Philosophy 1810: Requirements

Course Meetings

The course will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm in 119 Gerard House. Most of the meetings will consist of lecture, and hopefully also of a good deal of discussion, but about every third meeting will be devoted completely to discussion. On such days, students should arrive appropriately prepared with questions, comments, or criticisms. Otherwise, it will be very quiet.


Contemporary analytic philosophy began with certain discoveries in formal logic, and much of the work we shall be reading is informed in one way or another by logic: Arguments, premises, and conclusions are often stated using the concepts of formal logic. A working understanding of basic logic, such as one would acquire in Phil 0540, is thus almost essential for this course. A course in logic is not a formal prerequisite, but those who have had absolutely no exposure to logic should consult the instructor before registering.

Prior exposure to philosophy is essential: Much of the material we will be reading is difficult. As usual with 1000-level courses, then, at least one prior course in philosophy is really quite essential. Students who have not had such a course may appeal to the instructor.


We shall be reading a number of articles by different authors. These will be available on the course web site, linked from the syllabus. The papers are usually available via JSTOR and the like. Those that are not will be made available as scanned images. Only registered students will have access to these articles.

See the syllabus for more information on the readings, and the formats in which they will be made available.

Course Requirements

The course will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm, in Gerard House 119. Typically, there will be lectures each day, but some days—every third or fourth meeting, typically—will be entirely devoted to discussion. On such days, students should arrive appropriately prepared with questions, comments, or criticisms. Otherwise, it will be very quiet.

All students are expected to submit short "response pieces" on each of the readings. These should be short, certainly no more than a page, and should do three things:

  1. Begin with one or two sentences answering the question, "What is the central point of this paper?"
  2. Briefly outline the author's argument for this thesis.
  3. State one or two central questions you have about the paper.

The response pieces should be submitted by email no later than 11am the day we are scheduled to discuss the paper in question, so that I can look at them before class. (You are welcome to write them simply as email messages.) They will not be graded, and I often will not comment on them directly at all. Their central purpose is to help you organize your thinking, and to help me to focus on the questions of most interest to the class.

As far as more formal requirements are concerned, for undergraduates, there will be three short papers of about 3-5 pages, with a maximum length of 1500 words. Lists of 'topics' will be distributed on 2 October, 30 October, and 30 November; the papers will be due a week later (always on a day when no "response piece" is due). There will also be a final exam, currently scheduled for 18 December, at 2pm. Undergraduates may choose, in lieu of the third short paper and final exam, to write a term paper of 12-15 pages. Advanced undergraduates are encouraged to choose this option.

Graduate students will be required to write a term paper of 15-20 pages, in lieu of the third short paper and the final. The term paper is due on the day of the final.

Warning: I do not accept late work, under any circumstances. On the other hand, I am extremely flexible about due dates. That is to say: If someone should need an extra day or two, she need only ask; no reason even need be given. If someone should need more time than that, then some reason does need to be given, but the request will usually be granted. Since I am so flexible, there can be no excuse for one's not asking for an extension. It's really just a matter of respect.

Richard Heck Department of Philosophy Brown University