Phil 100 S19 TTH: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2019

CRN 59871 TTH 8:00-9:25 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 11-12:00pm; TTH 10-11:00am; T 5-6:00pm
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, January 29: Introduction, What is Philosophy

Thursday, January 31: Scientific Skepticism (SGU Introduction, Chapter 1)
Homework Due: What is "scientific skepticism?" What are some of the core tools and values of the scientific skeptic?

Week 2: Neuropsychological Humility

February 5: Memory and Perception (SGU Chapters 2-4)
Homework Due: Explain the different types of memory that Novella discusses in Chapter 2. 

February 7: Memory and Perception Continued
Homework Due: On pages 20-21, Dr. Novella describes how our visual processing systems works. Summarize this account. 

Week 3: Neuropsychological Humility

February 12: Neuropsychological Humility (SGU Chapters 5-7)
Homework due: Find and bring to class two optical illusions. 

February 14: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

February 19: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Find examples of arguments with two premises and a conclusion that fit the following patterns: 1) valid, sound; 2) valid, not sound; 3) invalid; 4) strong, cogent; 5) strong, not cogent; 6) weak. 

February 21: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

Week 5: Exam

February 26: Review for Exam

February 28: FIRST EXAM

Week 6: Symbolic Logic

March 5: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 1: Problem Set A #'s 6-10; Problem Set B #'s 21-25.

March 7: Symbolic Logic Continued 
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 2: Problem Set A, #'s 21-25. 

Week 7: Logical Fallacies

March 12: Fallacies (SGU Chapter 10)

March 14: Fallacies Continued
Homework Due: Find an example of each of the four fallacies we discussed in class. 

Week 8: Metacognition

March 19: Metacognition (SGU Chapters 8, 9, 11, 12)
Homework Due: Find an example of each of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

March 21: Metacognition Continued
Homework Due: Find an example of five of the fallacies we discussed in class today. 

Week 9: Spring Break!!

March 26: NO CLASS!!

March 28: NO CLASS!!

Week 10: Metacognition

April 2: Metacognition (SGU Chapters 13-18)

April 4: Metacognition Continued, Introduction of Paper Topic
Homework Due: Identify and explain one Cognitive Bias and one Heuristic discussed in Chapter 11 in the textbook. 

Week 11: Exam

April 9: Review for Exam

April 11: Second Exam

Week 12: Science and Pseudoscience

April 16: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 19-23)


Week 13: Science and Pseudoscience

April 23: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 24-28)
Homework Due: Select a topic for your final paper. 
Homework Due: Explain the Monty Hall Problem. What is the correct solution to this problem? What does this problem tell us about human cognition and critical thinking?

April 25: Science and Pseudoscience Continued
Homework due: Find an example of a light-night infomercial style product. Identify the major claims made on behalf of that product. 

Week 14: Bullshit

April 30: Bullshit (Read On Bullshit)

May 2: In-class Peer Editing, Bullshit Continued 
Homework Due: Bring two copies of a draft of your paper to class for in-class peer-editing. 
Homework Due: Reflect on the following question: Does someone count as a liar if they say something that is true, but think that it is false and say it with the intention to deceive? 

Week 15:  Media

May 7: Media (SGU 46-51)

May 9: Media Continued
Homework Due: 
Final Paper Due

Week 16: Media

May 14: Media Continued

May 16:  Media Continued

Week 17: Finals

May 21:  Review for Final

May 23: 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 (February 8) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule (April 12), 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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