PHIL 4: Critical Thinking syllabus (Spring 2014)

  1. PHIL 4-04 Discussion 9:00 am - 10:15 am meets Tuesdays only in BRH 218
  2. PHIL 4-05 Discussion 10:30 am -11:45 am meets Tuesdays only in MRP 1014
  3. PHIL 4-06 Discussion 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm meets Tuesdays only in DH 110
Course Structure

This course is designed to provide a hybrid experience, using both face-to-face and online environments. Contact time is divided in the following way: Appx. 50% face-to-face and 50% online. Face-to-face sessions occur in the classroom scheduled for your specific section, please bring the text with you for every meeting so that we can discuss the text and its exercises. Online activities include: Ten quizzes in SacCT, several videos, handouts, worksheets, a weblog, and email. To access course material in SacCT you will need to use the Internet and a supported Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome).

This is the login page for SacCT: If you have questions about SacCT or need technical help, click on "student resources" on that page for further information.

Hybrid courses can be more demanding than non-hybrid courses. There are many required activities one must accomplish on one's own by specific dealines. Students in such courses should be independent, self-disciplined, self-motivated learners with good study skills. Students who have good time management skills will generally do very well in this type of learning environment. (See the eLearning section of this syllabus for more.)

Important: This syllabus, along with course policies, assignments and due dates, is subject to change. It is the student’s responsibility to check SacCT for corrections or updates. Any changes will be clearly noted in course announcements via SacCT, email, or the course blog page. See the schedule below for weekly details, also see the Blog page for this course in SacCT for current events and announcements.

Here is a screenshot of the schedule for online quizzes in SacCT for this semester: Assessments (click here). Each quiz is not available until it is visible in SacCT. None of these online quizzes are visible or available until week 3.


wk date topic/reading events homework and exercises in text due


Ch. 1.1: Arguments, Premises, Conclusions

Intro to course
2 Feb.
Ch. 1.2: Recognizing Arguments and Explanations

Tues. in-class quiz 1
up to a & incl.
Ch. 1.2

Ch. 1.1: Part I: 1-30, Part II: 1-10, Part IV: T or F
Ch. 1.2: Part I: 1-35, Part II: 1-10, Part III: 1-10, Part V: Tor F


  1. Definition of an argument (4:17)
  2. Definition of a claim, or statement (4:25)
  3. Definition of a good argument (I) (3:59)
  4. Identifying premises and conclusions (5:34)

3 Feb.
Ch. 1.3: Deduction and Induction

Tues. in-class quiz 2
up to a & incl.
Ch. 1.3

SacCT quiz 1
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 1.3: Part I: 1-30, Part III: T or F


  1. The truth condition (6:30)
  2. The logic condition (5:49)
  3. Valid vs. invalid arguments (5:30)
  4. Strong vs. weak arguments (6:38)
  5. Definition of a good argument (II) (1:58)

4 Feb.
Ch. 1.4: Validity, Truth, Soundness, Strength, Cogency

Tues. in-class quiz 3
up to & incl.
Ch. 1.4

SacCT quiz 2
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 1.4: Part I: 1-15, Part II: 1-15, Part III: 1-20, Part V: T or F


  1. Deduction and valid reasoning (2:18)
  2. Induction and invalid reasoning (1:41)
  3. Induction and scientific reasoning (9:42)

5 Feb.
Ch. 1.5: Argument Forms: Proving Invalidity

Tues. in-class quiz 4
up to a & incl.
Ch. 1.5

SacCT quiz 3
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 1.5: Part I: 1-10, Part II: 1-10


6 Mar.
Chs. 3.1 & 3.2 & 3.3: Informal Fallacies

Tues. in-class quiz 5
on Chs. 3.1, 3.2, 3.3

Ch. 3.1: 1-10
Ch. 3.2: 1-25
Ch. 3.3
: Part I: 1-15, Part III: 1-30

7 Mar.
Chs. 3.4 & 3.5: Informal Fallacies

Tues. in-class quiz 6
up to & incl.
Chs. 3.4, 3.5

SacCT quiz 4
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 3.4: Part I: 1-25, Part III: 1-50;
Ch. 3.5
: Part I: 1-60

IEP: Fallacies article (review)

8 Mar.
Ch. 9.1: Analogical Reasoning

SacCT fallacies practice quiz


SPRING BREAK (campus closed)    
9 Mar.
31- Apr. 4
Ch. 9.2: Legal Reasoning

SacCT quiz 5
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 9: Part I dialog
10 Apr.
Ch. 9.3: Moral Reasoning

SacCT quiz 6
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 9: Part II: 1-15
11 Apr.

Ch. 10: Causality and Mill's Methods

Tues. in-class quiz 7
on videos

SacCT quiz 7
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Read: A Primer on Medical Studies & graphic

Work on these: Ch. 10: Part I: 1-10, Part II: 1-15, Part III: 1-5

12 Apr.
Ch. 10: Causality and Mill's Methods (cont.)

Tues. in-class quiz 8
on Ch. 10 exercises

SacCT quiz 8
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 10: Part I: 1-10, Part II: 1-15, Part III: 1-5 (cont.)

13 Apr.
28 - May 2

Ch. 13: Scientific Reasoning

Tues. in-class quiz 9
on this week's videos

SacCT quiz 9
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

14 May
Ch. 13: Scientific Reasoning (cont.)

Tues. in-class quiz 10
on this week's video

SacCT quiz 10
(opens Monday at noon, closes Friday at midnight)

Ch. 13: Part I: 1-10

15 May
Ch. 13: Scientific Reasoning (cont.)  
16 finals week - no instruction, no office hours

final exam

(scantron #882-E required)

official exam times:

section 4: Tuesday, 20 May
10:15 am-12:15 pm in BRH 218

section 5: Thursday, 22 May
10:15 am-12:15 pm in MRP 1014

section 6: Tuesday, 20 May
12:45 pm-2:45 pm in DH 110



Course Description

PHIL 4. Critical Thinking. Study of the basic skills of good reasoning needed for the intelligent and responsible conduct of life. Topics include: argument structure and identification, validity and strength of arguments, common fallacies of reasoning, use and abuse of language in reasoning, principles of fair play in argumentation. 3 units.

This course satisfies General Education Area A3 requirements: Critical Thinking (3 units). It provides an occasion for students to sharpen three critical abilities: Clear thinking, cogent writing, and effective speaking. We study and apply the basic skills of good reasoning essential for the intelligent and responsible conduct of life. Students will be able to: (1) Detect errors of reasoning and show how the reasoning is in error; (2) Analyze evidence and make appropriate inferences from that evidence; (3) Evaluate inferences and explanations made by others. How do we accomplish this? The course teaches appx. 6 weeks of basic logic, 3 weeks of fallacy analysis, and 6 weeks of induction, esp. scientific reasoning.

Writing requirement: In-class oral and written responses to prompts assessing conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills based on exercises from the course text occur frequently, so students must bring their text with them to class each meeting.

Required: All instructional materials available online in digital form, or from the instructor, total cost not to exceed $60. We use 5 chapters from A Concise Introduction to Logic (2012) by Patrick Hurley, 11/e: Ch. 1, 3, 9, 10, 13. Only chapters from this edition will suffice. I recommend that you buy/rent the individual digital versions of each these chapters from These are appx. $8 each - note that Ch. 1 is free. The digital versions enable you to view these chapters using phones, laptops, or other tablet devices, and we will use this text in class every day. Also, you may access the entire digital eBook online for appx. $60 here: (click on the link to purchase it).

There is also a Blog for this course, find the link to it in SacCT and check it regularly to see what is happening.


Assignments, Grades and Attendance

When is assigned work due? Reading and homework is due on the Tuesday of the week listed on the schedule, quizzes occur as scheduled on the calendar.

21 Assignments: 1 scantron final exam (40 pts.), 10 in-class quizzes (6 pts. each), and 10 online quizzes in SacCT (10 pts. each) = 200 possible points total

total points needed
< 60
to earn this course grade
D -
D +
C -
C +
B -
B +
A -

Laptops and tablets are permitted but please refrain from using them in ways which distract fellow students. Please, no eating or texting during class meetings, if you distract us, then you will be dismissed.

Attendance is mandatory on all Tuesdays. If you miss a meeting, then you will miss something important, for instance, most meetings will have an in-class quiz. Visit me in my office or meet with others in the class for what you missed. Also, try not to be late to class, but it is better to come to class late than not to come to class at all.

How does one succeed in this course? I recommend that you read assigned chapters and do the homework for each section before class meetings, form or participate in study groups, don't skip class or quizzes, and never hesitate to ask me questions.


General Learning Objectives for Critical Thinking

Knowledge and skills devloped in this course include:

- Logical analysis and the identification and construction of arguments
- Understanding logical relations, in particular the relations between premises and conclusions
- Recognizing the more common forms of formal and informal fallacies
- Evaluating the relevance, validity, and strength of arguments
- Understanding the logical structure of deductive and inductive arguments
- Awareness of the abuses of language, including connotation, ambiguity, and definition.
- Recognizing arguments in a variety of contexts, including other disciplines as well as in public affairs
- Improve information competence: the ability to find out what one needs to know in order to have a responsible position on an issue
- Acquiring an immunity to propaganda
- Developing not only the capacity but the disposition to use good reasoning in a variety of contexts
- Developing a sense of fairness and respect for opposing positions

At the end of the course the student should have the ability to:

- Locate the argument in a passage
- Detect errors of reasoning and describe how the reasoning is in error
- Engage in cogent and respectful discussion
- Analyze specific arguments for consistency and credibility
- Apply good reasoning to issues in professional and personal contexts
- Evaluate evidence and and make appropriate inferences from that evidence
- Determine what evidence is necessary and know how to find that evidence, if possible
- Evaluate evidence for relevance and determine the degree of support it provides
- Construct and defend arguments in support of or in opposition to particular propositions


Services to CSUS Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability and require accommodations such as the use of assistive technology, you need to provide me with your official documentation from Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD), which is in Lassen Hall 1008, (916) 278-6955. Please discuss accommodation needs with me ASAP during my office hours or by appt. early in the semester so that we may make a plan to help you out.

SSWD at Sacramento State offers a wide range of support services and accommodations for students in order to ensure students with disabilities have equal access and opportunity to pursue their educational goals. The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 defines an assistive technology device in the following way: “…any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” (29 U.S.C. Sec 2202(2))

If you are registered with SSWD and require the use of the Campus Testing Center in 2302 Lassen Hall, then for any in-class quiz or test, you will need to complete a Testing with Accommodations Instruction Form to give to your instructor, so that we can make a testing schedule.


CSUS Policies and Procedures Regarding Academic Honesty

Review all academic responsibilities, definitions, sanctions and rights described herein. Students may work together on homework but each student must submit their own answers on each of their quizzes. Sharing or copying answers on quizzes is cheating, which is dishonest and violates campus codes of conduct.


More about the specific hybrid nature of this course - eLearning

This hybrid course includes both online and face-to-face activities. Online texts, articles, handouts, videos, tutorials, and graded quizzes are part and parcel of any online/hybrid/web-assisted course. For example, in this course, students will use a university or personal computer, laptops, tablets, or smartphones as tools to access course content. On a regular basis students complete online-only learning activities such as submitting graded writing assignments and SacCT assessments. Doing so may require the use of SacCT/Blackboard, clickers, a commercial portal such as a textbook publisher’s website, GoogleDocs or another publicly available website, a website (not SacCT) set-up by the instructor, and sometimes content from relevant online course material outside of Sacramento State.