Humn2: Philosophy I

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HUMN2: Philosophy I

Thomas Randall |

Office: B2151 | Office hours: Monday, 09:00–11:00
Philosophy translates to “love of wisdom”. There are three major branches of philosophy: metaphysics (discovering the nature of reality); epistemology (the study of knowledge); and axiology (the study of value). HUMN2 introduces you to philosophy through axiology – specifically moral and political philosophy.
The emphasis throughout this course is on the critical evaluation of arguments. In our weekly discussions, we will examine the arguments put forward in the readings and consider whether they are persuasive. None of the moral theories presented will be singled out as the “right” moral theory. You will instead be given the opportunity and responsibility to reach your own well-reasoned conclusions.
Required Reading Material
Cave, Peter. 2015. Ethics: A Beginners Guide. London: Oneworld Publications.


Topic (Lecture and Seminar)





Recommended: Prologue and Ch.1.

In-class Reviews (10x2% = 20%)


Utilitarianism I

Ch. 2, up to “How is happiness to be distributed?”


Utilitarianism II

Ch. 2, “How is happiness to be distributed?” to end of chapter.


Deontology I

Ch. 3, up to “The good will, sparkling like a jewel.”


Deontology II

Ch. 3, “The good will, sparkling like a jewel” to end of chapter.


Eudaimonia I

Ch. 4.

Annotated Bibliography (10%)


Eudaimonia II

Ch. 8 of Justice by Michael Sandel (on D2L)

In-class Peer-review of Mini-essay (5%)


Reading Week

Mini-essay (15%)


God I

Ch. 5, up to “The problem of evil.”


God II

Ch. 5, “The problem of evil” to end of chapter.

Outline of Final Essay (5%)


Existentialism I

Ch. 6, up to “Nothing more complex than thermostats?”


Existentialism II

Ch. 6, “Nothing more complex than thermostats?” to end of chapter.

In-class Peer-review of Final Essay (5%)


Life and Death I

Ch. 8, up to “Staying alive: the survival lottery.”


Life and Death II

Ch. 8, “Staying alive: the survival lottery” to end of chapter.

Final Essay (20%)


Exam Revision

Final Exam (20%)
“Chapter 8: Who Deserves What?” in Justice by Michael Sandel (PDF on D2L).
Extra Resources Beyond the Readings:

  • If you understood the week’s reading and want to deepen your knowledge, have a look through “Notes and further readings” in the textbook, alongside reading chapters 7, 9, 10.

  • Some helpful online resources:

    • The “Justice” course delivered by Michael Sandel at Harvard University. All lectures on Youtube.

    • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    • (a list of bad arguments and how to spot them).

    • The “Philosophy Bites” podcast, with Nigel Warburton.

  • Some resources to avoid:

    • Sparknotes.

    • Wikipedia.

Distribution of Grades
In-class Reviews (2% x 10 = 20%)

Over the semester, you will write 10 in-class reviews in the last 20 minutes of the seminar. These will happen in Weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14. Each review will be a set of 8 multiple-choice questions and 1 short-answer question. Each review will correspond to that week’s reading (e.g. in-class review for Week 2 will focus on Utilitarianism I).

Mini-essay and its Components (30%)

You have three questions to choose from for completing the mini-essay, available on D2L. An annotated bibliography of your mini-essay is due Week 6 (10%). An in-class peer-review of the mini-essay will take place in Week 7’s seminar (5%). The mini-essay is due in Week 8 (15%). The word count for the mini-essay is 500-750 words.

Final Essay and its Components (35%)

You have five questions to choose from for completing the final essay, available on D2L. An outline of your final essay is due Week 11 (5%). An in-class peer-review of the final essay will take place in Week 13 (5%). The final essay is due in Week 14 (20%). The word count for the final essay is 900-1100 words.

Final Exam (15%)

Will take place in Week 15’s seminar. The exam will give you 10 essay questions to choose from. You answer 2 questions over 2 hours.

Late Policy
Students are responsible for attending classes on the required day and time when there is a lecture, seminar, group presentation, quiz, or exam. Unless you have a legitimate excuse, no extension or extra credit assignments are given. Students must submit/present all written/oral assignments on their assigned dates unless they make specific arrangements in writing/voice mail/e-mail with me at least one day prior to the due date in question.
What counts as a legitimate excuse for an extension: mental or physical illness (must have doctor’s note, or a note of similar equivalence); bereavement; dangerous travel weather (only applicable for in-class assignments).
What does not count as a legitimate excuse for an extension: work (this is a matter of better time management); computer deleted your assignment (continuously save and back up your assignments); forgetfulness or ignorance about an assignment; being away on holiday (including weddings and similar events – again, time manage effectively).
A penalty of 5% per calendar day will be applied to an assignment not submitted by the original or extended due date. An assignment more than six calendar days late, including weekends, will receive a grade of zero. No assignment will be accepted after the last day of classes without prior written arrangement.
All forms of plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you are caught plagiarizing, I will:

  • 1st offence at the College: Assign a mark of 0 for the evaluated activity.

  • 2nd offence at the College: Assign a mark of 0 for the course in which the second offence at Fleming occurred.

  • 3rd offence at the College: Suspend student from the College for a year.

  • 4th offence at the College: Expel student from the College.


Classroom Behaviour
Students are not permitted to use cellphones, iPods, laptops, or other portable electronic devices for the purposes of sending/receiving calls, text messaging, or web surfing during lectures or seminars.
I allow students to drink (non-alcoholically) in class. I do not allow food in class. Based on past experience, having food in class is disruptive, messy, and smelly. If you are hungry, time manage your diet effectively or finish eating outside of class.

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