Phil 100 S20 TTH: Schedule and Syllabus

All courses will be meeting in an online format starting the week of March 23. Check the main page and your email for details. 

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Spring 2020

CRN 21417 TTH 8:00-9:25 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 11:30-12:30; TTH 10-11:00am
Office: Online in Zoom
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, February 4: Introduction, What is Philosophy

Thursday, February 6: 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 11: Memory and Perception (SGU Chapters 2-4)
Homework Due: In Chapter 3 Novella discusses how our brains process visual information. Please explain that account. 

February 13: Memory and Perception Continued
Homework Due: What might be some implications of our discussion of memory and perception for the criminal justice system?

Week 3: Neuropsychological Humility

February 18: Neuropsychological Humility (SGU Chapters 5-7)

February 20: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Find examples of the following types of arguments. Each argument should consist of two premises and a conclusion: (1) a valid, sound argument; (2) a valid, not sound argument; (3) an invalid argument; (4) a strong, cogent argument; (5) a strong, not cogent argument; (6) a weak argument. 

Week 4: Symbolic Logic

February 25: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

February 27: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 2, Problem Set A, #'s 21-25. 

Week 5: Exam

March 3: Review for Exam


Week 6: Symbolic Logic

March 10: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online)

March 12: Symbolic Logic Continued 
Homework Due: Symbolic Logic 4: Problem Set B, #'s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. 

Week 7: Logical Fallacies



Week 8: Metacognition

March 24: Fallacies (SGU Chapter 10)
Homework Due: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

March 26: Fallacies Continued
Homework Due: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

Week 9: Spring Break!!

March 31: NO CLASS!!

April 2: NO CLASS!!

Week 10: Metacognition

April 7: Metacognition (SGU Chapters 8, 9, 11-18)
Homework Due: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class. 

April 9: Metacognition ContinuedIntroduction of Paper Topic
Homework Due: Describe two cognitive biases and two heuristics discussed in Chapter 11 of the textbook. 

Week 11: Metacognition

April 14: Metacognition Continued

April 16: Metacognition Continued; Exam Distributed (Take-home exam)
Homework Due: Select a topic for your final paper. 

Week 12: Exam

April 21: Open Class Period; Professor available on Zoom for questions (use the regular link for class)

April 23: Second ExamOpen Class Period; Professor available on Zoom for questions (use the regular link for class)

Week 13: Science and Pseudoscience

April 28: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 19-23)

April 30: Science and Pseudoscience (SGU Chapters 24-28); Bullshit (Read On Bullshit)
Homework due: Find an example of a late-night infomercial style product. Describe it. How does that product work? What does it claim to be able to do?

Week 14: Bullshit

May 5: Bullshit Continued

May 7: In-class Peer Editing, Bullshit Continued 
Homework Due: Bring two copies of a draft of your paper to class for in-class peer-editing. 

Week 15:  Media

May 12: Media (SGU 46-51)
Homework Due: Why do you think there is so much bullshit? What benefit does bullshit serve for the bullshitter?

May 14: Media Continued
Homework Due: 
Final Paper Due

Week 16: Media

May 19: Media Continued

May 21: Media Continued; Distribution of Final

Week 17: Finals

May 26:  Open work period for Final

May 28: Open work period for Final; Final Exam due

: 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 18) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule (April 17), 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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