Note:  There are several letters below for each of the classes I teach during the fall 2015 semester.  Please be sure to scroll down to the view the appropriate letter for your particular class section.

Note that your class will NOT appear in your list of Blackboard courses and be available in Blackboard at bb9.canyons.edu until the first day of the semester

 

Students that do not sign into the course and complete the instructions on the first day of class will be dropped from the class, per COC policy.

 

 

 

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PHILOS 106 ONLINE: CRITICAL REASONING

SECTIONS 17046 (8/24-9/26) AND 17054 (8/24-10/17)

 

COC FALL 2015

Logic is the art of making truth prevail." -- Le Bruyere , from .Characters

"Language is a form of human reason and has its reasons which are unknown to man" --
Claude Levi-Strauss

"The unexamined life is unworth living." -- Socrates, as recorded by Plato in his Apology

Professor: Dr. Andrew Jones-Cathcart

Office: On-line (Essentially, students will contact me through Blackboard e-mail, discussions, and chat (if applicable). In addition, students may visit me during my office hours on the COC main campus. These will be posted at the start of the semester.)

E-mail: Please email me within the course via Blackboard mail (Click on Blackboard E-mail - Click on Messages, Browse to select).
(If necessary, I can also be reached by email at
andrew.jones-cathcart@canyons.edu. 

WHEN SENDING E-MAIL TO MY CANYONS.EDU ADDRESS, MAKE SURE YOU SPECIFY YOUR NAME, CLASS, AND SECTION NUMBER SOMEWHERE IN YOUR E-MAIL OR SUBJECT LINE.)


DESCRIPTION

Are you a good thinker? Are you certain that the reasons you have for believing what you do are good ones? How can you tell? What sets you apart from those whom you might see as “bad” or “irrational” thinkers?

Certainly, all of us have different opinions on a wide variety of subjects, whether they have to do with moral and political problems (e.g. reproductive rights, gay marriage, the justification to go to war), religious questions, (e.g. “Only Jesus saves,” “There is no God”), aesthetic concerns (e.g. “That haircut looks horrible on you!”, “ Picasso is a great painter”), and general issues in our culture (e.g. “The First Amendment protects my right to burn the flag during war time,” “No one should eat meat,” or “Buy Crest: it’s better!”). These opinions are not just conveyed through personal contact, but also through books, political pamphlets, advertisements, lobbying, telemarketing, e-mails, radio and television broadcasts, movies, and video games. But whose opinions should we believe and why? Is it the case that every person’s opinion is just as good as another’s? Or is there a way of differentiating between good and bad opinions? What, if anything, might help us figure out which opinions to accept and which to disregard? How do we avoid being taken advantage of in our everyday lives?

Generally, good critical thinking requires that our beliefs be adequately supported by good evidence. Another way of putting this is to say that we ought ideally to base our convictions on facts, not hearsay, arguments and not irrational conjecture or feeling.

This course aims to develop our critical thinking skills and help us understand what it means to be a rational being in an increasingly complex and confusing world. We will look at the different--and sometimes confusing ways--we use language to think, reason, and communicate. We will learn various techniques to read and analyze English language texts, e.g. newspapers, letters to the editor, court decisions, etc. In particular, we will become more adept at identifying and critically evaluating different types of arguments (both deductive and inductive) which are often used to influence our numerous beliefs about the world. In addition, we will spend a good deal of time studying examples of bad reasoning (formal and informal fallacies) so that we might not only become more efficient at spotting other people's bad reasoning, but also so that we can begin to recognize (and overcome) our own. We will also gain a general understanding of the different ways in which reasoning is used in different fields of study, such as law, politics, and the various sciences.

REQUIRED TEXT

Bassham et al. Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction. 5th Ed. McGraw Hill,, 2012. 

Other required texts will be assigned as handouts, webpages, etc.

Note: The Bassham text has a web-component which we will be using: http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073407437/information_center_view0/.  (This is actually the fourth edition site, which is openly accessible.)

Some homework assignments will be accessible through this website.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOME

Apply critical thinking standards to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments, and better arguments from worse. This will involve being able to distinguish common fallacies (mistakes in reasoning) encountered in everyday life, and the ability to articulate the mistake.

 

Course Objectives:

  1. Measure the important role critical thinking plays in everyday decision making.
  2. Define basic logical concepts such as argument, validity, invalidity, deduction, induction, etc.
  3. Categorize language-related problems that commonly occur within arguments (e.g., ambiguity, vagueness, equivocation, inflammatory language, etc.).
  4. Recognize arguments in the media, newspapers, political speeches, and college course curriculum, and will be able to assess the acceptability of the premises, their relevance to the conclusion, and the extent to which they support that conclusion.
  5. Consider an argument encountered in everyday life, and will be able to construct a sustained argument or critical essay in response, using critical thinking standards.

Students will be expected to apply these critical thinking skills in their writing and to construct a thesis offering evidence in support of their thesis in various writing assignments in this course.

 

 

 

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PHILOS 101, INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY, SECTION 17020

 

FALL 2015, AUGUST 24 - SEPTEMBER 26

 

Dr. Andrew Jones-Cathcart
College of the Canyons
Philosophy Department

Note: Although students should usually contact me through the Blackboard email contained within the course, should problems arise please contact me at andrew.jones-cathcart@canyons.edu 

(SENDING E-MAIL TO MY CANYONS.EDU ADDRESS, MAKE SURE YOU SPECIFY YOUR NAME, CLASS, AND SECTION NUMBER SOMEWHERE IN YOUR E-MAIL OR SUBJECT LINE.)

 

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

Course Description 

This course will introduce you to philosophical reasoning and the kinds of problems that have fascinated philosophers for well over 2500 years. These problems can be grasped most easily in the form of different questions which philosophers ask about the world and try to answer in a rational manner. Examples of these sorts of questions include:

  • What is the nature of reality? What makes something real? How can I know that what seems to me is not an illusion?
  • Do I have free will? Am I responsible for my decisions, or is my conduct predestined or programmed like a robot or a computer?
  • What is truth? How do I know that something is true? Is anything; ever absolutely true (or false), or is truth a social construction, i.e. something created by our social circumstances?
  • What is the relation between the mind and the body? Is there a "soul"? Does "soul" exist after the body perishes? How do I know that other minds or people exist?
  • Am I the same person I was ten years ago or the same person I will be ten years from now? What makes me a person (or a self) in the first place?
  • Is anything ever right or wrong absolutely? Is it ever right (or wrong)to judge other people's choices? What makes an action good or bad in a moral sense? Can we ever know that an action is morally good or bad?
  • What is the relation between religious faith and reason? Is there a god? Is it possible to prove that God exists? If an all powerful, all good God does exist, then why is there evil and suffering in the world?
  • Does life have a meaning, or is it a meaningless absurdity?

 

These questions have proved to be difficult to resolve to any satisfactory degree in other disciplines, such as the natural sciences, mathematics, and social sciences, which you may have studied already or will study in the future. Nevertheless, these are the sorts of questions which human begins have always asked out of a sense of philosophic wonder or curiosity, and as long as human beings exist, there will be a need to go on looking for answers to questions such as these.

Philosophy is the rational search for a resolution to these questions, and in this class we shall look at a number of philosophical readings which attempt to resolve some of them. In particular, we shall concentrate on three major areas of philosophy: epistemology (which asks what knowledge is and how we know anything at all), metaphysics (which asks about the nature of reality), and ethics (which asks about the nature of morality).

The readings will be drawn from a variety of contemporary as well as historical sources. Although the bulk of the readings are from the Western philosophical canon, whenever possible, we shall point out similarities and differences between Western and Eastern traditions. Thinkers and historical periods in philosophy typically explored in this course include: ancient philosophy (Socrates and Plato), mediaeval philosophy (Anselm and Thomas Aquinas), modern philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Paley, Holbach, Kant), late modern/nineteenth-century philosophy (Mill, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche), and twentieth-century/contemporary philosophy (James, Stace, Russell, Taylor, Benedict, Rachels, Lamont, Moreland, Churchland, and Searle).

Required Texts

1. Robert Arp and Jamie Carlin Watson.  Philosophy Demystified.  McGraw-Hill, 2011.  978-0-07171766-3

2. Lavine, T.Z. From Socrates to Sartre. New York: Bantam Books, 1989. (ISBN = 0553251619)

Other readings will be accessible as online links.
 

Overall Student Learning Outcome

Evaluate (using rational argument) competing philosophical views in order to synthesize and justify their own philosophical viewpoints in relation to the philosophical questions that are being investigated.


 Grading, Expectations, and Requirements


 TESTS (total = 350 points) 

-Test 1 - September 4-5 (100 points) 

-Midterm - September 18-19 (100 points)

-Final - September 25-26 (150 points)

The final is cumulative.  (Note note that all material on exams must be in your own words.  No copying or pasting from sources.)

 

Papers:  100 points total

-Paper #1 - September 1 (40 points)

-Paper #2 - September 23 (60 points)
 

Class Discussions, Class Participation -- 50 points.  There will be five discussions this semester, each of which will be valued at 10 points. 

Discussion Dates:  August:  26-28; September:  2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25
 

(Note:  Participation in discussions is expected during the whole discussion period.  Do not begin to post on the last day.)

The Demystified textbook contains quizzes at the ends of each chapter, as well as a practice final.  Doing these is not part of the grade, but they are useful study aids.

 

Total Points = 500

See your course schedule and announcements for further instructions and details, including specific dates.

 

Some Advice on Taking On-line Courses

Some students think that taking a course on-line is preferable to taking a "real" course, i.e. one where you actually have to show up several times a week at a physical location on campus. For this reason, on-line courses are perceived as being more "flexible" or "student-friendly." Although it is true that on-line course are more convenient in this sense, it is a misconception to believe that on-line courses are easier than normal courses or that they require less work. In fact, in some cases the opposite is true, since you do not have the benefit of being in an actual classroom setting where the instructor and your classmates are by your side helping you learn the material through lectures and class participation. Ideally, what a good on-line course should do (and what we will do in this course) is to find ways of reproducing these elements found in the normal classroom situation in an electronic format. This means that in place of an actual "physical" class discussion and meetings, we will have other tasks, such as participating in threaded discussions and handing in various exercises. So please do not forget that this is a real course

E-mail Response

M-F, I will typically check my Blackboard e-mail once a day. You can usually expect a response within 24-48 hours of sending me mail. This will vary to some extent, however, depending on the nature of your question, e.g. how complex, urgent, or technical it is. In many cases, I will need to work on technical problems with the course in order to effectively to answer some questions, e.g. 'Why won't the site let me take the exam?' or 'Is this hyperlink supposed to work?' In any case, I will always try to get back to you as quickly as I can, and prior to exam times, you can be sure that the turn-around time will always be as quick and efficient as possible (teachers have to sleep too sometimes!). Weekends will tend to be slightly slower and you can be assured that you will hear back from me bright and early Monday morning. The main thing is not to panic if you don't immediately hear back from me. I will get to your questions and concerns in the order I receive them and be assured that we will work out whatever the problem is regardless of timing or other restraints.

A Word About Pacing

Some web-based courses are designed to allow students to pace themselves, i.e. each student decides when he or she will take an exam or complete an assignment and determines how fast (or slowly) to work through the material. This is NOT the way this course is designed. There are two good reasons for this. First, this course requires participation in discussions, and this means that each of us needs to be as up to date as possible with the course materials in order to participate effectively. Consequently, we all need to stay focused and not fall behind. And second, this is the sort of material that is best learned through constant practice and repetition , and this means that following a homework, reading, and testing schedule is the best way to insure that we all learn the material as effectively as possible.

Caution

Philosophy is a difficult subject to learn, and these readings require very careful reading (and re-reading). Although some of the assignments may appear short or easy, students are forewarned that simply passively reading assignments without taking notes, logging in to class, asking questions, and reflecting on the content are not sufficient for doing well in the class.

Time Management and Technical Ability

Normally, I require students to sign in at least 3-4 times a week. Since this is a compressed summer class, students ought to check into the course and, in particular, check their e-mail, noting any changes in the schedule, at least 4-5 times per week. Students are expected to spend a good 2 hours inside the course reading lectures, getting assignments, participating in discussions, and asking questions. (In many cases, students will of course simply print out lectures and read them at other times.) In addition to spending time inside the course itself, students will need to spend several hours each week reading your textbook, studying for quizzes and completing their assignments (just like any other 3 credit course). This adds up to 3-6 hours a week that you need to have consistently free each week to succeed in this course. We keep to a weekly schedule in this course. I do not accept late work. So please plan accordingly.

You will need to have some computer and online technical ability to do this course. You will also need to have Microsoft Word software (or know how to save a file in Works as an .rtf (rich text file)). Students must know or be able to learn minimally the following things:

1. Be able to log into and out of the course.
2. How to attach, upload and download documents.
3. How to identify, open, and close links within the course. This is so important. Students must take the initiative to really explore the entirety of the course and be able to find the assignments, and information necessary to follow and keep up with the rest of the class.
4. How to e-mail and receive e-mail within the course (Blackboard E-Mail). You will need to be able to open, read and respond to the e-mails I send you.
5. How to post, read, and respond to multiple discussion boards within the course.
6. How to take on-line quizzes and exams.
7. Understand a minimum amount of HTML computer language in order to build a web-page.

I have had many first time on-line students. It is absolutely possible for all of you to learn all the technical things necessary to succeed in this course. It will take some effort and patience on your part and most importantly you must not give up! I am available along with technical support to get you through all your on-line technical difficulties. You CAN do it! If you have no computer or on-line ability then this is not the course for you.

The tasks which you are required to complete upon beginning the course, walk you step-by-step through most of the technical aspects of the course. If you can get through all the tasks listed and feel reasonably confident that you can replicate them on your own then you should do fine in this course (on a technical level).

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a disability or any other special condition should immediately contact the appropriate person in Disabled Student Programs and Services (D.S.P.S.) in SCOH-103 in order to obtain a letter of accommodation to be presented to the instructor. Please do this at the beginning of the semester. D.S.P.S. can also be reached via phone at (661) 362-3341. Other information may be obtained here.

Policy Regarding Late Work and Make-Ups

I will not accept late work. This is non-negotiable. I just don't do it. I won't grade or look at any work that is dated late or turned in after its due date. Paper and discussion due dates will be posted at the beginning of the semester so plan accordingly and know now that if turned in late you will not receive a grade.

Academic Dishonesty

No form of academic dishonesty, e.g. cheating, plagiarism, etc., will be tolerated. Here is the COC statement on academic dishonesty: http://www.canyons.edu/Faculty/jonesa/coc_statement_on_academic_integr.htm

 

If you do not understand what constitutes dishonesty in an academic setting, please consult your instructor. Here is a recommended internet link resource about one form of academic dishonesty, plagiarism:

http://gcc.glendale.edu/library/research/plagiarism.html   

This link is included here because every student is expected to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. According to C.O.C. policy, it does not matter whether or not a student commits plagiarism or cheats knowingly; if you are a student at the college-level, you are responsible for insuring that your work is really your work, and not someone else’s. Although completely unnecessary and avoidable, academic dishonesty is a sad reality for some students. All cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the philosophy department chair, as well as the appropriate C.O.C. dean(s) who will determine what consequences will follow. Plagiarism and/or cheating of any kind typically results in a failing grade for the assignment or course, probation, or even explulsion from the school.

Note: All papers you submit for this class must be properly cited according to a recognized and accepted style. The most common styles for humanities courses are the M.L.A. format, the Chicago style, or the Turabian style. A good online resource for styles can be found at:
 

http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citmla.htm  

The specifics of this course syllabus is, like the schedule, subject to change to reflect the needs of this specific class. Any changes will be announced prior to going into effect.

 

 

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