COURSE:        Practical Reasoning 7

TEACHER:        Ted Spear


Course Description

The overall purpose of the Practical Reasoning program at Island Pacific School is to give students an introduction to the fundamentals of reasoning. In so doing, I am mindful of Martha Nussbaum’s caution that, in teaching students to ask certain questions, we do not encourage them to be “insolent without being wise”.  In this course we will begin with the basics: types of claims, argument structure, and informal fallacies. Depending on class interest and ability, we may then concentrate more on the problem of defending evaluative claims. Students completing this course should have the ability to distinguish between empirical, conceptual, and evaluative claims; understand the basic structure of deductive and inductive arguments; and be able to recognize 4-5 standard fallacies. They should also have an introductory sense that it matters what types of claims we make and how well we support them.

Year Overview

I will meet with the students for one 45 minute block each week over the course of the year, for a total of almost 25 hours of class-time.  I will begin with an examination of their understanding of “the basics” and will expand on certain sections depending on their interest and ability.

Resources & Materials

Students will be using individual duotang workbooks with material I have created over the years. I will likely augment this with external sources, if applicable. Students will need to bring their workbooks, a pen, and a sharp mind to this class.


Students will be assessed on the course material indicated above. They will also be continually guided and corrected—in the context of class interactions—to be precise, clear and consistent in their thinking.