree plans are prepared in the CLA Academic Advising Center. The University uses an online Degree Audit system. Any amendment must be approved by the Department Chair and the Office of the Dean. All courses and requirements specified in the final degree plan audit must be completed before a degree will be granted. The CLA Academic Advising Office is located in Driftwood #203. For more information, please call 361-825-3466.
Required University Note on Civil Rights Reporting:* exas A&M University-Corpus Christi is committed to fostering a culture of caring and respect that is free from discrimination, relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and ensuring that all affected students have access to services. For information on reporting Civil Rights complaints, options and support resources (including pregnancy support accommodations) or university policies and procedures, please contact the University Title IX Coordinator, Sam Ramirez at Samuel.email@example.com or Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Rosie Ruiz at Rosie.Ruiz@tamucc.edu ext. 5826, or visit website at Title IX/Sexual Assault/Pregnancy. Limits to confidentiality. Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University's student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, are not able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report alleged or suspected civil rights discrimination that is observed by or made known to an employee in the course and scope of their employment. As the instructor, I must report allegations of civil rights discrimination, including sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator if you share it with me. These reports will trigger contact with you from the Civil Rights/Title IX Compliance office who will inform you of your options and resources regarding the incident that you have shared. If you would like to talk about these incidents in a confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with counselors in the University Counseling Center.
*Please note that the professor whose course this is did not write this note, despite its having been written in the first-person. Whoever it was meant well, no doubt.
Required University Note on Campus Emergencies: At TAMU-CC, your safety is a top concern. We actively prepare for natural disasters or human-caused incidents with the ultimate goal of maintaining a safe and secure campus.
- For any emergency, dial the University Police Department (UPD) at 361-825-4444 or dial 911. It’s a good idea to have the UPD emergency number (and non-emergency number 361-825-4242) saved in your cell phone.
- There are nearly 200 classroom telephones throughout campus. If you feel threatened or need help and don’t have a cell phone, dial 4444 (emergency) or 4242 (non-emergency) to be connected to UPD.
- If we hear a fire alarm, we will immediately evacuate the building and proceed to ___Cancun___(location).
- Proceed to the nearest building exit or evacuation stairway. Do not use the elevator. Persons who need help navigating stairs should proceed to a marked Area of Rescue Assistance, if possible.
- Persons with disabilities should speak with their faculty about how to best assist them in case of an emergency.
- Review the evacuation route (see specific Building Emergency Plan).
- TAMU-CC employs the Code Blue Emergency Notification System, an alert system which connects the campus community during emergency situations.
- The notifications include emails, text and pre-recorded messages, as appropriate.
- Code Blue emergencies may include severe weather warnings, threats, school closures, delays, evacuations and other incidents which disrupt regular campus activities.
- Students can update personal contact information anytime at https://emergency.tamucc.edu/contactform/.
- Shelter in Place via Code Blue.
- "Shelter-in-place" means to take immediate shelter where you are and may be implemented for severe weather, hazardous material spills, active shooters or other dangerous situations.
- If there is a shelter in place for a tornado warning, our preferred location is the bottom floor of this building, away from windows and doors.
- Active Threat Protocol. There are three things you could do that make a difference if there is an active threat: Run, Hide, and/or Fight. For more information about the Run, Hide, Fight protocol, including what to do when law enforcement arrives, visit http://safety.tamucc.edu/ems/activethreat.html.
For the Quick Campus Guide to Campus Emergencies (including a list of Areas of Rescue Assistance and additional protocols on assisting persons with physical disabilities, hurricanes, bomb threats, animal bites, crime reporting, elevator entrapment, etc.), visit https://safety.tamucc.edu/uploads/Site/finalbooklet.pdf
By accepting this syllabus the student indicates that the syllabus has been read, all requirements are understood, and all policies are acknowledged.