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Philosophy 1200
Eric Desjardins

THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY Undergraduate Course Outline Philosophy 1200, 001: Critical Thinking (2012-13) Lectures: W11:30-12:30, F11:30-12:30, in UCC 56 Fall instructor Winter instructor David Bourget, office TBA Eric Desjardins, Stevenson Hall 2130 Office hours: M 2:30-3:30pm, W 2:30-3:30pm Office hours TBA 519-661-2111 / [email protected] 519-661-2111 x87769 / [email protected] COURSE DESCRIPTION This course provides an introduction to basic principles of critical thinking and is designed to enhance the student's ability to detect and analyze various forms of reasoning encountered in everyday life, academic and professional contexts. Topics to be covered include: argument identification and evaluation, fallacy detection, formal symbolization of arguments, deductive and inductive reasoning, the influence of social and psychological factors on our judgments, the structure of scientific reasoning, how to interpret statistics, theories of moral reasoning and how to assess claims put forward by the media and popular press. 1 COURSE OBJECTIVES Students who complete this course will have: (a) acquired a basic set of concepts and technical tools (b) learned how to use these concepts and tools to detect, represent and critically evaluate arguments as well as to construct and appraise their own arguments (c) developed skills that will enable them to think more clearly and critically about various issues encountered in their personal, academic and professional lives. TEXTS Hughes, William & Jonathan Lavery. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, Fifth Edition. Broadview Press, 2008. (Used during the Fall term) Kenyon, Tim. Clear Thinking in a Blurry World. Nelson Education, 2008. (Used during the Winter term, and for optional readings during the Fall term) REQUIREMENTS • Participation (4%) • Assignments (36%) ◦ Five applied assignments (20%) ▪ AppliedAssignment #1 (Group, Fall) (2%) ▪ AppliedAssignment #2 (Group, Fall) (3%) ▪ AppliedAssignment #3 (Group, Fall) (5%) ▪ AppliedAssignment #4 (Group, Winter) (2%) ▪ AppliedAssignment #5 (Individual, Winter) (8%) ◦ Four theoretical assignments (16%) ▪ TheoreticalAssignment #1 (Fall) (4%) ▪ TheoreticalAssignment #2 (Fall) (4%) ▪ TheoreticalAssignment #3 (Winter) (4%) ▪ TheoreticalAssignment #4 (Winter) (4%) • Midyear Examination (December) (30%) • Final Examination (April) (30%) Points are awarded for participation and good conduct in class and in tutorials. To obtain these points, you need not speak frequently, but you must be present, be attentive, and respectfully and constructively engage with peers during class activities and discussions. The midyear and final examinations will take place during the examination periods. See the course schedule distributed separately for a schedule of assignments. 2 Important rules regarding assignments and exams All assignments must be submitted BOTH on Turnitin and on OWL unless otherwise specified in class or the assignment instructions. Mandatory statement regarding Turnitin: All required assignments may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and Turnitin.com ( http://www.turnitin.com ) Assignments that are handed in late will incur a 5% penalty per day (including weekends) for up to 50%. Accommodation for medical or non-medical reasons, for exams and late or missing assignments, must be obtained through the student's home faculty. Do not submit medical documentation or any other documentation to the instructor. Your home faculty will decide if accommodation is warranted. For more details, see the University's policy on accommodation for medical illness here: https://studentservices.uwo.ca/secure/index.cfm. No electronic devices are allowed during tests. Students are reminded that University policy requires proficiency in English to be taken into account in the assignment of grades in all courses (see Academic Calendar). Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/scholastic_discipline_undergrad.pdf More details on the department's and the university's policies can be found on their web sites at www.uwo.ca and www.uwo.ca/philosophy. It is your responsibility to understand the policies set out by the Senate and the Department of Philosophy, and thus ignorance cannot be used as grounds of appeal. AUDIT Students wishing to audit the course should consult with the instructor prior to or during the first week of classes. COURSE OUTLINE (See also OWL/WebCt/Blackboard for an up-to-date schedule.) 3 Unit 1 Introduction to Critical Thinking This unit introduces the student to the very idea of studying reasoning, offering motivation and justification for its study.An explanation of what critical thinking is is presented, along with many relevant terms. The basic notion of argument strength is presented, as are some initial steps towards understanding the structure of an argument. It is emphasized that the key component of an argument is its conclusion, as the whole point of the argument is to convince the listener/reader that the conclusion is true or at least something to be believed given the evidence. Arguments are distinguished from explanations, which have the same structure and reports of arguments which are not intended to convince anyone of anything. Goals and Objectives: • Learn the technical notion of an argument; • Learn to identify an argument; • Introduce several terms such as proposition, validity, soundness, inference, inference indicator, conclusion, premise; • Identify basic argument structure using inference indicators. AppliedAssignment #1: Find an article in a newspaper that presents an argument. List the inference indicators used in the argument. Identify the conclusion and premises of the argument. Unit 2 Language This unit introduces language as it is studied by philosophers and linguists. Theories of meaning are presented. Different uses of language are considered. Methods for forming definitions and criteria for evaluating definitions are presented. It is shown how several features of language influence the interpretation of arguments and how fallacies of interpretation arise. Specific distinctions are made between use/mention, analytic/synthetic statements, and the distributive/collective use of terms. The overarching principle for interpreting argument is the Principle of Charity, which prescribes trying to put an argument in its best light so as to make it as plausible as possible. Goals and Objectives: • Learn the basic categories by which language is studies: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; • Learn the basic theories of meaning; • Learn the different types of definitions and how to assess them; • Understand the Principle of Charity and why it is adopted in argument analysis; • Learn fallacies of interpretation. Unit 3 Argument Analysis 1: Structure This unit presents methods for understanding and representing the structure of arguments. The notions of subconclusion and subargument are introduced along with lists of premise indicators 4 and conclusion indicators to help identify these substructures. The methods of interpretation studied earlier are applied to paraphrasing arguments and reconstructing incomplete arguments, known as enthymemes. The standard form of an argument is presented. The notions of joint and independent support are introduced. Diagrams corresponding to each type of support are presented.All of the parts are brought together to represent the structure of more complex arguments. Goals and Objectives: • Identify and distinguish premise indicators from conclusion indicators. • Paraphrase and reconstruct arguments. • Learn what the substructure of an argument is. • Learn how to represent an argument’s structure in standard form. • Distinguish joint support from independent support for a conclusion or subconclusion. • Learn to represent each type of support in a diagram. • Represent the structure of complex arguments. AppliedAssignment #2: Determine the argument structure of a short philosoph
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