PHIL 1101 - Argument and Critical Thinking

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

Argument is an activity we all engage in, with varying results, in every walk of life. Over the last two millennia philosophers have developed powerful methods for classifying arguments, and identifying common errors in reasoning. Argument and Critical Thinking teaches these methods and applies them to real-life arguments, both written and spoken. It is thus an introduction to communication and applied logic. Among the topics we cover are the theory of legal argument, and the science-pseudoscience debate, which gives us a chance to discuss UFOs, parapsychology, Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle and alien abductions!

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHIL 1101
    Course Argument and Critical Thinking
    Coordinating Unit Philosophy
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge ESL students are advised to consult Course Coordinator to discuss enrolment in the course
    Course Description Argument is an activity we all engage in, with varying results, in every walk of life. Over the last two millennia philosophers have developed powerful methods for classifying arguments, and identifying common errors in reasoning. Argument and Critical Thinking teaches these methods and applies them to real-life arguments, both written and spoken. It is thus an introduction to communication and applied logic. Among the topics we cover are the theory of legal argument, and the science-pseudoscience debate, which gives us a chance to discuss UFOs, parapsychology, Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle and alien abductions!
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Jennifer McMahon

    Course Coordinator: Professor Jenny McMahon
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    1. Understand the difference between argument and rhetoric;
    3. Recognize what counts as evidence in deductive, inductive and abductive arguments respectively;
    4. Identify errors (particularly the classic fallacies) in arguments;
    5. Write clearly structured essays in which arguments are set out, then criticised or defended;
    6. Understand and analyse arguments, both written and spoken;
    7. Engage in argumentation with their peers in a productive and constructive manner.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1-4
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1-7
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    6, 7
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    5, 6, 7
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    7
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    6, 7
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn, How To Think About Weird Things, 7th
    edition (McGraw-Hill, 2014). Earlier editions will suffice.

    1. Please read the course text, How To Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age, by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn, published by McGraw Hill Higher Education. The latest edition is the 7th but any of the 3rd-7th editions will suffice.

    In order to match your reading of the Course text - How to Think about Weird Things by Schick and Vaughn - with the Lecture and Tutorial content, we advise that Ch. 3 (Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird) from the seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth editions, and the Appendix (Informal Fallacies) from the third edition are particularly relevant to the first part of the Course (weeks 1-6). The rest of the book mainly addresses the content of the second part of the course (from week 6). In your second essay, you are required to draw upon Schick and Vaughn but we will explain more about this when the details of the second essay are made available to you. Generally though, the content of Schick and Vaughn will greatly assist you in understanding the course.


    Recommended Resources
    1. The Elements of Reasoning by Ronald Munson and Andrew Black (5th, 6th or 7th edition) or The Elements of Reasoning by Munson, Conway and Black (4th edition).

    The first week of lectures are focussed on recognising and then diagramming simple and complex arguments. The text The Elements of Reasoning by Ronald Munson and Andrew Black has two chapters on this: “Recognising Arguments” and “Analysing Arguments”. These sections are not required reading, but are definitely helpful in understanding the lecture material. There have been several editions of The Elements of Reasoning. Look for the editions that have the two chapters listed above.

    2. There is a copy of the book Science and Unreason by Radner and Radner posted on MyUni. This is an important text for the second essay and for the lectures on pseudo science, both in the second half of the course.
    Online Learning
    Various online resources are provided and employed in the teaching of this course.  Assessment tasks also involve online engagement.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lectures and Tutorials, On-line component

    Each week questions are provided for each tutorial. Students are expected to bring their written answers to each tutorial. Answers are discussed in tutorials and the lecturer provides answers online the week after the relevant tutorial.

    There will be one tutorial which is conducted online at the same time each week; that it, it will not be run in person. The tutor will only run the tute in-person twice: once in mid-semester and once in a revision session at the end of the semester. For the other sessions, the students enrolled in the online tute will engage in discussion online through myuni during the hour of the tutorial. Look out for this tute when enrolling if you prefer not to attend in person. However, this online tute is only recommended for those students who are very confident in their skills regarding the material to be covered. Other students will find attending in person will be very beneficial to their performance in the course.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    2 x 1-hour lectures (or equivalent) per week 24 hours per semester
    1 x 1-hour tutorial (or equivalent) per week 12 hours per semester
    4 hours assignment/exam preparation per week 48 hours per semester
    3 hours tutorial preparation per week 36 hours per semester
    3 hours reading per week 36 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester


     




     

    Learning Activities Summary
    LEARNING ACTIVITIES SUMMARY

    Lecture 1-2: The Structure of Arguments
    We analyse the structure of arguments in ordinary language, including premises and conclusion indicator words. Structure diagrams will be introduced and practiced.

    Lectures 3-6 : Deduction 4 lectures
    Lectures on deduction, in which we look at the difference between valid and invalid arguments and between sound and unsound arguments. We develop several tests for discovering invalid arguments, including analogy, counterexample, and Venn diagrams.

    Lectures 7-12 Evaluating Arguments
    A lecture on language, in which we study quotation marks and definitions is followed by two lectures on the ways in which arguments can go wrong. In these two lectures we identify fallacies or common errors in argument which have been classified over the centuries. These are particularly relevant to reasoning in the media, and to political debates. Then, there is a lecture where we look at ways in which arguments can be good even though they are invalid. Inductive arguments will be studied in relation to discovering the causes of phenomena. Then the role of explanations, and criteria for better or worse explanations, is discussed.
    The last lecture in this section focuses on reason versus emotion: should either be feared?

    Lectures 13-14: Legal Reasoning
    In these lectures the basic distinctions of criminal and civil law are introduced, in the belief that knowledge of these concepts is of benefit to everyone. The key role of analogy is emphasised.

    Lectures 15-16: Science and Pseudo-Science
    We use the tools we have learned in the rest of the course to examine the distinction between science and pseudo-science with a focus on spurious kinds of ‘reasoning’. Subjects for discussion include UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, alien abductions, astrology, and ‘pyramid power’. We also look at some areas where the distinction is more vague (e.g., parapsychology).

    Lectures 17-19: The SEARCH Formula
    We study the link between evidence and conclusion, drawing upon examples in Schick and Vaughn. We focus on inductive and abductive reasoning.

    Lectures 20-22: Cognitive bias and fallacies.
    We consider further ways in which reasoning can go wrong. In particular we focus on common ways in which reasoning can be swayed by implicit bias. We also consider the fallacies philosophers have identified over the centuries. Some of these were covered earlier in the course but we consider these and more in the context of current media, social and political debates. In particular we consider those which have arisen with the advent of social media.

    Lectures 23-24: Rhetoric
    In these lectures on Rhetoric we look specifically at the ways in which associations and stereotypes are exploited to persuade without argument. We examine the use of rhetorical devices in argumentation. When are rhetorical devices a useful tool as opposed to simply a sign of a weak argument? We will analyse certain famous historical speeches in the light of Aristotle’s writing on rhetoric.
    In the last lecture there is some revision, and we will discuss the second essay again and the format of the exam.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Tutorial Small Group Discussion on questions provided online in the previous week.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Essays, Coursework, Exam

    The first essay is worth 15% (week 6) and the second 35% (week 13). If you improve on the second essay, and counting the second essay as worth 50% of your essay mark would improve your overall mark, this is what we will do. But this is only offered to you if you submitted both essays and made a genuine attempt at both.

    The exam is worth 50% and is taken during the exam period at the end of the semester. We provide two practice exams online with answers by week 9. The final exam always follows the format of the practice exams. Also, all questions on the exam are modelled on the questions covered each week in the tutorials. So if you keep up to date with tutorial questions and answers, you will be fine. The exam is open book which means you can bring all your notes. We test your understanding, not your memory.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    1. Please read the course text, How To Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age, by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn, published by McGraw Hill Higher Education. The latest edition is the 7th but any of the 3rd-7th editions will suffice.

    In order to match your reading of the Course text - How to Think about Weird Things by Schick and Vaughn - with the Lecture and Tutorial content, we advise that Ch. 3 (Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird) from the seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth editions, and the Appendix (Informal Fallacies) from the third edition are particularly relevant to the first part of the Course (weeks 1-6). The rest of the book mainly addresses the content of the second part of the course (from week 6). In your second essay, you are required to draw upon Schick and Vaughn but we will explain more about this when the details of the second essay are made available to you. Generally though, the content of Schick and Vaughn will greatly assist you in understanding the course.

    2. The first week of lectures are focussed on recognising and then diagramming simple and complex arguments. The text The Elements of Reasoning by Ronald Munson and Andrew Black has two chapters on this: “Recognising Arguments” and “Analysing Arguments”. These sections are not required reading, but are definitely helpful in understanding the lecture material. There have been several editions of The Elements of Reasoning. Look for the editions that have the two chapters listed above.

    3. There is a copy of the book Science and Unreason by Radner and Radner posted on MyUni. This is an important text for the second essay and for the lectures on pseudo science, both in the second half of the course.
    Assessment Detail
    Essays, Coursework, Exam

    The first essay is worth 15% (week 6) and the second 35% (week 13). If you improve on the second essay, and counting the second essay as worth 50% of your essay mark would improve your overall mark, this is what we will do. But this is only offered to you if you submitted both essays and made a genuine attempt at both.

    The exam is worth 50% and is taken during the exam period at the end of the semester. We provide two practice exams online with answers by week 9. The final exam always follows the format of the practice exams. Also, all questions on the exam are modelled on the questions covered each week in the tutorials. So if you keep up to date with tutorial questions and answers, you will be fine. The exam is open book which means you can bring all your notes. We test your understanding, not your memory.
    Submission
    See the Philosophy Handbook for details
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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