Introduction to Philosophy

A Cinematic Approach

Dr. Tanya Rodriguez

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Office: Lusk 136

Office Hours: M: 1:30-2:30 Tues: 1-1:45; W: 1:30-2:30; TH: 1-1:45

E-mail: (I rarely check this on weekends)

Phone: (916) 558-2109 (Best to call during office hours)

Philosophy 300: 

This course uses critical thinking techniques to analyze and evaluate the positions, arguments, and methods of different thinkers as expressed in primary texts. Typical topics include human freedom, the belief in God, the nature and limits of scientific knowledge, the basis of aesthetic judgments.

Course Goals:

The goals of this course are to provide students with no previous background in philosophy with an introduction to the method of analytic inquiry and to equip them to critically read, assess, and write philosophical prose that draws upon film for demonstration and clarification.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. demonstrate familiarity with the basic issues and elementary concepts, and some positions and arguments, in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and theories of value;
  2. demonstrate familiarity with some example(s) of ancient Greek philosophical writing.
  3. identify arguments and their premise(s) and conclusion(s), implicit assumptions, and make basic distinctions between strong and weak arguments;
  4. present elementary philosophical positions and arguments in public both verbally and in writing;
  5. apply basic philosophical concepts and arguments to contemporary issues and to their own lives.


All required readings are available online and linked to the schedule on the day assigned with a corresponding blog prompt.

No Excuse Policy

  • If you are absent, I always assume it is for a good reason. As such, it is pointless to provide any explanation for a missed class. However, consider that class participation is vital to your success in this course and that excessive absences cannot help but negatively affect your grade.
  • I usually begin class without introductions or announcements. It is your responsibility to keep abreast of our schedule and other course information via wordpress.

Statement of College Policy on Plagiarism

  • Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one’s own creation. Using the ideas or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source.
  • Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is cited.
  • Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The Library has free guides designed to help students with problems of documentation.

(From the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 36)

Classroom Etiquette

Leaving/Entering during class 

Once a student has entered the classroom s/he should not leave until the class period has ended. Excessive comings and goings, after a warning, will result in a one point deduction from the student’s participation grade. Bathroom breaks are permitted and permission is not necessary.

Electronic devices

  • The use of electronic devices during class time is limited to accessing the course text. Should a student make any other use of an electronic device during class time without permission from the instructor, the student will lose one (1) point from her/his participation grade for every infraction past the first, which will constitute the student’s sole warning. For example, if a student has headphones in or on her/his ears for a device such as an iPod, or a Bluetooth headset, even if the device in question is not in use, the student will lose one (1) point from her/his final participation grade.
  • You may use tablets or laptops for reading the text only and taking notes. If you misuse this privilege even once, you will lose it.


If a student engages in conversation or talking of any sort while the instructor or any other member of the class has the floor, that student will be assessed a one (1) point penalty to her/his participation grade.


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