PHLA10 - Reason and Truth

Fall Session 2016

An introduction to philosophy focusing on issues of rationality, metaphysics and the theory of knowledge. Topics may include: the nature of mind, freedom, the existence of God, the nature and knowability of reality. These topics will generally be introduced through the study of key problems that have arisen through the history of philosophy.

Special Notices

FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 9-11am: AC223 (NOTE: the exam is in AC223 and AC223 ONLY). The Final Exam will cover chs. 4-26 (skipping 18) of Sober's book.

Final Exam Review Session: Friday, Dec. 2, 10am - 1pm, SW128.

ESSAY 2 Topics are now available here.

Remember we have "Drop In" sessions on Wednesdays from 12-1pm in Philosophy Hall (portable PO102).

Links to logic puzzles: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.


William Seager.
Office: PO102:103.
Office Hrs: Tuesday 10-11am; Thursday 1-2pm, or by appointment.


Core Questions in Philosophy
Elliot Sober

Plan of Course

My goal is to get through Parts I-IV of Sober's book. Since the first part is short, we can cover it in two weeks or so. That gives us about 3 weeks for each of Part II, III and IV (we won't cover Part V - if you are interested in an introductory course in ethics look up PHLA11). You can keep track of our progress by checking the "Where Are We" section of this webpage as we go along. Our official readings will mostly be Sober's own lectures, but I encourage you all to read the original source material as well which is readily available online or in the library (if you need help finding it, please ask).


The final grade will be based upon two short papers (each worth 22% of the final grade), a set of weekly exercises (worth altogether 5% of the final grade), a mid-term quiz (worth 16% of the final grade) and a final exam (worth 35% of the final grade).

The Mid-Term Quiz: this will be an in class test (length: 45 minutes) which will consist of short answer questions similar to the kinds of questions found on the weekly assignments.

The Short Papers: these will be on topics to be provided on this web page. They should be no more than 1200 words long and no less than 1000 words long.
     Philosophy demands hard and careful thought, and such thought deserves clear and well organized writing for its expression. Some advice on writing philosophy papers will of course be provided in class and in tutorial, and here are a couple of links: Peter Horban's Writing a Philosophy Paper; James Pryor's Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper; our own Jessica Wilson's guide can be found here.
     Note also that late essays are not acceptable unless you have a valid reason for not being able to produce the essay in a timely fashion. We *may* accept late essays one week late with a one grade (10%) penalty. Please discuss any problems with your tutorial leader.

The Weekly Exercises: these will be sets of questions about the current readings. The questions will mostly be obvious and based entirely on the readings. Your answers will not be graded - you will receive credit for handing in your work ON TIME so long as a good faith effort has been made. Altogether, they are worth 5% of the final grade so you needn't feel devastated if you miss one. But it's an easy 5% and will help you keep up with the reading. Exercises are to submitted in your weekly tutorial.

The Final Exam: The exam will be 2 hours long and will have two sections. The first will be a short answer section with questions similar to those found in the weekly exercises. The second section will require you to write one short essay from a selection of topics.


Every student is enrolled in a tutorial. These are small group sessions dedicated to discussion of the philosophical issues the class is currently working on. They are an invaluable opportunity for you to engage with an expert tutorial leader and your fellow students. An important part of philosophy involves open and collaborative discussion and argument. The tutorials are the most fun part of the course. They are also where the weekly assignments are handed in and other work (midterm, essays) will be discussed.

Important Dates

Tuesday, September 6, 2016: First meeting of PHLA10F, 11am @ AC223.
Thursday, September 15, 2016: Last day to add classes.
Week of September 19, 2016: Tutorials start this week.
Thursday, October 6, 2016: Mid-Term Quiz (in class test, 45 minutes).
Monday, October 10, 2016: Thanksgiving (University closed).
Oct. 11-14, 2016: Fall Reading Week (no classes).
Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 by 11:59pm: TERM PAPER I due. Topics here.
Thursday, November 17, 2016: Last day to drop F courses.
Thursday, December 1, 2016: Final Class.
Sunday, December 4 @ 11:59pm, 2016: TERM PAPER II due. Topics here.
December 2-3, 2016: Study Break.
Sunday, December 4, 2016: Last day to drop UTSC F courses and have them remain on the
transcript with a grade of LWD indicating withdrawal without academic penalty.
December 5-20, 2016: Final Examination Period.
FINAL EXAM: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, 9-11am: AC223 and HW216.

Where are we?

Week of Sep. 5: Reading Sober chs. 1 and 2. Lecture notes here and here.
Week of Sep. 12: Reading Sober ch. 3. Lecture notes here.
Week of Sep. 19: Reading Sober ch. 4 and ch. 5. Lectures notes here.
Week of Sep. 26: Reading Sober ch. 5 and ch. 6; getting into ch. 7. Lectures notes here and here.
Week of Oct. 3: Reading Sober ch. 7 and ch. 8. Lectures notes here.
Week of Oct. 10: Reading week - no classes.
Week of Oct. 17: Reading Sober chs. 9 and 10, and into 11. Lectures notes here.
Week of Oct. 24: Reading Sober chs. 11 and 12. Lectures notes here.
Week of Oct. 31: Reading Sober ch. 13. Lectures notes here.
Week of Nov. 7: Reading Sober chs. 14 and into 15. Lectures notes here.
Week of Nov. 14: Reading Sober chs. 15-17; 19 [NOTE: we are skipping ch. 18]. Lectures notes here and here.
Week of Nov. 21: Reading Sober chs. 20-23. Lectures notes here.
Week of Nov. 28: Reading Sober chs. 24-26. Lectures notes here and here.

Current Assignment

Assignment 1, due in tutorial, week of Sept. 19. (Get assignment 1.)
Assignment 2, due in tutorial, week of Sept. 26. (Get assignment 2.)
Assignment 3, due in tutorial, week of Oct. 3. (Get assignment 3.)
Assignment 4, due in tutorial, week of Oct. 17. (Get assignment 4.)
Assignment 5, due in tutorial, week of Oct. 24. (Get assignment 5.)
Assignment 6, due in tutorial, week of Oct. 31. (Get assignment 6.)
Assignment 7, due in tutorial, week of Nov. 7. (Get assignment 7.)
Assignment 8, due in tutorial, week of Nov. 14. (Get assignment 8.)
Assignment 9, due in tutorial, week of Nov. 21. (Get assignment 9.)
Assignment 10, due in tutorial, week of Nov. 28. (Get assignment 10.)

Philosophy Hall (PO102), University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario, M1C1A4

Office: 103 Philosophy Hall (PO102)       Phone: 416-208-2976