17th and 18th c. Philosophy

Philosophy 312

Spring 2008, TuTh 10:15-11:35AM HU-124


Professor:   P.D. Magnus

Campus phone: 2-4251

Office: HU-258

Office hours: Tu 2:45-3:45, F 11:00-12:00, and by appt.

TA:   Wes McMichael

Office hours: M 10:00-11:00, W 4:00-5:00, and by appt.


two in-class exams   @ 20%

final exam   30%

one paper   30%

6-8 pages on an assigned topic. A rough draft will be due during Week 10 (April 3). The paper will be returned to you with comments and the final draft will be due during Week 14 (April 29). You should turn in the rough draft along with the final.
The draft will be marked with the grade it would have received if it were a final draft. If the paper is not improved, however, the final draft will not receive this grade! If you turn in the paper unmodified, you will get one letter grade less than the grade marked on the draft.

Class participation   Participation in class discussion is required. Exemplary participation will add to your grade, up to two-thirds of a letter grade. For example, a B could become an A-.

Course texts

Course texts will be Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy (translated by John Cottingham et al.), and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (abridged, translated by Werner Pluhar), and a custom course packet containing readings from Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

All materials are available at Mary Jane's Books (located at the corner of Western and Quail.) The Descartes and Kant volumes are also available at the university bookstore.


Academic honesty:   Students are encouraged to discuss issues from the course with each other and with others outside of class. However, they are responsible for their own ideas. Papers should include citations to any works cited or consulted, as well as acknowledgments of helpful interactions.

Cheating will not be tolerated.

Late papers:   The paper will be considered late if it is not ready to hand in at the beginning of class on the day it is due. Each day late will result in a loss of one letter grade.

Absences:   Students who will need to miss class for religious observance, away games, or for other scheduled reasons should discuss these issues with the professor at the beginning of the term. If an emergency results in absence, the student should contact the professor as soon as possible. Make-up exams will be given only for documented, excused absences.


We are studying five philosophers this term, each for about two and half weeks. The following is a provisional schedule.

Th 1/24

René Descartes

Tu 1/29
Meditation 1
(read: 3-15, recommended: 63-67)
Th 1/31
Meditation 2
(read: 16-23, recommended: 68-77)
Tu 2/5
Meditation 3
(read: 24-36, recommended: 78-89)
Th 2/7
Meditations 4-5
(read: 37-49, recommended: 90-106)
Tu 2/12
Meditation 6
(read: 50-62, recommended: 107-115)
Th 2/14
Tu 2/19

John Locke

Th 2/21
Innate ideas
(read pages 2-13)
Tu 2/26
Personal identity
(read pages 13-25)
Th 2/28
General terms
(read pages 25-30)

George Berkeley

Tu 3/4
Preface and Introduction
(read pages 31-41)
Th 3/6
(read pages 41-49)
Tu 3/11
(read pages 49-59)
Th 3/13
(read pages 64-75)
Tu 3/18
(read pages 75-84)
Th 3/20
3/25, 27

David Hume

Tu 4/1
Hume on ideas
(read §§ II-III, pages 90-94)
Th 4/3
Sceptical worries
(read § IV, pages 94-101)
Tu 4/8
The sceptical solution
(read § V pt 1 & § XII, pages 101-104, 153-161)
Th 4/10
Causal power
(read § VII, pages 110-119)
Tu 4/15
(read § VIII, pages 119-131)

Immanuel Kant

Th 4/17
Preface and Introduction
(read pages 1-24)
Tu 4/22
The Transcendental Aesthetic
(read pages 25-38)
Th 4/24
The Deduction
(read pages 39-65)
Tu 4/29
The Deduction
Th 5/1
The Ontological Argument
(read pages 196-200)
Tu 5/6
Concluding thoughts
Th 5/15, 1:00 PM