Philosophy | Thinking and Reasoning
P105 | 3364 | Tropman


What makes some arguments better than others?  Consider the following
bit of reasoning:  “There has never been intelligent life on Mars.
This is because if satellite photographs show traces of abandoned
towns and cities on the surface of Mars, then there was once
intelligent life on that planet.  But unfortunately, the photos show
no sign of abandoned towns or cities on the surface of the planet.”
What is the structure of this argument?  Why should this argument fail
to persuade you of the truth of its conclusion?  In other words, why
isn’t the above argument a good one?


This course will explore such questions by introducing students to the
basic elements of informal logic.  Our main focus will be the
recognition, analysis, and evaluation of everyday arguments using
methods from informal logic.  Students will learn how to identify
arguments and their structure; detect informal fallacies; test
arguments for validity using informal proofs, counterexamples, and the
tableaux test; diagram complex arguments; evaluate the overall
goodness of an argument.

Students will be asked to complete a number of short homework
assignments, often one for each class meeting, occasional quizzes, two
in-class exams, and a final examination.