Philosophy, by its nature, is a highly discursive subject that requires a great deal of intellectual discipline and individual engagement of students both with the professor and with each other. Because a community of thinkers is necessary to the enterprise, informed, consistent participation is the single most important component of our class work. Merely coming to class is not enough. The Participation component of the grade is based on two factors: 1) timely attendance to every class meeting, and 2) competent preparation and participation. Participation is a component of the final grade and will be evaluated at every class meeting according to the rubric given below.

Absences and Lateness:

Students in this class shall be allowed two (2) unexcused absences. Unexcused absences exceeding two and excessive lateness in attendance will negatively affect the final participation grade for the course. If you anticipate missing more than 20% of the class meetings, or being regularly, unavoidably late to every class meeting then you should not take this course. Excessive lateness and any absences will be excused upon independently verifiable proof of sufficiently extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the professor. If you miss more than three consecutive weeks of class without communicating with the instructor you will be reported to the registrar as having dropped.

The participation component of the course is intended to measure students’ preparedness, ability to deploy critical thinking skills discursively, and willingness and ability to function collegially with one another and with the professor for the common purpose of meeting the course objectives.

Professionalism, Preparedness and Inappropriate Behavior


These days, most students attend college because they want to secure and keep a professional level of employment. A baseline for professional conduct in any walk of life is being committed enough to show up on time and prepared for the day's tasks. Beyond these, the so-called "soft skills" of interpersonal interaction are as important as any technical skill set or body of knowledge in achieving the goals of retaining one's position and advancing in professional settings. As with any skills, these skills must be practiced. Therefore, we will practice professional conduct and it will affect your overall evaluation in this class.


Being prepared means showing up on time with everything you need to do the work of the day in hand. This includes any assigned reading (printouts are cheaper than a textbook, so please print out any readings), your notebook, an appropriate writing implement, any assigned work for the day, appropriate class handouts, and personal notes on any assigned reading for the day. These are the basics. They should be with you every time. Additionally, being prepared means showing up having actually done all of the assigned reading and being ready to discuss it. If you cannot discuss the reading or formulate a question about it, the natural inference is that you did not prepare adequately. If the readings give you trouble try reading with a dictionary or e-mailing questions to the professor as you encounter difficulties. Do not give up and simply assume that all will become clear in lecture. You must do your part to prepare.

Inappropriate Behavior

Conduct that is inappropriate or distracting is decidedly unprofessional and therefore inappropriate. Such things include but are not limited to the following: inappropriate questions and comments, sleeping, eating, frequently departing from and returning to the classroom while class is in session, leaving class for extend periods of time, studying materials for other classes, engaging in side discussions, or any other behavior that, in the professor's determination, is disrespectful, disengaged or that is very distracting from the learning of others. As described in the Course Policies, any single instance of text-messaging, web-surfing or otherwise manipulating small electronic devices by any student while class is in session will result in the termination of that class for the day for everybody. Show good collegiality by staying on task with your colleagues and the professor.

Evaluation Rubric for Individual Participation

Excellent (4) Good (3) Adequate (2) Poor (1) Unacceptable (0)
The student attended class on time and fully prepared, and waited for class to end before leaving. The student stays engaged, takes notes, and/or initiates positive, meaningful and relevant contributions to class discussion at appropriate times or played a leadership role in group work. The student arrives to class on time and fully prepared and stays until class is dismissed. The student is quiet but remains engaged and on-task, takes notes, and when called upon, makes relevant and meaningful contribution to class discussions. The student also contributes positively to any group work, but does not take a leadership role. The student arrives to class less than 15 minutes late. The student may be unprepared to some degree (e.g. having to leave to print out the day's work, get a book, etc.), but is at least prepared enough to contribute meaningfully to group work and to respond to questions with something more helpful than a shrug or "I don't know.". The student stays engaged for the most part but may not take notes, and may show minor lapses in professional behavior, e.g. side-discussions or reading non-class materials. Such incidents are isolated, however, and when asked the student gets back on task without complaint. The student arrives to class more than 15 minutes late and/or leaves or prepares to leave early without prior arrangement. The student is unprepared to the degree that meaningful participation in class or group work cannot be accomplished. Contributions to class tend to be irrelevant, off-topic or otherwise unprofessional. The student shows little if any engagement with the class, and may be either unwilling or unable to respond in a helpful way when asked a question about the material by the instructor. The student may exhibit one or more behaviors defined as inappropriate above and may persist in these behaviors despite multiple requests to cease them, or become upset at the requests themselves. Any one of the following holds: The student is more than 30 minutes late, the student gets class cancelled with the unapproved use of an electronic device, or the student engages in behavior that is threatening, disrespectful, or harmful to others, or the student simply does not attend at all, and does not contact the instructor to explain why.

Note: Your grade for any class meeting will be based on the assessment of your performance according to the above rubric AND, if any group work is done, your performance in your role within your group. See the page on Group Work for more details.

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