Philosophy and Critical Thinking
Dr. Alejandro Bárcenas
class is a survey of philosophical problems with a view toward
developing thinking skills and criteria about the meaning and content
of knowledge, belief, justice and morality.
objectives of the course are (1) to introduce the student to the nature of philosophical questions, (2) to explore some of the perennial questions of metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and political thought; (2) to develop and deepen the student's
own thinking about the meaning of life and (3) to strengthen the student's skills as a clear
Curriculum Learning Outcomes:
chief purposes for which this course are (1) to improve your critical
and moral reasoning skills, (2) to improve your written and verbal
communication skills, and (3) to acquaint you with the foundational
nature of philosophy.
Honor Code: As members of a
community dedicated to learning, inquiry, and creation, the students,
faculty, and administration of our university live by the principles of
the Texas State University – San Marcos Honor Code. These principles
require all members of this community to be conscientious, respectful,
and honest. See,
Students with Special Needs: We are
happy to accommodate students whose special academic needs have been
documented by the Office of Disability Services. Such students should
identify themselves at the beginning of the term.
Absence Policy: Students are
expected to attend all classes. Students may be excused if they must
miss class for reasons such as serious illness and participation in
University-sponsored activities. In all cases, the instructor will
decide whether an excuse is acceptable. Students should seek prior
approval concerning the validity of an excuse. If a student misses an
examination but has no valid excuse, the student will receive a failing
grade on the examination.
Contact: The preferred methods to
contact me are either to see me personally or email. Please do not use
email unless is strictly necessary.
John Chaffee. The Philosopher's Way: Thinking Critically About Profound
Ideas. New York: Pearson, 2010. ISBN-13: 9780205776993.
(x 2) Midterm Exams.
Final Exam (20% + 10% paper).
1.1 Why Study Philosophy?
1.2 Defining Philosophy
1.3 Thinking Philosophically: Becoming a Critical Thinker
1.4 Understanding Arguments
1.5 Branches of Philosophy
1.6 Russell, The Value of Philosophy
1.7 Making Connections: The Search for a Meaningful Life
2.1 Socrates: A Model for Humanity
2.2 The Socratic Method
2.3 Plato, from The Apology
2.4 Plato, from The Apology
2.5 Socrates’ Legacy
5.1 What Is the Nature of Reality?
5.2 Reality Is the Eternal Realm of the Forms: Plato
5.3 Reality Is the Natural World: Aristotle
5.4 Can Reality Be Known? Descartes
5.4 Can Reality Be Known? Descartes (cont.)
11.1 Plato and the transcendence of beauty. (See TRACS)
Aristotle and the self-sufficiency of art.
11.2 Judgments about the beautiful: Kant.
The philosophy of fine art: Hegel.
Adorno's critique of popular music.
Eco: Television and Aesthetics.
9.1 Moral Philosophy
9.2 Character: Virtue Ethics
9.2 Character: Virtue Ethics (cont.)
9.3 Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws
9.3 Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws (cont.)
9.4 Consequences: Utilitarianism
9.4 Consequences: Utilitarianism (cont.)
9.5 Authenticity: Existentialist Ethics
10.2 Classical Theories of Society: Confucius, Plato, and Aristotle
10.3 Justice Depends on a Social Contract: From Hobbes and Locke
10.4 Justice Is Based on Need and Ability: Marx and Engels
10.5 Justice and General Welfare: Mill
10.3 Social Contract: Rawls
(The course calendar might be subject to revision)