Course description & grading policy

Topic. We will begin the seminar by discussing the central arguments for and against the existence of God. The philosophical questions we discuss for the remainder of the semester will be up to the class. In most cases, we'll be discussing in sequence a number of arguments for opposing views on these topics. Students will be asked to understand these arguments, and form and defend their own views about which among them are most successful. We will spend a bit of time at the beginning of the course, and occasionally throughout, discussing what good arguments are, and why they might be worth pursuing.    

Texts. Students will be required to purchase Peter van Inwagen's Metaphysics. Other readings will be made available in PDF form via links from the syllabus.

Assignments. There will be four written assignments. The first will be a short 1-2 page assignment worth 10% of the grade; the next three will each be 5-7 pages in length, and worth 25% of the grade. Late papers will be penalized 3 points/day, including weekends. The remaining 15% of the grade will be given on the basis of class attendance and participation. In all of their assignments, students are responsible for compliance with the University’s honor code, information about which is available at You should also review the philosophy department guidelines regarding plagiarism.