Here is a mind map I made when planning the course, giving the overall map of how things are meant to fit together. You can download it as a jpeg by right-clicking on it (or “control” click on a Mac) and saving it.

You can also view it in a bigger version on the web.


The following are the same document, in two different file formats:

Note that the office hours for Christina on the documents here are incorrect because she had to change them. The new office hours are given in the text below (they are: Mondays 12-1 and Wednesdays 11-12)

PHIL 102 Spring 2018 Syllabus (Word version)

PHIL 102 Spring 2018 Syllabus (PDF)

The syllabus is also posted below.


W17 Term 2, Spring 2018 (Sect. 003)

Meets: M,W 10-10:50am in Swing Space 121, plus one Wednesday or Friday discussion meeting

Christina’s Office Hours:

All in Buchanan E, room 375                                     

  • Mondays 12-1pm, Wednesdays 11a-12p
  • Also by appointment—just ask in class or email me for an appointment time

To meet with your TA:

Email them using email addresses on the syllabus documents above, to set up an appointment.


PHIL 102 is an introductory philosophy course focused on ethics and/or social & political philosophy. In this version of the course we will look at two sets of questions:

  1. Just what is philosophy, anyway? This is a difficult question to answer, it turns out, and we will mainly be looking at philosophy in the “Western” tradition (because that is what your instructor knows the most about). Related questions we will consider:
  • What is distinctive about philosophical questions, philosophical discussions, philosophical texts? How do philosophers think, speak, write, act?
  • What is the value of philosophy? What do we get out of thinking, speaking, writing philosophically?
  • How can we see philosophical approaches beyond work done in philosophy classes or by teachers or researchers in philosophy? How can we see philosophy out in the world around us?
  1. How can philosophy help us think about matters of life and death?
  • What have philosophers said about topics such as how we should live, what’s important in life, how we should approach our own mortality, our responsibilities for the lives and deaths of others?
  • What do you think about these arguments?
  • Can philosophical approaches help us think about these issues in a better way than we might have done otherwise?

Structure of the course:

We meet twice a week as a large group for 50 minutes, and once a week in smaller groups of up to 25 for discussions. During the Monday and Wednesday large group meetings there will be some lecture, but not only lecture; there will be times you need to actively participate in some in-class activities as well. The smaller meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays provide a chance to engage in philosophical discussion in smaller groups.

Learning Objectives (and their relationship to course activities)

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  1. Based on what we’ve studied in the class, give one (of many!) possible answers to the question: What is philosophical activity and where do we see it outside of this course? Explain how philosophy is not limited only to people trained as “philosophers.” (philosophy in the world assignment)
  2. Explain the basic structure of a philosophical argument–premises and conclusion—and outline arguments in philosophical works. (in-class activities, notes & discussion questions assignment, exams)
  3. Evaluate the strength of arguments in assigned texts, in oral or written work by other students, and their own arguments. (essays, peer feedback, exams, class discussions)
  4. Make a claim about a philosophical issue and defend it with sound reasoning, in writing (essays)
  5. Participate in a respectful discussion with others on a philosophical question: clarify positions and arguments from themselves or others, criticize flawed arguments, present their own arguments, and do all this in manner that respects the other people in the discussion. (in-class discussions, discussion board)
  6. Explain and evaluate the following: (class discussions, notes & discussion questions assignment, exams, essays)
  • At least two philosophical approaches to how we should live/what is important in life (e.g., the views of Socrates, Epicureans, Mozi)
  • At least two views of what morality requires of us (e.g., utilitarianism, Kantianism)
  • At least two views of our responsibilities for the lives and deaths of others (e.g., Singer, Nussbaum, Thomson)
  • At least two views of our responsibilities for the lives and deaths of non-human animals (e.g., Harman, Belshaw)

Required Readings

All readings for the course are available free of cost online, either as publicly available documents on the internet or through the UBC Library course reserve system. All readings will be accessible through the course website (see below).

Course Website

The website for this course is on the UBC Blogs system, here: On it you can find this syllabus, a weekly schedule that gives you up to date information on what to read/watch/do each week, announcements, slides from class, links to useful resources, and more.

We also have a course site on Canvas, where you will be submitting some assignments, and where you can check your grades:

Information on Learning Catalytics

We will be using a system called Learning Catalytics to do some in-class activities. This allows you to use your phone, tablet or computer to answer questions. You don’t have to pay anything to use it. There are documents and links for help with Learning Catalytics under “links” on the main course website:

Learning Catalytics stores some about you outside of Canada, including in the United States. In order to use LC, you must register with Pearson Education. To register, you must provide a name, email address, and your institution. In addition, they will store your answers to the LC questions as well as the marks you receive on them. Christina then downloads the marks to store on her encrypted computer and then uploads totals to Canvas. Please see the privacy policy for Pearson, which is the company that owns Learning Catalytics.:

If you do not wish to have your personal stored by Pearson, attached to your real identity, you may set up Learning Catalytics with a fake name and an email address that isn’t tied to your real name (but it should be an email address you have access to!). If you do this, please let Christina know what your fake name is, or else you can’t get credit for the answers you give on LC.

Alternatively, you may use paper in class to answer the Learning Catalytics questions instead of using the LC system. That way you won’t interact with them at all. You will need to submit your answers on paper right after completing them; you can’t hand them in at the end of class, after we’ve already talked about the answers.


Participation: 15%

  • Participation in discussion meetings (and/or another way of participating; see below): 8%
  • Participation in peer feedback on essays: 3%
  • Summary of discussion questions facilitated in a small group: 4%

In-class Learning Catalytics activities: 5%

Mid-term exam: 15%

Writing assignments: 40%

  1. First essay (approx. 2-3 pages): 10%
  2. Second essay (approx. 5-6 pages): 20%
  3.  “Philosophy in the world” assignment: 10%

Final exam: 25%

Further explanation of assignments

These are general explanations only; specific instructions for presentations, essays, and in-class assignments and exams will be provided later on handouts, available on the course website:

Participation (15%):

·      Summary of discussion questions and answers: 4%

  • You’ll need to sign up for one day during which you’ll bring discussion questions to talk about in a small group in your discussion meeting that week. You’ll then need to write a summary of what was talked about and post it on the course website.

·      Participation in discussion meetings or other ways: 8%

  • Participation can be shown in one (or more) of several ways, including speaking during your discussion meetings on Wednesdays or Fridays, posting to a discussion board on the course website, submitting reflective notes on some texts, and more. A handout with instructions for these options will be posted on the course website.
  • Attendance in discussion meetings: this counts only insofar as you miss class days for discussion meetings. You can miss one Wednesday/Friday discussion meeting during the term without excuse and without penalty. After that, if you don’t talk to your TA about a reason for missing class and they don’t grant you an excused absence, you’ll lose 5% off of whatever you have earned otherwise for this 8% participation mark for each discussion meeting you miss. (E.g., if you earned 100% for participation that could be 8 points, and you would lose 0.4 points per day out of 8 for each discussiin meeting missed).
    • Talk to your TA if you miss a discussion meeting, as they are the ones keeping attendance and granting excused absences.

·      Peer feedback on essays: 3%

  • You will need to participate in peer feedback on both essays for the course, including submitting your own for feedback. Instructions for how to do so will be given in class and on the course website.

Learning Catalytics questions: 5%

  • During the Monday & Wednesday large classes there will be in-class activities you will do on a system called “Learning Catalytics,” for which you use a phone, tablet, or laptop (you can choose to use paper instead if you wish). This system is free for your to use.
  • Marks for the LC questions include whether you did them at all and also (sometimes, depending on the question) the correctness of your answers. Sometimes I’ll use these to just see what is unclear and what you understand; in those cases, there are no marks attached to getting the “right” or “wrong” answers.
  • You may miss two sets of questions from Learning Catalytics without excuse and without penalty. We won’t do these during every Monday and Wednesday class meeting; it will probably be about once a week.

Mid-term exam: 15%

The purpose of the mid-term is to encourage you to keep up with the course, but also to provide some practice for the final exam.

  • For part of it, you will be given a passage from one of the readings we’ve done in class, and will have to “outline” the argument. What this means will be discussed in class, and we will practice doing these outlines in class beforehand. You’ll also need to say how it fits into a larger point the author is making in the text.
  • There will also be either a set of short answer questions or a longer essay question (to be announced in class)

Writing assignments: 40%

You will be required to write two essays for this course. You will give and receive peer feedback on both. There is also a third writing assignment called “philosophy in the world.”

  • The first essay will be a very short one, a summary of one philosopher’s views, just to get you practice in writing for philosophy. (10%)
  • The second essay will most likely either require you to discuss two philosophers’ views or one philosophers’ view plus your own arguments in response (details for what to write about will be given later in class). (20%)
  • “Philosophy in the world” assignment: The idea with this assignment is to find and talk about philosophical activities being done, or philosophical content you can find, outside in “the world” beyond the class. There will be several options for doing this assignment; these will be given in class and on the course website. (10%)
    • This assignment can be done individually or in pairs/groups. It is up to you to decide whether you want to do this assignment on your own, or with one or more people.
    • If you do the assignment with one or more people, you will have to fill out a worksheet that specifies the breakdown of roles (who will do what), a schedule of deadlines, etc. The mark for the project will be made up of the overall mark for the quality of the project plus marks for what each individual member of the group did on their own.

Final exam: 25%

The final exam will be made up partly of essay questions that you will have in advance of the exam, so you can prepare your answers. There will also be a short answer section (you won’t see the short answer questions in advance). The final exam will be held during the exam period for Term 2, in April 2018. We won’t know the exact date and time of the exam until partway through the term (usually sometime in February I think).

Course Guidelines

Non-negotiable rules

  • Basic rules of respectful dialogue will be enforced, such as avoiding direct attacks on persons (you may criticize ideas/arguments, but avoid criticizing the person who gives those). Disrespectful speech such as name-calling, stereotyping, and derogatory remarks about ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation and sexual/gender identity should be avoided, and may constitute harassing speech—see below.
  • Please see this page for an explanation of harassment, which can include speech or action that can occur in the context of a class:
    • Examples of harassment from that webpage include “Making racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes or remarks” and “Mocking a person’s accent, culture or religion”
  • UBC’s Policy 3 on Discrimination and Harassment defines harassment as: “comment or conduct that one knows or ought reasonably to know is unwelcome, that creates a negative impact for the recipient, and that is related to one or more of the prohibited grounds of discrimination as set out in the B.C. Human Rights Code.”
  • See also the UBC Respectful Environment Statement, which characterizes personal harassment as: “objectionable and unwanted behaviour that is verbally or physically abusive, vexatious or hostile, that is without reasonable justification, and that creates a hostile or intimidating environment for working, learning or living. Personal harassment may be intentional or unintentional. While personal harassment usually consists of repeated acts, a single serious incident that has a lasting harmful effect may constitute personal harassment.”

Negotiable guidelines

We will work together on a shared document to create a set of guidelines for how we should treat each other in class, what is helpful to our learning and what is not, from both students and the professor. I will then work to hold us all to those during the term.

General information on assignments

Students should retain a copy of all submitted assignments and should also retain all their marked assignments in case they wish to apply for a Review of Assigned Standing (see here for information on Review of Assigned Standing:,49,0,0#261). Reviewing completed final exams (,41,93,0): Students have the right to view their marked final examinations with their instructor, providing they apply to do so by Jan 31 for Term 1 courses, by May 20 for Term 2 courses, and by Sept. 15 for summer courses. A final examination becomes the property of the University and must remain in the possession of the University for one year from the date of the examination, after which it should be destroyed or otherwise disposed of in accordance with UBC Policy 117.

Late or missed assignments

* Peer feedback on essays: To get full marks for this, you must:

  • Submit your work for feedback by the deadline provided in the essay instructions
  • Provide feedback on others’ essays as explained in the essay instructions
  • Give constructive and substantial comments (more than just “good essay,” for example)

If you fail to do one or more of these things, or don’t do them on time, then you will lose marks on your participation grade (10% of your final grade)


* Missing the mid-term exam: This can only be made up if you have a valid excuse (may require documentation).

* Missing Learning Catalytics questions: As noted above, you can miss two days on which there are LC questions, without excuse and without penalty. Essentially what this means is that the lowest two Learning Catalytics marks are dropped; if you miss classes the marks for the missed days are zeros, and those become the lowest marks.

* Missing discussion classes: As noted above, you may miss one discussion class meeting without excuse and without penalty. After that, you will lose 0.5 marks out of the 10 for your participation grade (or 5 out of 100; 5% either way).

* All writing assignments are due the day and time noted on the schedule below and on the assignment instructions. Writing assignments must be submitted via the course website on Canvas unless stated otherwise on the assignment instructions. Late writing assignments must be accompanied by a “late form,” available on the course web site (under “assignments”) and also on Canvas.  Late writing assignments are subject to a 5% per weekday and 5% per weekend reduction in points (starting after the due date/time), unless you are granted an extension by Christina (may require documentation). If you know you are going to miss a due date, please talk to Christina as soon as early as you can before the due date!

*Final exam:  According to the UBC Calendar, if you miss a final exam during the official examination periods, you must follow the procedures to request “Academic Concession” (see,48,0,0).

Grading Standards

Specific grading guidelines for essays will be provided later in the course and will be available on the course website.

80% to 100% (A- to A+) Exceptional performance: strong evidence of original thinking; good organization; capacity to analyze and synthesize; superior grasp of subject matter with sound critical evaluations; evidence of extensive knowledge base.

68% to 79% (B- to B+) Competent performance: evidence of grasp of subject matter; some evidence of critical capacity and analytic ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with the literature.

50% to 67% (D to C+) Adequate performance: understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems in the material; acceptable but uninspired work, not seriously faulty but lacking style and vigour.

00% to 49% (F) Inadequate performance: little or no evidence of understanding of the subject matter; weakness in critical and analytic stills; limited or irrelevant use of the literature.

Scaling of Grades: Marks in this course may be scaled. If scaling is required, it will be carried out after each assignment, so that students will know where they stand going into the final examination. If scaling is done on the final examination, students will be informed if they ask to review their examination according to the usual policy. From the UBC Calendar: “Faculties, departments and schools reserve the right to scale grades in order to maintain equity among sections and conformity to University, faculty, department, or school norms. Students should therefore note that an unofficial grade given by an instructor might be changed by the faculty, department or school. Grades are not official until they appear on a student’s academic record” (,42,96,0)

Equity and special arrangements:

I will do my best to ensure that all students have a fair and equitable opportunity for participation and success in the course. If you need accommodations to complete your coursework please speak with the Access and Diversity office, if you haven’t already:

If you have religious obligations that conflict with attendance, submitting assignments, or completing scheduled tests and examinations, these can be accommodated as well. See the university policy on religious holidays at: Please let me know in advance, preferably in the first week of class, if you will require any accommodation due to religious obligations (you must notify your instructor at least two weeks in advance, according to the university policy cited above).

If you need to be absent for varsity athletics, family obligations, or other similar commitments, please discuss those with Christina before the drop date, as these do not fall under official accommodations by the university. They may still be accommodated, but please talk with Christina as early as you can!

Academic Integrity

I take academic integrity very seriously, because ensuring that your grades reflect your own work is crucial to your own learning experience, to fairness to the rest of the students, and to those who expect your transcript to reflect your own efforts. Accordingly, I am vigilant about preventing, detecting, and deterring academic misconduct whenever possible. Please review the UBC Calendar Academic regulations for the university policy on cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty (See the UBC Calendar, under “Academic Regulations,” and “Student Conduct and Discipline”:,54,0,0. There are also links on the course website about what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.


If you find yourself falling behind in the course, or if things outside of school are making it difficult for you to do your best, help is available! You can either or both of the following:

Schedule of Readings and Assignments

The following schedule is general only and is subject to change based on how long things take to discuss in class. However, the due dates for assignments and the in-class argument outline will not change.

See the course website for specific things to read for each week:


Week/Date What to read/watch Assignments & Activities
How should we live, according to some ancient philosophers?
Wk 1, Jan. 3-5 Introduction to the course


No discussion meetings this week
Wk 2, Jan. 8-12 Plato, Euthyphro

Plato, Apology

Wk 3, Jan. 15-19 Epicurus, selected writings

Cicero, selections from De Finibus

Student discussion questions in discussion meetings
Wk 4, Jan. 22-26 Nagel, “Death”

Mozi, selections

Peer feedback on essay 1 draft this week
How should we treat others morally?
Wk 5, Jan. 29-Feb. 2 Introduction to consequentialism

Mill, selections from Utilitarianism

Essay 1 due Jan. 31
Wk 6, Feb. 5-9 Mill, cont’d; intro to Kant Student discussion questions in discussion meetings
Wk 7, Feb. 12-16 No class Mon. Feb. 12 (Family Day)

Wed. Feb. 14: midterm

Wed. Feb. 14: midterm exam

No discussion meetings this week

Feb. 19-23 No class: Reading Week
Wk 8, Feb. 26-Mar. 2 Kantian ethics

O’Neill on Kantian ethics

Student discussion questions in discussion meetings
Our responsibilities for the lives and deaths of others, including non-human animals
Wk 9, Mar. 5-9 O’Neill on Kant and helping those in poverty

Singer on helping others

Student discussion questions in discussion meetings
Wk 10, Mar. 12-16 Nussbaum on helping others through the capabilities approach Student discussion questions in discussion meetings
Wk 11, Mar. 19-23 Thomson, trolley problem


Peer feedback on essay 2 draft this week
Wk 12, Mar. 26-30 Harman, “The Moral Significance of Animal Pain and Animal Death”

Belshaw, “Death, Pain and Animal Life”

Essay 2 due March 28
Wk 13, Apr. 2-6 Belshaw, continued

Indigenous peoples and hunting

Philosophy in the world due April 6


Final exam period: April 10-25, 2018. We will have our final exam sometime during this time; UBC will announce final exam dates and times partway through the term.


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