PHIL 111 - CRITICAL THINKING & WRITING (3.0 UNITS)
Introduction to the basic principles and elements of logical reasoning, argument analysis, evaluation and refutation, with their application in written expression in all academic disciplines on all debatable issues. (TR: CSU/UC)
*PREREQ: Completion of English 110 with a grade of "C" or better.
I define Critical Thinking as:" The ability to reason cogently, argue validly and to refute soundly using the rules of Logic backed by best available evidence. A Critical thinker has learned how to learn, on any topic, through the science of logic confirmed by best evidence."
NOTE TO ONLINE STUDENTS: To ensure 24-7 course access this course is hosted here on my personal teaching web site at my own expense, and it is also mirrored on SBCC PIPELINE through your SBCC CANVAS student login
REQUIRED TEXT for this course:
Reason Argue Refute
Critical Thinking About Anything
by Mark McIntire
Format: All digital devices: Secure PDF File 242 pages
Publisher: University Village Press 2007
PDF Edition for Current Students
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How to take this course:
A. Follow the links in the Phil-111 right hand panel on the home page on SBCC PIPELINE CANVAS @ https://pipeline.sbcc.edu/cp/home/displaylogin: links on both sites correspond to concepts and web links as assigned according to the syllabus.
B. Research the web sites by topic: visit and apply them to the concepts and methods
C. Read appropriate topics in class textbook and read class notes sent to you via e-mail each Monday morning
D. Process the concepts: analyze what they mean and make them yours by creating examples
E. Prepare for 4 Online exams on CANVAS: Available Friday- Sunday as instructed
F. Prepare for essays: each essay will apply argumentative concepts you learn
G. Write a Term Paper: 6-10 pages, details will be sent to you via e-mail
H. Write a Final Refutation Paper 3 pages for your final exam in this course.
I. Receive your final grade from the SBCC ADMISSIONS AND RECORDS OFFICE
At any time during the course don't wait to get help. Schedule a conference via SKYPE or FACETIME before you get confused and overwhelmed
Orient Yourself :
1. Start by deciding that your success in this course depends solely on your ability to be self-disciplined. If you cannot make this commitment to your responsibilities then you should not take this course.
2. Self-discipline here entails setting up your personal work schedule dedicating at least TWO hours per day for course related work. You will quickly discover that anything less entails falling behind course content understanding, completing assignments, exam preparation and writing your course term paper.
3. Take each concept at a time and process the concept. Memorization by itself will not achieve this goal. To process a concept means to make it part of your life of ideas, to be able to explain it to yourself and to others, to put it to use consistently, and to use it to understand and process the next concept and skill. This course content is CUMULATIVE. You will need to use all previously processed concepts in order to acquire the new concepts and skills in thinking. All exams will require you to sustain a cumulative grasp of the concepts and skills previously processed.
4. Keep a journal of your life of ideas. Understanding what you think you believe and think you know is critical to your success. The 20 DISTINCTIONS FOR CRITICAL THINKERS will help you to start and build your journal. If you apply yourself to your journal each day, then at the end of this course you will have a map of where and how your thinking has progressed.
5. Use the web site resources to comprehend and process the course content by topic. Print them out for study OFFLINE. The primary site, Philosophy Pages can be downloaded in its entirety. Therefore, you can create your own customized text book for this course.
6. Use the text book and the self-quizzes listed by topic on the syllabus. These will prepare you for the online exams. My emails will guide you to these self-quizzes.
7. Start thinking about the topic for your term paper during the first week of this course. You will be required to write a 6-10 page term paper wherein you state and defend a thesis using the concepts of valid and sound reasoning studied during this course.
8. Your compass heading for this course is the following definition of a critical thinker and writer: One who can recognize, analyze, formulate and refute VALID and SOUND arguments on any debatable topic.
9. Each student is individually responsible for completing all assignments on time.
10. Each student must keep and maintain copies of all assignments (email traffic, exams, essays, term paper and written final exam) until they have received their final grade in the course from the SBCC college Admissions and Records department after the semester ends. The official grade for the course comes from the college and not the professor. Save your work.
Course Purpose: Intellectual Self-discipline Using Critical Reasoning and Logic:
Almost every waking moment of our life demands a level of critical thinking. From "Where did I leave the remote?" to "Can I know that God exists?" we reason to figure things out. When we "figure things out", we employ some level of critical thinking, or 'sound reasoning'. If this is true, then why do we need study critical thinking itself? The answer is obvious at a moment's reflection. No one thinks clearly and reasons soundly all the time. We are imperfect beings. We all make mistakes. This is especially true in the uniquely human experience called reasoning. Experience tells us that there is good reasoning and bad reasoning and sometimes most of us can tell the difference. That ability to discern sound reasoning from its opposite is what we call critical thinking. The ability to compose and write valid reasoning in a sound, intelligible and convincing manner is called critical writing. It's the manual that should have come with your brain. The main objective of this course is to discipline our selves to do both at the same time. To achieve this purpose we will make an informal study of logic and empirical proof then we will apply that to what you write in this class. We will explicate the differences between logic and rhetoric and the functions both have in the process of critical thinking and writing.
Course Content: Valid and Sound Reasoning
Most academic disciplines employ "reasoning" in order for teaching and learning to occur. Perhaps you have already been trained to reason mathematically, psychologically, historically or even artistically. But unless you have studied logic, you have not been trained in the purest form of human reasoning; the structure and function of reasoning itself. Unless you study logic you may never discover valid reasoning as opposed to invalid reasoning. Valid reasoning is necessary for knowledge to lead you to "truth". That's precisely what logic is, the study of those principles, forms and laws that govern correct reasoning. Mastery of logic enables you to think clearly and correctly no matter what subject you are investigating or writing about. If you apply yourself to the study of logic, all of your other academic studies and professional career pursuits will benefit.Very few other courses can offer that.
Like other good things in life, success in critical thinking does not come easily. In this course the study of logic begins with the study of formal arguments both written and verbal. Students will examine the formal structure of logically valid and sound arguments as opposed to logically invalid and unsound arguments. Both formal and informal fallacies will be identified. The distinction between logical validity and factual truth will be studied. Students will be required to both analyze the arguments of others and construct arguments of their own during each class session, on class quizzes, examinations and a term paper. Topics for these arguments will be selected from real life tasks and experiences of each student. If you apply yourself assiduously in this course your critical thinking and writing skills will dramatically improve.