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Instructor: Hoover (Spring 2009)


Texts     Objectives and Content     Requirements     Schedule

(assorted handouts)

Objectives and Content
This course is designed for upper level majors and minors in philosophy to give them a chance to engage in in-depth philosophical study of a particular topic much like they would in a graduate level course. The seminar will be structured to allow students to work on individual projects of their choosing, resulting in a polished philosophical paper. The first part of the course will involve an introduction to and interaction with some important examples of philosophical scholarship (fairly recent) in which students will encounter different methods, philosophical styles, as well as opposing philosophical positions. These ‘standards’ of philosophical discourse will come from a variety of topic areas as well. The second part will involve a close reading/discussion of readings that are related to the various topics that students have chosen to examine.  Toward the end of the term all students will present their work in a colloquium setting and comment on a classmate's project. The colloquium will provide a chance for each student to respond to comments as well as to questions from a small audience of philosophy faculty and students from Coe. Satisfactory completion of this portion of the course will meet the Philosophy Colloquium requirement for graduating majors.

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As an upper level seminar in philosophy, this course is not designed with the intent to simply “download” as much information as possible from instructor to student.  Rather, the course will aim at an interactive engagement with the issues, and therefore will depend for its success on the degree of personal involvement on the part of the students. Students will be expected to work through the readings prior to seminar meetings.  We will then discuss the prepared material as a group (bringing to class our scintillating comments!!  …our puzzling questions!! … our brilliant interpretations!!).  Accordingly, students will be expected to attend class religiously and to have prepared the reading for each class (also religiously). A class participation grade will be assigned and will count for 15% of the course grade.  Class participation will be graded on the basis of student performance in three areas: attendance; preparation (including discussion questions); and the quality of in-class participation, including any short in-class writing exercises.

Each student will be required to write one term paper project (target length=12 pages). Students will choose their own unique topic in consultation with the instructor. These should not be a broad survey papers, but provide a focused analysis of a particular topic, working closely with a small handful of texts. A first draft of this paper is due at the latest by April 8.  A final draft of these papers will be due at the latest by April 17.  Final copies of these papers will be distributed to members of the seminar by that same date.  The final week of classes will be devoted to presentation of the student papers and commentary in a colloquium setting. Each student will be responsible for preparing comments and presenting those comments on one classmate's paper. The term paper itself will count for 35% of the course grade (5% for prospectus, 10% for first draft, 15% for final draft, 5% for the presentation). The commentary will count for another 10%.

As part of the individual projects, each student will lead a group discussion (half a class period) over a reading relating to their project. This class discussion will be an opportunity for you to begin talking to your peers about your research project and to generate some group reflection on the topic you have chosen, by having everyone read a key reading on that topic. This class discussion will count for 10%

In addition, to the individual larger projects, there will be a series of shorter assignments, counting for 5% or 10% each. These might include quizzes over the class readings, but will also involve exercises in responding to philosophical arguments, summarizing, and/or presenting articles, writing a prospectus for an article.

The final course grade is broken down as follows: 15% = class participation grade; 35% = paper and presentation; 10% leading group discussion; 10% commentary on classmate's paper; 30% quizzes and shorter assignments.

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Proposed Schedule

(This schedule is for planning purposes only.  The actual day-to-day assignments
will be given in-class and posted on the "Daily Assignments" webpage.)

Jan.      10    Th    Course Introduction               
Jan.      20    Tu    Clifford/James
Jan.      22    Tu    Jaggar
Jan.      27    Th    Ryle
Jan.      29    Tu    Place/Churchland
Feb         3    Tu    Fodor/Churchland
Feb.        5    Th    Searle/Churchland   
Feb.      10    Tu    Quine
Feb.      12    Th    Davidson
Feb.      17    Tu    Rorty
Feb.      19    Th    McIntyre               
Feb.      24    Tu    Taylor   
Feb.      26    Th    Foucault
March    3    Tu    Hacking   
March    5    Th    Zack/Appiah


March  17    Tu    To be decided    PROSPECTUS DUE (Mon., March 16)
March  19    Th    To be decided
March  24    Tu    Student-led Readings       
March  26    Th    Student-led Readings   
March  31    Tu    Student-led Readings         
April       2    Th    To be decided
April       7    Tu    No Class    
April       9    Th    No Class    LAST DAY TO SUBMIT PAPER (Wed., April 8)       
April     14    Tu    No Class   
April     16    Th    No Class    FINAL VERSION DUE (Fri., April 17)
April     21    Tu    No Class    COMMENTS DUE (Wed., April 22)
April     23    Th    COLLOQUIUM (7:OO PM)
April.    28    Tu    COLLOQUIUM (7:OO PM)

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