PHIL 311H: Elementary Logic & Critical Thinking
Fall 1998

Index: Instructor Objectives Texts Topics Assignments
Attendance Make-Ups Grades Exams Disabilities Annotations

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. As a contribution to University Honors, this course aims, moreover, to promote your scientific literacy and thus to enable you to evaluate the adequacy of practical arguments involving both scientific knowledge and h uman values.


Required Text

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

  • Giere, Ronald N.  Understanding Scientific Reasoning. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1977..
Recommended Text

The following text is recommended for those students who wish to advance their philosophical understanding or abilities:
  • Bierman, Arthur K. and Robin N. Assali. The Critical Thinking Handbook. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1996.

Course Division

        Readings:Giere, Chapters 1 - 4 (118 pp.).
        Exercises & Exams:Exercises 1 - 3;
Exam 1.

        Readings:Giere, Chapters 5 - 8 (142 pp.);
        Exercises & Exams:Exercises 5 - 7;

        Readings:Giere, Chapters 9 - 10 (30 pp.)
        Exercises & Exams: EXAM 3.

For the most part, reading assignments will be made on a daily basis. Exercises will generally be assigned at least one calendar week 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.

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 EITHER four (4) class meetings on the TR schedule OR six (6) class meetings on the MWF schedule 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.

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

Exercise #1Theoretical Hypotheses 10 2.50 2.50
Exercise #2Historical Episodes 15 3.75 6.25
Exercise #3Marginal Science 15 3.7510.00
EXAM #1Theoretical Hypotheses10025.0035.00
Exercise #4Statistical Models & Probability 15 3.7538.75
Exercise #5Evaluating Statistical Hypotheses 15 3.7542.50
Exercise #6Causal Models 15 3.7546.25
Exercise #7Evaluating Causal Hypotheses 15 3.7550.00
EXAM #2Statistical & Causal Hypotheses10025.0077.50
EXAM #3Knowledge, Values & Decisions10025.00100.0

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.


(1) Spelling error here.

(2) Noncritical weakness in sentence structure.

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

(4) Punctuation not clear.


(5) Term or phrase unclear or unexplained.

(6) Term or phrase ambiguous.

(7) New paragraph warranted here.

(8) Circumlocution here; simpler expression available.


(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.

Ö   Response is at the (expected) mean.

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

++  Response is superior, no deficiencies.

Instructor Information

Instructor: Ron Bombardi
Department of Philosophy
Middle Tennessee State University
Email: Ron Bombardi
Office:James Union Building: Room 307
Office Hours:1:00 - 2:00, MTWRF;
and by appointment