Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophical Problems

Course Number: PHL 201
Transcript Title: Introduction to Philosophy
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: August 26, 2019
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Examines the seminal thinkers from both the Western and Eastern traditions of philosophy through a survey approach to the history of ideas. Develops reasoning skills in order to think critically and recognize that philosophy is everywhere  Prerequisites: MTH 20, or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Recognize and reflect upon the philosophical assumptions embedded in the students’ own ideas and in their immediate culture.
  2. Reflect critically upon their assumptions, values and mental models associated with their personal philosophy of life.
  3. Be familiar with the names and main ideas of influential philosophers from ancient to modern times.
  4. Read and comprehendselections from philosophical primary sources.
  5. Apply philosophical principles to everyday problems of life.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

Major 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)

Not addressed

3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Use an understanding of cultural differences to constructively address issues that arise in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

To establish an intentional learning environment, Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs) require a clear definition of instructional strategies, evidence of recurrent instruction, and employment of several assessment modes.

Major Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed recurrently in the curriculum, regularly enough to establish a thorough understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a thorough understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Minor Designation

  1. The outcome is addressed adequately in the curriculum, establishing fundamental understanding.
  2. Students can demonstrate and are assessed on a fundamental understanding of the outcome.
    • The course includes at least one assignment that can be assessed by applying the appropriate CLO rubric.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Due to the complex nature of philosophical readings, formative assessment strategies are the most effective measurement of evaluating comprehension. Formative assessment strategies like the reading comprehension tool (REAP), study questions attached to the text, movie reviews, and small group report outs help students to encode their understanding of the text and ponder the material using their own critical thinking skills. 

Critical to effective formative assessments are clear scoring rubrics that identify the expectations, length, and point allocation. Because an accurate comprehension of   philosophy text can rarely be achieved on a first attempt, relying on the methodology of proficient learning is recommended. Offering students an opportunity to modify the main assignments is successful in achieving a greater and more complete understanding of the text.

A summative assessment in the format of a brief multiple-choice and essay exam is may be used at the end of the quarter to measure levels of cognitive competence and retention.   

Course Activities and Design

The determination of teaching strategies used in the delivery of outcomes is generally left to the discretion of the instructor. Here are some strategies that you might consider when designing your course: lecture, small group/forum discussion, flipped classroom, dyads, oral presentation, role play, simulation scenarios, group projects, service learning projects, hands-on lab, peer review/workshops, cooperative learning (jigsaw, fishbowl), inquiry based instruction, differentiated instruction (learning centers), graphic organizers, etc.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

There is a standard stable of philosophers surveyed in every textbook and anthology of philosophical readings:

  1. Asian Sages: Lao-Tzu, Confucius & Buddha
  2. The Sophist 
  3. Greek Philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
  4. Stoicism and Hedonism
  5. Thomas Aquinas
  6. Rene Descartes
  7. David Hume and the British Empiricists
  8. Immanuel Kant
  9. John Stuart Mill
  10. Karl Marx
  11. Soren Kierkegaard
  12. William James
  13. Friedrich Nietzsche

Department Notes

This course involves a great deal of difficult reading. Thus, the student must be able to follow complex articles and to write fluently. This is primarily a readings course and will concentrate on the writings of major figures in this history of philosophy - from early Greek philosophers to contemporary writers.