Phil 100 F15: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Fall 2014

CRN 81610 MW 8-9:25 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By appointment

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.

Student Learning Outcomes:
  1. Critical Thinking: Think critically in reading, writing, and/or speaking about communication, reasoning, and logical processes, thereby identifying problems, theses, arguments, evidence and conclusions.
  2. Communication: Write or speak about communication, reasoning, and logical processes, thereby addressing problems, formulating theses, making arguments, analyzing and weighing evidence, and deriving conclusions.
  3. Personal Actions and Civic Responsibilities: Demonstrate an ability to understand one's role in society, take responsibility for one's own actions, and make ethical decisions in complex situations.

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, August 24: Introduction (ISD 11-16)

Wednesday, August 26: Language (ISD 19-37)
Homework: Find examples of the five functions of language, euphemism, dysphemism, vagueness, equivocation, and amphibology. 

Week 2: Language

August 31:Language (ISD 38-49)
Homework: Find examples of accentuation, eduction, weasel words, and jargon. 

September 2: Language Continued
Homework: Find an example of each of the four functions of definitions and each of the three ways to define. 

Week 3: Symbolic Logic

September 7: NO CLASS!! Labor Day

September 9: Syllogisms (ISD 49-54)

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

September 14: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Problem Set A #'s 21-25; Problem Set B #'s 21-25.

September 16: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)

Week 5: Symbolic Logic

September 21: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set B #'s 1,3,5,7,9.

September 23: Symbolic Logic Continued

Week 6: Exam

September 28: Review for Exam

September 30: FIRST EXAM

Week 7: Fallacies

October 5: Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class today. 

October 7: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class today. 

Week 8: Personal Experience

October 12: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196)
Homework: Find examples of two optical illusions. Also try to identify an explanation for that illusion. 

October 14: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222)

Week 9: Personal Experience

October 19: Personal Experience

October 21: Personal Experience

Week 10: Science

October 26: Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)
Homework: Find some late-night infomercial type product, and come up with an experiment that could be used to test it. Be sure to try and incorporate as many different research methodologies into your experiment as possible. 

October 28: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)Introduction of Paper Topic

Week 11: Science

November 2: Empirical Science Continued

November 4: Empirical Science Continued, Topic for paper Due
Homework: Apply the Criteria of Adequacy to evaluate the relative value of Evolution and Intelligent Design.

Week 12: Exam

November 9: Review for Exam

November 11: NO CLASS!!

Week 13: Bullshit

November 16: EXAM 2

November 18: "On Bullshit" (OB 1-30)

Week 14: Thanksgiving

November 23: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 25: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 15: More Bullshit

November 30: Bullshit Continued

December 2: In-class peer editing. Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class. Continue "On Bullshit" (OB 31-67)
Homework: Watch the following video:, and then identify 4 criticisms made of the media. 

Week 16: The Media

December 7: Introduction (ISD 267-276), The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)

December 9: Media Continued (ISD 290-306), Final Paper Due

Week 17: The Media

December 14:  Media Continued, Review for Final

December 16: 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 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 and all the readings. The homework will be collected every time, and spot-checked, and the readings will help you understand the course material.
  3. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  4. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  5. 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!