Introduction to Philosophy

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HUM 127

       Course Name: Introduction to Philosophy

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course focuses on the most fundamental questions that human beings have always asked. Topics include a critical examination of theories about reality and truth, moral values and social justice, personal identity and free will, aesthetic values, and systems of religious beliefs.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify philosophical problems and concepts.
  2. Outline at least four selected philosophical approaches to these problems.
  3. Analyze philosophical texts.
  4. Apply the methods of critical analysis used by philosophers to a variety of topics.
  5. Evaluate criticisms from a variety of perspectives of the philosophical arguments and positions they study, both orally and in writing.
  6. Develop and debate alternative arguments and approaches both orally and in writing.
  7. Integrate the philosophical approaches to thinking about their own lives.
  8. Derive ethical implications from the philosophical theories covered and apply them at the personal, national, and global levels.
  9. Demonstrate an awareness of the rich diversity of global philosophical traditions.
  10. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(Instructors may choose to take a historical, topical, or “great books” approach.  Two sample outlines of topics are provided here.  In your outline of topics, please specify the dates on which you will cover specific topics as well as other important dates, such as exams and paper deadlines.)

Option I: Historical Approach
What is philosophy? (different cultural approaches to philosophy)
Ancient philosophy (e.g. Greek, Indian, Chinese, Roman)
Medieval Philosophy (Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu)
Early Modern and 19th Century Philosophy
20th Century philosophy (analytic, continental, feminism, radical challenges, postmodernism)

Option II: Topical Approach
Body and mind relation (e.g. Spinoza, Merleau-Ponty, and the Feminist challenges of Caroline Whitbeck, Lorraine Code, and so on)
Free will and determinism (e.g. Sartre, theory of Karma, Stoicism, Spinoza, Mesoamerican cosmologies)
Skepticism (e.g. Sextus, Dharmakirti, Hume, Postmodernism)
Questions about scientific method (Gandhi, Kuhn, Foucault…)
What version of morality should we adopt? (Kant, Utilitarianism, Ethics of Care)
What is justice or a just state? (Rawls, Marx, Feminism, Cornell West, Charles Mills, Franz Fanon, Gandhi, Simone de Beauvoir, Susan Moller Okin …)
Why does community matter? (Rousseau, MacIntyre, Charles Taylor…)
What is aesthetic value? (John Dewey, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Emily Hicks…)

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Small group activities
Web-based learning
Class presentations
Lecture and seminar-style discussion
Field trips
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc.  The following are sample topics you may wish to cover.  Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester.  These may be assigned in a variety of ways including long or short research papers, journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

Standards for written work
Final Project
Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Instructors may choose to use several short works in their entirety such as Plato’s Apology, Descartes’ Meditations, Hume’s Three Dialogues on Natural Religion, Mill’s On Liberty, Sartre’s Existentialism and Human Emotion, and West’s Race Matters. 
Another possibility is using a fairly comprehensive anthology of primary sources such as Pojman’s Classics of Philosophy. 
Instructors may also choose to use an introductory text that emphasizes a multi-cultural approach such as Traversing Philosophical Boundaries edited by Hallman.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade.  The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade.  An example follows.)

A.     Quizzes/Exams……40 points
A.     Essays……40 points
B.     Final project with oral presentation……10 points
C.     Attendance and participation………10 points
D.     Grading scale: 90-100, A…….80-89, B………70-79, C……….60-69……..D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
Office and office hours:
Email and website

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.