Philosophy 102 – Reasoning and Critical Thinking Summer Session

SUMMER SESSION #2 (6/1 - 7/3), 2009
Sec. 2, 9:40AM - 11:10AM
Sec. 3, 11:20AM - 12:50PM
Instructor: Dr. Ron Wilburn
Office Hours: MTWRF 1:00 – 1:30 and by appointment.
Office: CDC Building #4, Room 30 (CDC is the collection of temporary one-story
structures between CBC and BEH -- Link to Interactive Campus Map)
This syllabus is available online at
INTRODUCTION: In this class, I will present to you a practical introduction to strong
argumentation. To this end, we will develop the tools with which to formulate good and effective
More formally, you may think of the course’s aims as follows:
 to teach students the role and importance of arguments
 to teach students to recognize when arguments (as opposed to, say, explanations)
are being offered
 to teach students how to extract and reconstruct arguments from their natural language
 to teach students how to classify arguments by type (deductive, inductive, statistical, causal,
 to teach students how to distinguish between good arguments and bad arguments
Moreover, you may think of the course’s expectations as follows:
 abide by the UNLV code of Student Conduct at
 read the material relevant to each lecture prior to the lecture
 do all of the exercise sets assigned in the text prior to lecture and bring the results to class
(to consult rather than turn in).
 seek help with the exercises from the instructor and classmates as needed
 attend class regularly and in a timely manner
 participate actively and courteously in class discussions
 do chapter quizzes and send the results to the instructor within 48 hours of our in-class
completion of appropriate chapters).
 ask pertinent questions and share pertinent thoughts during lecture
 keep current on what is being covered in class at all times, both by consulting one or more
classmates and by checking this on-line syllabus for updates on a daily basis.
GRADING: There will be 3 to 5 in-class exams, all of equal value. In addition, for each
chapter there is online Tutorial Quiz. You can access these through the text’s companion site.
First go to
I ask that you take these quizzes and email the results to me at [email protected], at
which point I will review and record the results. What this means is that when we have finished
covering a given chapter (by the end of the day we have finished covering it) you are to go to the
publisher’s site and click on that chapter site from the table of contents page. Quickly answer the
Tutorial Quiz questions and send the results to me at [email protected] with the following
in the "section line": “your last name, your first name,102,chapter#” (no spaces, but include the
commas and capitalize everything). Thus if I were sending off the answers to the Tutorial Quiz
Chap. 3 exercises, I would write the following in the “subject line”:
“WILBURN,RON,102,3” This may all sound very picayune, but it really helps me to keep track
of student’s work.
I also require that you look at all of the (starred and unstarred) textbook exercises by the time
that we are scheduled to cover the associated sections in the text. These are not to be turned in.
However, I will choose a subset of these exercises to review in class, generally calling on
volunteers to lead the discussion, but perhaps calling on individual students at random when
volunteers are not forthcoming.
The online quizzes collectively account for 10% of the course grade. The 3-4 in-class exams
(including the final) collectively accounting for 80%. Attendance and participation account for
The following is an explanation of Course Attendance and Participation grading:
A – The student is almost never absent from class and can always be relied upon to make
substantive and insightful contributions to class discussion that reflect a knowledge of assigned
readings and exercises and a knowledge of the subject matter.
B – The student is almost never absent from class and can always be relied upon to
participate constructively in class discussions.
C – The student attends class regularly and can always be relied upon to participate in class
D – The student attends class regularly, but rarely participates in class discussions.
F – The student attends class sporadically and seldom participates in class discussions
TEXTS: Trudy Govier, A Practical Study of Argument, 7th edition (required).
DISSIBILITY SERVICES: The Disability Resource Center (DRC) coordinates all academic
accommodations for students with documented disabilities. The DRC is the official office to
review and house disability documentation for students, and to provide them with an official
Academic Accommodation Plan to present to the faculty if an accommodation is warranted. The
DRC strongly encourages faculty to provide accommodations only if and when they are in
receipt of said plan. Faculty should not provide students accommodations without being in
receipt of this plan.
UNLV complies with the provisions set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, offering reasonable accommodations to
qualified students with documented disabilities. If you have a documented disability that may
require accommodations, you will need to contact the DRC for the coordination of services. The
DRC is located in the Student Services Complex (SSC), Room 137, and the contact numbers are:
VOICE (702) 895-0866, TTY (702) 895-0652, FAX (702) 895-0651. For additional
information, please visit:
FINAL REMARKS: I also require that each student submit a “record page” to help me
recognize who's who. This consists of a letter-size sheet of paper onto which the student has
photocopied some kind of ID that has a picture of him or her on it. This single "record page" is to
be given to me by last day of the first week of class (after which I start taking daily role). After
this, students are automatically counted as "absent" until they have submitted a record page. I
have been very casual about this requirement in the past, often accepting record pages without
penalty up until the fourth week of class. I am changing this policy this semester. To avoid
penalty, students must give me a record page on Friday, June 6th, not after. No exceptions.
Finally, I try to encourage a free and tolerant atmosphere in class. I encourage and expect
questions and challenges at appropriate times during class. I welcome visits to my office. I am
here to help you learn.
AGENDA: Note that I reserve the right to alter any or all portions of this schedule, at my sole
discretion, at any time, and in any manner. When I do this, I will do it for one purpose, i.e.,
recalibrating the class discussions to a more appropriate pace.
Week 1: What is an Argument? (And What is Not?); Pinning Down Argument Structure
Mon, June 1st (Ch. 1)
 Introduction 1
 What is an Argument 1
 Argument and opinion 3
 Argument and indicator words 4
 Where and how do you find arguments? 6
 Why are arguments important? 8
 What isn't an argument? 9
o exercises: pp. 11-13
 Argument and explanation: What’s the difference? 13
exercises: pp. 17-19
Answers to unstarred chapter 1 exercises
Tues, June 2nd (Ch. 2)
 Introduction 22
Standardizing an argument 22
General strategies for standardizing arguments 31
o exercises pp. 32-33
Wed, June 3rd
 Further Tools for Understanding Arguments: Location, Scope, and Commitment 34
 Patterns in Argument 37
o exercises: pp. 39-40
Thurs, June 4th
 Unstated Premises and Conclusions 41
 An Interesting Sideline: The Question of Visual Arguments 48
o exercises: pp. 46-47
 Clarity and Accuracy in Argument Interpretation 51
o exercises: pp. 52-54
Fri, June 5th
 Pre-Exam Review
Answers to unstarred chapter 2 exercises (powerpoint)
Answers to unstarred chapter 2 exercises (word)
Week 2: Exam; Looking at Language
Mon, June 8th
 First In-Class Examination (on Ch. 1 and 2)
 Introduction 57 (Ch. 3)
Tues, June 9th Visual Arguments and Visual Literacy (no reading)
Wed, June 10th
 Language and its Emotional Connotations 58
o exercises: pp. 62-63
 Language and Clarity 64
o exercises: pp. 69-72
Thurs, June 10th
Fri, June 11th
Definitions 72
o exercises: pp. 79-80
An Application: Arguments about What is Natural 80
Answers to unstarred chapter 3 exercises (word)
Week 3: Good Arguments: An Introduction
Mon, June 15th
 Introduction 87
 The ARG Conditions (Ch. 4) 87
 More on the R and G Conditions 88
o exercises: pp. 93-94
Tues, June 16th
 More on the R and G Conditions 88
o exercises: pp. 93-94
Wed, June 17th
 Using the ARG Conditions to Evaluate Arguments
o exercises: pp. 100-103
Thurs, June 18th
 The Significance of Argument Evaluation
 The challenge of argument
o exercises: pp. 106-108
Fri, June 19th
 Evaluating arguments and constructing your own arguments
 The dialectical context
Exam #2 preview
Answers to unstarred chapter 4 exercises (word)
Week 4: Exam #2; Premises: What to Accept and Why
Mon, June 22nd
 Exam #2
 The Dilemma of Premises
Paper Assignment
Tu, June 23nd
 When Premises are Acceptable
exercises: pp. 128-130
Wed, June 24th
 When Premises are Acceptable
o exercises: pp. 128-130
Th, June 25th
 When premises are unacceptable
o exercises: pp., 135-140
Fri, June 26th
 Internet sources
Answers to unstarred chapter 5 exercises (word)
Week 5: Working on Relevance
Mon, June 22nd
 Understanding Relevance
 Relevance and the ARG Conditions
o Exercises: pp. 152-154
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