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Teaching Statement

If I had to name my favorite teaching method, it would be CLAD. This method is, I think, tried and
true in philosophy: the Close Look at an Argument and Discuss method. We begin with an argument
or position, which Ill have on a PowerPoint slide or overhead projector. I briefly characterize it, often
in a way that evokes raised eyebrows and looks of incredulity; how could a smart, famous person
actually believe this? When I teach Socratic Intellectualism, for example, this reaction is common.
Socratic Intellectualism is, in brief, the position that virtue is knowledge: if you know what is right,
you will always do what is right. I encourage students to come up with counter-examples; I know
chocolate is bad for me, but I still eat it! At this point Ill explain the argument for a few minutes; I
use a variety of examples and try to make the position as intuitive as possible. Well, I might say, do
you really know that chocolate is bad for you? You think it is good in some ways, right? It tastes good?
So it isnt really all bad; you certainly dont know that it is bad. Some students nod thoughtfully,
others frown, some say, huh and sit back. At the very least, they are no longer so confident in their
exclamation that its crazy. Now the position makes sense to them; they are starting to get it. I know
they really understand when they start to sit forward and say, But! They start throwing out objections,
increasingly on target. Some students even start replying to the objections; now they are looking at
each other just as much as they are looking at me. After a few minutes of this, I speak up. I let them
know that a lot of philosophers agree with the objectors, and I present a well-formed version of the
objection that students have just about come to on their own. In the case of Socratic Intellectualism, I
tell them that the phenomenon they were talking aboutone student spoke of temptation, another of
weaknesshas a name: akrasia. As I explain why many ethicists think that weakness of will is a real
issue and, thus, a problem for Socratic Intellectualism, some students swing all the way around: they
are once again confident that the original position is crazy. But they understand it now, and when other
students begin to defend itgenerally at least a couple students are now convinced by the original
position, despite objectionsthey respond in turn. The rest of the class is a discussion of the
advantages and disadvantages of each position, with objections and replies, and with comparisons with
other ethical positions, both from the students, in relation to what we already covered, and asides from
me, generally about things we wont be able to cover in depth but which deserve a quick mention in
context. I might explain how Plato, Aristotle, and later philosophers reacted to the Socratic position.
But the dialogue doesnt stop when class lets out. When they go home, students continue the discussion
on the class blog, allowing them to understand the position, objections, and alternatives much more
thoroughly than if I had simply lectured. Furthermore, students have done more than memorized
material: they have thought through in themselves, argued about it, analyzed it. In other words, theyve
started doing philosophy.
Buckels Teaching Statement

A Balanced Approach
CLAD excels at getting students interested in philosophy and quickly situated in an ongoing debate,
but it is not the only teaching method I use. I supplement it in several ways:

When students need to grasp a significant amount of content before they can engage in a
discussion, as is the case in many upper division courses, I alternate lecture and discussion:
1. I have students skim a passage of a primary text at home, then
2. I lecture on it (this may also be done via online video in a flipped classroom), then
3. I have them read it carefully at home and blog about it, and, finally,
4. we have a discussion about the passage in class, referring often to the text and
employing students writing to generate conversation.

I make heavy use of group work and discussion; this works especially well when I give students
specific tasks and early in a term, when they are still uncomfortable addressing the entire class.

I use a live web and text-based polling service to help measure comprehension (in quizzes) and
to generate discussion (by projecting live comments and questions overhead).

Since CLAD relies heavily on discussion, I prize a diverse student body and diverse opinions. I also
try to supplement traditional philosophical approaches with viewpoints from other cultures and
philosophical traditions; in a discussion of ancient virtue ethics, e.g., it is instructive to compare the
Greek virtues with the virtues extolled in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and in a discussion
of contemporary ethical theories I bring in feminist ethics alongside more traditional options. I appeal
to underrepresented groups by providing alternatives to traditional assignments in philosophy
(including blogs and projectssee below for discussion of a sample syllabus) and by utilizing
technology in the classroom (including live online and text feedback that allows reticent students to
participate in discussion more easily).
Teaching and Research
I have found that my research makes me a better teacher. I taught continuously while doing research
at UC Davis and during my post-doc at Trinity College Dublin, allowing me opportunities to share my
research with my studentsthey generally get more excited and involved when they see how
enthusiastic I am about a topic. I am also able to encourage student research at University of the Pacific.
A Walk through a Syllabus: Introduction to Philosophy
Description and Goals
Much of the syllabus details what I expect from students, but course goals set out what students should
expect from me. The primary goal for this course is to improve the quality of students thinking by
practicing reading, writing, discussion, and argumentation skills in the context of important philosophical
texts. If the course is not helping students reach that goal, it is my job to alter it so it does. In fact, I set
goals for each day of class and write these on the board so that students are oriented for the days class,
and I check in throughout the term to make sure I am helping students reach their course objectives.

Buckels Teaching Statement

Participation and Blog Posts

Participation is crucial in any philosophy course: the best way to understand philosophy is to participate
in philosophical discussions, both written and oral. In class, I use a web and text-based polling service
to allow students to post comments and questions, either by texting them from a mobile phone or from
a web browser, to an overhead screen in real-time. This allows me to pay attention to what all of my
students think, rather than just the ones who are comfortable raising their hands. Course assignments
are also designed to increase in-class participation; in particular, blog assignments generate written
discussion and provide a basis for classroom discussion. Most students are comfortable with the
blogging format, and it is a more efficient (and environmentally friendly) way for me to record their
work than collecting homework. As a public forum, blogs also provide for student collaboration in a
way that written homework cannot.
Papers and Projects
Papers are a key component of any philosophy course, but, in this course, I one of the traditional
argumentative papers with several collaborative projects. In one assignment, students design a video project
to explain some aspect of the free will debate to a general television audience. In other courses, students
have designed websites about key cases in bioethics and presented original poetry from the point-of-view
of an involved party, written original fiction or performed skits exploring bioethical issues, organized
classroom debates about the most ethical healthcare system, interviewed doctors about patient consent
issues, engaged in service learning, filmed advertisements arguing for (or against) Gods existence, and
directed video PSAs on philosophical aspects of American democracy. In each case, they have also given
me a written explanation of how the project demonstrates thoughtful engagement with course material.
At the end of the course, students present their project to the class. The presentation allows them to
demonstrate their mastery of course material as well as to practice presentation skills. This last point
demonstrates a general goal for my classes and my use of CLAD: I want students to stock their critical
thinking toolkit, picking up skills, tools, and argumentative strategies that will not only be valuable in
other disciplines but also benefit them generally in life. This allows them to live, like Socrates, an
examined life, and it improves their ability to make informed personal, social, and political choices.
My Teaching Credentials
Since there will always be room for improvement, I helped organize and lead a workshop on teaching
for graduate students at UC Davis. I also used UC Davis Teaching Resource Center to evaluate my
teaching by video-taping my lectures and performing mid-term course evaluations. Most of my courses
have had 12-60 students, but I have taught a Critical Reasoning course for 165 students (directing three
Teaching Assistants). I took a graduate seminar on teaching philosophy (at Fordham University), I
completed an Instructor Development course at UC Davis, and I was awarded the Michael V. Wedin
Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching. Among my reference letters is one from
Bernard Molyneux discussing my teaching ability. Recent teaching evaluations, and a syllabus for each
course I have taught, are available at

Buckels Teaching Statement

Buckels Teaching Effectiveness

Overall Teaching Effectiveness


I have received a 4.4 average

out of 5 rating my teaching
effectiveness. 87% of my
students have rated my
teaching very good or better.

Very Good

Student Evaluations:


Visiting Assistant Professor at University of the Pacific Excellent Very Good Good



What is an Ethical Life? (Fall 2015, GE course)1

Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2015, 2 courses)2
Summer Lecturer at UC Berkeley
Plato (Summer 2015)3
Lecturer at UC Davis
Plato (Spring 2015)


Phil. Foundations of American Democracy (Spring 2015)

History of Philosophy: Ancient (Winter 2015)

Philosophy of Religion (Winter 2015)
Bioethics (Fall 2014)
Critical Reasoning (Fall 2014)
Critical Reasoning (Summer 2014)
Bioethics (Summer 2014)
Metaphysics (Summer 2014)
Visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity College
Metaphysics of Particulars, Ancient and Modern (2014)
Aristotles Hylomorphism (2013)
Overall Average







Student comments from History of Philosophy: Ancient (Winter 2015) at UCD:

Awesome interactive, keeps my attention and interest, very educational. I learned a ton, would take any PHIL class that Buckels
Professor was very clear and engaging. The material was well organized and he really knows his ancient philosophy. He is very
stimulating and is always open to answer students questions. Also, I loved his use of Poll Everywhere. Great experience!
Buckels is one of the most engaging professors I have ever had. His class structure was great and well organized. Stimulated
conversation and was a great environment. Made me interested in Ancient Philosophy.
Very good at clarifying any misunderstanding or unclear sections. Very friendly and helpful when asked questions, I was at first
hesitant to take the course but soon found myself enjoying every lecture.

University of the Pacifics Pacific Seminar program has no question about overall teaching, so these are averages.
University of the Pacifics Philosophy Department rates out of 4 and has no question about overall teaching, so these are averages.
UC Berkeley rates out of 7 instead of 5, so the rating out of five here is approximate.

Buckels Teaching Effectiveness

History of Philosophy: Ancient continued4

I am so thankful and appreciative for all the time and effort Professor Buckels has put into this class. He is very
knowledgeable, and not as intimidating as other professors. He is very approachable which motivated me to go to office
hours. I would say this in one of my favorite class this quarter. Buckels does a really good job of presenting the material
in a fun yet informative way. I enjoyed this class so much that it inspired me to take him next quarter! Whoo!
The best philosophy instructor I have had to date. Has a lot of energy, explains the material clearly, answers questions
effectively, and great at engaging the class. His teaching styling utilizing the online Poll is brilliant and helps even shy
people to participate. Does a good job by not just lecturing, but facilitating and encouraging group discussion to ensure
that students are paying attention and understand the material. Has a thorough knowledge of everything we went over.
The course went over everything one would expect from an intro to ancient philosophy quarter course.
Excellent teaching method, very fun class! Facilitated a lively discussion, and a real love for the topic in all of us. Truly
enjoyed his class and looked forward to it. I loved the ability to vote anonymously to show opinions/illustrate confusion
on topics. Wish him the best of luck in future endeavours!
The professor did a great job of making the readings clear and breaking down all the complex arguments. Some of the
readings were very dense, but Dr. Buckels was always willing to go over the material again.
Topics seemed a little boring at times, but Professor Buckels made it more entertaining and seemed to care that everyone
learned the material. His knowledge of the subject matter is superb. He appeared to know what he was talking about at
all times. Great professor!
very organized clear understanding of material enthusiasm in the material excellent would recommend
Professor Buckels was a great professor. Very engaging in lectures. Interesting material. Not an overload of outside
reading. As a non-philosophy major, this sparked my interest into the field (something not many other GEs have done).
I think that Dr. Buckels taught the class very effectively and competently. He demonstrated that he had mastery over the
subject, especially when answering questions. He was friendly and helpful. I would take more courses taught by him.
C. Buckels was a pretty good instructor. He definitely knows his philosophy, Greek in particular. He was very helpful
in class, answering questions, adding to conversation. His work was very clear and helpful. My only problem was
discussion section [taught by a TA] was useless. On occasion we would talk about relevant things. But mostly it was
boring, uneventful/necessary.
Dr. Buckels was very informed and a master in his field. He is very clear and articulate and is an effective teacher.
Lectures could however be a little slower and slides be posted in an alternate source like Smartsite.
Great professor with so much knowledge to share. The TA not so much.
I would not be taking two courses from Dr. Buckels next quarter, including one that is covering a subject that does not
particularly interest me, if I did not believe that Dr. Buckels was an awesome instructor. :D
Very thorough with explanations, always willing to answer questions and clarify. Great teacher.
This course is well organized, in my point of view, concerning the basics of Ancient Greek Philosophy. The instructor
is very kind =) & knowledgeable about course material. His lectures are well prepared and clear to me. Dr. Buckels
explains those concepts very well and is helpful in office hours. Overall speaking, I am happy to have Dr. Buckels as a
teacher. One suggestion for PHI 21: Since its called Ancient Philosophy, I wonder if itd be better to include a little bit
about Ancient Asian Philosophy as well.
I found the instructor to present all the necessary information in a clear and organized manner. He was very open to
discussion, and engaged fairly well when asked questions. My only problem was his availability, having more office
hours would solve this.
Great professor for a great class. Professor Buckels mastery of the material and the effective way he taught the material
made the class engaging and interesting. I was excited to come to class every day.
-able to make dense, deep subjects understandable -very willing to receive comments in non-demeaning way (which
is very nice!) -connect current concepts w/ vast implications they have interest boosted -show it very well (able to
clear things up for me often) -says it in a way that is easy to understand -loved the class -agreeable -think he should
be hired permanently
He was very good.

Original evaluations for this course and all others summarized are available at

Buckels Teaching Effectiveness

History of Philosophy: Ancient continued

Class was very organized, however found some lectures hard to focus on. Use of PowerPoint available to students
would help. Class was informative and thought provoking. Paper and homework was fair portion of class grade.
The professor was straight-forward and fair. He outlined what the work was & what needed to be done & offered his
expertise when needed. Moreover, it was evident that he was well-versed in what he was teaching & all in all a great
I really enjoyed this course. The class has been very organized and I think its an appropriate balance of workload and
fun. Class discussion is encouraged. Dr. Buckels knows all the material extremely well. Id even say hes ON POINT. I
wish I had more time to get into the class materials. Thats basically all I can say.
Hello Dr. Buckels, I think your class was really great. Id take another class with you. Everything was organized and
clear, and though some of the material was incredibly difficult for me, I did learn a lot of things I did not know before
taking this course. Thanks a lot for all the clarifications! Thank you Best, [student signature]
Professor Buckels is an incredible instructor. I took Philosophy 21 not because I needed it, but because I saw the he was
teaching it. He is a very passionate professor that takes time to make sure everyone understands the material. I learn a lot
is his classes and look forward to taking the Plato course with him next quarter. He is a great professor that would make
a great permanent professor.
Student comments from Plato (Spring 2015) at UCD:
Lets begin by first talking about Buckels teaching method. I like that he has interactive activities and that he also
allows all the students to have a fair opportunity to speak in class. As a person of color as well, Ive always felt safe
to speak up in a predominantly white classroom. I think its mainly because Buckels created an environment where
everyones opinions are valid. He also makes sure not to miss anyone who has raised his/her hand. Along with this,
Ive learned so much in this class! I truly believe Buckels is one of the best professors Ive had at Davis! I never would
have thought that Id be so interested in ancient philosophynow its all Im interested in! Im actually thinking of
learning ancient Greek so that I could read Plato. All because of Buckels!! Best class ever!!
I am sure that Buckels is one of the best philosophy professors (and of professors in general) I have had an
opportunity to study with, and thus class did actually make me comfortable to participate. The poll everywhere also
helped to get everyone involved during class, in my opinion.
Prof Buckels is an affective instructor who holds a great command of the subject matter. He is a very rational and
understanding leader of the class. He articulates his lessons well and answers questions with high confidence, even
for a philosophy class. Being a philosophy class, which this may be the reason for, the lessons tend to not be explicit
in its point. Discussions seem to go in circles and it can be hard to keep up. I would advocate an assigned lesson for
each day with a topic and a clear journey to the point. Otherwise a favorite instructor.
I prefer less discussion and more lecturing. While discussion is a necessary part of any philosophy course, I think
its also necessary to have an expert on the subject explain the readings.
The course itself could have been better organized with reading acumen from the commentaries on the Republic.
The relevant chapters for each book of the Republic would have been helpful. Other than that, instruction was great.
I enjoyed the lectures and discussion. It was lucidly explained and Chris is passionate about the material, which makes
it all the more enjoyable.
Buckels is an excellent teacher, he has a vast knowledge of the subject matter and begins interesting discussions. He
is very helpful and clear. Assignments are fairly graded and clear to do. Built my skills in Philosophy as well as Greek.
He is an amazing professor, hope to have him again some day.
Dr. Buckels had done a good job making this course interesting. He made those difficult philosophical topic easy for
me to understand the bookif I read the Republic alone without his lecture I dont think I would understand anything.
I like that he allows students to discuss freely in lectures, which creates a very relaxing & also provoking study
Engaging in class, very helpful. Allows a lot of class discussion and is open to talking about what students want to
talk about. Good that the class is flexible, but maybe a little more structure/focus would be good (maybe even a rough
outline so we dont get too much off track). Nix the group projecteveryone hates doing them, its too difficult to
organize with people outside of class.
Willing to help students, available office hours. Polls etc. help immerse the student. Offers lots of resources!
Buckels Teaching Effectiveness

Plato continued
Very clear, helpful, and possessing of a strong command of the subject matter.
Dr. Buckels gives clear feedback on assignments and is more than willing to go over them with you. He is super
accessible and taking a class from him is easily one of the best calls Ive ever made; I really feel like Ive become a
better philosopher learning from him.
Has great mastery of the subject and his enthusiasm over the subject, it really comes through and makes the class
interesting. Appreciated the great willingness to help and meet w/ students. Was really a great class, the only
thing/aspect I disliked was the group project, perhaps because the lack of enthusiasm of my group, but I maybe would
cut. In its defense, a lot of other students really enjoyed it. Thanks.
Even though I have not taken the pre-requisite for this class, I feel like Buckels (you) have done a great job explaining
the material. At first it was unclear what you wanted from the writing, and it seemed more clear by the end of the
third assignment. Thank you for the class!
Dr. Buckels is an excellent lecturer and professor. His presentations are always clear and direct to the point. His
critical analysis of the material, (Platos Republic) demonstrates his mastery of the subject matter. I think that his
grading is extremely fair and he genuinely cares about his students grades.
Professor Buckels is an excellent professor. He demonstrates a care for students that most professors seem to lack.
Regarding the course I found it fulfilling & enriching. I have always wanted to read the Republic end to end & I have.
I also enjoyed the freedom of interpretation that the class provided.
The course overall was excellent. All the chapters were clearly explained.
Buckels is an incredibly clear instructor whose grasp of material translates into an easy exchange with students at all
levels. He is also very generous with his feedback on work. He is uniquely able to help students develop their
understanding of the material at hand through their own starting points.
Loved the course. Prof. Buckels is very helpful, caring, and creates a lot of engagement in lecture for all students.
Poll everywhere was a great tool for stimulating discussions. Overall absolutely amazing class!
Dr. Buckels class was really good because of its organization, academic engagement with class, independent
research and the paper. One of the best philosophy classes I took at UC Davis. Fun class!
Prof. Buckels is a great instructor, he knows his [****], and hes good at explaining in depth, but also with an ability
to curtail how he instructs to the level of his students, he brings humor to the class and actually interacts with his
students after class, after class and in office hours.
Professor Buckels is knowledgeable in the subject area and has done a great job igniting our interest in Plato. I enjoy
the discussion in class but now and then we go too far off topic : )
Student comments from Metaphysics of Particulars, Ancient and Modern (Winter 2014) at TCD:
This was undoubtedly my most favourable module that I took throughout my philosophy academic endeavor. The
content was indeed interesting, so much so that it inspired me to pursue this area for my dissertation. Professor Buckles
[sic] was extremely enthusiastic within the lectures & his passion for the subject was certainly evident.
I dont really have any particular comment as I really believe everything was great. Ive learnt a lot and at the same
time it was fun! And very interesting. Thank you very much for such an excellent seminar.
Lecturer was very knowledgable & gave clear explanations. I would have appreciated more contemporary theories
in our discussion, possibly more about bundle theories & spacetime.
The only criticism I can think of is that perhaps we tried to cover too much material, as some of the content is very
Student comments from Aristotles Hylomorphism (Fall 2013) at TCD:
Enjoyed the course, in particular the balanced amount of material.
Really enjoyable and well-organized.
Probably definitely the best SF [senior freshman = second year] course weve had, so THANK YOU.
Excellent course & lecturer!

Buckels Teaching Effectiveness

PHIL 11 Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2015

Tuesday & Thursday, 3:00 - 4:45 PM


Dr. Christopher Buckels


Tuesday/Thursday 10:00 AM 11:30 AM

Wendell Phillips Center 243


WPC 207


Course Description and Classroom Procedure:

We are going to introduce ourselves to philosophy by delving into our nature in this course, asking what
are we? Well be working through a variety of texts and arguments together, approaching this question
from several perspectives. Well begin with an ancient view of human nature, in Plato, and trace its
development through Descartes and its criticism afterwards. This allows us to spend the first few weeks
doing a close reading of Platos and Descartes texts. Well follow this with a look at the view that a human
being is purely physical. Well trace out consequences of this position before looking at another ancient
view of human nature, Aristotles. Along the way we will investigate knowledge, personal identity, free
will, and the good life. Each class will be broken into two parts: the first third will be a discussion of the
previous days lecture/reading and the last two-thirds will be a lecture covering new material. You should
look over new material before I lecture on it (new readings are listed on the schedule below), and then
you should reread the same material more carefully (taking notes for your blog!) after lecture and before
the next meetings discussion. We will use a significant amount of group work (including group
discussions), and well use an online polling system to allow you to interrupt me with questions or
comments at any point in the classand I expect you to use this to interrupt me regularly! If you want to
get the most out of this course, you should ask us all hard questions about these texts!
1. To expose students to different areas of philosophy through sustained engagement with
questions regarding human nature.
2. To improve the quality of the students thinking in reading, writing, and discussion.
Required Texts:
Plato: Five Dialogues, trans. Grude, rev. Reeve, Hackett 2002.
Rene Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy, 3rd. ed., trans. Cress, Hackett 1993.
Work Load and Classroom Etiquette:
To succeed in a college level course, you should expect to do at least two hours of work outside of class
for every hour we spend in class. During class, please minimize distractions, such as arriving late, cell
phone noises & texting (other than for use with Poll Everywhere), browsing the web/Facebook, and
packing up and/or leaving early.

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

Assigned Work:
1. Participation: Discussion is a key component of the class, and so every student should expect to
contribute to discussions, which will often begin in small groups. You may also participate with Poll
Everywhere, which will allow you to text (or type in a web browser) questions and comments to me (and
the class!) in real time. If you do not attend, you cannot participate! Ill excuse two absences, no questions
asked; unexcused absences will reduce your participation grade (in case of sickness, etc., talk to me as
soon as you can, preferably before you miss class). Failure to participate, or coming to class unprepared,
will also reduce your participation grade.
To register for Poll Everywhere: go to and click Sign Up in the top right corner.
Dont worry, this is free for you. After creating an account (just follow the directions given there), click
Settings and then Voter Registration. Register as a voter using my email address
( and you are done! Make sure you register your phone number if youre going to
uses texts (rather than your Poll Everywhere account on the web) to participate.
2. Blogs: Students are expected to do a blog post on the Canvas Discussion board by midnight the day
before we discuss a reading (see schedule). These posts should reflect on the reading being discussed.
While posts may be brief and will not, in general, be graded for content, they should show thoughtful
engagement with the material. As an example, you should go to Discussions on our Canvas course page
and post a reply to the discussion of Platos Apology before midnight on Monday, August 30, in
anticipation of our discussion the next day. In addition to getting you thinking critically about the reading,
this lets me see what is of most interest to you in each reading and direct class discussion accordingly.
3. Short Assignments: You will have three short assignments: each is due on Canvas by noon (see schedule
below). Use the following formatting rules: double-spaced 12 point Times New Roman font with one inch
margins on all sides and a one-line heading indicating your name and the assignment number (e.g., A1)
and letter (e.g., bsee below). Part of the challenge of the assignment is to be concise while still being
clear in your explanations. I will give detailed assignments one week prior to the due dates; you must do
A1 and then may choose two of the remaining (A2, A3, A4).
A1: In no more than one page, explain Socrates notion of (a) harm in the Apology; (b) death in the
Phaedo; or (c) philosophy in the Phaedo.
A2: In no more than two pages, explain and either (a) attack or (b) defend materialism about the soul or
explain and either (c) attack or (d) defend materialism about causation.
A3: In no more than two pages, explain and either (a) attack or (b) defend Descartes reasoning about I
exist or explain and either (c) attack or (d) defend his reasoning about the wax.
A4: In no more than two pages, explain the Real Distinction and one of Elisabeths criticisms. Then either
(a) criticize or (b) defend Elisabeths objection.

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

4. Group Projects: There will be two group projects (I will assign groups the first week of class). I will give
more details as the projects approach. We will watch and discuss the finished projects during our final
exam slot. See schedule below for due dates. The projects are as follows:
G1: Make a 3 6 minute video (e.g., debate, skit, game show, dialogue, mock trial, cartoon) based on (a)
the free will debate or (b) the personal identity debate.
G2: make a 4 7 minute video explaining some aspect of Aristotles philosophy to a general audience: (a)
the function argument, (b) virtue, (c) hylomorphism, or (d) souls.
5. Paper: One paper is due in this course, to be turned in on Canvas by noon on Monday October 26.
Papers turned in after this time will be late (see grading policy below). Papers should be five pages (+/- 1
page, see above for formatting rules). I will distribute paper topics & a rubric by October 8. I will give back
papers with grades and comments by November 10, and you may rewrite and resubmit your paper by
noon on November 24. If you do not resubmit, your original grade will be used for both Paper and Final
Paper below. If you resubmit, the original grade will be used for Paper below and the grade for the
revised paper will be used for Final Paper (this latter grade may be higher or lower than the original).
6. Final Exam: While we will not have an exam, attendance during the final exam slot (for presentation
and discussion) is mandatory (December 10, 3:00 5:00 PM). Your final grade will be penalized by one
step (e.g., A to A-, B+ to B) if you are absent without prior permission.
Grading Policy:
Final grades will be calculated according to the following percentages (grading criteria for particular
assignments are discussed above or when assigned). An A+ is 100-96.5, an A 92.5-96.49, and A- 89.592.49, and so on (no rounding or curving). Any assignment handed in late (without prior permission) will
be reduced by one full grade (A to B, B+ to C+) for each 24 hour period after the time it is due (e.g., if it is
one hour late, it will receive one grade reduction. If it is 49 hours late, it will receive 3 grade reductions).
Blogs will not be accepted late.







Group Projects





Final Paper


Email Policy:
I will do my best to answer emails within 24 hours during normal school days, and I expect the same
courtesy in return. Emails should be properly addressed and signed with the students first and last names.
The subject line of each email should indicate that it is related to our class, PHIL 11: Introduction to
Philosophy. Please compose emails with the same care as you would written assignments and/or
professional letters.

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

Honor Code:
The Honor Code at the University of the Pacific calls upon each student to exhibit a high degree of
maturity, responsibility, and personal integrity. Students are expected to:
act honestly in all matters
actively encourage academic integrity
discourage any form of cheating or dishonesty by others
inform the instructor and appropriate university administrator if she or he has a reasonable and good
faith belief and substantial evidence that a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy has occurred.
Academic Honesty:
Cheating, plagiarism, or any other violation of the Honor Code will be taken very seriously and will result
in (first offense) a zero for the assignment and (second offense) a failing grade for the course. Suspicions
will be referred to and investigated by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. If a
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Try to obtain the accommodation letter(s) from the Office of SSD as early as possible. Depending on course
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Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

Course Schedule:

Tuesday 8/25

What are we?

Thursday 8/27

The Examined Life

Platos Apology

Tuesday 9/1

Philosophy, Death, & Soul

Platos Phaedo (57a-72e)


Thursday 9/3

Knowledge & the Soul

Platos Phaedo (72e-84b)

Phaedo 57a-72e

Tuesday 9/8


Platos Phaedo (84b-102a); A1

Phaedo 72e-84b

Thursday 9/10

Forms & Immortality

Platos Phaedo (102a-118a)

Phaedo 84b-102a

Tuesday 9/15

Discussion: Plato


Phaed. 102a-118a

Thursday 9/17

Descartes Cogito

Descartes Meditations 1& 2

Tuesday 9/22

God & Truth

Descartes Meditations 3 & 4

Meditations 1& 2

Thursday 9/24

Real Distinction

Descartes Meditations 5 & 6; A3

Meditations 3 & 4

Tuesday 9/29

Criticizing the Real Distinction

Elisabeth of Bohemia

Meditations 5 & 6

Thursday 10/1

Discussion: Descartes

Tuesday 10/6

Lockes Empiricism

Essay 1 & 2. I-II (selections); A4

Thursday 10/8

Locke on substance

Essay 2. XXIII

Essay 1 & 2. I-II

Tuesday 10/13


Smart, Sensations and Brain Processes

Essay 2. XXIII

Thursday 10/15


Putnam, The Nature of Mental States


Tuesday 10/20


Jackson, Epiphenomenal Qualia


Thursday 10/22

New Reading

Blog Topic

Class Date


Discussion: Minds &


Paper Due Monday 10/26

Tuesday 10/27

Personal Identity

Locke & Reid (selections)

Thursday 10/29

Personal Identity

Perry, A Dialogue on Personal Identity

Locke & Reid

Tuesday 11/3

Free Will

van Inwagen, The Incompatibility


Thursday 11/5

Free Will

Tuesday 11/10

Aristotle on Human Function

Aristotles Physics (selections)

Thursday 11/12

Virtue Ethics

Aristotles De Anima (selections); G1


Tuesday 11/17


Aristotles Nic Ethics (selections)

De Anima

Thursday 11/19

Aristotle on the Soul

Aristotles Nic Ethics (selections)


Tuesday 11/24

Discussion: Aristotle

Thursday 11/26


Tuesday 12/1

Students Choice

Thursday 12/3

Students Choice

Tuesday 12/10

Video Projects!

van Inwagen

--- --- ---




Most readings are available on Canvas. If you have any questions about the syllabus, please ask me.

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

Paper Topics
Your paper should be turned in on Canvas by noon on Monday October 26. Papers turned in after this time
will be late (see grading policy on syllabus). Papers should be five pages (+/- 1 page, double-spaced 12
point Times New Roman font with one inch margins on all sides. This should put you in the range of about
1400-1800 words). I will give back papers with grades and comments by November 10, and you may rewrite
and resubmit your paper by noon on November 24. Choose from the following paper topics:
1. Defend innate ideas. Look at the Phaedo (especially 73c-76e) and/or the Meditations (e.g., the
third meditation & Descartes idea of God) for considerations for innate ideas and Locke (Bk.
I) for considerations against them. A defense of innate ideas consists of at least one argument
for them, one objection to them, and one response to that objection.
2. Defend empiricism (the claim that all our ideas come from experience). Look at Locke for
considerations for empiricism and the Phaedo (esp. 73c-76e) and/or the Meditations (e.g., the
third meditation & Descartes idea of God) for considerations against it. A defense of
empiricism consists of at least one argument for it, one objection to it, and one response to
that objection.
3. Defend the identity thesis or functionalism about mental states. For considerations for these
positions, see Smart or Putnam. For considerations against, see the Phaedo and/or the
Meditations. A defense of a materialist thesis about the mind consists of at least one argument
for it, one objection to it, and one response to that objection.
4. Compose a dialogue between two characters discussing what we are. Your dialogue must
include at least one argument for a position, one objection to it, and one response to that
objection. Id advise you to run your plan past me before you write. (aim for the word count for
this topic)
5. Choose your own topic. You must have a written proposal (which may be as brief as the topics
above) approved by Thursday 10/15. Your paper must include at least one argument for a
position, one objection to it, and one response to that objection.

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy

Paper Rubric
The paper grade will be calculated as follows:
E.g., typos, grammatical mistakes, ease of reading
E.g., introduction & conclusion, signposting of arguments, citation
E.g., is the position on which the paper focuses clear?
E.g., is the argument valid?
E.g., are the premises explained and defended adequately?
E.g., is the objection strong? Is there a stronger pertinent objection?
E.g., do you reply adequately to the objection?
For each section, the following descriptions may be used as exemplars for the listed grades (I do not list
every possible grade):
A excellent; shows original thought on the subject; very well supported & explained argument; extremely
clear; no mistakes
B+ very good; well-thought out; well supported & explained argument; very clear; almost no errors
B good; thoughtful; argument is supported and explained; mostly clear; few errors
B- fair; shows some thought was put in; argument lacks complete support/explanation; some unclarity;
some noticeable errors
C adequate; doesnt demonstrate careful thought about the topic; support/explanation for argument is not
adequate; a substantial portion of the paper is unclear; noticeable errors
D inadequate; not carefully planned; lacking a clear argument/support; frequent errors

Buckels Sample Syllabus, Introduction to Philosophy