Phil 100 S13 (8-Week): Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2013

CRN 57209 MW 11:45 AM-2:50 PM Location: MV-09

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

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

Monday, April 1: Introduction; Language (ISD 11-37)
Homework: Find examples of each of the five functions of language. Find examples of Euphemisms, Dysphemisms, Vagueness, Equivocation and Amphibology

Wednesday, April 3: Language and Syllogisms (ISD 38-54)
Homework: find examples of each of the four types of definitions and the three ways to define.

Week 2

April 8: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online); Review for Exam
Homework: Symbolic Logic 4, Problem Set B #'s 2,4,6,8,10


Week 3

April 15: Formal and Informal Fallacies (ISD 55-85)
Homework: Find examples of ten different fallacies.

April 17: On Bullshit (OB 1-67)
Homework: Find two examples of bullshit.

Week 4

April 22: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-222)

April 24: Personal Experience Continued

Week 5


May 1: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-266)

Homework: (1) Pick a pseudoscience for your paper. (2) Find some late-night infomercial type product and come up with an experiment to test the validity of that product. Try to incorporate as many of the research methodologies discussed in class as possible.

Week 6

May 6: Introduction of Paper Topic; Watch Film in Class

May 8: Darwin and Intelligent Design

Week 7

May 13: Introduction and the Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 267-290)

Homework: Find an example of a front group. Be sure to identify the organization(s) behind it.

May 15: In-Class Peer Editing; Watch Film in Class (Bring three copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 8

May 20: In-Class Paper Presentation; Review for the Final

May 22:  FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)

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.

Voting: If you are not registered to vote, please register online today: Please choose the vote-by-mail option.

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.