Introduction to Philosophy
(PHIL 2101-001; 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM; Tue., Wed., & Thu.; Smith 327)

Instructor:  Bill Gay
Office and Hours: Winningham 103D; 1:30-2:00 & 4:30-5:00 PM Tue.-Thu. & by appt.
Phone, Email, FAX: (704) 687-2266; <>; (704) 687-2172
Course Web Site:


Epstein, Richard L.  The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking.  2nd Ed.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth, 2003.  ISBN 0-534-56102-0  (Assign. abbr. = CT)

Govier, Trudy.  A Delicate Balance:  What Philosophy Can Tell Us About Terrorism.  Boulder:  Westview Press, 2002.  ISBN 0-8133-6585-6  (Assign. abbr. = DB)

Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates.  3rd Edition.  Trans. G.M.A. Grube.  Indianapolis:  Hackett, 2000.  ISBN 0-87220-554-1  (Assign. abbr. = TD)

Aim and Structure:
Many people refer on occasion to their ìphilosophy of life,î but few have the opportunity to reflect in depth on topics and works in philosophy.  An introduction to philosophy provides students with the tools for philosophical reflection.  This course explores several topics and works in philosophy.  Primary readings will be assigned for each class session, and classes will combine lecture on and discussion of these readings and related topics.  From this course, students should become acquainted with the discipline of philosophy and gain greater clarity in their thinking and values.


1. Two In-Class  Exams  (70%; 35% each)
Following Part I and Part II, an in-class exam will be given on class lectures and readings.  Exams will include objective sections and essay questions.  (Make-up exams will be given only for highly extenuating circumstances and will be more difficult.)

2. Attendance and Participation (10%)
Students are expected to attend class regularly.  Each absence will result in a reduction in a student's final participation grade; 6 points for each full class and 3 points for each half class missed.  In addition, students are expected to be actively involved in class discussions.

3. Individual and Group Work (20%; 10% each)
Individual Work.  For each class with a reading assignment, each student is expected to submit at class time, a sheet with three items:  1) at least one question, related to the assignment, that the student would like for the instructor to address, 2) a brief paragraph stating what the student regards as the main point of the assignment, 3) a brief paragraph in which the student reflects on or gives an application of this point.
Group Work.  The class will be divided into five groups.  Each group will be assigned one date early in the session and one date later in the session for which the group will be responsible for making an initial presentation on the class assignment for that day or on a related topic approved by the instructor.  Presentations are to be 20-30 minutes in length and are to include both an effort to convey major distinctions and an effort to be interactive with the class.  The instructor will provide further details on individual and group work.

Policy and Goal Statements and Other Information:

All work by students is subject to the standards of ìThe UNC Charlotte Code of Academic Integrity.î  Students have the responsibility to understand the definitions of the code and the penalties for its violation.  For the policies and procedures, consult UNC Charlotte Undergraduate Catalog, 2001-2003, p. 275; or contact the Dean of Students Office (217 King Building)  or <> .

Students with documented disabilities are eligible to receive assistance from the Office of Disability Services (230 Fretwell).  For detailed information on Disability Services, see the UNC Charlotte Undergraduate Catalog, 2001-2003, p. 268.

This course satisfies an L goal within Understanding The Arts Literature And Ideas which has as its aim that UNC Charlotte graduates should:

  • Be conversant with, and have had experience in, the aims and methods of the great intellectual, spiritual, literary, and artistic expressions that have shaped the development of the human imagination
  • Understand the importance that abstract ideas and artistic images have in the process of self understanding and in the shaping of society



    Class Schedule
    --dates, which are indicated in brackets, may vary--

    Abbreviations of texts for reading assignments, which are listed in parentheses, are:
    CT  = Epstein, Richard L.  The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking
    DB  = Govier, Trudy.  A Delicate Balance
    TD  = Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates

    Introduction:  Defining Philosophy and Its Major Areas  [5/28]

    Part I.  The Good Life and Thinking Logically

    A. Socrates and the Passion for Wisdom

    1. The Primacy of Truth (TD, 20-42) [5/29]
    2. Facing Death (TD, 43-58) and Recognizing Arguments (CT, 1-12) [6/3]
    3. The Socratic Method (TD, 1-19) and Platoís Allegory of the Cave (web) [6/4]
    B. Critical Thinking:  Basic Skills in Logical Reasoning C. Exam on Part I (35%) [6/17]

    Part II.  Philosophical Reflection on Terrorism

    A. Defining Terrorism & Weapons of Mass Destruction (Holmes; Gay) [6/18] {Group #5}

    B. Govier on How Philosophy Can Respond to Terrorism

    1. Vulnerability, Victims, and Evil (DB, 1-30) [6/19] {Group #1}
    2. Hatred, Revenge, and Power (DB, 31-63) [6/24] {Group #2}
    3. Justice, Violence, and Responsibility DB, 65-100) [6/25] {Group #3}
    4. Kindness, Courage, and Perspective (DB, 103-136) [6/26] {Group #4}
    5. Life, Vindication, and Hope (DB, 137-169) [7/1] {Group #5}
    C. Exam on Part II  (35%) [7/2, 3:30-5:00 PM]