Catalogue Description

††††††††††† A study of the basic skills of good reasoning needed for the intelligent and responsible conduct of life. Topics include argument identification and structure, validity and strength of arguments, common fallacies of reasoning, use and abuse of language in reasoning, principles of fair play in argumentation. 3 units. GE Area A3

Course Description:††††††††† To understand public reasoning, which governs politics, arguments about morality, religion/God, the meaning of life and even about the wisdom which can guide you to a happy marriage or to adjustment to life without marriage, three things are needed:

1. What do words mean? This requires knowing the art of definition and making divisions (distinctions or taxonomy).

2. What do propositions (declaratory sentences) mean? How many kinds of propositions are there? (four: A, I, E, O) And when we know what they mean: What sources can convince us they are true? (Evidence, argument from true premises, faith/trustworthy authority.)

3. What is required for us to formally construct and recognize one source of truth which is valid arguments with true premises so that we can both recognize such arguments and test the truth of their premises in normal informal editorials in serious ordinary print media.

††††††††††† For #1 above the lectures Dundonís Handbook (pp. 3-13) will be covered in the first three weeks. For #2 lectures and Dundonís Handbook (pp. 14-20) will be covered in weeks 4-5

††††††††††† For # 3, our goals will divided into two parts: A)(Weeks 6 to 8)Recognition and construction of formal arguments in lectures and Dundon (pp. 20-30) and a computer tutorial: Learning Logic, The Basics, available in the computer labs on campus. Instructions for how to access this tutorial will be given in class. Instruction on editorial analysis techniques. The tutorial can be accessed at any time. You must be able to get a nearly perfect score on the tutorial, so you may practice on it as often as you wish. We will conduct at least two classes in a computer lab.

B) (Weeks 8 to 15) Regular application of the skills learned in 1, 2, and 3A, to regular full length serious print media. Lectures during this period will be to assist with this editorial analysis, but also to discuss formal and informal fallacies in Dundon's Handbook (pp. 35-46). In the 14th and 15th week Dundon will discuss Logic and Science (Philosophy of Science) as well (See Dundon, pp. 54 to 57).

Student Learning Objectives:

††††††††††† The principal concrete objective is to enable students: 1) to take a standard well written and unified editorial on a serious public issue and demonstrate that they can find the (usually) single final conclusion, 2) to trace the entire argument "tree" (or line of argument) of such arguments, 3) to uncover hidden assumptions and state them, 4) to recognize common fallacies in the arguments and evaluate the overall strength of the editorials.

††††††††††† A second objective is to be able to construct an editorial of their own with similar tight reasoning aimed at a single conclusion and with an awareness of hidden unstated necessary premises as well as the grounds upon which their stated but unproven premises may rest.

††††††††††† Ancillary objectives include knowing the rules of good definition and division as well as the forms of common categorical and hypothetical formal arguments and the names and correction of common fallacies.

Texts: (both required)

††††††††††† Philosophy 04 Critical Thinking Handbook, by Stan Dundon

††††††††††† Editorial Analysis Assignments by Stan Dundon, available at Copy Central by Week Five of the semester. Copy Central is on Howe just south of Enterprise,about a mile walk from campus, just north of the big computer store on the west side of Howe..


††††††††††† All grading is on the curve, excluding very low scores. Missed or late editorial assignments are not accepted since solutions are given in class on the day of submission or soon afterwards. See the instructor about possible absences.

Evaluation (Ignore grading information given in the Handbook!):

††††††††††† An indefinite number of unannounced brief objective "pop" quizzes on the lecture and textual material will evaluate and reward class attendance and daily reading of the topics for objectives Cumulatively the pop quizzes will be worth 25% of your grade.

††††††††††† For Objective #3B, six or more full-length editorial will be analyzed and reduced first to a "circle and arrow tree diagram" and then to a scan-tron recordable format explained in Dundonís Handbook pp. 47-53. Cumulatively the editorial analyses and your own editorial will be worth 50% of your grade. The final, consisting of two editorial analyses will be worth 25%.

††††††††††† Also, with respect to the work of editorial analysis, there are specific instructions in the Handbook on how to engage the teacher in appreciating your interpretation of the editorials, since there are frequently more than one legitimate way to interpret them. It is expected and encouraged that students will form study groups to argue out the editorials and the instructor will be delighted to engage these groups in their work during his office hours or at home by phone (see time limits above). Individuals needing help will be encouraged to join or form such a group.

Course Outline:

Week 1 and 2 ††††††††††† The need for solid first principles in any important reasoning. Comprehension and extension of terms. Definition as expressing comprehension, division as exposing and organizing extension.

Week 3 ††††††††† Rules of definition and division. Fallacies of ambiguity in Dundonís Handbook pp. 32-36.

Week 4 and 5 Categorical Propositions, their types and sources of truth.

Week 6 and 7 Argument forms, categorical and hypothetical. ( Handbook, pp. 20-29 ) Begin computer tutorial exercise. Learning editorial analysis techniques. (Handbook, pp. 47-49)

Week 8†††††††††† Practice editorial and introduction to fallacies. ( Handbook pp. 37-46) Demonstration of tutorial skills. ††††††††††† Tuesday: Editorial #1 assigned and discussed. Use of Browne (Chap 2 and 3) and Handbook (pp 26-27 and p. 53) to find basic conclusion and distinction from premises. ††††††† Thursday: Last Chance for In-class Help on Editorial #1.

Week 9-- 11††† Continue Editorial analyses. First Tuesday (March 29)Editorial #1 Corrected. Help on Editorial #2 and Lecture on fallacies.

First Thursday(Mar. 31) is a Free Day.. Second Tuesday Editorial #2 corrected. Second Thursday, Editorial #3 Help. Lecture on Recognition of hidden assumptions and distinction of hidden assumptions and "reasons behind reasons" or "underlying assumptions". Handbook, pp. 47-50,

Week 12 and 13 ††††††† Continue Editorial analyses. First TuesdayEditorial #3 Corrected, First Thursday Editorial #4 Help and Lecture on fallacies. Second Tuesday Editorial #4 corrected. Second Thursday Editorial #5 Help. Lecture on Moral arguments

Week 14†††††††† Continue Editorial analyses. Tuesday Editorial #5 Corrected, Thursday Editorial Help on #6 and lecture on logic and science (Handbook pp. 54-57).. Instruction on your own editorial.

Week 15†††††††† Tuesday Editorial # 6 due, and drafts of your own editorial will be reviewed. Wrap up for final. Thursday your own editorial is due.