Class: PHL100 Problems of Philosophy
Classroom: MCC 164
Class time: MWF 9:10 am - 10:05 am
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: MCC212A
Office Hours: Every other MW 3:00-4:00+ p.m., and Tuesdays on GoogleMeet 10:00 - 12:00


This class is an introduction to philosophy. We will explore a few of the questions that are central to philosophy. The goal is to become familiar with some of the concerns, techniques, and accomplishments of philosophy as a tradition and discipline.

These questions will be:
  1. What are the branches and methods of philosophy?
  2. Can we have certain knowledge?
  3. Can we prove there is a god?
  4. Is the mind a kind of body (probably mostly brain) activity?
  5. What is a person?
  6. Are we free?
  7. How should one live?
  8. What is justice?
  9. Does the universe, or do at least you, have a purpose?


There is one book that you are asked to purchase and which is required for this course:
Rene Descartes, Meditations
We will read also many other things, but these other texts will be made available on the web, as electronic texts, or as handouts. Please do not take this course if you are unwilling to read and grapple with difficult texts.

Assignments and exams

We are going to do something different with this course. Instead of having most of the work being at the end of the class, we will try to spread the work evenly over the semester. The course will be divided into 2-week long sections, as listed above. For each section of the course, there will be:
  • reading questions and related short assignments,
  • a practice quiz,
  • a short quiz, and
  • a semi-optional extra/outside assignment (do 4 of the 7 possible such assignments during the semester).
The final exam will be short and just a repeat of some of our previous questions.

If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your ability to successfully complete any of the assignments of this course, please contact the Disability Services Office.

Please note: I generally do not answer emails that read: "I missed class today. Did we do anything important? If so, can you tell me everything I missed and perhaps teach the whole class to me over email or perhaps in office hours?" I especially am likely to not answer it if from someone who missed a lot of classes.


The raw grade will be determined in roughly the following way:
Assignments: 25%
Practice quizes: 10%
Extra/outside assignments: 25% Quizzes: 30%
Final: 10%
See my grading policy for a brief note on how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.

Office Hours

In addition to the listed office hours, I encourage you to make appointments. I am available quite a bit; the only problem is that I tend to have lots of irregular meetings so it is hard for me to promise a reoccuring time.

Please try to come to office hours with specific questions in mind. You can of course come with a general request for help, but it is always helpful if you spend a little time thinking about how I can best help you out.


By the end of this class, you should understand and be able to explain:
  • Valid and sound deductive arguments;
  • Reductio ad absurdum arguments, and how to structure one;
  • Rationalism and empiricism; foundationalism, coherentism;
  • The "cogito ergo sum" argument;
  • The historical attempts at a proof of the existence of God from reason alone, with recognition of some of the difficulties;
  • A "philosopher's god";
  • The problem of free will, and libertarian and compatibilist "solutions";
  • Dualism and physicalism in the philosophy of mind, and example applications like the problem of consciousness;
  • The problem of personal identity (over time), and Locke's solution, and challenges to Locke's solution;
  • The problem of teleology.


I will frequently update an online schedule of readings and assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for the class at least every other day!


No screens please. Leave your phone and computer at home.

User Agreement

Final Exam

Final Exam date and time TBA

Clery Act/Title IX Reporting Statement

SUNY Oswego is committed to enhancing the safety and security of the campus for all its members. In support of this, faculty may be required to report their knowledge of certain crimes or harassment. Reportable incidents include harassment on the basis of sex or gender prohibited by Title IX and crimes covered by the Clery Act. For more information about Title IX protections, go to or contact the Title IX Coordinator, 405 Culkin Hall, 315-312-5604, For more information about the Clery Act and campus reporting, go to the University Police annual report:

Disability Statement

If you have a disabling condition, which may interfere with your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Office of Accessibility Services.

Excused absences

If you miss an quiz and have an excused absence for the day you miss the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the answers.

Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must notify the Philosophy Dept. secretary, Jane Santore, before you are going to be absent, via email at, or by phone at x2249. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my phone or email for some reason.

Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before the end of the semester I recommend that you ask me to review the grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any mistakes.

College Policy on Intellectual Integrity

SUNY Oswego is committed to Intellectual Integrity. Any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and therefore prohibited.

Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to individual growth and development through college course work. When academic dishonesty occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these reasons, any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and is therefore prohibited.

The full intellectual integrity policy can be found at