Introduction to Philosophy

Tuesday & Thursday, 12:30-1:20
Geddes B001
Professor Jeff Speaks // // office hours in 100 Malloy Hall


Philosophy is the attempt to answer, by argument, the deepest and most basic questions about the universe. Our focus in this class will be on five such questions:
  • Does God exist?
  • What am I?
  • Am I free?
  • What should I believe?
  • How should I live?
Your central aim in this class will not be to learn what other people have thought about these questions — though you will do that too. Your central aim in this class will be to develop your own views about the correct answers to these questions. You will be evaluated based upon your ability to defend those views. To do that, you will have to learn how to argue. So, one aim of the course will be to teach you the basic logic required to do that.


All of the readings will be made available via links from the syllabus.


You should feel free to get in touch with me or your assigned TA if you have any questions about the course material, or about how you're doing in the course, or if you just want to pursue some of the topics we're discussing further.

I have office hours in 100 Malloy on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and sometimes other days as well. You can book a time here. If none of those times work for you, just let me know. You can also always get in touch with me by email.

There are also six teaching assistants for the course, who will be leading discussion sections and grading written assignments. Their contact information and office hours are below:

Corey Dethier
office hours: Wednesday & Thursday 1:30-2:30 in 118 Malloy
Jamee Elder
office hours: Tuesdays 3:00-4:00 & Wednesday 12:00-1:00 in 118 Malloy
Kevin Scott
office hours: Thursday 2:00-3:00 & Friday 1:30-2:30 in 118 Malloy

If you cannot make the office hours of your TA, you should feel free to contact him or her to make an appointment to meet at another time.

Assignments & Grading

Your grade in this class will be determined as follows:
  • The three short analytical papers are each worth 15% of your final grade.
  • The midterm and final exams are each worth 20% of your final grade.
  • Participation & attendance in lecture and discussion sections is worth 15% of your grade.

Every unexcused absence in a discussion section will affect your participation grade. Every unexcused absence beyond the first two will reduce your particpation grade by a full letter grade (10 points). The only excused absences are those excused due to university activities which the university takes to be sufficient reason to miss class or documented illness.

Each of the written assignments is required, in the sense that failure to complete one or more assignments is sufficient to fail the course. Late papers will be penalized three points per day, including weekends.

Notre Dame has no official way of indexing numerical grades to letter grades. This is the system that will be used in this course:

A 94+
A- 90-93
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
D 60-69
F 59-