PHIL 1 — A Short Introduction to Philosophy — Spring 2024

Spring 2024 Syllabus and Schedule

Last updated 05/29/2024 — accessed:

Course Canvas site:

Lecture Times/Location and Primary Instructor Information

(Prof.) Colin Allen <>
Lectures: Tue/Thu 12:30- 1:45 ILP 1302
Office hours: Tue 2-3 in South Hall 5719 and by appointment

Teaching Assistants and Section Meeting Times/Locations
Katherina Gontaryuk <>
Sections: Wed 2:00- 2:50 ARTS 1349 and Wed 3:00-3:50 ARTS 1349
Office hours: Wed 1-2 in South Hall 5701 and by appointment
Wolfe Randall <>
Sections: Thu 3:00- 3:50 ILP 4107 and Thu 4:00- 4:50 ILP 4211
Office hours: Tue 10:45-11:45 in South Hall 5702 and by appointment
Tiffani Thomason <>
Sections: Thu 5:00- 5:50 ILP 4207 and Thu 6:00- 6:50 ILP 4101
Office hours: Thu 3:30-4:30 and by appointment in South Hall 5707
Jessica Wood <>
Sections: Fri 12:00-12:50 ILP 3107 and Fri 1:00- 1:50 ILP 3107
Office hours: Mon 2:00-4:00 in South Hall 5707

Course Description

This course exposes students to a sampling of topics addressed by philosophers, focusing on the arguments used by philosophers to address complex and controversial claims.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, in addition to knowing something about the arguments that have been provided for and against prominent philosophical views, you are expected to be able to apply basic tools of argumentation, argument criticism, and conceptal clarification in your own writing.

Required Materials

The textbook is Learning from Arguments: An Introduction to Philosophy written by UCSB professor Daniel Korman. The book is provided free of charge through Canvas. It can also be downloaded at https://archive/KORLFA.pdf. If you want a hard copy you can buy it for $6.36 at Amazon.

We will not be covering all the chapters in the book, nor will we do them in order. The order of reading is Introduction-1-2-5-3-6-8-9-10. You should also read Appendices 1 and 2 by the end of week 3 of the course.

A note on citing the textbook: Although it is written by Prof. Korman using the first person voice, the arguments presented in the text should not be assumed to reflect his actual views. So, if you cite the textbook you should not say, "According to Korman …" or "Korman says …" or similar. All the arguments in the book are named (e.g. The Body Swap Argument, The Doomed Regardless Argument). According, you should cite these arguments directly, like this "According to the Body Swap Argument (Korman 2022, p.60) …".

Course Format, Assessments, and Attendance

Tue/Thu lectures will highlight aspects of the readings, provide important context, and introduce more ideas about how to respond to the arguments presented in the textbook.

Wed/Thu/Fri discussion sections will elaborate and clarify the main topics and will work on applying the argumentative and analytical tools used in philosophy to develop your own positions on the issues covered in lecture and the book.

Concerning note-taking and studying styles, you are advised to read the following two articles from the cognitive science of learning.

TLDR: (1) taking notes on a keyboard is less effective than taking notes by hand; (2) practicing recall via repeated testing is more effective than re-reading for long term retention.

Grading Basis

Grades will be based on classroom quizzes administered in lectures and discussion sections via iClicker (10% of grade), an in-person midterm exam on Monday April 30 (20%), a paper due by 8 a.m. Monday May 27midnight on Wednesday May 29 (35%), and an in-person final exam on Monday June 10 12-3 p.m. (35%). There is also an optional paper proposal deadline on Monday May 20 to allow you to receive feedback on the approach you will take. This deadline is optional unless you want to propose a topic that is not among the provided prompts. Prompts will be provided immediately after the midterm exam.

Exact formats of the midterm and final exam will be announced one week before each exam, but you should be prepared to answer multiple choice and short-answer questions about anything in the assigned readings or covered in lectures and sections prior to the exam.

Paper Grading and Late Paper Policy

(updated for revised paper deadline) Late papers will be penalized 5 points after the first 24 hours (i.e. receipt after 8 a.m. Tuesday May 28 the end of the day on Thursday May 30), then one point per additional 24 hour delay. Late papers will not be accepted at all after Friday June 7.

iClicker Setup

Various aspects of class participation will require you to use iClicker on a mobile device. See UCSB's iClicker Cloud for Students guide for instructions on how to set up your device.

Schedule of Readings, Topics, and Major Assignments

This reading schedule may be adjusted at any time. You will be alerted to changes via Canvas Announcements.

DateTopicReadings / Assignments
Week 1
Tue 04/02Welcome & Course Overview Syllabus
Thu 04/04The Problem of Evil Appendix A + Ch 1, §§1-3
W-R-F SectionsValidity & Soundness of ArgumentsIntroduction §§1-4 + Appendix A §§1-2
Week 2
Tue 04/09The Problem of EvilCh1 §§4-8
Thu 04/11Betting on GodCh2 §§1-3
W-R-F SectionsArgumentative StrategiesIntroduction §§5-7
Week 3
Tue 04/16Betting on GodCh2 §§4-6
Thu 04/18 No Freedom? (Guest lecture by Prof. Adina Roskies)Ch5 all §§
W-R-F SectionsPhilosophical Writing / Philosophy of ReligionAppendix B §§1-2 / Chs 1 & 2
Week 4
Tue 04/23No Freedom?Ch5 all §§
Thu 04/25reviewChs. 1, 2 & 5, Appendices A and B, all lecture materials
W-R-F SectionsFree Will + reviewChs. 1, 2 & 5, Appendices A and B, all lecture materials
Week 5
Tue 04/30examMIDTERM EXAM
Thu 05/02What Makes You You?Appendix B + Ch3
W-R-F SectionsPhilosophical WritingAppendix B §§3-4
Week 6
Tue 05/07What Makes You You?Ch3
Thu 05/09Do You Know Anything?Ch6
W-R-F SectionsWriting + Metaphysics of Self
Week 7
Tue 05/14 Do You Know Anything?Ch6
Thu 05/16 Abortion EthicsCh8
W-R-F SectionsWriting + Epistemology
Week 8
Tu 05/21 Abortion EthicsCh8
Thu 05/23 Should You Eat Animals?Ch9
W-R-F SectionsApplied Ethics
Week 9
Mon 05/27 (9 a.m.)PAPER DUE
Tue 05/28 Should You Eat Animals?Ch9
Thu 05/30 What Makes Things Right?Ch10
W-R-F SectionsMetaethics
Week 10
Tue 06/04 What Makes Things Right?Ch10
Thu 06/06 review
W-R-F SectionsMetaethics + review
Finals Week
Mon 06/10examFINAL EXAM 12:00-3:00 p.m.

Missed Assignments

You may request to make up for missed exams or other assignments only for University-recognized officially excused absences:

Statement about Academic Misconduct

Students in this course are obliged to comply with UCSB's Academic Integrity Policies. Any student suspected of violating this obligation for any reason during the quarter will be referred via the Academic Integrity procedures detailed at the above link. When you submit assignments with your name on them in this course, you are signifying that the work contained therein is all yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand. Use of ChatGPT or similar generative AI products will be discussed in class, and may not be used unless you are explicitly given permission to do so, and never without explicit acknowledgment of its use.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and UCSB's Disabled Students Program for information about accomodations and services.

The University of California, in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and University policy, prohibits discrimination against or harassment of any person at the University on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, or age. For more information see

I ask that everyone in the class strive to help ensure that other members of this class can learn in a supportive and respectful environment. If there are instances of the aforementioned issues, you may contact the Title IX Office, by calling 805-893-2701 or visiting You may also choose to report this to a faculty/staff member; they may also be required to communicate about such issues to the University’s Office of Diversity and Incusion. If you wish to maintain complete confidentiality, you may also contact University Counseling & Psychological Services .

Statement on Classroom Recording

To ensure the free and open discussion of ideas, students may not record classroom lectures, discussion and/or activities without the advance written permission of the instructor, and any such recording properly approved in advance can be used solely for the student’s own private use.

Materials provided for the course may be protected by copyright. United States copyright law, 17 USC section 101, et seq., in addition to University policy and procedures, prohibit unauthorized duplication or retransmission of course materials. See Library of Congress Copyright Office and the University Copyright Policy.