Phil 100 S13: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2013

CRN 45842 MW 9:35-11 Location: MV-05

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By appoinment

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.

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 28: Introduction (ISD 11-16)

Wednesday, January 30: Language (ISD 19-37)
Homework: Find examples of each of the five functions of language. Find one example of of euphemism, dysphemism and vagueness.

Week 2: Language
February 4: Language (ISD 38-49)
Homework: Find an example of each of the following deceptive features of language: Equivocation, Amphibology, Accentuation, Eduction, Weasel Words, Jargon.

February 6: Language Continued
Homework: Find an example of each of the four types of definitions and the three ways to define.

Week 3: Symbolic Logic
February 11: 
Syllogisms (ISD 49-54)

February 13: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Problem Set A #' 21-25; Problem Set B #'s 21-25

Week 4: Symbolic Logic
February 18:

February 20: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Symbolic Logic II: Problem Set A #'s 21-25; Problem Set B. Draw up truth tables for #'s 6-10.

Week 5: Symbolic Logic
February 25: Symbolic Logic Continued

Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem set B, #'s 1-10 odd.

February 27: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set C, #'s 1-6.

Week 6: Exam
March 4: Review for Exam


Week 7: Fallacies
March 11: 
Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)

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

March 13: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)
Homework: Find examples of each of the fallacies we discussed in class.

Week 8: Personal Experience
March 18: 
Personal Experience (ISD 171-196) 

March 20Personal Experience (ISD 196-222)

March 26: NO CLASS

March 28: NO CLASS

Week 10: Science
April 1: 
Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)

April 3: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)
Homework: Find some product that is advertised on late-night television. Come up with an experiment to test that product. Be sure to incorporate some of the research methodologies we discussed.

Week 11: Science
April 8: Empirical Science Continued  

April 10: Empirical Science Continued

Week 12: Exam
April 15: Review for Exam

April 17: EXAM 2

Week 13: Evolution and Intelligent Design
April 22: Watch film in class: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008)
Homework: Pick a pseudoscience for your paper.

April 24: Continue and discuss film; discuss pseudosciences for papers.

Week 14: Bullshit
April 29:
"On Bullshit" (OB 1-30)

May 1: 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 6: 
Introduction (ISD 267-276), The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)

May 8: Media Continued (ISD 290-306) (Final Paper Due)
Homework: Find an example of a Front Group. What issues does that group deal with. What is there position on the issue? Be sure to also identify the parent organization of that group.

Week 16: The Media
May 13: Media Continued 

May 15: Media Continued

Week 17: The Media
May 20:
Review for Final

May 22: 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.

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.