Alejandro Bárcenas


Texas State University - San Marcos
Philosophy Department

Philosophy and Critical Thinking
PHIL 1305

Dr. Alejandro Bárcenas
Senior Lecturer

Course Description:
This 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.
Course Objectives:
The 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 thinker.
Core Curriculum Learning Outcomes:
The 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.

Course Bibliography:
- John Chaffee. The Philosopher's Way: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas. New York: Pearson, 2010. ISBN-13:  9780205776993.
20% Quizzes.
25% (x 2) Midterm Exams.
30% Final Exam (20% + 10% paper).

Course Calendar

Week 1
1.1 Why Study Philosophy?
1.2 Defining Philosophy 
1.3 Thinking Philosophically: Becoming a Critical Thinker
Week 2
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
Week 3
2.1 Socrates: A Model for Humanity 
2.2 The Socratic Method
2.3 Plato, from The Apology 
Week 4
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
Week 5
5.3 Reality Is the Natural World: Aristotle
5.4 Can Reality Be Known? Descartes
Week 6
5.4 Can Reality Be Known? Descartes (cont.)
 Week 7  
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. 
Week 8
11.3 Adorno's critique of popular music.
Eco: Television and Aesthetics.

9.1 Moral Philosophy
9.2 Character: Virtue Ethics
Week 9

9.2 Character: Virtue Ethics (cont.)
9.3 Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws
Week 10
9.3 Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws (cont.)
9.4 Consequences: Utilitarianism 
Week 11
9.4 Consequences: Utilitarianism (cont.)
9.5 Authenticity: Existentialist Ethics
Week 12
10.2 Classical Theories of Society: Confucius, Plato, and Aristotle
Week 13
10.3 Justice Depends on a Social Contract: From Hobbes and Locke
Week 14
10.4 Justice Is Based on Need and Ability: Marx and Engels
10.5 Justice and General Welfare: Mill
Week 15
10.3 Social Contract: Rawls

(The course calendar might be subject to revision)

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