Philosophy Course Outcomes

PHL 200: Fundamentals of Philosophy
After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:

Outcome 1: Understand and be able to discuss major philosophical problems in the Western Tradition.

Outcome 2: Assess arguments and philosophical perspectives using critical reasoning.

Outcome 3: Express complex thoughts logically and coherently.

Outcome 4: Apply knowledge of philosophical perspectives, logic, and critical reasoning to develop his or her own opinions regarding philosophical problems and issues.


PHL 201: Epistemology
After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:

Outcome 1: Recognize and respond to the kind of questions or problems that are characteristic of epistemology. For example: What is “knowledge?” How do we know when we have it? What role does the notion of “truth” play in knowledge claims? What is “skepticism” and what is its impact on philosophy?

Outcome 2: Explain different philosophical positions or theories that are common to the Western tradition and articulate one’s own points of view in a clear, consistent, concise and thorough manner.

Outcome 3: Utilize basic tools of philosophic inquiry and argument. These include: (a) communicating an understanding of epistemological theories; (b) practicing critical thinking and reasoning skills by analyzing and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of other points of view; and, (c) developing and refining one’s own arguments or positions on basic topics of epistemological theory.

Outcome 4: Interpret primary source material and show how historical texts may be applied to contemporary debates or dilemmas. This can be achieved by reading short excerpts of original writings and sharing one’s own questions and insights in class discussions. Also, finding examples from one’s own experience which support or are relevant to the original readings will foster these interpretive skills.

Outcome 5: Write more effectively. Essays will be graded according to how well they: (a) present a direct response to the question(s) given; (b) clearly and accurately reflect the philosopher’s theory, ideas, etc. (that is, the philosopher’s position must be described or explained in a way that is consistent with the text); (c) give a thorough account of basic points or support central claims with specific examples or relevant arguments (regardless of whether or not the reader/writer agrees with what is being asserted); and (d) show that the writer has reflected upon the material and can offer some additional insights, critique or supporting evidence of his/her own. Asking further relevant questions, pointing out what is lacking or does not make sense, identifying what you agree with and/or do not agree with are some of the ways to demonstrate your own critical thinking skills. Finally, you may also compare one philosopher’s perspective with that of another.


PHL 202: Ethics
After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:

Outcome 1: Demonstrate understanding of major ethical theories and problems in the Western Tradition through written and oral discussion.

Outcome 2: Assess arguments and philosophical perspectives using critical reasoning.

Outcome 3: Express complex thoughts logically and coherently.

Outcome 4: Apply knowledge of ethical perspectives, theories, and critical reasoning to develop his or her own opinions regarding philosophical problems and issues.


PHL 203: Logic
After successfully completing this course, the student should be able to:

Outcome 1: Demonstrate the ability to use the specific tools of critical thinking and logic in order to answer the following questions: What is the difference between truth and validity? Which forms of deduction are valid and which are invalid? What are the most common syllogisms and which informal fallacies are most prevalent? How does philosophic inquiry and argument differ from scientific investigation, mathematical proofs or empirical evidence? And, what are some of the limits of logic in particular or language in general? The student will demonstrate an ability to respond to such questions by completing the assigned exercises and writing assignments.

Outcome 2: Identify premises and conclusions in both formal as well as informal proofs, and demonstrate an awareness of the limits of deductive forms as well as linguistic ambiguities. This can be done by critically reading and analyzing short essays, editorials or articles, and by continuing to distinguish between an argument's form or structure and its content.

Outcome 3: Recognize the defining constituents of an argument (as opposed to a question, command, etc.) and define or evaluate basic types. For example, how and when are arguments by analogy effective and what are their limits? Also, what are the different kinds of "causal analyses" and how are they used in various contexts?

Outcome 4: Argue more coherently and cogently, and write more effectively and efficiently. This can be achieved by: 1) completing assigned exercises (which involve constructing arguments of one's own, evaluating the claims of others, drawing and analyzing Venn diagrams, finding examples of fallacious forms of reasoning, etc.); and, 2) writing a term paper which will require one to research an area of controversy (from a list of proposed topics) and present both sides of the debate in addition to defending a position of one's own.

Outcome 5: Improve critical thinking, reading and writing skills. In particular, the aim here is to distinguish between different kinds of informal fallacies, to recognize the basic psychological impediments to good reasoning, to identify and clarify ambiguities in language, and to show how tools of logic may be applied to issues in science, morality, politics or everyday life.


In this Section