PHI 231. Knowing, Being and Doing: Philosophical Method and Its Applications
Prof. Kyoo Lee, Suite 325-4, Dept. of Philosophy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Office Hours: by appointment (before or after class)
Class Schedule and Material

Course Description       
This course introduces you to some of the key methods and applications of philosophy. It offers you a golden opportunity to sample, in some depth, some of the canonical philosophical texts, both Eastern and Western. And our approach is self-reflectively contemporary: constantly and critically, we shall be asking (1) what it means to philosophize, to “do philosophy,” (2) how the other ancient sages did it, i.e., how we should be doing it, and (3) why bother. In the end, philosophy, or at least this course, should mean something to you: what is it?

Course Objectives         
By the time you finish this course, you will (be able to):     
  • demonstrate familiarity with the basic issues and elementary concepts, and some positions and arguments, in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and theories of justice.
  • demonstrate familiarity with some example(s) of ancient Greek philosophical writing and with the three main types of normative ethical theory: deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics.
  • identify arguments and their premise(s) and conclusion(s), implicit assumptions, and make basic distinctions between strong and weak arguments.
  • present elementary philosophical positions and arguments in public both verbally and in writing;
  • apply basic philosophical concepts and arguments to contemporary issues and to your own lives.

Required Texts 
  • Selected readings, all web-linked or pdf downloadable from the class schedule page.
  • Each day of the class, you must bring at least one of the following three:
@ [NB1] a hard copy of the primary text listed as "Read in Advance"
@ [NB2] the electronic file(s)** in question on your mobile computing device such as a laptop or a mobile phone
@ [NB3] your own personalized note (in whatever form) on the reading material that reflects your preparation.
  • Those not in possession of the class material in any of those forms are considered unprepared and thus will be noted negatively.
  • **In-class use of a portable computer or any portable electronic devices where the reading file is stored, is allowed, but only on the condition that its use is strictly limited to the reading of the classroom material. The violation of this rule will be regarded as a serious offence and the student in question will be immediately evicted from the classroom, which will be counted as an unexcused absence.  Never "surf" the internet or text-message during the class period.

Grading Scale
97- A+
93- A
90- A-
87- B+
83- B
80- B-
77- C+
73- C
70- C-
67- D+
63- D
60- D-
Below 60 F (Fail)

Grade A: Mastery of the issues and literature, and an ability to make some original contribution.
Grade B: Good grasp of issues and literature, but little or no attempt at own contribution.
Grade C: Some but uncertain grasp of the issues.
Grade D: Failure to grasp issues but some attempt made.
Grade F: Not even trying.
[I have borrowed this description of the evaluation criteria from the standardized syllabi used in New York University in London.]

  • 100 points system is used.
  • Grades are nonnegotiable, unless there is a clerical error.
  • All the grades up to the final exam or paper are calculated numerically in order to give each student maximum opportunities to recuperate, and also to evaluate more accurately the learning process and incremental achievements.
  • The numeric total will simply be converted to the corresponding letter grade. Therefore, there is very little reason either to rejoice or to despair at any stage of following the course. Just keep putting coins in the piggy bank, and your consistent and overall efforts will be justly rewarded: you reap what you sow, no less, no more.

Course Requirements and Evaluation Criteria
Attending (10 pt)
  • Up to 3 absences are allowed with no penalties and 100 % attendance is rewarded with 3 extra points (13 pt).    
  • From the 4th absence, you lose 3 points per class missed. No excuse. No exception; you are already allowed three absences.   
  • Lateness causes disruption and affects your own learning process: late counts as half-absent (1.5 pt deducted where applicable). 
Preparing/Participating (20 pt)
  • Preparation (10pt): Your knowledge of the reading material for each day will be constantly, individually and randomly monitored. The result will be assessed and logged daily. This functions as a loose form of daily quiz; if you get "caught" unprepared, you lose points. 
  • Participation (10pt): Active and meaningful participation in classroom discussion is not an option but a requirement; presentation is an option and counts towards the participation grade.
  • Disruptive, distracting and disrespectful behaviors including text-messaging and chatting with others during the class will be alerted back to the offender and noted negatively. Three instances detected, the offender will lose one letter grade (10pt). After that, the repeated offender will be asked to leave the classroom and be subject to further disciplinary action.
Writing (70 pt): a Portfolio that contains 10 Journals and 2 Papers
  • Portfolio: all-in-one master file submitted on the last day of class, which contains all the written work for the course; no multiple, serial, or fragmented submission accepted.   
  • 10 Journals (20pt): Each minimum 500 words on any one of the class readings and those only. Each must clearly contain:
  • a succinct summary of the reading material
  • a critical response to or close analysis of any crucial passage(s) which should also be clearly cited, and
  • a conclusive elaboration of the significance of the topic and the passage(s) under discussion.
  • Aim for clarity and perfection. Any entry lacking in any of the above three elements receives a zero point: fail (0 pt); pass (1 pt); good (2 pt)
  • 2 Papers (50 pt): Each minimum 2,500 words or, if you prefer, 1 long paper with minimum 5,000 words. Some sample topics:
  • The submission deadline is firm. For each calendar day day missed, 2 points will be deducted.
  • Regularly and frequently throughout the course, students will have a chance to receive live feedback on their drafts and the grade for the writing component will be determined solely on the basis of the polished portfolio submitted on the last day of class. 

Statement of College Policy on Plagiarism
"Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else‘s ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one‘s own creation. Using the ideas or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. It is the student‘s responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is cited. Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The Library has free guides designed to help students with problems of documentation." (From the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 36)
Should plagiarism be determined, a formal disciplinary action will be taken immediately: the student in question will receive an F grade for the course.

Accommodation of Religious Observances
Upon request, academic accommodations for a religious observance are available on an individual basis; by the end of the second week, please provide me with a supplementary document that specifies and verifies your context and needs for modification.

Accommodation of Documented Disabilities
Please contact me within the first two weeks of the semester. An appropriate, case-by-case arrangement will be made to ensure that the student in question is given an equal opportunity for learning.