PHILOSOPHY 25 Critical Thinking - SPRING SEMESTER 2010


Section 4971

Friday 8:40 – 11:50 a.m.

Bldg C 301

Instructor: Kate Carpenter

Office Hours and Communication:  Besides talking to me before or after class, you can communicate with me by email or you can set up an appointment.


Social Sciences Division phone: 626-585-7248


TEXT:  Moore, Brooke Noel, & Richard Parker.  Critical Thinking, Ninth Edition (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2009). Available at PCC Bookstore. (Eighth Ed. is OK.)



The goal of this course is to develop your critical thinking skills with a special emphasis on understanding and evaluating arguments.  The skills developed in this class will help you in other course work and permit you to analyze the types of reasoning used in our daily lives.  By the end of the course, you will have improved your ability to recognize and respond to arguments in a variety of contexts. The course also seeks to develop your ability to integrate the principles of critical thinking with the techniques of effective written argument; 6,000 to 8,000 words will be required during the semester.



Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Assess, in written form, the strength of the connection between premises and conclusions, evaluating whether conclusions follow from or are supported by premises.
  2. Distinguish between inductive and deductive reasoning.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to understand the relationship between language and logic, and recognize and explain propaganda, pseudo-science and stereotyping.
  4. Distinguish fact from opinion, and knowledge from belief.
  5. Analyze and evaluate, in written form, the assumptions and implications of arguments from diverse sources.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to recognize the most common formal and informal logical fallacies.
  7. Identify, in written form, both ambiguity and vagueness, distinguish between the two, and be able to rectify errors in reasoning.
  8. Present arguments and be able to refute poorly reasoned arguments using a variety of techniques.
  9. Construct a well-organized, sustained written argument advocating a position on a current issue.  






Class attendance and Tardiness:  Attendance is mandatory, and I will take role every day.  I will also record tardiness.  You are expected to come to class ON TIME and stay in class until the end.  Those who arrive late or leave early, without authorization from me, may be considered absent.  It is your responsibility to notify me if you arrived late.  The course includes a significant amount of terminology and conceptual detail, plus I supplement the text and deviate from it as needed. 

Homework:  Readings and problems assigned from the text or other sources.  Students are required to come to class prepared to discuss the day’s homework assignment.  You have a participation grade in this class.  Bring the textbook to class every day.

Written assignments:  Three short editorial or opinion pieces from the LA or NY Times will be given, each worth 10 pts.  You must demonstrate your understanding of the issue discussed and given the argument in a concise, standardized form.  

A 4- to 5-page evaluative essay is due in Week 8, and is worth 50 pts.  A 4- to 5-page position paper is due in Week 16, the week BEFORE the final exam, and is worth 50 pts. 

Four quizzes:  4 quizzes will be given, approximately every three weeks.  Each quiz is worth 50 pts.

Final exam:  The final exam will be given on 6/18 and is worth 50 pts.


4 quizzes                                                                                                          = 200 pts

Final exam                                                                                                        =   50 pts

3 LA or NY Times written assignments                                                             =   30 pts

Evaluative essay                                                                                                =   50 pts

Position paper                                                                                                  =   50 pts

Class attendance, homework, and participation                                     =   20 pts 

                                                                                                                           400 pts  


GRADING:  Letter grades will be assigned according to points achieved cumulatively on the four quizzes, final exam, written assignments, and attendance/homework/

participation.  A = 360-400 points; B = 320-359 points; C = 280-319 points; D = 240-279 points; F = 239 and below. 


Make-up policy for homework and quizzes:  Homework and written assignments must be turned in on time, and all quizzes must be taken on the dates assigned for the entire class.  Any exceptions must be approved by the instructor in advance.  I permit students to make up only ONE quiz at a later date.


STUDENT/INSTRUCTOR RESPONSIBILITIES FOR LEARNING:  Please get the telephone number or email of a classmate in order to keep up on course progress and assignments if you must be absent.  I prefer not to respond to emails asking what the current assignment is—this is your responsibility.  However, I will respond to emails that ask for clarification of a concept discussed in class, to set up an appointment, or to tell me you will be absent.


It is up to you, the student, to pay close attention, clear up any confusion, and communicate any learning problems to me.  I take teaching seriously, and I will help you IF YOU ASK ME.  I will also be willing to stop the class to clarify any instruction that is not clear to you.  Don’t wait until the class is almost over to get help.  If you don’t speak up about your needs, then you must also take responsibility for any learning-related problems you are having.


ETHICS POLICY:  Any form of cheating, copying, or plagiarizing is prohibited and punishable by immediate dismissal from the course or failure of the course or assignment, as determined by me.  Don’t take any chances.  If you have questions about what should be documented and cited for your written assignments, please ask.


CLASS SCHEDULE: This is a guide only; content may be added, removed, or revised.


Wk 1:  2/26      Chap 1 Critical Thinking Basics

Identifying arguments (premises, conclusions)

Identifying nonarguments (explanations, persuasive passages)

                        Standardizing simple arguments


Wk. 2:  3/5       Chap 2 Two Kinds of Reasoning

                        Unstated premises and conclusions

Standardizing complex arguments

Clarifying an argument’s structure

            Deduction and induction

Hand-out LA Times assignment and discuss 


Wk 3:   3/12     Deduction and induction cont.              

            Chapter 10 Three Kinds of Inductive Arguments

                        Inductive syllogisms, inductive generalizing, and

                        inductive arguments from analogy         

(LA or NY Times assignment 1 due)


Wk 4:  3/19      Deduction and induction cont.       

QUIZ 1 (Chaps 1, 2 and 10, plus handouts)


Wk 5:  3/26      Chap 4 Credibility

                        Criteria for acceptability of a claim

                        Criteria for unacceptability of a claim

Hand-out Evaluative Essay assignment and discuss         

(LA or NY Times assignment 2 due)


Wk 6:  4/2        Analyzing arguments for cogency (handout)


Wk 7:  4/9        Chap 3 Clear Thinking, Critical Thinking, and Clear Writing

Language use: vagueness and ambiguity

QUIZ 2 (Chap 4 and handouts—analysis of an argument for cogency)     



Wk 8:  4/16      Language use: defining terms

                        (Evaluative Essay due)

            Chap 5 Persuasion through Rhetoric


            4/23     NO CLASS (Spring Break)


Wk 9:  4/30      Chap 6 More Rhetorical Devices: Psychological and Related Fallacies

                        (LA or NY Times assignment 3 due)


Wk 10: 5/7      Chap 6 Fallacies cont.

QUIZ 3 (Chaps 3, 5 and 6)                


Wk 11: 5/14     Hand-out Position Paper assignment and discuss          

Chap 7 More Fallacies


Wk 12: 5/21     Chap 8 Deductive Arguments: Categorical Logic

                        Categorical Propositions

                        Quality, Quantity, and Distribution

                        Venn Diagrams


Wk 13: 5/28     Translation into Standard Form


Wk 14: 6/4       Translation cont.          

                        QUIZ 4 (Chaps 7 and 8)        


Wk 56: 6/11     The Square of Opposition

                        Three Categorical Operations  

                        (Position Paper due)


Wk 16: 6/18     FINAL EXAM (Chap 8)

8:00 - 10:00 a.m.