Phil 100 Su14: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Summer 2014

CRN 93810 TTH 9:00 AM-12:10 PM Location: G-104

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By Appointment

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.

Assignments: 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: This is due the last day of class. 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.
  • 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 previous classes material. They cannot be made-up if missed, but I will drop the lowest quiz score.

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 90 = A
    ≥ 80 = B
    ≥ 70 = C
    ≥ 60 = D
    < 60 = F

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

Tuesday, June 10: Introduction; Language (ISD 11-37)
Homework: Find an example of each of the five functions of language we discussed in class; find an example of a euphemism, a dysphemism, and vagueness.

Thursday, June 12: Language and Syllogisms (ISD 38-54)
Homework: Find an example for each of the following concepts: Equivocation, Amphibology, Accentuation, Eduction, Weasel Words, Jargon. Also find an example of each of the four types of definitions and each of the three ways to define. 

Week 2

June 17: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online); Review for Exam
Homework: Symbolic Logic IV: Problem Set B #'s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.


Week 3

June 24: Formal and Informal Fallacies (ISD 55-85)
Homework: Find examples of five of the fallacies we discussed in class.

June 26: On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-222)
Homework: Find examples of two different optical illusions. Try to come up with an explanation of that illusion.

Week 4

July 1: Personal Experience Continued
Homework: Describe a situation in your own life where you fell victim to one of the errors in judgment discussed in class. I am looking for about a page.

July 3: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-266); Introduction of Paper Topic

Week 5


July 10: Watch Film in Class

Week 6

July 15: Darwin and Intelligent Design

July 17: On Bullshit (OB 1-67)

Week 7

July 22: Introduction to the Media and the Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 267-290)

July 24: In-Class Peer Editing; Watch Film in Class (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 8

July 29: In-Class Paper Presentation; Review for the Final (Final Paper Due)

July 31:  FINAL EXAM

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 week of class, students will be dropped for any unexcused absence. Starting during the second 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.