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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

Frequently Asked Questions

Abstract: Questions from previous classes answered.

Table of Contents:

  1. How do I log on to Lander Blackboard?
  2. This online course is confusing. Can you please email me and tell me what I supposed to do?
  3. How do I use Lander email. My email account doesn't work. What do I do now?
  4. Can I read ahead and finish the class early?
  5. I don't use Microsoft Word so my tests are not ".docx" files. Can I just cut and paste the test into the email message itself?
  6. What is the purpose of this course?
  7. What kinds of things are studied?
  8. Is Introduction to Logic a prerequisite for this course?
  9. My advisor says this course does not fulfill the logical and analytical thought General Elective Requirement. Why not? It's a philosophy course.
  10. How to I get extra-credit in this course?
  11. What counts as a good essay answer on tests? Could you give me some examples?
  12. If I do the objective questions on tests by myself, how could you possibly tell if other students are academically dishonest and work together?
  13. Are all of these questions really "Frequently Asked Questions"?

  1. How do I log on to Lander Blackboard?


    Most students will access Blackboard through the MyLander Campus Portal with either of these URLs:

    http://mylander.lander.edu
    https://mylander.lander.edu/cp/home/displaylogin

    or you can access Lander Blackboard directly at this URL:

    http://bb.lander.edu

    Your username is the abbreviated name just before the "@lander.edu" of your email address; your password is your Bearcat PIN number. If you have no PIN number contact the Registrar's Office.
  2. This online course is confusing. Can you please email me and tell me what I supposed to do?


    Log in to Lander Blackboard and click on the hyperlink to this course.

    1. Read the "Welcome to the Course" page.
    2. Read and print out the Syllabus to the course. Or print it out from the homepage of this course here: Online Philosophy Homepage
    3. From the assignments in the syllabus, begin reading. Or better, just start with the ReadMe1 file.
  3. How do I use Lander email. My email account doesn't work. What do I do now?


    Log into the MyLander Campus Portal and click on "Bearcat Web" and you can access your email account information under the link "Personal Information." For help, contact the Information Technology Helpdesk at +1-864-388-0470.

    First, check to see if you have typed your email address correctly. Approximately, 30/% of email addresses are mistyped.

    Second, make sure you have deleted all unnecessary messages in your Inbox so that there is still room left to receive email.

    To verify that your email account works, email a test message to yourself from a friend's email account or one of your other accounts set up from a different vendor.
  4. Can I read ahead and finish the class early?


    You are free to read ahead so long as Discussion comments and tests are completed according to the Course Assignment Schedule. The readings listed in the Course Assignment Schedule are the minimum number of readings for this course; you are encouraged to consult as many of the recommended links and sources listed in the course notes and tutorials. The main reason tests must be submitted in accordance with the Assignment Schedule is to conserve the instructor's time necessary to evaluate tests.
  5. I don't use Microsoft Word so my tests are not ".docx" files. Can I just cut and paste the test into the email message itself?


    You do not have to use MS Word for this course. Most current word-processing programs will allow you to save in any one of the following file-formats: TXT, DOC, DOCX, or RTF.

    Do not cut and past the file into the text of the email. Your instructor uses the files to insert comments and evaluation, to save them to hard disc for plagiarism checks, and occasionally to look at the hidden file information to verify originality and date of composition. Your test must be submitted as one of these file types so as to conform with any of the routine plagiarism-checks done for all papers in this course.
  6. What is the purpose of this course?


    The specific purposes of Introduction to Philosophic Inquiry are:
    1. to learn to identify arguments, to evaluate and counter them, and to construct good arguments,
    2. to obtain the ability to relate arguments to one another and to appreciate persistent, sustained thought on a topic,
    3. to analyze philosophical essays and obtain facility in the clear, complete, and methodical statement of personal views,
    4. to obtain the ability to justify and defend personal views once they are clearly and completely stated and to develop a personal ideology,
    5. to gain skill in asking interesting, productive, and insightful questions,
    6. to recognize how all aspects of living are rationally and causally interrelated,
    7. to recognize the difference between a thoughtful question and a philosophic problem,
    8. to study classic, influential, and abiding arguments concerning the structures of knowledge, belief, and value,
    9. to understand how concepts can be systematically clarified through philosophical analysis, and
    10. to apply usefully the several methods of philosophical reasoning in everyday life and ordinary language.
  7. What kinds of things are studied?


    The general purpose of Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry is to introduce some of the main problems of philosophy, including …
    1. to explain the difference between a priori and a posteriori arguments,
    2. to learn to identify arguments, to evaluate and counter them, and to construct good arguments,
    3. to obtain the ability to relate arguments to one another and to appreciate persistent, sustained thought on a topic,
    4. to obtain the ability to justify and defend personal views once they are clearly and completely stated and to develop a personal ideology,
    5. to recognize how all aspects of living can be rationally and causally interrelated,
    6. to recognize the difference between a factual question and a philosophic problem,
    7. to understand how concepts can be systematically clarified thought philosophical analysis,
    8. to explain the general purpose of philosophy as a method of inquiry,
    9. to identify the differences between faith and reason,
    10. to list major philosophy positions on free will,
    11. to identify and explain some common fallacies which occur in philosophical argumentation, and
    12. to apply usefully several methods of philosophical reasoning in everyday life and ordinary language.
  8. Is Introduction to Logic a prerequisite for this course?


    Philosophy 102: Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry has no prerequisite. This course complements Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic but you need not have taken that course to do well in the Introduction to Logic course. They are entirely independent courses.
  9. My advisor says this course does not fulfill the logical and analytical thought General Elective Requirement. Why not? It's a philosophy course.


    Philosophy 102: Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry does meet the logical and analytical thought requirement.

    This introduction to philosophy course is sometime confused with the logic course which is entitled Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic, which does meet the logical and analytical thought requirement for many majors.
  10. How to I get extra-credit in this course?


    Extra credit is not offered in this class for two main reasons. First, any extra or ``replacement'' work is less important than the required work, and second, more important, extra credit is not an adequate substitute for learning basic ideas of the course. In my opinion, the offering of extra credit often conflicts with the legal and ethical requirements of equal opportunity since all persons have the right to the same class policies.
  11. What counts as a good essay answer on tests? Could you give some examples?


    In general, answering essay questions on tests should be similar to writing a paper where you reconstruct the philosophies in terms of your own thought and words. Clarify your understanding of the question carefully, as if you were explaining the philosophy slowly and carefully to a younger brother or sister.

    If the question asks for your own analysis, then feelings, religious beliefs, and political views should be totally avoided unless you give good logical reasons, verifiable empirical evidence, or insightful examples supporting your views. In general, for an adequate answer to test questions about 400 to 450 words are necessary to cover the scope of the questions asked.

    There are two detailed analyses of the grading of example essay questions available for this course:
    (1) Essay examples analyzed from the point of view of specific criteria and ranked from exceptionally good to very poor with respect to a question on Paley's Design Argument (2) Essay examples ranked according to criteria with respect to a question on James' Significance of Life.
  12. If I do the objective questions on tests by myself, how could it be possibly determined if other students are academically dishonest and work together?


    Whether or not students work together on objective questions can be often known conclusively through statistical tests, if the questions are well-designed.

    Consider this brief oversimplification by way of explanation. Assuming that the test questions asked are above average difficulty and the probability of answering each question correctly is 50%, then if there were only ten questions, the probability of two students having the same answers would be about one chance in 1,024.

    So you can see how the chances of two or more persons having the same 30 to 50 answers in sequence at this level of difficulty would actually be as reliable as DNA evidence presented in a court of law. (Obviously, this would not be the case if the questions were relatively easy to answer.) Some of the statistical tests I've used in the past few semesters are described here: Integrity Castle Rock Research. Recently over ten students either not passed the course or had their grades significantly reduced because they assumed there "would be no way to know" if they collaborated on objective questions.

    Even so, I still use objective questions because they help obtain a fair assessment of student work. And I think philosophy courses are not best assessed by timed, online tests. My reasoning is as follows: I think objective questions are an important part of assessment, because they can be used to hone in on knowledge of specific concepts.

    If academic honesty could not be checked, I would not use this method of testing for an open-book test. (Even so, since so many students have not passed the course recently, I strongly recommend that if you are a student who doubts the efficacy of the software that you do your own research on the question or calculate the probabilities for yourself.)
  13. Are all of these questions really "Frequently Asked Questions"?


    No, not really, but ten of them are.
Further Reading:
  • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: This continuously updated open-access reference work is the project of the Metaphysics Research Lab at Stanford University. Each peer-reviewed entry is written and maintained by scholars in the field.
  • The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Subtitled ``A Field Guide to the Nomenclature of Philosophy,'' this open-access resource consists of regularly updated original peer-reviewed articles edited by James Fieser and Bradley Dowden.
  • The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia: Most philosophy entries from this 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, written by philosophy scholars, are extremely useful for in-depth commentary on major works and authors before 1910.
Top of Page

[P]hilosophy admits of no delays: it is not to be deferred to leisure hours; every thing else is to be postponed that we may aply ourselves closely to this: no time can be sufficient for it.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, The Epistles of Lucius Annaeus Seneca trans. Thomas Morell (London: W. Woodfall, 1786), 285.

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