Phil 107 F14: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 107: Reflections on Human Nature

Fall 2014

CRN 83514 TTH 5-6:25 PM Location: H-104

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By appointment

Course Objectives: This course explores the issues and problems exemplified in process of meaningful philosophical activity relating to the topic of human nature. Studies in this course survey representative theories and philosophical reflections relating to the notions of human nature, the individual person, and human characteristics in general. Material for this survey may be drawn from classical and contemporary thinkers; scientific and religious orientations. Students are encouraged to engage in independent research, analysis and formulation.

Texts: This course has one required and one recommended text. The required text is:

The Study of Human Nature: A Reader 2nd Edition. Edited by Leslie Stevenson. Oxford University Press, 2000.

 The recommended text is:

Twelve Theories of Human Nature 6th Edition. Leslie Stevenson, David L. Haberman, and Peter Matthews Wright. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Schedule: All readings can be found in The Study of Human Nature: A Reader 2nd Edition. Page numbers refer to this edition. Reading assignments are subject to change and are expected to be completed for the day on which they are assigned.

Week 1

Tuesday, August 19: Introduction
Homework: In the two origin stories told in the book of Genesis, identify two similarities and two differences between the stories.

Thursday, August 21: The Old Testament, pp. 1-8.

Homework: How does the Hindu tradition account for the diversity of life we observe in the world?

Week 2

August 26: Hinduism, pp. 9-21.

August 28: Extra Day

Homework: What is one argument given for the claim that human nature is fundamentally evil? What is one argument given for the claim that human nature is fundamentally good?

Week 3

September 2: Confucianism, pp. 22-33.

September 4: Confucianism Continued

Homework: Explain Plato's Allegory of the Cave. What conclusions does Plato want us to draw from this allegory?

Week 4

September 9:  Plato, pp. 34-55.

September 11: Plato Continued

Week 5

September 16: Watch Film in class, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

September 18: Discuss Film

Week 6

September 23: Review

September 25: Exam 1

Week 7

September 30: Descartes, pp. 84-97.
Homework: On pages 87 and 88 Descartes gives two arguments against machine/artificial/non-human intelligence. Explain these two arguments? What do you think of these argument? What do you think about the possibility of artificial intelligence?

October 2: Descartes and Turing

Week 8

October 7: Hobbes, pp. 90-97

October 9: Hobbes continued
Homework: What do you think of Hobbes' compatibilist conception of freedom? Do you think this is an accurate account of human freedom, or is it flawed in some way? If you don't like this conception of freedom, what do you think human freedom amounts to?

Week 9

October 14: Hobbes continuedIntroduction of Paper Topic

October 16: Hume, pp. 98-108

Week 10

October 21: Continue Hume

October 23:  Sartre, pp. 185-206, Thesis Statement Due.

Week 11

October 28: Darwin, pp. 162-168.

October 30: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of a draft of your paper to class); Darwin Continued

Week 12

November 4: Watch Film in Class: Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai (1999)

November 6: Discuss Film, Essay Due

Week 13

November 11: NO CLASS!! Veterans Day

November 13: Review for Exam

Week 14

November 18: Exam 2

November 20: NO CLASS!!

Week 15

November 25: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 27: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 16

December 2: Darwin, pp. 162-168

December 4: Continue Darwin Please read through the following two articles for our discussion: Download  Download

Week 17

December 9: The Post-Human

December 11: Final Review

Week 18

December 16:  Final Exam

: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on four types of assignments:

  • 20% Exam 1
  • 20% Exam 2
  • 20% Final Exam
  • 20% Weekly Quizzes: Almost every week there will be a quiz at the beginning of class on the material we covered the previous week. These quizzes cannot be made-up if missed.
  • 10% Class Participation: This is based on attendance and participation in class activities as well as homework. Student who are very tardy or who leave early will be considered absent.
  • 10% Essay: Due November 6. In addition to the final draft, there are a number of pre-writing assignments. These will be ungraded, but failure to complete them will result in an F on the essay. More details on this assignment will be announced in class.
Grade Scale:

        ≥ 90 = A
        ≥ 80 = B
        ≥ 70 = C
        ≥ 60 = D
        < 60 = F

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw
: It is the student’s responsibility to officially add, drop, or withdraw from the course stated in the class schedule. Failure to do so can result in a failing grade.

Attendance: During the first two weeks of class, students will be dropped for any absence. Starting during the third week, students may be dropped for missing two classes. In addition, students who arrive unreasonably late or leave unreasonably early will be marked absent.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Mesa College students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct, Policy 3100.  In this course, cheating, plagiarism, disruptions of instructional activity, fraud and/or lying will result in, at a minimum, a grade of “F” for the assignment/test with no make up permitted.  Any of these infractions may result in an “F” for the course as well and formal disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs as described in the code (as published in the catalog or online).

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-7312.

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TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):

  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework. It will be collected every time, and spot-checked.
  3. Do all assigned reading.
  4. If you find you fall behind in your understanding, contact the instructor.
  5. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  8. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
  9. Remember that we are all here to learn.