Phil 100 S14: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2014

CRN 47301 MW 9:35-11 Location: MV-02

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By appoinment

Course Description: This 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.

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: Introduction
Monday, January 27: Introduction (ISD 11-16)

Wednesday, January 29: Language (ISD 19-37)

Homework: Find examples of each of the five functions of language. Also find examples of euphemisms, dysphemisms and vagueness.

Week 2: Language
February 3: Language (ISD 38-49)

Homework: Find an example of each of the following concepts: Equivocation, Amphibology, Accentuation/Eduction, Weasel Words, Jargon.

February 5: Language Continued

Homework: Find examples of the four functions or types of definitions and the three ways to define.

Week 3: Symbolic Logic
February 10: Syllogisms (ISD 49-54)
Homework: Find examples of the following arguments: (1) A valid argument with one true premise, one false premise and a true conclusion. (2) A valid argument with two true premises and a true conclusion. (3) An invalid argument with two true premises and a true conclusion. (4) A strong argument with one true premise, one false premise and a true conclusion. (5) A strong argument with two true premises and a true conclusion. (6) A weak argument with two true premises and a true conclusion.

February 12: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)

Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Problem Set A #'s 16-25; Problem Set B #'s 16-25.

Week 4: Symbolic Logic
February 17: NO CLASS!!

February 19: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)

Homework: Symbolic Logic II: Problem Set A #'s, 21-25. Also draw up truth tables for the last three statements we symbolized in class.

Week 5: Symbolic Logic
February 24: Symbolic Logic Continued

Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set B, #'s 1,3,5,7,9.

February 26: Symbolic Logic Continued

Week 6: Exam
March 3: Review for Exam


Week 7: Fallacies
March 10: 
Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)

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

March 12: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)

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

Week 8: Personal Experience
March 17: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196)

Homework: Find an example of a visual illusion. See if you can identify an explanation for that illusion.

March 19: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222) 

Week 9: Science
March 24: 
Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)

March 26: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)

March 31: NO CLASS

April 2: NO CLASS

Week 11: Science
April 7: Empirical Science Continued

Homework: Find a late-night infomercial type product and come up with an experiment to test it. Try to incorporate the three methods of research discussed in class into you experimental design.

April 9: Empirical Science Continued

Week 12: Exam
April 14: Review for Exam

April 16: EXAM 2

Week 13: Evolution and Intelligent Design
April 21: Watch film in class: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008)

April 23: Continue and discuss film; discuss pseudosciences for papers.

Week 14: Bullshit
April 28:
 "On Bullshit" (OB 1-30)

April 30: In-class peer editing. Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class. Continue "On Bullshit" (OB 31-67)

Week 15: The Media
May 5: 
Introduction (ISD 267-276), The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)

May 7: Media Continued (ISD 290-306) (Final Paper Due)

Week 16: The Media
May 12: Media Continued 

May 14: Media Continued

Week 17: The Media
May 19: 
Review for Final

May 21: Final Exam

: 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: 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 in the semester.
  • 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 material from previous classes. They cannot be made-up if missed. 
Grade Scale:

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

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.

Attendance: During the first two weeks of class, students will be dropped for any unexcused absence. Starting during the third week, students may be dropped for missing two classes. In addition, students who arrive unreasonably late or leave unreasonably early will be marked absent.

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.

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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 time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  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.