Policies & Assignments

Course Vision:

In God and the Good Life you will:

1. Learn how to argue convincingly, deeply and responsibly.
2. Cultivate the practice of philosophical self-reflection.
3. Discover the personal and social value of philosophy.
4. Grow in five intellectual virtues: curiosity, argumentative rigor, intellectual courage, intellectual humility, and empathetic reasoning.

Learning Objectives:

You will develop (and be evaluated on) five specific skills related to the course vision:

1. Closely reading philosophical texts and analyzing their key arguments.  By the end of this course, you should be able to identify and comprehend the main principles and arguments in major philosophical texts.  And you should be able to compare these arguments to similar positions in the history of philosophy.
2. Closely reading major news sources and analyzing their key arguments.  By the end of this course, you should be able to correctly identify the logical structure of arguments in the news.  You should be able to determine whether the arguments are logically valid.  And you should be able to identify important philosophical assumptions in these arguments.
3. Contributing to a sustained interpersonal dialogue.  By the end of this course, you should be able to ask strong questions designed to learn about another person’s philosophical viewpoint.  You should be able to actively listen and incorporate personal evidence into philosophical insights.  You should be able to responsibly identify and address philosophical differences.  And you should be able to execute a multi-step, action-oriented project within a ~15 person team.
4. Writing a persuasive philosophical apology, explaining and defending your core philosophical beliefs.  By the end of this course, you should have completed a significant, multi-section essay that draws on interesting personal narratives, original philosophical arguments, and textual commentary to defend a consistent philosophical stance.  You should also be able to anticipate and respond appropriately to objections to your core assumptions.  And you should be able to draft and edit smaller sections into a well-organized long essay.
5. Verbally articulating philosophical arguments in short TED talks, formal parliamentary debates and group dialogues.  By the end of this course, you should be able to efficiently convey arguments to an audience while using compelling examples to motivate premises.  And you should be able to identify logical strengths and weaknesses in others’ spoken arguments.  You should be able to think of objections and replies quickly.  You should be confident in experimenting with ways of combining ethos, pathos and logos in a short speech.  


Assignments are how you practice and then demonstrate your mastery of the five learning objectives.  You are responsible for knowing assignment requirements and deadlines.

Grading System:

GGL is graded on a total point system.  You earn points for completing different assignments. There are many routes to a high letter grade. But all of them require constant attendance, engaged participation, and (most importantly) timely, successful completion of assignments. There is no curve for the course–your grade is determined purely based on the effort you put in and your achievements over the course of the semester.  The teaching team wants you to grow in this class and to score as well as possible on every skill, so please talk to us if you want to strategize about how to reach for more points or if you do not understand how you are doing.  Points will be posted to Sakai as soon as they are available.

The percentage cutoffs for different final letter grades are:

Final Letter Grade: Percentage:
A 93%
A- 90%
B+ 87%
B 83%
B- 80%
C+ 77%
C 73%
C- 70%
D 60%


Excused Absences:

See here for the make-up policy for excused absences.

Grading Questions:

Have a question or concern about your grade for an assignment?  First check the rubric for the assignment and identify where you think points were potentially missed.  Meet with your assigned TA to discuss your questions.  If you still have concerns, contact the Head TA (Sam Hall).  And if you have remaining concerns after review from the Head TA, you can always present a grade appeal to your instructor, who will regrade the assignment using the rubric and discuss your questions.  Everyone on the teaching team is committed to helping you achieve the learning objectives.  

Honor Code:

This class follows Notre Dame’s binding Honor Code.  All work you submit must be your own.  Your sources must be properly cited.  In general, you can just reference course readings by their book or article title.  Outside readings should be cited with a works cited or footnote system.  Direct quotations from others must be in quotation marks.  If you have questions about how to attribute your sources, talk to your graduate TA or professor.