PHIL102: Logic and Critical Thinking

Course Syllabus for "PHIL102: Logic and Critical Thinking"

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This course provides an introduction to critical thinking, informal logic, and a small amount of formal logic. Its purpose is to provide you with the basic tools of analytical reasoning, which will give you a distinctive edge in a wide variety of careers and courses of study. While many university courses focus on the presentation of content knowledge, the emphasis here is on learning how to think effectively. Although the techniques and concepts covered here are classified as philosophical, they are essential to the practice of nearly every major discipline, from the physical sciences and medicine to politics, law, and the humanities. The course touches upon a wide range of reasoning skills, from verbal argument analysis to formal logic, visual and statistical reasoning, scientific methodology, and creative thinking. Mastering these skills will help you become a more perceptive reader and listener, a more persuasive writer and presenter, and a more effective researcher and scientist. The first unit introduces the terrain of critical thinking and covers the basics of meaning analysis, while the second unit provides a primer in analyzing arguments. All of the material in these first units will be built upon in subsequent units, which cover informal and formal logic, Venn diagrams, scientific reasoning, as well as strategic and creative thinking.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • describe what critical thinking is, and explain why it is valuable;
  • assess the credibility and reliability of sources;
  • distinguish between good and bad definitions, recognize the differences between explicit and implicit meaning, and remove ambiguities of meaning from unclearly worded statements;
  • recognize arguments in writing, evaluate good and bad arguments, and construct sound arguments of your own;
  • diagnose the most common reasoning errors and fallacies as well as identify ways of improving them;
  • describe and apply the basics of sentential and categoricallogic;
  • describe and apply the rudiments of scientific methodology and reasoning;
  • analyze and evaluate arguments using visualization tools; and
  • describe and apply the basics of strategic reasoning and problem solving.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:
√    have access to a computer;
√    have continuous broadband Internet access;
√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);
√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;
√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);
√    be competent in the English language; and
√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to PHIL102: Logic and Critical Thinking. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Course Designer: Professor Nicholaos Jones
Primary Resources: This course comprises a range of different free, online materials. A major resource for the course is the University of Hong Kong’s Critical Thinking Web (HTML), created by Joe Lau and Jonathan Chan.
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials, including the readings, lectures, assessments, discussion forums, and final exam.
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to prepare adequately for this exam, you will need to work through the problem sets within the assessments.
In order to pass this course, you must earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take approximately 72.75 hours to complete. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These advisories should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at the time advisories, to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take you approximately 13.75 hours to complete. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 1.25 hours) on Monday night; subunits 1.2.1 and 1.2.2 (a total of 3.5 hours)on Tuesday night; subunits 1.2.3 and 1.2.4 (a total of 3.5 hours) on Wednesday night; etc.
Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.