Philosophy | Thinking and Reasoning
P105 | 3566 | Werner


Every day, usually without even realizing it, we engage in many
different kinds of reasoning.  What’s more, we are continually
immersed in the reasoning (or lack therof) of other people, and we
are quite often asked to accept certain claims as true.  But have you
ever wondered what distinguishes good reasoning from bad reasoning?
Have you ever been in the midst of a heated argument, but wished that
you could express your point in a more clear and logical way?  Have
you ever wanted to become a more analytical and critical thinker?  If
the answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, then this course may
be for you.

This course is a study of arguments.  We encounter arguments all the
time, often without even knowing it: from our parents, the mass media
(especially television), politicians, clergy, and even professors.
It can often be quite difficult, however, to distinguish good
arguments from bad arguments.  Using the basic elements of informal
logic, students in this course will gain some of the necessary
conceptual tools to be able to effectively deal with everyday
arguments.  We will focus on the recognition, analysis and evaluation
of arguments.  Students will be exposed to the following techniques:
the identification of arguments and their structure; the construction
of argument diagrams; the testing of validity through informal
proofs, counter-examples, and tableaux; and various methods of
fallacy recognition.  Real-life examples will be given from such
sources as advertisements and newspaper editorials.

There will be frequent homework assignments, occasional quizzes,
several in-class exams, and a final examination.