Phil 100 S15: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2015

CRN 48831 MW 8-9:25 Location: SB-211

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.

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 26: Introduction (ISD 11-16)
Homework: What are the three reasons Baillargeon gives for writing our text?

Wednesday, January 28: Language (ISD 19-37)
Homework: Find examples of the five functions of language; find an example of each of the following: euphemism, dysphemism, and vagueness. 

Week 2: Language

February 2: Language (ISD 38-49)

Homework: Find examples of the deceptive features of language we discussed in class: Equivocation, Amphibology, Accentuation, Eduction, Weasel Words, and Jargon.

February 4: Language Continued

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

Week 3: Symbolic Logic

February 9: 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 11: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Symbolic Logic 1: Problem set A, #'s 21-25; Problem Set B #'s 16-25.

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

February 16: NO CLASS!!

February 18: Symbolic Logic (Materials Available Online)
Homework: Draw up truth tables for the 6 propositions distributed in class. 

Week 5: Symbolic Logic

February 23: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set B #'s 1, 3, 5, 7, 9.

February 25: Symbolic Logic Continued
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set B #'s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.

Week 6: Exam

March 2: Review for Exam


Week 7: Fallacies

March 9: Formal Fallacies (ISD 55-58)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

March 11: Informal Fallacies (ISD 59-85)

Week 8: Personal Experience

March 16: Personal Experience (ISD 171-196) 
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

March 18: Personal Experience (ISD 196-222) 
Homework: Find examples of two optical illusions. See if you can find an explanation for them. 

Week 9: Science

March 23: Empirical Science (ISD 223-242)

March 25: Empirical Science (ISD 242-266)


March 30: NO CLASS!!

April 1: NO CLASS!!

Week 11: Science

April 6: Empirical Science Continued

April 8: Empirical Science Continued; Introduction of Paper Topic

Week 12: Science

April 13: Empirical Science Continued
Homework: Find some late-night infomercial type product that makes some kind of extraordinary claims. Try to come up with an experiment to test that claim. 

April 15: Empirical Science Continued

Week 13: Exam

April 20: Review for Exam

April 22:  EXAM 2

Week 14: Bullshit

April 27: "On Bullshit" (OB 1-30)

April 29: 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 4: Introduction (ISD 267-276), The Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 277-290)

May 6: Media Continued (ISD 290-306) (Final Paper Due)
Homework: Find an example of a VNR and an example of a Front Group. For the VNR, indicate where you found it, and try to figure out who made it. Make an effort to contact the station you found that VNR on and ask them their policy regarding them. For the Front Group, identify the mission of that group and identify the main organization behind it.  

Week 16: The Media

May 11: Media Continued 

May 13: Media Continued

Week 17: The Media

May 18: Review for Final

May 20: 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. 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.