Philosophy 100, Spring  ‘02 — 20th Century  Philosophy             9-10 MWF MI112

D. Vessey                  363-2146 (Office)                                           Office Hours: 210MI                                                                         2-4 MW, 1-3 Th

                                                                                                            and by appointment


Course Content

The 20th Century has been the most prolific period of philosophy ever.  A number of things have contributed to this fact, most notably the expansion and diversification of the university system and the ready availability of books and journals.  As a result, the diversity in philosophy in the twentieth century is also the greatest it’s ever been.  Postmodernists work alongside analytic philosophers who work alongside Kantians and even Thomists.  There is not clean narrative of philosophical progress in the 20th century, although there is some consensus about who the major thinkers have been. Generally the 20th century has been dominated by a schism between analytic philosophy, the main philosophical tradition in the English-speaking world and Scandinavia, and Continental philosophy, the main philosophical tradition on the continent, above all Germany and France.  In addition to these two, pragmatism is the only philosophical tradition native to America, and one of the major themes of the late twentieth century has been philosophy influenced by feminists concerns. For that reason the course is divided up into five traditions: Early Analytic Philosophy, Pragmatism, Phenomenology (the main tradition in Continental philosophy), Late (post- Wittgenstein) Analytic Philosophy, and Feminist Philosophy.  Within each of these five traditions we will spend one day on each of seven core areas of philosophy: Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, and Political Philosophy.  We will have one reading each day, and will sometimes focus on one thinker by reading three or four essays by the same person.  On the final four days of class we will read and discuss student research papers written on a central debate in twentieth century philosophy.


Course Method

Writing remains the best way to process and develop ideas. We will have two page (12 pt, Times/New Roman) papers due every Monday.  Of these 13 papers, only the top 10 grades will count towards the final grade.  They will be graded A, B, C, F. These papers are meant to help facilitate discussion and therefore need not be turned in late or in your absence. The will also be a final, 10 page research paper justifying a thesis on a debate in twentieth century philosophy. These papers will be discussed in class and the final draft, revised in light of comments, will be due at the time of the final exam. In addition, everyone will be required to produce two web-based study guides.  You will sign up for the days to do the guides at the beginning of the semester; they are due in class one class period before the reading is to be done. I will post them on the web for everyone to use to guide their reading. I will produce web guides for each Monday reading both as a template for your guides and to facilitate writing the Monday papers. The typo policy and the honor policy apply to all handed in, graded work. As a minimum standard for college level written work, all work should be well proofread and must be your own work.  For every four typos the grade will be lowered one step (i.e. A to a B for the Monday appears; A to A- for the research paper); typos include spelling errors, grammatical errors, improper use of gendered pronouns, and failure to properly reference quotations. Failure to properly reference is different from plagiarizing. All written work handed in must include on the first page, “On my honor I have neither given nor received nor witnessed unauthorized aid on this paper” and must be signed. Plagiarism is a sign that one has so lost track of their proper role as a student that there’s no point in continuing in the class (much less in college) at this point in one’s life.  Finally since discussion is a central feature of the class (and discussions can not be made up if missed) attendance and participation are central parts of the grade for the class.  You can think of the daily grade as follows: Absent: F; Present but unprepared: D, Present, prepared, but non-participating: C; Present and participating: B; Present and significantly contributing: A.


If you have a disability and would like to speak to someone about possible accommodations, please visit the LSSC (Learning Support Services Center) located on the first floor of Porter Hall. You will need to provide appropriate documentation of your disability to Diane Arnzen, Director of the LSSC. If you wish to receive accommodations in my class please provide me the LSSC Accommodation Verification Letter dated for this semester as soon as possible so your learning needs may be appropriately met.


Grade Breakdown:

Weekly Papers:  30%                                   Long Paper:  30% (15% each draft)

Study Guides: 10% each                              Attendance and Participation: 20%



1. Tue. Jan 15             Introduction


2. Wed., Jan. 16         Critique of Psychologism: Husserl, Frege and Peirce



Early Analytic Philosophy



3. Fri., Jan. 18            Epistemology

                                                Reading: Russell from Problems of Philosophy




4. Mon., Jan. 21         Philosophy of Language

                                                  Reading: Russell “Descriptions”

                                                  Paper #1 Due


5. Wed., Jan. 23         Metaphysics

                                                  Reading: Russell “On the Relations of Universals and



6. Fri., Jan. 25            Philosophy of Science

                                                  Reading: Hempel “Laws and their Role in Scientific





7. Mon., Jan. 28         Ethics

                                                  Reading: Moore “from Principia Ethica”

                                                  Paper #2 Due


8. Wed., Jan. 30         Political Philosophy

                                                  Reading: H. L. A. Hart “from The Concept of Law


9. Fri., Feb. 1             Philosophy of Religion

                                                  Reading: Russell “What I Believe”






10. Mon., Feb. 4        Philosophy of Science

                                                  Reading: Peirce “The Fixation of Belief”

                                                  Paper #3 Due


11. Wed., Feb. 6        Philosophy of Language

                                                  Reading: Mead “from Mind, Self, and Society


12. Fri., Feb. 8           Political Philosophy

                                                  Reading: Dewey “Search for the Great Community”




13. Mon., Feb. 11      Epistemology

Reading: James “Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth”

 and “A Dialogue”

                                                  Paper #4 Due


14. Wed., Feb. 13      Metaphysics:

                                                  Reading: James “What Pragmatism Means”

and “Some Metaphysical Problems

Pragmatically Considered”


15. Fri., Feb. 15         Ethics

Reading: James “The Moral Philosopher and the

Moral Life”




16. Mon., Feb. 18      Philosophy of Religion

                                                  Reading: James “The Will to Believe”

                                                  Paper #5 Due





17. Wed., Feb. 20      Epistemology

                                                  Reading: Husserl “from Cartesian Meditations


18. Fri., Feb. 22         Metaphysics

Reading: Heidegger “First and Second Introduction

to Being and Time”




19. Mon., Feb. 25      Philosophy of Language

Reading: Heidegger “Dasein, Disclosedness and

Truth from Being and Time

                                                  Paper #6 Due


20. Wed., Feb. 27      Philosophy of Science

Reading: Heidegger “The Question Concerning



21. Fri., Mar. 1           Ethics

                                                  Reading: Sartre “Existentialism is a Humanism”




22. Mon., Mar. 11     Political Philosophy

                                                  Reading: Arendt “from The Human Condition

                                                  Paper #7 Due


23. Wed., Mar. 13     Philosophy of Religion

                                                  Reading: Levinas “God and Philosophy”



24. Fri., Mar. 15         Wittgenstein

                                                   Reading: “from Philosophical Investigations”



Post-Wittgensteinian Analytic



25. Mon., Mar. 18     Epistemology

                                                  Reading: Quine “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”

                                                  Paper #8 Due


26. Wed., Mar. 20     Metaphysics

                                                  Reading: Quine “Ontological Relativity”


27. Fri., Mar. 22         Philosophy of Language

                                                  Reading: Davidson “On the Very Idea of a

Conceptual Scheme”




28. Mon., Mar. 25     Philosophy of Science

                                                  Reading: Kuhn “from Structure of Scientific Revolutions

                                                  Paper #9 Due


29. Wed., Mar. 27     Philosophy of Religion

                                                  Reading: Plantinga “Religious Belief Without



30. Fri., Mar. 29         Political Philosophy

                                                  Reading: Rawls “from Justice as Fairness: A





31. Mon., Apr. 1        Ethics

                                                  Reading: MacIntyre “Politics, Philosophy and the

Common Good”

                                                  Paper #10 Due





32. Wed., Apr. 3        Metaphysics

                                                  Reading: Beauvoir “Introduction from The Second



33. Fri., Apr. 5           Ethics

                                                  Reading:  Gilligan “Moral Orientation and Moral





34. Mon., Apr. 8        Political Philosophy

                                                  Reading: Okin “from Justice, Gender and the Family

                                                  Paper #11 Due


35. Wed., Apr. 10      Philosophy of Science

                                                  Reading:  Harding “From Feminist Empiricism to

Feminist Standpoint Epistemologies”


36. Fri., April 12        Philosophy of Language

                                                  Reading: Cixous “The Laugh of the Medusa”




37. Mon., Apr. 15      Philosophy of Religion

                                                  Reading: Mary Daly “from Beyond God the Father

                                                Paper #12 Due


Wed., Apr. 17            No Class: Spring Day


38. Fri. Apr. 19          Neo-Pragmatism

                                                  Reading: Putnam: “Meaning and Reference”




39. Mon., Apr. 22      Neo-Pragmatism

                                                  Reading: Rorty “Solidarity or Objectivity?”


40. Wed., Apr. 24      Presentations


41. Fri., Apr. 26         Presentations           




42. Mon., Apr. 30      Presentations


43. Wed., May 1        Presentations/Evaluations




Final Exam/Final Paper      Due Thursday May 7, 10pm