PHIL 2110: Elementary Logic & Critical Thinking
 
Syllabus
 
Fall 2014

 
Index:InstructorObjectivesTextsTopicsAssignments
AttendanceMake-UpsGradesExamsDisabilitiesAnnotations


Course Objectives
The primary objective of this course is to impart a functional ability to reason well; to improve your analytical skills and instincts. In addition to familiarizing you with elementary methods of argument composition and analysis, the course is further designed to aid you in understanding the essential principles involved in the theory and practice of reasoned decision making.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course may be expected to:
  • Recognize arguments in academic, literary, and popular prose
  • Identify the main conclusions of arguments
  • Portray the logical structures of arguments
  • Detect assumptions and unstated premises in argumentative writing
  • Evaluate the cogency and persuasiveness of arguments
  • Criticize common fallacies in reasoning
  • Distinguish necessary from sufficient conditions
  • Assess the formal validity of deductive arguments
  • Assess the inductive strength of probabilistic arguments


Texts

Required Text

The following text is required; a thorough familiarity with its contents is advised:

  • Waller, Bruce N.  Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict, Sixth Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2005.
Recommended Texts

The following texts are recommended for those students who wish to advance their philosophical understanding or abilities:
  • Hacking, Ian.  An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Lunsford Andrea A. and John J. Ruszkiewicz.  Everything's an Argument. New York: Bedford Books, 1998.
  • Quine, Willard Van Orman.  Elementary Logic, Revised Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.


Course Division

(1) REASONING & ELEMENTARY ARGUMENT ANALYSIS
        Readings:Waller, Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 7, & 14 (115 pp.).
        Exercises & Exams:Exercises 1 - 3;
Exam 1.

(2) RECOGNIZING AND AVOIDING FALLACIES
        Readings:Waller, Chapters 3, 10, 16, 9, 4, 12, & 13 (140 pp.).
        Exercises & Exams:Exercise 4;
EXAM 2.

(3) FINER POINTS OF ARGUMENT ANALYSIS
        Readings:Waller, Chapters 11, 15 & 17 (85 pp.).
        Exercises & Exams: EXAM 3.

Assignments
For the most part, reading assignments will be made on a daily basis. Exercises will generally beassigned at least one calendar day before coming due; however, exercises will be accepted for credit ONLY on or before the assigned days. The purpose of the exercises is to prepare you for the exams, so if you miss one, you may wish to secure a copy from someone else in the class.

Attendance
All students are expected to attend all class periods. While reasonable pleas for exemption from the attendance requirement will be duly considered, a 'reasonable plea' should ordinarily be documented by a physician, team coach, faculty advisor, or a dean. Unexcused absences exceeding THREE (3) class meetings may result in a grade-penalty.

Make-Up Exams
Students who miss an examination or fail to hand in an exercise AND who satisfy the conditions for exemption from the attendance requirement (specified above), are entitled to receive a MAKE-UP examination or exercise. Make-ups will be provided at the earliest mutual convenience of both student and instructor. Students who miss an examination or fail to hand in an exercise BUT who DO NOT satisfy the conditions for exemption from the attendance requirement, will receive NULL CREDIT for that exercise or examination.

Grades
Both exercises and exams will receive numerical scores intended to reflect your performance levels on an absolute scale (measured against your instructor's expectations). Each exercise or exam will also receive a letter grade indexed according to the (relative) class mean. Final grades sent to the registrar are based on cumulative average performance: specifically, the overall class average is set to the current University mean GPA, with letter grades adjusted to yield this mean. (Note: the purpose of this grading policy is to avoid grade-inflation WITHOUT penalizing students arbitrarily.)

Schedule of Exercises and Exams

NAME TOPIC TOTAL POINTS GRADEPERCENT CUM. PERCENT
Exercise #1 Recognizing Arguments  20  10  10
Exercise #2 Argument Structures  20  10  20
Exercise #3 Conditional Inferences  20  10  30
Exam #1 ARGUMENT ANALYSIS 40  20 50
Exercise #4 Fallacies  20  10 60
Exam #2 FALLACIES 40 20 80
Exam #3 ARGUMENT FORMS 40 20 100

Accomodation for Students with Disabilities
If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., please speak with your instructor as soon as possible. Students may also contact the Office of Disabled Students Services (898-2783) with questions about such services.




Essay Annotations
 
I. NUMERICAL MARKERS:  The following markers are designed to index problems in essay work. They are NOT arranged in order of severity. They do NOT necessarily correlate with grade assignments.
 

*****SYNTAX*****

(1) Spelling error here.

(2) Noncritical weakness in sentence structure.

(3) Critical weakness in sentence structure. (meaning lost).

(4) Punctuation not clear.

*****SEMANTICS*****

(5) Term or phrase unclear or unexplained.

(6) Term or phrase ambiguous.

(7) New paragraph warranted here.

(8) Circumlocution here; simpler expression available.

*****ANALYSIS*****

(9) General structure of this argument unclear.

(10) Conclusion does not follow without unstated assumptions.

(11) Relevance of this point to your argument is not clear.

(12) This assertion is questionable and requires further support.

(13) Further consequences of this claim are unmentioned but relevant.

(14) This inference is formally invalid.

 
II. GLOBAL MARKERS:  These symbols DO correlate with grade assignments.
 

Ø  Null credit: either question misunderstood or analysis irrelevant.

/    Response is deficient of the (expected) mean.

  Response is at the (expected) mean.

+   Response is well above the (expected) mean; well-argued analysis.

++  Response is superior, no deficiencies.






Instructor Information

Instructor:RonBombardi
Department ofPhilosophy
Middle Tennessee StateUniversity
Email: Ron Bombardi
Office:James Union Building: Room 307
Telephone:615-898-2049
Office Hours:8:00 - 9:00 & 11:30-12:30, MTWRF;
and by appointment