Phil 100 F19: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Fall 2019

CRN 10430 TTH 9:35-11:00am Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MTWTH 9:00-9:30am and 12:30-1:00pm
Office: SB 311-H
Phone: 619-388-2294

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. (FT) AA/AS; CSU; UC.

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.

Course 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.

Requisites and Advisories: Advisory: ENGL 101 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6; or ENGL 105 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6.

Textbooks: There are two texts required for this class:

  • Novella, Steven, et. al. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Grand Central Publishing, 2018.
  • 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:

  • SGU for The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe
  • OB for On Bullshit

Week 1: Introduction

Tuesday, August 20: Introduction, What is Philosophy

Thursday, August 22: Scientific Skepticism (SGU Introduction, Chapter 1)

Week 2: Neuropsychological Humility

August 27: Memory and Perception (SGU Chapters 2-4)
Homework Due: From Chapter 2, what are the different types of long-term memory?

August 29: Memory and Perception Continued
Homework Due: Describe some of the problems with perception discussed on pages 20-22.  

Week 3: Neuropsychological Humility

September 3: Neuropsychological Humility (SGU Chapters 5-7)
Homework Due: Find examples of two optical illusions. If possible also try to find an explanation. 

September 5: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Find two examples of Pareidolia. 

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

September 10: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Find an example of the following types of arguments: (a) valid, sound; (b) valid, not sound; (c) invalid; (d) strong, cogent; (e) strong not cogent; (f) weak. Pick arguments that have two premises and a conclusion. 

September 12: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

Week 5: Exam

September 17: Review for Exam

September 19: FIRST EXAM

Week 6: Symbolic Logic

September 24: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

September 26: Symbolic Logic Continued 
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 2 PDF, Problem Set A, #'s 21-25.

Week 7: Logical Fallacies

October 1: Fallacies (SGU Chapter 10)
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 4, Problem Set B, #'s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. 

October 3: Fallacies Continued
Homework Due: Find an example of each of the six fallacies we discussed in class. 

Week 8: Metacognition

October 8: Metacognition (SGU Chapters 8, 9, 11, 12)
Homework: Find an example of each of the five fallacies we discussed in class today. 

October 10: Metacognition Continued
Homework Due: Find examples of five fallacies that we discussed in class. 

Week 9: Metacognition

October 15: Metacognition (SGU Chapters 13-18)

October 17: Metacognition Continued, Introduction of Paper Topic
Homework Due: Read Chapter 11 in the text. Identify and describe two cognitive biases and two heuristics.  

Week 10: Exam

October 22: Review for Exam

October 24: Second Exam

Week 11: Science and Pseudoscience

October 29: Critical Thinking and Racial Prejudice

October 31: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 19-23)

Week 12: Science and Pseudoscience

November 5: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 24-28)
Homework Due: Select a topic for your final paper. Also, find some late-night infomercial style product. What claims is that product making? Design an experiment to test those claims. Try to use as many of the experimental methodologies that we discussed in class. 

November 7: Science and Pseudoscience Continued

Week 13: Bullshit

November 12: Bullshit (Read On Bullshit)

November 14: In-class Peer Editing, Bullshit Continued 
Homework Due: Bring two copies of a draft of your paper to class for in-class peer-editing. Also, why do you think there is so much bullshit? 

Week 14:  Media

November 19: Media (SGU 46-51)

November 21: Media Continued
Homework Due: 
Final Paper Due

Week 15: Thanksgiving!!



Week 16: Media

December 3: Media Continued

December 5:  Media Continued

Week 17: Finals

December 10:  Review for Final

December 12: Final Exam

: Your grade in the course will be out of 500 points and is based on your performance on the following assignments:

  • 100 points: Exam 1
  • 100 points: Exam 2
  • 100 points: Final Exam
  • 50 points: 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 on the assignment. More information on this assignment will be provided later in the semester.
  • 50 points: Homework. This is due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • 100 points: 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:

    ≥ 450 = A
    ≥ 400 = B
    ≥ 350 = C
    ≥ 300 = D
    < 300 = F

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw
It is the student’s responsibility to drop all classes in which he/she is no longer attending. It is the instructor’s discretion to withdraw a student after the add/drop deadline (??) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule (??), will receive an evaluative letter grade in the class.

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 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 academic accommodations should discuss options with their professors during the first two weeks of class. You should also contact DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.

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!
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