Introduction to Philosophy


(PHIL 2102-003, 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM, Tue. & Thu., Smith 331)


Instructor:                Bill Gay

Office Hours:             Winningham 103D

Office Hours:             10:30-11:00 AM, 2:30-3:30 PM, and 5:00-5:30 PM Tue. and Thu.; and by appointment

Phone, Email, FAX:   (704) 687-2266; <>; (704) 687-2172

Course Web Site:


Course Descrioption

PHIL 2102. Introduction to Philosophy Ð Writing Intensive. (3) (W) Exploration of some of the basic problems that have shaped the history of philosophy (truth, knowledge, justice, beauty, etc.) and remain relevant to students today on personal and professional levels.  Readings will range from classical to contemporary texts by a variety of philosophers representing diverse perspectives on these problems.   Makes substantial use of writing as a tool for learning.  Crosslisted as PHIL 2101, but fulfills the general education writing goal.   Students can receive credit for either PHIL 2101 or PHIL 2102, but not both.


Required Texts

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

Pojman, Louis P.  Classics of Philosophy, Volume II:  Modern and Contemporary.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1998.  (Assign. abbr. = MC)



1.   Four In-Class  Exams  (40%; 10% each)

Following Parts I-V, an in-class exam will be given on class lectures and on the readings.  Exams will include objective sections and essay questions.  (Make-up exams will be given only for highly extenuating circumstances and will be considerably more difficult.)

2.   Four Short Papers  (40%; 10% each)

You will write four short papers (approximately 2 pages each) on questions relating to class readings and discussions.  At the time of the each in-class  exam you will turn in one of these papers.  These papers should be in your own words.  Papers will be graded on a scoring guide to be provided and on whether they fulfill the requirements of content, length, and due date. They are due at the beginning of class.  During the semester you may revise two of these papers for a possible improved grade.  After you receive the marked paper, you will revise it and turn it in (attached to your earlier marked version) within one week.

3.   Attendance (15%)

Students are expected to attend class regularly.  After two absences, 5 points will be substracted from the attendance grade for each additional absence.

4.   Participation (5%)

Students are expected to be actively involved in class discussions.

Grading Scale

90-100% = A

80-89%   = B

70-79%   = C

60-69%   = D

00-59%   = F


Policy Statements:

UNC Charlotte strives to create an academic climate in which the dignity of all individuals is respected and maintained. Therefore, we celebrate diversity that includes, but is not limited to ability/disability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender,  gender identity, language, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.  See "Diversity" under Quick Links on the University's home page:

Students have the responsibility to know and observe the UNC Charlotte's "The Code of Student Academic Integrity."  The code is on the web at:  Further information can be found at

Students with documented disabilities requiring accommodation in this course should contact Disability Services in Fretwell 230 or at:

Students are not to use any electronic devices (including cell phones and laptops) during class without instructor's permission. 


Class Schedule

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


Abbreviations of texts for reading assignments, which are listed in parentheses, are:

TD        =    Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates

MC       =    Pojman, Louis P.  Classics of Philosophy, Vol. II:  Modern and Contemporary


Introduction:  Biases and Reasoning  8/24]


Part I.  Ancient Philosophy:  Socrates and Plato

A.  Asking Questions and Recognizing Arguments [8/26]

B.   Socrates and the Passion for Wisdom

1.   The Primacy of Truth (TD, 20-42) [8/31]

2.   The Socratic Method and Facing Death (TD, 1-19 and 43-58) [9/2]

C.   Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Divided Line; web text:  [9/7]

D.   Review of Part I [9/9]

E.   Turn in Paper I  (10%) and Take In-Class Exam I (10%) [9/14]


Part II.  Modern Philosophy:  Descartes, Hume, and Kant

A.  Overview of Part II [9/16]

B.   Descartes:  Rationalism and Dualism (MC, 463-464)

Doubt, Mind/Body, and God (MC, 465-477 and 480-483) [9/21] 

C.   Hume:  Empiricism and Skepticism (MC, 670-672)
   Liberty vs. Necessity, and Miracles (MC, 676-682, 691-692, 698-704, 709-710) [9/23]
D.   Kant:  Idealism and the Principles  of Morality (MC, 771-773)

 Free Will and  Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives (MC, 823-825, 832-834, 839-840, 842) [9/28]

E.   Wollstonecraft:  Women's Rights
      A Vindication of the Rights of Women, ch 2 (weeb) [9/30]
F.   Review of Part II [10/5]

G.   Turn in Paper II (10%) and Take In-Class Exam II (10%) [10/7]


Part III.  Recent Philosophy:  Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Mill

A.  Overview of Part III [10/14]

B.   Hegel and the Master-Slave Dialectic (MC, 857-863) [10/19]

C.   Marx and the Analysis of Alienation (MC, 995-1010) [10/21]

D.   Nietzsche and the Critique of Morality (MC, 1014, 1017-1022, 1024-1034) [10/26]

E.   Mill and the Liberal Tradition (MC, 913-914 & 945-963) [11/2]]

F.   Review Part III [11/4]

G.   Turn in Paper III (10%) and Take In-Class Exam III (10%) [11/9]


Part IV.  Contemporary Philosophy:  Ayer, James, Sartre, and Rawls

A.  Overview  of Part IV [11/11]

B.   Ayer and Positivism (MC, 1218-1225) [11/16]

C.   James and American Pragmatism (MC, 1062-1078) [11/18]

D.   Sartre and Existentialism (MC, 1201-1217) [11/30]

E.   Rawls and the Quest for Fairness (MC, 1245-1261) [12/2]

F.   Review of Part III [12/7]


G.   Turn in Paper IV (10%) and take In-Class Exam IV (10%)

[Exam on Part IV will be given during the time scheduled for the Final Exam for this class:  11:00-1:30 on Tuesday, 12/14]