UWG Philosophy Program

 

PHIL 3120 sec. 01

AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY (3 hours)

Spring Semester 2013

TR 9:30-10:50am

Prerequisites: PHIL 2010 or permission of instructor

Classroom: Pafford 109

Web site: http://www.westga.edu/~rlane/american

Email: rlane@westga.edu*

Instructor: Dr. Robert Lane, TLC 2247

Office Hours:

T: 8:30-9:15am; 11am-12:15pm; 3:30-4pm

W: 10am-12pm (except 1st & 3rd Weds); 1-3pm

R: 11am-12:15pm; 3:30-4pm

and by appointment

My office telephone: (678) 839-4745
English/Philosophy telephone: (678) 839-6512

 

*All email communication must be conducted from your official UWG email account. Students are obligated to check their UWG email accounts on a regular basis and to ensure that their mailboxes do not become full.

UWG Severe Weather Policy: http://www.westga.edu/police/index_2277.php

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What is truth? What is the best way for me to form beliefs about the world? Is absolute certainty possible, or must we be satisfied with beliefs that are not certain? What is philosophy, and what is its relationship with science? This course tackles those questions and others by examining how they were treated by the thinkers who founded pragmatism, America's distinctive philosophical tradition. In particular, we will study the works of three classical American pragmatists: Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. We will also study the ideas of two more recent pragmatists: Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, each student will be able to identify, describe, ask questions concerning, and critically discuss (in both oral and written communications) selected positions and theories in the history of American philosophy, including:

·         Peirce's criticism of Cartesianism; his views on belief, truth and reality, including his account of various methods of "fixing" belief; his Pragmatic Maxim; and his pragmatic accounts of truth and reality.

·         James's distinction between the tough- and tender-minded temperaments in philosophy; his Pragmatic Method; and his pragmatic view of truth.

·         Dewey's pragmatic theories of knowledge and truth.

·         Putnam’s neo-pragmatist views on truth and reality and how he was influenced by James and Dewey,

·         Rorty's so-called "vulgar pragmatism," including his views on epistemology and metaphysics.

These course-specific learning outcomes contribute to the departmental learning outcomes of the Philosophy Program by enabling students better to

·         discuss the general historical development of the discipline of philosophy, including the views of at least three major historical figures of philosophy;

·         incorporate a philosophical position in oral and written communications;

·         critically outline and analyze philosophical issues;

·         exhibit critical thinking skills.

 

METHODS OF INSTRUCTION: Although this is a lecture class, class discussion will be encouraged. Lectures are intended to elucidate and provide supplementary information relevant to the reading assignments and to form the basis for a vigorous class discussion of the arguments and theories at hand. Reading assignments will be made on a regular basis. In order to benefit fully from lectures and to participate meaningfully in class discussion, it is a must that you do the reading when it is assigned.

 

READING:

·         Pragmatism, Old and New, ed. Susan Haack, Prometheus Books, 2006 ($32). [required]

·         Online lecture notes (after most class meetings, I will post my own lecture notes for that day on the class web site; you should read and study these notes on a regular basis).

 

EVALUATION:

·         Mid-term examination (35%). Mixed format. A study guide will be provided at least ten days in advance.

·         Final examination (35%). Mixed format. A study guide will be provided at least ten days in advance.

·         Term paper (30%). 2000 word minimum. More details about this assignment will be provided later in the semester.

·         GRADING SCALE:

100 – 90.1%  A        90.0 – 80.1%  B             80.0 – 70.1%  C             70.0 – 60.1%  D             60.0 - 0%  F

 

 

MISSED TESTS / LATE PAPERS / EXTRA CREDIT:

·         If you know that you will need to miss class on a day on which a test is scheduled (for example, due to a UWG sponsored event), you must let me know about your absence as far in advance as possible so that we can schedule another day and time for you to take the test (or a make-up test). If you miss a test without receiving my explicit permission beforehand and making arrangements for a make-up test, you will be permitted to take a make-up test if and only if one of the following conditions applies: (a) Your absence was due to illness or injury serious enough to require professional medical care and which prevented you from contacting me before the test; or (b) Your absence was due to other extenuating circumstances beyond your control. I will determine on a case-by-case basis what constitutes "extenuating circumstances beyond your control." You may be required to provide documentation pertaining to your absence before you are allowed to take a make-up test. Make-up tests will usually be longer and potentially more difficult than the original test that you missed.

·         You may turn in your writing assignments late ONLY IF you have made arrangements with me beforehand and I have given you explicit permission.

·         Extra-credit work will not be given under any circumstances. Work completed for other courses will not be accepted in this course.

 

 

ATTENDANCE, LATE ARRIVAL, EARLY DEPARTURE

·         You may miss four class meetings with no effect on your grade. Beginning with your fifth absence, you will lose five points from your final average for every class meeting you miss. This policy applies to the first week of class, even for days on which you have not yet registered for the class. I will make exceptions for absences necessitated by UWG-sponsored events or by other circumstances that were absolutely outside your control. However, I will make these exceptions only if ALL of your absences can be accounted for in one of these ways (e.g., if you miss five classes and you have documented, acceptable reasons for missing only four classes, then your fifth absence will still count against you). Documentation will be required in all cases in which I make an exception to this attendance policy.

·         Students who miss 8 or more class meetings (four weeks, or one month, worth of classes) will not earn a passing grade in this course. In this case the reason for your absences is irrelevant. If you are unable to attend class for a month due to medical reasons, a family emergency, or any other reason, you should withdraw from the course; if the withdrawal date has passed, you should apply for a hardship withdrawal.

·         An early departure or late arrival may be counted as an absence, depending on the circumstances. I will decide in each case whether an early departure or a late arrival counts as an absence. If you know before class that you will not be able to stay for the entire class session, please inform me of this before class and sit as close to the door as possible, so as to cause as small a distraction as possible when you leave.

·         From the UWG Undergraduate Catalog:  “Class attendance policies are determined by each instructor for his or her own classes, subject to the following principles: class attendance policies shall be stated clearly during the drop-add period; each student is responsible for everything which happens in class and is responsible for making specific arrangements with the instructor for the work missed, including that missed during illness or university-sponsored activities; students absent from class while officially representing the University should not be penalized in the calculation of final grades; students may be dropped from the class by the instructor for violation of the instructor's attendance policy with a grade of W up to the midpoint of the semester or with the grade of WF following the midpoint of the semester; any student who is unable to continue attendance in class should either drop the course, withdraw from the University, or make appropriate arrangements with the instructor; any student who must be absent for more than three successive days is required to notify the Student Development Center, Parker Hall, telephone 678-839-6428. It is also recommended that the student notify the instructor or department. Faculty members have the authority to drop students who do not contact them or attend the first two class meetings for classes which meet daily (or the first class meeting for classes which meet less frequently). Faculty do not, however, automatically drop students who miss these first classes. Students who do not intend to remain in a course must drop the course before the end of the official drop/add period. Failure to drop a course during the drop/add period may result in grades of F in courses not attended.”

 

 

COMMON COURTESY (ELECTRONICS, ETC.)

·         You may not use cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices while class is in session.

·         Do not leave the room during class unless it is absolutely essential that you do so. Leaving the classroom while class is in session (e.g., to visit the restroom) is both disrespectful and distracting. So when you come to class, be prepared to remain in the classroom for the full duration of the class period.

·         Do not study material from other classes while this class is in session. While you are in this class, I expect your attention to be focused on it rather than on your other courses.

·         Students may be dismissed from any class meeting at which they exhibit behavior that disrupts the learning environment of others. Such behavior includes – but is not limited to – arriving late for class, allowing cell phones to ring, speaking disrespectfully to the instructor and/or to other students, and using personal audio or visual devices. Each dismissal of this kind will count as an absence and will be applied toward the attendance policy above.

 

 

DISABILITY PLEDGE

·         I pledge to do my best to work with the University to provide all students with equal access to my classes and materials, regardless of special needs, temporary or permanent disability, special needs related to pregnancy, etc.

·         If you have any special learning needs, particularly (but not limited to) needs defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and require specific accommodations, please do not hesitate to make these known to me, either yourself or through Disability Services in 272 Parker Hall.

·         Students with documented special needs may expect accommodation in relation to classroom accessibility, modification of testing, special test administration, etc. This is not only my personal commitment: it is your right, and it is the law.

·         For more information, please contact Disability Services at the University o f West Georgia.

 

 

RELEVANT INFORMATION FROM THE UWG STUDENT HANDBOOK:

·         “University of West Georgia students are provided a MyUWG e-mail account. The University considers this account to be an official means of communication between the University and the student. The purpose of the official use of the student e-mail account is to provide an effective means of communicating important University related information to UWG students in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to check his or her email.

·         “At the University of West Georgia we believe that academic and personal integrity are based upon honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. Students at West Georgia assume responsibility for upholding the honor code. West Georgia students pledge to refrain from engaging in acts that do not maintain academic and personal integrity. These include, but are not limited to, plagiarism*, cheating*, fabrication*, aid of academic dishonesty, lying, bribery or threats, and stealing. Definitions:

Cheating: ‘using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information or study aids’

Fabrication: “falsification or unauthorized invention of any information or citation’

Plagiarism: ‘representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own. Direct quotations must be indicated and ideas of another must be appropriately acknowledged’”

 

 

IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE REGISTRATION CALENDAR BEGINNING SPRING 2013

·         The open drop period for non-eCore classes will be two weeks long: from January 7 through January 18. This is DROP ONLY.

·         The open add period will be the 1st week of class: January 7 through January 13. The ADD period is ONE week only. There will be no formal LATE ADD period.

·         The fee payment date is later than usual in the spring semester because of eCore dates. (The deadline is January 18). Typically, there is a reinstatement period after the fee payment deadline. However, the 3rd week of class is too late to reinstate students to a class. Therefore: there will be no formal reinstatement period

 

 

 


COURSE SCHEDULE: AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY (PHIL 3120). THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULE IS TENTATIVE AND MAY CHANGE AS THE SEMESTER PROGRESSES. THIS INCLUDES TEST DATES AND DUE DATES FOR PAPERS, WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. If the class finds a specific topic especially interesting and/or difficult, then we may spend more than the allotted time on that topic. I will maintain an up-to-date version of the course schedule on the class web site. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to keep up with test dates, due dates, and reading assignments, either by checking the class web site or contacting me directly. All readings are from Haack, Pragmatism, Old and New.

 

Jan.

Topic

reading due

tests / papers due

T 8

Introduction to Pragmatism

--

--

R 10

Peirce: Anti-Cartesianism

"Some Consequences..." (69-72)

--

T 15

Peirce: Anti-Cartesianism

"Some Consequences..." (69-72)

--

R 17

Peirce: Belief, Doubt and Inquiry

"The Fixation of Belief" (107-15)

--

T 22

Peirce: Methods of Fixing Belief

"The Fixation of Belief" (115-22)

--

R 24

Peirce: The Scientific Method & Realism

"The Fixation of Belief" (122-26)

--

T 29

Peirce: The Scientific Method & Realism

"The Fixation of Belief" (122-26)

--

R 31

Peirce: The Pragmatic Maxim

"How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (127-44)

--

 

 

Feb.

Topic

reading due

tests / papers due

T 5

Peirce: The Pragmatic Maxim

"How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (144-50)

--

R 7

James: Two Philosophical Temperaments

“The Present Dilemma…” (273-280)

--

T 12

James: The Pragmatic Method  and Pragmatic Theism

"What Pragmatism Means" (289-308)

--

R 14

James: Truth and Knowledge

"Pragmatism's Conception of Truth" (309-15)

--

T 19

James: Truth and Knowledge

"Pragmatism's Conception of Truth" (315-28)

--

R 21

CLASS DOES NOT MEET; DR. LANE IS ATTENDING A CONFERENCE

T 26

--

--

TEST #1

R 28

Introduction to Dewey

--

--

 

 

March

Topic

reading due

tests / papers due

Last day to withdraw is Monday March 4

T 5

Discussion of term paper assignment. Dewey: Knowledge.

“The Quest for Certainty” (379-84)

--

R 7

CLASS DOES NOT MEET; DR. LANE IS ATTENDING A CONFERENCE

T 12

Dewey: Knowledge

“The Quest for Certainty” (384-89)

--

R 14

Dewey: Knowledge

“The Quest for Certainty (389-94)

--

T 19

SPRING BREAK: CLASSES DO NOT MEET

R 21

SPRING BREAK: CLASSES DO NOT MEET

T 26

Dewey: Truth

“Truth and Consequences” (341-52)

--

R 28

Dewey: Truth

“Truth and Consequences” (352-61)

--

 

 

Apr.

Topic

Reading

tests / papers due

T 2

Putnam: Truth and Reality

"Is There Still Anything to Say" (628-32)

term paper (draft)

R 4

Rorty's "vulgar pragmatism"

"Pragmatism, Relativism & ...” (635-43)

 

T 9

Rorty's "vulgar pragmatism"

"Pragmatism, Relativism & ...” (643-54)

 

R 11

Rorty's "vulgar pragmatism"

“Pragmatism as Anti-...” (657-67)

 

T 16

Rorty's "vulgar pragmatism"

“Pragmatism as Anti-...” (667-72)

 

R 18

Review / catch-up / course evaluations

--

term paper (final)

 

FINAL EXAM: Thursday, April 25, 8:00am-10:30am