Phil 100 S16: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2016

Section 67800    MW 8:00-9:25    SB-211
Section 85467    MW 9:35-11:00    SB-110
Section 85481    MW 3:55-5:20    SB-212


Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 2-3:30; T 5:30-6:30; F 8:30-9:30
Office: SB-311H
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.

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 below 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 25: Introduction (ISD 11-16)
Homework: In the introduction to our text (pp. 11-16), Baillargeon identifies three reasons for why he wrote our text book. Briefly describe each of those three reasons. 

Wednesday, January 27: Language (ISD 19-37)
Homework: Find an example of each of the five functions of language; find 2 pairs of words that have the same denotation, but different connotations. Please do not repeat examples from class. 

Week 2: Language

February 1: Language (ISD 38-49)
Find an example of each of the deceptive features of language we discussed in class (euphemism, dysphemism, vagueness, equivocation, amphibology, weasel words, accentuation or eduction.)

February 3: Language Continued
Homework: Find an example of Jargon. Find an example of each of the four types or functions of definitions (Lexical, Theoretical, Stipulative, and Persuasive). 

Week 3: Symbolic Logic

February 8: 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 10: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Symbolic Logic I: Problem set A #'s 6-15; Problem Set B #'s 21-25. 

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

February 15: NO CLASS!!

February 17: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)

Week 5: Symbolic Logic

February 22: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV, Problem Set B, #'s 1, 3, 5, 7, 9.

February 24: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV, Problem Set B, #'s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.

Week 6: Exam

February 29: Review for Exam


Week 7: Fallacies

March 7: Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

March 9: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

Week 8: Personal Experience

March 14: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196) 

March 16: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222) 

Week 9: Science

March 21: Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)
Homework: Find examples of two optical illusions and bring them to class. If possible, try to find an explanation for that illusion. 

March 23: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)


March 28: NO CLASS!!

March 30: NO CLASS!!

Week 11: Science

April 4: Empirical Science Continued

April 6: Empirical Science Continued; Introduction of Paper Topic
Homework: Find some late-night infomercial style product, and try to come up with an experiment to test the claims made for that product. Try to incorporate as many experimental methodologies into your experiment as possible. 

Week 12: Science

April 11: Empirical Science Continued

April 13: Empirical Science Continued

Week 13: Exam

April 18: Review for Exam

April 20:  EXAM 2

Week 14: Bullshit

April 25: "On Bullshit" (OB 1-30). Bring a copy of your topic for the paper to class.

April 27: Continue "On Bullshit" (OB 31-67)

Week 15: The Media

May 2: Introduction (ISD 267-276), The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)

May 4: In-class peer editing. Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class. Media Continued (ISD 290-306)

Week 16: The Media

May 19: Media Continued 

May 11: Media Continued (Final Paper Due)

Week 17: The Media

May 16: Review for Final

May 18: 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!