Phil 100 S11: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2011

CRN 01252 TTH 9:35-11:00 AM Location: H-313

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% Midterm Examination 1
20% Midterm Examination 2
20% Final Examination
10% Final Paper Due Last Day of Class. Though this is only worth 10% of your grade failure to complete this assignment of the associated pre-writing will result in an F in the course.
10% Homework. Homework will be due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. I will not accept late assignments.

20% Pop Quizzes. These will be given at the start of class, they cannot be made up if missed.

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

Tuesday, January 25: Introduction (ISD 11-16)
Thursday, January 27: Language (ISD 19-37)
For Tuesday: take a look at the State of the Union Address and find example of each of the five functions of language we discussed in class. A video and transcript of the speech can be found here.

Week 2: Language

February 1: Language (ISD 38-49)

Homework: find an example of Equivocation or Amphibology; accentuation or eduction; weasel words; jargon.

February 3: Syllogisms (ISD 49-54)
Pick a controversial topic (abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc.) and write two short paragraphs (3-4 sentences) that have the same denotation, but very different connotations.

Week 3: Symbolic Logic

February 8: Symbolic Logic
Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Section A #'s 1-15 Odd; Section B #'s 1-25 Odd.

February 10: Symbolic Logic
Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Exercise C #’s 1-10 produce truth tables for #’s 1-10 odd. Symbolic Logic II: Exercise A #’s 16-25; Exercise B odd #’s

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

February 15: Symbolic Logic
February 17: 
Symbolic Logic
Homework: Symbolic Logic Exercise 4: Section B #'s 6-10; Section C #'s 1-5.

Week 5: Exam

February 22: Review
February 24: 

Week 6: Language

March 1: Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)
 Homework: Find an example of each of the informal fallacies we studied in class.

March 3: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-74)
Homework: Find examples of the informal fallacies we discussed in class today. (Post hoc through Appeal to emotion)

Week 7: Language

March 8: Informal Fallacies (ISD 74-85), Watch film in class.
Homework: Find an example of a False Analogy and an example of Suppression of Relevant Data.

March 10: Extra Day

1. Watch a local news cast and try to identify the use of video news release footage. Try and contact that local station (call or email) to ask if the news department used VNR footage for the story in question (Note: you may not get a truthful answer, but if you do, engage the person they are speaking with about the station’s policy on using VNRs.)

2. In the late 20th century, historian Daniel Boorstin coined the term “pseudo-events” to describe events and situations that are primarily created for the sake of generating press coverage. An early example is the Miss America contest, which was started more than 75 years ago and is still going strong. Try and find an example of such a pseudo-event from the past few years. What purpose is this pseudo-event serving? What interests are served or benefitted by the staging of this event?

3. Find an example of a front group using the Internet. What is this group really a front for? How might the funding source affect what you see as the group’s position on a specific issu0

Week 8: Bullshit

March 15: On Bullshit (OB 1-30)
Write a paragraph in which you answer the following question: Does someone count as a liar if he says something true, but thinks it is false and says it with the intention to deceive?

March 17: On Bullshit (OB 31-67)
Find two examples of bullshit.

Week 9: Exam

March 22: Review
March 24: 

Week 10: Personal Experience

March 29: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196)
March 31: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222)

Week 11: Science

April 5: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)
April 7: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)

Week 12: Science

April 12: Science continued
Homework. Find an example of a pseudoscience and write a short paragraph describing it.

April 14: Science continued

Week 13: Spring Break!!

April 19: NO CLASS!!
April 21: NO CLASS!!

Week 14: Science and Evolution

April 26: Introduction of Paper Topic; Watch Film in Class
April 28: Continue Film

Week 15: Media

May 3: The Media: Introduction (ISD 267-276)
May 5: The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)
Homework: Find a news story from this week (on TV, in the newspaper, from a magazine) and try to identify the five filters at work in that story. You should write about a page on this topic.

Week 16

May 10: Extra Day
May 12: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 17

May 17: Review for Final
May 19: 
 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.