Phil 100 S12: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2012

CRN 60571 MW 11:45 AM-2:50 PM Location: Z-102

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 11-11:30 in H-302

Course DescriptionThis course explores the relationship of communications and critical thinking with a focus on good reasoning and the impediments to its mastery. This course emphasizes the development of skills in logical processes including familiarity with the more common fallacies. This course is designed for students learning to apply principles of critical thinking to the practical problems of everyday life.

Course Objective: Students will learn the basic elements of critical thinking with a particular focus on logical fallacies and then will learn to apply these tools to real world problems and issues.

Textbooks: There are two texts required for this class:

  • Baillargeon, Normand. A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense. Seven Stories Press: 2007.
  • Frankfurt, Harry G. On Bullshit. Princeton University Press: 2005.
Reading assignments can be found on the schedule.

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on the following assignments:

  • 20% Exam 1
  • 20% Exam 2
  • 20% Final Exam
  • 10% Final Paper: This due the last day of class. Though only worth 10% of your grade in the course, failure to complete this assignment or the associated pre-writing will result in an F in the course. More information on this assignment will be provided later.
  • 10% Homework: This is due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • 20% Pop Quizzes: These will be given at the start of class and will cover the previous classes material. They cannot be made-up if missed, but I will drop the lowest quiz score.

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 90 = A
    ≥ 80 = B
    ≥ 70 = C
    ≥ 60 = D
    < 60 = F

Schedule: (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Do not be concerned if we fall ahead or behind on this schedule. The most important goal is that everyone understand the concepts and problems. This schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website. The schedule uses the following abbreviations:

  • ISD for A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense
  • OB for On Bullshit

Week 1

Monday, March 19: Introduction; Language (ISD 11-37)
Homework: Find examples of each of the five functions of language. Find an example of each of the following: Euphemism, Dysphemism, Vagueness, Equivocation, Amphibology, Accentuation, Eduction, Weasel Words.

Wednesday, March 21: Language and Syllogisms (ISD 38-54)
Homework: Finish the in-class argument assignment. Also, bring examples of each of the four types of definitions and each of the three ways to define. Lastly, please bring copies (paper or electronic) of the first four logic PDFs to class. A link for these can be found on the main page for this course under "Logic Materials."

Week 2

March 26: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online); Review for Exam
Homework: symbolic Logic PDF IV: Problem Set B, #'s 1-10 Odd

March 28: FIRST EXAM

Week 3: Spring Break!!

April 2: NO CLASS

April 4: NO CLASS

Week 4

April 9: Formal and Informal Fallacies (ISD 55-85)
Homework: Find examples of each of the fallacies we discussed in class.

April 11: On Bullshit (OB 1-67)
Homework: Find two examples of Bullshit.

Week 5

April 16: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-222)
Homework: Bring an example of a perceptual illusion to class. Bring an example of pareidolia to class. For both examples, be sure to find examples that weren't used in class.

April 18: Continue

Week 6


April 25: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-266)
Homework: Find some product that makes an extraordinary claim and then develop two different experiments to test this claim. Be sure that each experiments uses at least one of the research methods we discussed in class.

Week 7

April 30: Introduction of Paper Topic; Watch Film in Class

May 2: Darwin and Intelligent Design

Week 8

May 7: Introduction and the Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 267-290)
Homework: Find an example of a front group. What cause is the group working towards? What are they a front group for? How do they disguise their affiliation?

May 9: In-Class Peer Editing; Watch Film in Class (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)
Homework: What are two issues that we need to be sensitive in assessing the credibility of alternative media?

Week 9

May 14: In-Class Paper Presentation; Review for the Final

May 16:  FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)


Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw: It is the student’s responsibility to officially add, drop, or withdraw from the course stated in the class schedule. Failure to do so can result in a failing grade.

Class Attendance:The professor reserves the right to drop students from the course after two absences. ATTENDANCE IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THIS PARTICULAR COURSE.

Tardiness/Early Departure: If a student arrives unreasonably late or leaves early without notifying the instructor before the event, then that student will be considered absent for that class session.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Mesa College students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct, Policy 3100.  In this course, cheating, plagiarism, disruptions of instructional activity, fraud and/or lying will result in, at a minimum, a grade of “F” for the assignment/test with no make up permitted.  Any of these infractions may result in an “F” for the course as well and formal disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs as described in the code (as published in the catalog or online).

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.

TEN TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):

  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework. It will be collected every time, and spot-checked.
  3. Do all assigned reading.
  4. If you find you fall behind in your understanding, contact the instructor.
  5. Be prepared to spend at least two hours per hour spent in class in order to master this material. If you do not, you probably will not receive a grade of C or better.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Use all resources at your disposal.
  8. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
  9. Remember that we are all here to learn.
  10. Remember that you are being trained, or acquiring a skill. Studying, like anything else, is a craft, i.e. an activity. No one is born a good student; we must all transform ourselves into excellent students.