PHIL 110-42 – Introduction to Critical Thinking
Department of Philosophy
San Francisco State University
TTH, 12:35-1:50 pm
Instructor: Ashlie Meredith
Office Hrs: TW 2:00 – 3:00 pm, or by appointment
Office: Hum 391 A
ABOUT THE COURSE
“If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all” -Carl Sagan. “The Burden of Skepticism”
“For various reason most people get so caught up in everyday affairs that their astonishment at the world gets pushed into the background… a philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable--bewildering, even enigmatic”
-Jostein Gaarder Sophie’s World
In this class we will be building the tools necessary to critically think about the world around us. We will learn what arguments are and how to tell the difference between the good and the bad; we will do formal logic exercises that will show us how to make and analyze arguments with scientific precision; we will explore what science has to offer and what sort of access we can have to “truth”. Most importantly we will learn how to avoid biased and unreasonable thinking in the hopes of making better decisions on what to believe and what to do about those beliefs.
This course satisfies the following General Education requirement: A3: Critical Thinking.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
We will also be reading philosophical literature, logic texts, psychological studies, and news articles--all of which I will make available on iLearn:
This course relies heavily on group discussions and working through exercises in the classroom. Therefore, attendance will be correlated to your grade regardless of an official attendance grade. However, your dedication to attending class will help you earn a percentage of your final grade. You are permitted 1 absence no questions asked, after which each absence will cost you 15 pts.
Your homework is to do the assigned readings and turn in either (1) a discussion question based on the reading (2) a response to a question posed on iLearn regarding a particular reading, or (3) worksheets, presentations, and exercises done in class. Homework is graded credit/no credit and will be worth 10 pts each.
There will be two, non-comprehensive quizzes given throughout the course. They will cover the terms and concepts most recently covered in class and be worth 100pts each.
Final Project/Library Research/Civic Engagement Assignment
Your final project will be a multi-stage report in which you utilize library resources to identify an issue that affects our community, evaluate information and sources to determine causes and possible solutions to the problem, and cite those sources appropriately. I will be encouraging you to start thinking about this project early in the semester. Your final report will require that you explain how the tools of critical thinking discussed throughout the course influenced both the issue you chose and the solutions proposed.
The course grade will be based on 900 total points, distributed as follows:
If you are going to be absent for an extended period of time due to illness, family emergency or religious observance, speak with me as much in advance as possible. Please be ready to provide proof. Absences for university required events will also be excused. Quizzes and Exams are scheduled far in advance and cannot be missed or made up unless prior arrangements are made with me.
We all know how to get where we need to be in a timely matter. However, emergencies do happen, so if you’re going to come to class late, please do so QUIETLY.
Late work will not be accepted unless arrangements are made with me in advance due to extenuating circumstances, illness, family emergency, etc. If you must miss class please email me your homework BEFORE class begins, otherwise I will not grade it.
Did you know you can turn your cell phone on “airplane mode”? Your phone can stay on but it won’t receive any calls or texts! Please no cell phone use in class, if I hear your phone go off I will ask you to leave. Laptops are allowed, but keep in mind that checking your Facebook is extremely distracting for the students next to you.
Students with disabilities who need reasonable accommodations are encouraged to contact the me. The Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) is available to facilitate the reasonable accommodations process. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone: voice/TTY 415-338-2472 or by email: email@example.com.
Plagiarism is a form of cheating or fraud; it occurs when a student misrepresents the work of another as his or her own. Any assignment found to be plagiarized will be given an "F" grade. A second instance of plagiarism will result in an “F” for the course. All instances of plagiarism in the College of Humanities will be reported to the Dean of the College, and may be reported to the University Judicial Affairs Officer for further action.
The Learning Assistance Center
The Learning Assistance Center (LAC) provides free, on-campus writing tutoring for SF State students. It offers both one-time and ongoing tutoring sessions, with some same day appointments available. For more information and to schedule an appointment, see http://www.sfsu.edu/~lac/index.html.
Campus Safety & Title IX
SF State fosters a campus free of sexual violence including sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or any form of sex or gender discrimination. If you disclose a personal experience as an SF State student, the course instructor is required to notify the Dean of Students. To disclose any such violence confidentially, contact: The SAFE Place - (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/ Counseling and Psychological Services Center - (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/
Tasks labeled [READ] and [TURN IN] are readings and assignments to be completed before class time on the date listed
What is Philosophy?
Introduction, Syllabus, iLearn, Belief Exercise
Plato’s Cave, Ch 1 “What is Critical Thinking” Lecture, Ex 1.2-1.4 in class
What Can We Know?
Ch 2 “Obstacles to Critical Thinking” Lecture, Ex 2.2 in class
*DROP DEADLINE IS SEPT 4*
READ: Descartes's Meditations, TURN IN: Discussion Questions “Skepticism vs. Incredulity” Lecture
What is an Argument?
Ch 3 “Argument Basics” Lecture, Ex 3.3 in class
READ: Teller Ch 2, Ex 2-2 a-j, 2-3 a-e in class
Transcribing and Truth Tables
Ch 6 “Propositional Logic” Lecture, Ex 6.1, 6.3, 6.4 in class
Teller Ch 4 “Conditionals” Lecture, Ex 4-2 (a-e)
Logical Equivalence, Contradiction, Truths
READ: Teller Ch 3 Lecture, Ex 3-2 (a-e), Review for QUIZ
**QUIZ: LOGIC & ARGUMENTS**
What is Science?
“Science vs. Wonder” Video, Ch 10 “Scientific Arguments” Lecture, Ex 10.2 in class
READ: “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science”, TURN IN: Discussion Question
Ch 8 “Induction” Lecture, Ex 8.1 & 8.4 in class
“Necessary vs. Sufficient” Lecture & Worksheet
How Does Thinking Go Wrong?
“The Asch Effect”, Ch 5 “Fallacies” Lecture, Ex 5.1 in class
“More Fallacies” Lecture & Exercises
How Reliable are Our Senses?
*CREDIT NO CREDIT DEADLINE IS OCT 19*
“Identifying Fallacies” game. “The McGurk Effect” video, Ch 4 “Fooling Ourselves Lecture”
TURN IN: Advertisement response, Ex 4.2 in class
Is There Such a Thing as Fate?
“Free-will vs. Determinism” Lecture, Astrology Experiment, “Cosmos” Video
**QUIZ: INDUCTION & FAULTY REASONING**
Who are You?
READ: “Names”, TURN IN: Discussion Questions
“White Privilege and Male Privilege”. Written Response
What is the Right Thing to Do?
Ch 11 “Evaluating Moral Arguments” Lecture, Ex 11.4 in class
READ: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics TURN IN: Discussion Questions
Ethics Debate Projects
Group work analyzing issues and preparing arguments. **TOPIC DUE FOR FINAL PROJECT**
Three 20 minute Debates
Nov 24 & 26 FALL RECESS - NO CLASS
What is the Purpose of the State?
TURN IN: Ethical Research Assignment. “Hobbes: Leviathan” Lecture
“Aristotle’s Politics” Lecture **PRELIMINARY PROPOSAL DUE**
Political Engagement Final Projects
Extra Credit Presentations
Dec 15 10:45 am-1:15 pm
Papers due on iLearn or in my office at the end of this period.
*Subject to change