Phil 100 F11 (MW): Schedule and Syllabus


Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Fall 2011

CRN 70956 MW 12:45-2:10 PM Location: H-308

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By Appointment

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

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.

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: Introductions

Monday, August 22: Introduction (ISD 11-16)

Wednesday, August 24: Language (ISD 19-37)
Homework: (1) Find examples of each of the five functions of language. (2) Find two sets of words that have the same denotation but different connotations.

Week 2: Language

August 29: Language (ISD 38-49)

Homework: Take the Nostradamus prediction on page 30 of our text and show how it can be interpreted to predict some recent or historical event.

August 31: Syllogisms (ISD 49-54)

Homework: Pick an issue that you find interesting and write two paragraphs about it. The first paragraph should strongly take one side of the issue; the second paragraph should strongly take the other side of the issue. In writing the paragraphs, try to use as many of the manipulative features of language that we talked about in class as possible. Identify your use of them.

Find one example of each of the four types of definitions and one example of each of the three ways to define.

Week 3: Symbolic Logic

September 5: NO CLASS

September 7: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

September 12: Symbolic Logic

Homework: Symbolic Logic I, Problem Set B #'s 11-20; Symbolic Logic II, Problem Set A #'s 6-15.

September 14: Symbolic Logic

Homework: Symbolic Logic II, Problem Set B. Symbolize and draw truth tables for problems 1-5 and 17-22.

Week 5: Symbolic Logic

September 19: Symbolic Logic Continued

Homework: Symbolic Logic 4: Problem Set B #'s 1-10.

September 21: Symbolic Logic Continued

Week 6: Exam

September 26: Review for Exam

September 28: FIRST EXAM

Week 7: Fallacies

October 3: Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)

Homework: Find examples of each of the fallacies we discussed in class.

October 5: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)

Homework: Find examples of each of the fallacies we discussed in class.

Week 8: Bullshit

October 10: On Bullshit (OB 1-30)

October 12: On Bullshit (OB 31-67)

Week 9: Personal Experience

October 17: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196)

October 19: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222)

Week 10: Exam

October 24: Review for Exam

October 26: Exam 2

Week 11: Science

October 31: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)
Homework: Come up with an experiment to test whether or not dowsing is a real phenomena.

November 2: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)

Week 12: Science and Evolution

November 7: Introduction of Paper Topic; Watch Film in Class

November 9: Continue Film

Week 13: Evolution and ID

November 14: Darwin and the Theory of Evolution

November 16: Intelligent Design

Week 14: Thanksgiving Break!!

November 21: NO CLASS!!

November 23: NO CLASS!!

Week 15: The Media

November 28: The Media: Introduction (ISD 267-276)

November 30: The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)
Homework: Watch a 30 minute news program and identify (i) what stories are covered, (ii) the order the stories are discussed, (iii) how much time is devoted to each story.

Week 16: The Media

December 5: Watch Film in Class

December 7: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 17: Finals

December 12: Review for Final

December 14:  FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)

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.