Phil 1145 – Richmond

Course: Phil 1145 – Critical Thinking
Semester: Fall 2015
Instructor: Colin Ruloff Ph.D.
Office Hours: Thursday, 2:45-3:45, Room TBD.
Class Meets: Thursday 7-9:50, Room 1340, Richmond Main.

Course Description: This course introduces the student to the study of argument, and is divided into three sections. The first section provides the basic concepts associated with arguments and explains the terminology used to understand and evaluate them. The second section lays out a general method for identifying, interpreting, and evaluating arguments. The third section applies this general method to testimonial arguments, statistical arguments, and causal arguments.

Note: Section 1, (chapters 1-4) is  theoretical. Here the basic, principles, concepts, and terminology associated with arguments and argument analysis will be laid out. This section is absolutely foundational; you must master this material in order to work through the material contained in Sections 2 and 3.

Text: Richard Feldman, Reason and Argument. (Required)

This is a good text, perhaps the best of its kind. Please do purchase it; you’ll need it.

Course Requirements:

Test #1 on chapters 1,2: 10%
Test #2 on chapter 3: 20%
Test #3 on chapter 4: 20%
Test #4 on chapter 5,6: 20% (take home)
Test #5 on chapters 8, 9, 20%
Participation: 10%

Course Policies:

This is not an easy grade course. In order to do well, you’ll need to read the text, work through the material, attend lecture, take good notes, and so on.

The material is  dry. But I’ll do my best to make the material relevant and interesting.

My default procedure is not to take attendance. But your failure to attend class will significantly reduce your chances of doing well in the course.

You will receive in-class notices, reminders, and so on. It is your responsibility to be informed of these forms of communication throughout the semester.

If miss lecture, do obtain the relevant notes and any in-class instructions from a colleague. Exchange your email address with somebody in class so that you can get the relevant notes in the event of a missed class.

Email and attending office hours are the preferred methods of communication. Don’t leave me a voicemail.

Email is not like texting; so don’t expect me to answer your emails immediately. If you send me an email, I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Do visit me during office hours if you are struggling with the course material.

If you don’t do well on the first exam, see me right away; don’t wait. I’ll do my best to help you get back on track.

The course content is conceptually quite straightforward; but we will be plowing through quite a bit of material. Please stay on top of things.

Do review your notes, regularly.

The quizzes are straightforward but challenging. The kinds of questions I ask will modelled on the kinds of questions that you will find in the text.

Please refrain from texting, browsing the internet, facebooking, etc., during lecture. It’s distracting, disrespectful, and very uncool. I ask this as a professional courtesy.

Please don’t take pictures of my overhead notes. They are private intellectual property.

Don’t take photos of me.

There will be no extra credit assignments, so make your regular work count.

I don’t re-schedule missed quizzes. Given that I teach 150+ students per semester at multiple campuses around the lower mainland, I simply cannot make special arrangements for students that have missed quizzes.


Tentative Schedule of Readings and Quizzes:

Sept 10 Course Administrative details, introduction to the course, Chapter 1: Conceptual Foundations; Chapter 2: Truth and Rationality.

Sept 17 Chapter 2: Truth and Rationality.

Sept 24 Test #1 on chapters 1 and 2. Begin Chapter 3: Well-formed Arguments.

Oct 1 Chapter 3, continued.

Oct 08 Chapter 3, continued.

Oct 15 Test #2 on chapter 3. Begin Chapter 4: Strong Arguments.

Oct 22 Chapter 4, continued.

Oct 29 Chapter 4, continued.

Nov 05 Test #3 on chapter 4. Begin Chapter 5: Reconstructing Arguments.

Nov 12 Chapter 5, continued.

Nov 19 Chapter 5, continued. Test #4 – take-home quiz.

Nov 26 Chapter 9: Statistical Arguments.

Dec 03 Chapter 10: Causal Arguments.

Note: Test #5 is tentatively scheduled for December 10th, 7-10, Room: TBD.