sbccPhilosophy-111 Critical Thinking And Writing:

Course Learning Objectives


"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education."
-Bertrand Russell

Course Student Learning Objectives
Phil-111 Critical Thinking and Writing

Definition of Critical Thinking and Writing:
Critical thinking is the mental discipline of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, constructing and refuting both informal and formal written and oral arguments based on documented, verifiable proof regardless of topic in public discourse or debate. Critical Thinking and Writing is, therefore, the art of valid reasoning applied to the science of sound reasoning.

Critical Thinking and Writing Goals in the Mission of Santa Barbara City College Philosophy Department:
Essential to the mission of the Santa Barbara City College Philosophy Department is the development of student conceptual skills and abilities to make the fewest possible assumptions and presumptions in the process of forming a perception of themselves as a thoughtful, reflective, educated individual within a general social context. Critical thinking and writing as defined above is a necessary condition of fulfilling this mission.

Expected Critical Thinking and Writing Student Learning Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of Phil-111 Critical Thinking and Writing students should be able to:
1. Recognize authentic debatable topics for informal and formal argumentation in oral or written format
2. Recognize informal fallacies in everyday debate and discourse in oral or written format
3. Recognize informal deductive and inductive arguments in oral or written format
4. Identify premises and conclusions in informal arguments in oral or written format
5. Distinguish valid from invalid reasoning forms in oral or written format
6. Recognize and formulate formal deductive and inductive arguments on any debatable topic in any academic discipline
7. Demonstrate the validity of formal arguments through syllogistic reasoning
8. Gather, present and defend verifiable evidence for arguments in oral or written format
9. Distinguish between valid and sound reasoning in oral or written format
10. Formulate, present and defend opposing refutations for both oral and written arguments in any academic discipline or debate

Respectfully submitted by:Mark McIntire
Santa Barbara City College Philosophy Department

Key Concepts and Methods in Critical Thinking & Writing

1. Basic Logical Concepts

This is a broad introduction to the principles of correct reasoning. It explains how propositions are used to form arguments, with premises that support a conclusion. It then moves to a discussion of how such arguments can be analyzed by paraphrasing and diagramming.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Recognize the parts of an argument: premises and conclusion.

2. Distinguish real arguments from mere explanations.

3. Understand the difference between deductive and inductive arguments.

4. Examine the relations between factually true propositions and valid deductive arguments.

5. Understand that the VALIDITY of a deductive argument lies solely in the LOGICALLY NECESSARY relationship between the arguments premises and conclusion.

6. Diagram complex arguments.

7. Use a matrix to help solve complex logical problems.

8. Use retrograde reasoning to reason backward to an earlier situation.

2. The Uses of Language

topic focuses on how an understanding of the functions of language itself is important to logicians. Language is a complex tool; as a logician, you have to ensure that words or discursive forms do not lead you astray.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Understand the three basic functions of language: informing, expressing, and directing.

2. Recognize that language can perform more than one function at a time.

3. Distinguish between grammatical form and logical function.

4. Understand how emotive language can inhibit logical argument.

5. Make distinctions between disagreements in belief and disagreements in attitude.

3. Definitions

This topic describes how definitions are created and how to critique them. You will need to be able to apply the technique of definition to the analysis of disputes.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Distinguish between genuine disputes and merely verbal disputes.

2. Understand the five kinds of definitions, and their uses.

3. Know how to construct denotative definitions and connotative definitions.

4. Identify the varieties of definitions.

5. Apply the five traditional rules of definition by genus and species.

4. Informal Fallacies

You are introduced to the concept of logical fallacies. To fully understand logic, you need to be able to distinguish fallacies from sound reasoning. The text discusses three major types of fallacies: fallacies of relevance, fallacies of presumption, and fallacies of ambiguity.

1. In fallacies of relevance, arguments rely on premises which may seem relevant, but which in fact are not. Such arguments are fallacies because they distract attention away from relevant facts and attempt to prove the truth of their conclusions based on irrelevant information.

2. Fallacies of presumption contain dubious or untrue premises that are simply assumed to be true. You need to be able to see why these assumptions are made, and how to avoid making them—or being taken in by them.

3. In fallacies of ambiguity, reasoning goes wrong because words or phrases within arguments mislead.

5. Categorical Logic

This topic presents the basic elements of classical deductive logic (also called Aristotelian logic). It discusses the four basic standard-form (A, E, I, and O) categorical propositions, the "square of opposition" they engender, and the problems which modern logicians have discovered with this type of logic. It then presents one response to this problem: Boolean logic.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Use the terms distributed, undistributed, quality, and quantity as they apply to logic.

2. Understand the meanings of contraries, contradictories, subcontraries, subalterns, and superalterns.

3. Show how these relations are exhibited in the "square of opposition."

4. Understand the immediate inferences that can be drawn from the square of opposition.

5. Describe the issue of existential import, and explain how it makes Boolean logic necessary.
6. Symbolize categorical propositions with Venn diagrams.

6. Categorical Syllogisms

This topic presents the basics of syllogistic logic. You will learn what standard form categorical syllogisms are, and how to identify their mood and figure. Once you can do this, you will be prepared to understand how, of the 256 possible syllogisms, only 15 are valid.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Identify major, minor, and middle terms.

2. Describe what distribution is.

3. Use Venn diagrams to see if syllogisms are valid.

4. Use the six rules for testing syllogisms.

5. Give the names of the 15 valid syllogisms.

6. Describe how the 15 valid syllogisms can be deduced from the six rules.

7. Ordinary Language Arguments

Most arguments in the real world do not come in the rather stilted, standard form categorical syllogism. topic 7 outlines how real arguments in ordinary language can be translated and converted into forms that make them closer to the standard form—and thus renders them analyzable with the tools you've already learned.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Describe how regular syllogistic arguments differ from standard form categorical syllogisms.

2. Understand how arguments that appear to have more than three terms often really have only three.

3. Translate arguments into standard form to allow them to be tested with Venn diagrams or the rules of syllogisms.

4. Use parameters to translate difficult syllogistic arguments.

5. Identify enthymemes and know how to translate them.

6. Translate hypothetical and disjunctive syllogisms into standard form.

7. See how dilemmas can be used in argument.

8. Symbolic (Propositional) Logic

This topic presents the fundamental concepts of modern symbolic logic. Since the analysis and appraisal of arguments is made difficult by the peculiarities of language, the system of modern symbolic logic was set up to be independent of language. Using a system of artificial symbols, modern symbolic logic attempts to move the analysis of argument directly to the issue of validity, bypassing the vagaries of any specific language.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Use the special symbols: the dot, wedge, horseshoe, curl, and three bars).

2. Understand how these symbols are used to express negation, conjunction, disjunction, material implication, and material equivalence.

3. Use truth tables to test the validity of argument forms.

4. Deal with statement forms, including tautologous, contradictory, and contingent forms.

5. Use logical equivalence and De Morgan's theorems, as well as the principle of double negation.

6. Understand why the paradoxes of material implication are not really paradoxes after all.

7. Discuss the proper place of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle in logic.

9. Rules of Inference in Symbolic Logic

This topic explains the method of deduction in symbolic logic, which proves arguments valid or invalid more efficiently than truth tables. In addition, it introduces a simplified version of the truth table, which can be used to find an invalidating instance of an argument. If such an instance can be found, it is conclusive proof of the argument's invalidity.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Construct a formal proof of validity using the nineteen rules of inference.

2. Understand the difference between the elementary valid argument forms and the logically true biconditionals.

3. Use "The Rule of Replacement" to substitute logical equivalences for each other within statements.

4. Discuss the strange situation that arises when no possible assignment of truth-values permits the premises of an argument to be true at the same time, though such an argument must still be counted valid.

10. Analogical Arguments

This topic moves from the analysis of deductive arguments, which are either valid or invalid, to the evaluation of inductive arguments, which can be highly probable but never absolutely certain. The most common type of inductive argument is argument by analogy. Every analogical argument can be determined to be more or less probable based on just six criteria. Analogies are also powerful tools for refuting both inductive and deductive arguments.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Determine whether an analogy is used as an argument or for another purpose (such as an explanation).

2. Apply the six criteria for determining whether the premises of an analogical argument render its conclusion more or less probable.

3. Refute analogical arguments using logical analogies.

11. Causal Arguments

Causal connections are important and pervasive premises in deductive arguments. This topic will introduce you to the reasons why this type of reasoning is so difficult to analyze and formalize. Central to the problematic nature of causal connections is the concept of causation itself. Most of the topic concentrates on an explication of John Stuart Mill's five methods of experimental inquiry, which are: (a) The method of agreement; (b) The method of difference; (c) The joint method of agreement and difference; (d) The method of residues; (e) The method of concomitant variation.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Discuss the various meanings of "cause."

2. Explain the nature of inductive generalization and the method of simple enumeration.

3. Understand Mill's five methods and apply them to causal relationships.

4. Appreciate the importance of these methods to inquiries of all kinds, including scientific hypotheses.

5. See the limitations in Mill's methods and understand their causes.

12. Mill's 'Scientific Method'

This topic will help you understand how scientific hypotheses are formulated and evaluated. Though even established laws of nature are somewhat hypothetical, there are still good ways to distinguish between fruitful and unhelpful hypotheses.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Understand the practical and other values of scientific inquiry.

2. Distinguish between hypothetical, scientific explanations—which are empirically verifiable—and unscientific, dogmatic explanations.

3. Evaluate hypotheses using the five criteria: Relevance, Testability, Compatibility, Predictive power, and Simplicity.

4. Identify the seven stages of scientific investigation.
5. Understand how crucial experiments are used.

6. Distinguish between different types of ad hoc hypothesis.

7. Recognize how classification is a valuable scientific instrument.

13. Probability

In this topic you will learn that it is often possible to attach quantitative measures to conclusions about probable events. Probability can be conceived of in two alternative ways. When the outcome of an event is due to characteristics of the event being measured, then probability is an a priori conception. When we cannot know in advance what percentage of outcomes will be of a certain type, we take the relative frequency approach. If an event is complex, the probability of its occurrence may still be calculated, using a calculus of probability, as long as the probabilities of its component parts can be determined. You will also learn how to compute expected value, such as the return on investments. You will find that the expected outcomes for many intuitively "sound" bets are not worth it.

After mastering these concepts and methods, you should be able to:

1. Apply both the "relative frequency" and "a priori" theories of probability.

2. Use the calculus of probability, including the product theorem and the addition theorem.

3. Calculate probability based on joint occurrences and alternative occurrences.

4. Compute the expected value of an investment or wager.


14. Refutation

After mastering this topic you will be a critical thinker who can recognize any weakness of validity and/or soundness of any argument on any topic especially the arguments you make in your own life of ideas. You will be able to:

1. Refute weak definitions of terms used in argumentation

2. Refute invalidity in argument formulation

3. Refute weak premises that have insufficient proof to compel necessary logical entailment

4. Propose counter-arguments that fix defects in validity and/or soundness in any argument