Philosophy 423WI: Philosophy Seminar

Spring Semester, 2013

Jacksonville University

Dr. Scott Kimbrough

Office: Council 121

Office hours: M/W 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-2:00, or by appointment

Office phone: 256-7118

e-mail address:

Last updated 1/12/13

Resources and Announcements

Course Description:

The history of philosophy is marked by fundamental disagreements about method. These disagreements concern such issues as the role of reason and the senses, and the relationship between philosophy and the sciences. This course will examine some historically influential discussions of philosophical method, before turning to a contemporary methodological debate: the challenge to traditional methods of analytic philosophy from “experimental” philosophy, which seeks to introduce the methods of the social sciences to the investigation of philosophical questions. As the class as a whole considers these methodological debates, individual students conduct independent research on philosophical topics of their own choosing. They will each produce a research project suitable for presentation at an academic philosophy conference. Each student will make a simulated conference presentation to the class.

Required Books:

J. Alexander. Experimental Philosophy: An Introduction. Polity Press. 2012. 

Course Requirements:

Participation and Attendance (10%): This class will be highly collaborative, including multiple student presentations, peer critiques, etc. It is essential that students attend for their own presentations and to provide feedback for their peers. Each absence will deduct 5 points from the attendance grade.

Common Reading Journal (15%): The common reading journal summarizes the main points of the course readings, critically comments on the philosophical methods employed and/or defended in the readings, and draws connections (when possible) to the student’s individual research project. Journal entries are due at the beginning of each class on the day the reading assignment is to be discussed.

Research Briefs (10%): For each class until spring break, students will find a potential source for their research paper, write a one page summary that explains how the source contributes to their (potential) research topic, and discuss it with the class. Sources must be from an academic publication, including journal articles, book chapters, etc.

Research Process (10%): Preliminary steps will be assigned throughout the semester, including research topic proposals, drafts, constructive commentary on drafts of peers, etc.

Conference Presentation (10%): A draft of the research paper will be presented to the class in a simulated conference presentation. The 20 minute presentation will be graded both for the professionalism of the presentation and the adequacy of responses to feedback from the audience.

Comment Paper (10%): Each student will write a four to five page paper commenting on the research paper of one of the other students. The commentary will be presented to the class in a 10 minute presentation immediately following the conference presentation of the paper commented upon.

Methodological Defense Paper (10%): A five to seven page paper defending the methods used in your research paper is due Thursday, April 18th.

Research Paper (25%): The final draft of a twelve to fifteen page research paper on a topic of your choice is due Thursday, April 25th. The paper will incorporate revisions in response to the conference presentation.

Plagiarism and Turn It In

Definition of plagiarism: Plagiarism consists in copying or closely paraphrasing the work of another, in whole or in part, without citing the source. Plagiarized papers will receive a zero. Furthermore, plagiarists will be reported to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Other forms of academic dishonesty will receive similar treatment.

All papers must be submitted electronically to

A hard copy of each paper must be submitted as well. The hard copy must have the turnitin reciept number for the paper written on the upper right corner of the first page.

To register for turnitin, click on New User on the upper right hand side of the screen and follow the instructions.

Papers that are not submitted to turnitin will receive an F.

Cell Phones

Use of cell phones for any reason, including texting, is prohibited during class.

Americans with Disabilities

Reasonable accommodations will be made upon request for students with documented disabilities.


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