Phil 100 Su15: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 100: Logic and Critical Thinking

Summer 2015

CRN 47574 TTH 9:00 AM-12:10 PM Location: SB-211

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 penultimate 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 class 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 9: Introduction; Language (ISD 11-37)
Homework: Find examples of each of the five functions of language discussed in class. On page 30 of our text there is a quatrain from Nostradamus. Write a description of that quatrain that shows it as predicting the terrorist attacks of 9/11. 

Thursday, June 11: Language and Syllogisms (ISD 38-54)
Homework: Find an example of each of the four functions of definitions and an example of each of the three ways to define. 

Week 2

June 16: Symbolic Logic (Material Available Online); Review for Exam
Homework: Symbolic Logic II PDF, Problem Set A, #'s 21-25.

June 18: Continue Logic; begin Formal and Informal Fallacies (ISD 55-85)

Week 3


June 25: Continue Formal and Informal Fallacies; On the Justification of Belief: Personal Experience (ISD 171-222)
Homework: Find examples of 10 of the fallacies that we discussed. 

Week 4

June 30: Personal Experience Continued
Homework: Find examples of two optical illusions and bring them to class. Try and also find an explanation for why the illusion works. 

July 2: On the Justification of Belief: Empirical Science (ISD 223-266)
Homework: Find some kind of late-night infomercial type product that makes some kind of extraordinary claim. Then, try to create an experiment that could be used to test that claim. 

Week 5

July 7: SECOND EXAM  Empirical Science Continued; Introduction of Paper Topic


Week 6

July 14: Watch Film in Class; Darwin and Intelligent Design

July 16: On Bullshit (OB 1-67)

Week 7

July 21: Introduction to the Media and the Propaganda Model of Media (ISD 267-290)

July 23: In-Class Peer Editing; Watch Film in Class (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 8

July 28: In-Class Paper Presentation; Review for the Final (Final Paper Due)

July 30:  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. I will not accept a vacation as an excuse. If you know that you will be missing a significant portion of the class or an exam due to summer plans, you should drop.

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.