PHIL 6:  Introduction to Philosophy

Section 06: TR 12:00-1:15 Library 53

Section 09:  TR 12:00-1:15. Sequoia 316

TV Broadcast (Time-shifted), TR 2:00-3:15 pm, Ch. 16


The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.

          Wilfrid Sellars, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man





Prof. Thomas F. Pyne

Office Hours:


M 10:00-11:00; T 2:00-3:00;  By Appointment.

In addition, I will conduct “virtual” office hours in the SacCT ‘Discussions’ room on Tuesday/Thursday, 2:00-3:15 during the broadcast.

Office Location:


Mendocino 3016



(Office)   278-7288

(Philosophy Department)   278-6424


Faculty Website:


GE Area :


GE Area C3:   Introduction to the Humanities

Required Texts:


Daniel Kolak & Raymond Martin.  The Experience of Philosophy.  6th Edition.  Oxford University Press (New York, 2005)

ISBN-10   0195177681

Course Description

“A representative selection of philosophical problems will be explored in areas such as knowledge, reality, religion, science, politics, art and morals.”


This course will introduce you to some of the most important philosophical questions of the present day.

You will see:

  • How philosophical questions arise out of our natural and cultural history;
  • Why these particular questions have become important at this time in our history;
  • What is ‘at stake’ for us in answering them.


You will also be introduced to some recent attempts at answering these philosophical questions.  From this you will learn how to think well about them;  you will also learn what a habit of thinking this way can contribute to your life and to your society.


Finally, you will be required to do some philosophical thinking, and some writing, yourself.


Course Objectives

·         Investigate major philosophical problems by a careful study of some good, representative philosophical texts.

·         Encourage you to question and examine your own presuppositions and deep-rooted prejudices.

·         To defend your own position on a philosophical issue by careful argument.

Students will demonstrate their achievement of the course objectives through:

  • Reading comprehension quizzes on each reading assignment;
  • Exams which test for a deeper understanding of the philosophical questions, as well as of the arguments for or against particular answers;  students will show their understanding via essay answers;
  • Participation in in-class and/or online discussion;
  • Composition of argumentative papers on particular philosophical questions.


Access to the Course

This course is televised and ‘web-assisted.’ That is, it will be broadcast on cable (Channel 16), and it will use the SacCT 9.1 course management system.   Students may use their Saclink account to log into the course from the SacCT Login page ( 


If you do not have a Saclink account yet, refer to the Setting Up a Saclink Account webpage (


To get started using SacCT visit the Student Resources webpage (  There you will find Online Tutorials, Frequently Asked Questions, and other help resources.  You can also ask me for help.

Course Delivery

The course will be offered in four ways: 

  1. I will be lecturing in Library 53, a television studio that functions exactly like an ordinary university classroom.  The class will meet on Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00-1:15.  Students attending will be expected to answer questions and participate in discussions just as they would in any university class.
  2. The class meeting can also be watched live via CCTV in Sequoia Hall 316 for the first few weeks in the semester. (After a few weeks I plan close that classroom down.)
  3. Classes will be broadcast on Sacramento Cable channel 16, Tuesday/Thursday, 2:00-3:15 pm. Note that this is time-shifted back two hours.  I will be available online during that broadcast in the SacCT ‘Discussions’ space to answer questions and participate.  I will also look in at other times.
  4.  The televised and recorded class lectures will also be archived as streaming video in the ‘Course Content’ folder within SacCT.  In addition, my lecture notes will appear in the relevant folder within ‘Course Content’ after the conclusion of the broadcast.


Exams, quizzes, papers, and other work will be submitted through SacCT.


That is, it is possible to take this course without ever coming to class, so long as you keep up with the lectures on video (either broadcast or streaming) and do the required work.


The course will use the communication tools built into SacCT: 

·         Announcements:  It’s a good idea to check for announcements from time to time

·         Mail:  You may send me a message using the ‘Mail’ function in SacCT.  I will respond promptly.

·         Discussions:  You will be expected to participate in discussions, whether in class or through the ‘Discussions’ function in SacCT.

·         Calendar:  Exams and due dates for papers will all appear in the Calendar.

Technical Requirements

To access a course on SacCT you will need access to the Internet and an internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome).  To ensure that you are using a supported browser and have required plug-ins please run the Check Browser from your SacCT course.  Refer to the SacCT Browser Tune-up page for instructions.


For help or to report a problem with SacCT you can:

·         Visit the Student SacCT FAQ’s webpage

·         Submit a SacCT Problem Form

·         Contact the University Help Desk at (916) 278-7337


Work for Course

1.    Quizzes on Reading Assignments (10%)

You will be responsible for the readings assigned for a particular class day.  While you will be responsible for the whole reading, I may indicate in the Schedule below that you should pay particular attention of some part of the reading.  As a result, it may happen that other parts will not be treated in class.  You will be responsible for them anyway.  The quiz for the reading assignment must be taken by the beginning of the class period for which it is assigned.  That will be true even for those watching it via cable.


2.    Midterm Exam (20%)  The midterm will be a combination of multiple-choice, fill-in, true/false questions, plus some essay questions.  The questions will be on the readings, lectures, and discussions.


3.    Final Exam (20%) Same as the midterm.  The final will cover all the readings, lectures, and discussions since the midterm.


4.    First Paper (2-3 pages) (20%)

Topic: Given what you have learned about ‘fictional’ concepts,

a.       Give an example of a fictional concept you consider, for some reason, particularly significant.

b.      Argue for why you think it is fictional.

c.       Argue for its significance. (For instance, is it especially useful? Especially mischievous?)

d.      What should we do about this fictional concept? 


5.    Second Paper (4-5 pages) (20%)

Topic: Given what you have learned this semester,

a.       What do you think is the most important philosophical question facing us? 

b.      What do you think is the answer?

c.       Argue for your position.


6.    Discussion Contributions (10%)

You will be expected to make regular contributions to discussion either in the class period itself or in the online “Discussion” folder in SacCT.

Assignment Submission Instructions

Papers:  Papers will be submitted in SacCT.

In writing the paper, follow the instructions for argumentative papers found in the “Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers” at the Philosophy Department website:


To submit a paper in SacCT:

  • Create the paper on your own computer (editable file, remember);
  • Enter SacCT at;
  • Open the main page for PHIL 6;
  • On the Course Menu select ‘Assignments’’;
  • Open the correct assignment;  on the “Upload Assignment” click “Browse My Computer” to find the file;
  • Select the file;
  • Click ‘Submit’  (important);
  • A success message should appear:  “This assignment is complete.  Review the submission history.”
  • Attach your paper as an editable  file that will open in Microsoft Word (not a .pdf or .htm file);  if you’re unsure, attach it as a ‘text’ (.txt) or ‘rich text’ (.rtf);  those options are available in all word-processing programs;
  • Late papers will be lowered a grade increment for every day past the due date.  I leave the window open for submitting papers for five days past the date.



Philosophy involves discussion and argument.  It’s the best way to explore philosophical questions, the best way to learn how to philosophize.  So I will expect you to participate in the discussions.  You will either receive full credit for participation (10%) or no credit, depending on how seriously you take your responsibility to make contributions.  If I notice that you are not participating, I will let you know that I expect more. 


To participate in an online discussion:

  • Enter SacCT;
  • Open ‘Discussions’ (under ‘Course Tools’ on the left margin’);
  • Click on one of the topics; you will be able to read the other contributions;
  • You can contribute to the discussion by clicking ‘Create Message’.


Online Quizzes/Exams

Reading Quizzes:  There will be a reading quiz on every assignment.  A reading quiz will consist of five to ten multiple-choice questions designed so that a careful reader should be able to answer them.  The quiz will ‘open’ a week before it is due;   it will ‘close’ at the beginning of the Tuesday/Thursday class period in which the reading will be discussed.


To take a reading quiz in SacCT:

Enter SacCT at;

  • Open the main page for PHIL 6;
  • Open ‘Assessments’ (under ‘Course Tools’ on the left margin of the main page);
  • Answer the questions (make sure you ‘submit’ each question as well as the entire exam).

You will have only one chance to take the quiz, so check your answers before submitting.


Since you have a week to take a quiz, and the instructions to ‘save’ questions are clear, I will under no circumstances reset a quiz you have messed up or not taken.  It’s your responsibility to figure out how to take exams and keep track of due dates.


Exams:  The exam window will open a week before it is due.  You must take the exam during that time.


To take an exam in SacCT, follow the instructions for taking a reading quiz.  The difference between an exam and a quiz will be the time constraints.  You will have 75 minutes to take the midterm, two hours (120 minutes) to take the final.  In addition, each individual question will have a time limit.


Exams:  Exams will receive numerical grades;  your score will be ‘out of’ 100.


Papers:  Papers will receive letter grades.  To determine the final grade, those letter grades will be converted into the highest number in the grade range under ‘Grading Criteria’ below. (For example, a B grade on a paper converts to 89.)


Reading Quizzes:  Reading quizzes will receive a grade of 2 (full credit), 1 (inadequate comprehension), or 0 (not taken).  An average of 1.7 or above will receive full credit (100).  Lower scores will be prorated.


Discussion:  Discussion participation will receive either complete credit (100) or none (0).  Periodically (according to the schedule in the Syllabus) I will post progress reports in the form of a grade.  That grade is not final and will not count toward your final grade.  It is merely an indication of the grade you will receive if you contribute at your current rate.


Final Grade:  The final grade for the course will be determined by the weighted sum of the exams, quizzes, discussion, and papers.


Grading Criteria

Scaled Score

Letter Equivalent


























Viewing Grades in SacCT

For reading quizzes you will be able to see your score as soon as you have submitted your quiz. 

For exams, and papers I will post the grades as soon as I have finished grading them.

You can see your grades during the semester by going to ‘MyGrades’ in SacCT.


Course Policies


I expect every student to watch the classes.  To ensure this, in every lecture I will ask a question at some random point.  The in-class students will answer that question on a roll-sheet distributed in class.  Those watching the lectures via cable or archived video must send me the answer via the SacCT e-mail utility within five days of the class period.


I will lower you a final grade increment for every ‘absence’. So keep up.


Make-Up Exams

Since you may take exams at your convenience over a period of a week, there will be no make-up exams.  The opening and closing dates and times for exams will be listed in the calendar.

Late Work

For papers, I will leave the assignment window open for five days after the due date. The grade will be lowered a grade increment for every day it’s late.  


University Policies

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty, Policy & Procedures.  The policy on Academic Honesty and other information regarding student conduct can be accessed from the University Policy Manual (


The University Library has a helpful treatment of plagiarism at


Originality is an over-rated virtue in undergraduate papers, ranking well below unity, clarity, and cogency of argument. You can borrow other people’s ideas and arguments all you like.  You just need to cite them when you do.  Use any method of citation you find comfortable and convenient.  (I like MLA myself.)   Don’t borrow their words: you mustn’t submit a paper consisting of a bunch of quotations.   Since you can borrow  ideas, you have no excuse for plagiarism except laziness.


Reasonable Accommodation Policy

If you have a disability and require accommodations, you need to provide disability documentation to Services for Students with Disabilities (SSWD).  For more information please visit the SSWD website (  They are located in Lassen Hall 1008 and can be contacted by phone at (916) 278-6955 (Voice) (916) 278-7239 (TDD only) or via email at


Please discuss your accommodation needs with me early in the semester – within the first week.  It is difficult and time-consuming to make certain accommodations in SacCT. If you wait until the first quiz or paper is due to announce your disability it may simply not be humanly possible to make the accommodation.  You will then have to do as best you can.

A tendency toward procrastination is not a recognized disability.

University Resources

The CSUS Writing Center  

The Writing Center provides encouraging, focused, and non-judgmental one-to-one tutorials in writing.  Their tutors can help with writing at all points in the process, from initial planning and organizing through developing and revising a paper. You can bring the assignment to them for help.

Sac State Library

The Sac State Library’s webpage is

To find a book or periodical, click on  Eureka: Library Catalogue” under “Resources and Collections or go directly to


For an undergraduate library Sac State’s philosophy holdings are pretty good. 


I particularly recommend Sac State librarian Lisa Roberts’ website “Philosophy:  Resources.”   Two ways to find it:  through “Research Guides” under “Resources and Collections”, or go directly to


Student Computing Labs

To access SacCT from campus, or use any of the other campus online resources, you can use the IRT managed student computer labs on campus. See University Labs website , that is,

for information about locations, hours, and resources available. 


SacCT is the course management system used on the Sac State campus for web-assisted courses. To access a course on SacCT, you must login from the SacCT Login Page ( 


To learn more about SacCT visit the Student Resources webpage ( where you can view online Tutorials, FAQ’s and other help resources.




Course Schedule

The contents of square brackets are readings from the text.  If the material for a meeting is not from the text you will see [Lecture] instead.


If something is due for a given day the “Due Date” box will indicate so.  The SacCT calendar will also show due dates.







Due Date


Introduction:  What Makes a Question ‘Philosophical’?

Philosophy in an important sense has no special subject-matter which stands to it as other subject-matters stand to other special disciplines. 

If philosophers did have such a special subject-matter, they could turn it over to a new group of specialists as they have turned over other special subject-matters to non-philosophers over the past 2500 years, first with mathematics, more recently psychology and sociology, and, currently, certain aspects of theoretical linguistics. 

What is characteristic of Philosophy is not its special subject matter, but the aim of knowing one’s way around with respect to the subject-matters of all the special disciplines.

Wilfrid Sellars, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man”


Week 1

T 8/28


R 3/30


T:  Introduction:  When is a Question ‘Philosophical’?

R:  The Concepts of ‘Discipline,’ ‘Realm,’ ‘Conceptual Scheme,’ ‘Manifest Image,’ ‘Scientific Image’


T: [Lecture]


R: [Lecture]





Week 2

T 9/4



R 9/6


T:  Is the Manifest Image Coherent?  The Case of ‘Motion’


R:  Is the Manifest Image Coherent?  The Case of ‘Motion’


T:  [Kolak & Goloff, “The Incredible Shrinking Zeno” (48-61)]

R:  [Kolak & Goloff, “The Incredible Shrinking Zeno” (48-61)]


T: Reading Quiz on Kolak & Goloff





Part I:  Space and Time

Under ‘things in the broadest possible sense’ I include such radically different items as not only ‘cabbages and kings,’ but numbers and duties, possibilities and finger snaps, aesthetic experience and death.

Wilfrid Sellars, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man”


Week 3

T 9/11



R: 9/13



T: Refining Zeno’s Paradox



R: Time in the Manifest Image:  Our Two Conceptions of Time


T: [Kolak & Goloff, “The Incredible Shrinking Zeno” (48-61)]

R:  [Lecture]







Week 4

T 9/18




R 9/20



T:  Time in the Scientific Image




R: Is the Future Real?



T: [Einstein, “On the Idea of Time in Physics”;  Vignette:  Paul Davies,  “What Time is it on Mars?”

R: [Einstein, “On the Idea of Time in Physics”;  Vignette:  Paul Davies,  “What Time is it on Mars?”


T:  Reading Quiz on Einstein and Davies





Part II:  The Self

To be able to think is to be able to measure one’s thoughts by standards of correctness, of relevance, of evidence.  In this sense a diversified conceptual framework is a whole which, however sketchy, is prior to its parts, and cannot be construed as a coming together of parts which are already conceptual in character.

The conclusion is difficult to avoid that the transition from pre-conceptual patterns of behavior to conceptual thinking was a holistic one, a jump to a level of awareness which is irreducibly new, a jump which was the coming into being of man.

Wilfrid Sellars, “Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man”


Week 5

T 9/25


R 9/27


T: The Concept of ‘Person’


R: Location and the Self



T: [Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?”]

R: [Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?”]


T: Reading Quiz on Dennett

R: 1st Discussion Progress Report

Week 6

T 10/2


R 10/4


T:  ‘Human Being’ and ‘Person’


R:  “Human Being and Person”



T:  [John Locke, “Personal Identity”]

R:  [John Locke, “Personal Identity”]


T:  Reading Quiz on Locke


Week 7

T 10/9



R 10/11



T:  An Account of the Origins of our Manifest Image Concept of the Self

R:  Recent Discussion of Personal Identity


T: [David Hume, “Personal Identity”]


R: [Raymond Martin, “Personal Identity from Plato to Parfit, pp. 131-137”]


T:  Reading Quiz on Hume, “Personal Identity”

R: Reading Quiz on Martin, pp. 131-137

Week 8

T 10/16



R 10/18



T: Recent Discussion of Personal Identity (Cont.)


R:  Recent Discussion of Personal Identity (cont.)


T:  [Raymond Martin, “Personal Identity from Plato to Parfit, pp. 131-137”]

R:  [Raymond Martin, “Personal Identity from Plato to Parfit, pp. 131-137”]


T: Paper 1 due in SacCT  T 10/16 11:30 pm.


Part III:  Actions, Events, and the Will

A man who at noon leaves his purse full of gold on the pavement at Charing Cross may as well expect that it will fly away like a feather as that he will find it untouched an hour after.

David Hume, “An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding”


Week 9

T 10/23



R 10/25



T:  Freedom as a Manifest Image Concept;  Determinism as a Scientific Image Concept

R:  Definitions of ‘Free’;  Human Motivation


T:  [Baron Holbach, “The Illusion of Free Will”]


R:  [Baron Holbach, “The Illusion of Free Will”]


T:  Reading Quiz on Holbach


R:  Exam 1 window opens 1:15 pm. 

Week 10

T  10/30



R 11/1



T: The View from the Manifest Image:  What Do We Mean by ‘Cause’?

R: The Problem of Free Will as “Merely Verbal”


T: [David Hume, “Liberty and Necessity”]


R: [David Hume, “Liberty and Necessity”]


T: Reading Quiz on Hume, “Liberty and Necessity”

R: Exam 1 window closes Thurs 11/1 12:00 noon.

Week 11

T 11/6


R 11/8



T: On Conflict Between the Images

R:  Simple Indeterminism and Its Problems


T: [William James, “The Dilemma of Determinism”]

R: [Richard Taylor, “Freedom and Determinism”]


T:  Reading Quiz on William James

R:  Reading Quiz on Taylor

Week 12

T 11/13


R 11/15



T: The ‘Agency’ Theory of Free Will

R: The Recalcitrance of the Mind/Body Problem


T: [Richard Taylor, “Freedom and Determinism”]

R: [Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to be a Bat?”]




R: Reading Quiz on Nagel, “What Is It...”

Part IV: Consciousness

At the present time the status of Physicalism is similar to that which the hypothesis that matter is energy would have had if uttered by a pre-Socratic philosopher.  We do not have the beginnings of a conception of how it might be true.

Thomas Nagel, “What is it Like to be a Bat?”






Week 13

T 11/20


R 11/22



T:  What Kind of Fact?


R:  Thanksgiving Holiday


T: [Thomas Nagel, “What Is It Like to be a Bat?”]



T: 2nd Discussion Progress Report


Week 14

T 11/27



R 11/29



T: How Experiences Feel From the Inside


R: Another Physicalist Strategy


T: [Frank Jackson, “Epiphenomenal Qualia”]




T: Reading Quiz on Jackson



Week 15

T 12/4





R 12/6


T: Eliminating the Irreducible







T: [Paul Churchland, “Reduction, Qualia, and the Direct Introspection of Brain States”]




T: Reading Quiz on Churchland

Final exam window opens T, 12/6, 1:15 pm


Week 16

   T 12/11




R 12/13















T: Final exam window closes T 12/11, 2:45 pm.


R:  Paper 2 due in SacCT Thur 12/13, 11:30 pm.





The descriptions and due dates are subject to change at the discretion of the Instructor. 


Have a good semester!