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					                                                 Metropolitan Community College
                                             COURSE OUTLINE FORM


COURSE TITLE:                                         CRITICAL REASONING

COURSE PREFIX AND NO. PHIL 1100                         LEC    4.5       LAB   0   CREDIT HOURS            4.5

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

The student explores the use of logic in everyday settings to analyze ideas, evaluate arguments, draw logical
conclusions and sort relevant from irrelevant statements. The student also studies problem-solving techniques.

COURSE PREREQUISITE (S):

None

RATIONALE:

This course is an elective component in the Academic Transfer Program as well as a general elective for other
interested students. This course is also a requirement in the Legal Assistant Program.

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK (S) and/or MATERIALS:

Title:        Critical Thinking w/Study Guide
Edition:      Latest
Author:       Moore/Parker
Publisher: Mayfield Publishing

Attached course outline written by:                        Frank Edler             Date:   March 1998
Reviewed/Revised by:                                       Frank Edler             Date:   July 27, 1998
Effective quarter of course outline:                       05/FA                   Date:
Academic Dean                                                                      Date:

Course Objectives, Topical Unit Outlines, and Unit Objectives must be attached to this form.




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TITLE:                             Critical Reasoning                         PREFIX/NO:        PHIL 1100

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

 1.   Identify an argument.

 2.   Identify the issue, reasons and conclusion of an argument.

 3.   Identify inductive and deductive kinds of arguments.

 4.   Identify ambiguity in arguments and explain how ambiguity affects arguments.

 5.   Identify descriptive assumptions in arguments.

 6.   Identify value conflicts and value assumptions in moral arguments.

 7.   Evaluate arguments with respect to the fallacies of reasoning.

 8.   Evaluate arguments based on intuition, personal testimonials, and appeals to authority.

 9.   Evaluate inductive generalizations based on sample studies in terms of sample size, breadth, and
      randomness.

10.   Evaluate inductive generalizations for alternative causes.

11.   Employ critical reasoning in class discussions.

12.   Apply critical reasoning in relation to a controversial topic examined from different viewpoints.

13. Construct an argument in defense of his/her viewpoint in relation to the controversial topic in #12.


TOPICAL UNIT OUTLINE/UNIT OBJECTIVES:

UNIT I. THE IMPORTANCE OF CRITICAL REASONING

1.    The importance of facts.
2.    The importance of interpreting the facts.
3.    The sponge method vs. panning-for-gold method.
4.    The strong sense of critical reasoning vs. the weak sense of critical reasoning.
5.    The creative aspect of critical reasoning.



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TOPICAL UNIT OUTLINE/UNIT OBJECTIVES: (Cont’d)


UNIT II. IDENTIFYING ARGUMENTS

1.    Define and examine argument (conclusion, reasons, issue, prescriptive and descriptive statements).
2.    Define and examine inference and argument structure (“This-because-of-that”).
3.    Identify indicator words for conclusions and reasons.
4.    Recognize techniques for identifying issue-questions and conclusions.


UNIT III. EXAMINING AMBIGUITY

1.    Define ambiguity and examine types of ambiguity.
2.    How to prove that a word or phrase is ambiguous.
3.    Identify and examine how ambiguity affects the reasons and/or conclusion of an argument.


UNIT IV. EXAMINING VALUE CONFLICTS AND VALUE ASSUMPTIONS

1.    Define and examine values; investigate how values are used in ethical arguments.
2.    Define and examine value conflicts and value assumptions in ethical issue-questions and the importance
      of them.
3.    Recognize and apply techniques for identifying value conflicts and value assumptions in ethical
      arguments.


UNIT V. EXAMINING DESCRIPTIVE ASSUMPTIONS (SUPPRESSED PREMISES)

1.    Define and examine descriptive assumptions.
2.    Recognize the importance of descriptive assumptions.
3.    Recognize and apply techniques for identifying descriptive assumptions.


UNIT VI. EXAMINING INDUCTIVE AND DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS

1.    Define and examine inductive and deductive arguments.
2.    Compare and contrast inductive and deductive arguments.
3.    Examine how science uses both inductive and deductive arguments.


UNIT VII. EXAMINING FALLACIES IN REASONING

1.    Approaches to evaluating arguments.
2.    Define and examine the following fallacies:
      a.       argument ad hominem
      b.       the emotional use of words
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TOPICAL UNIT OUTLINE/UNIT OBJECTIVES: (Cont’d)

      c.          argument ad populem
      d.          false dilemma
      e.          name calling
      f.          begging the question
      g.          glittering generalities
      h.          false appeal to authority
      i.          red herring
      j.          perfect solution
      k.          avoiding the issue
      l.          confusing what should be with what is
      m.          confusing naming with explaining


UNIT VIII. EVALUATING THE EVIDENCE

1.    Define and examine intuition, appeals to authority and personal testimonials.
2.    Evaluation of intuition, authority and personal testimonials as sources of evidence.
3.    Examine guidelines for objectivity and validity regarding these sources of evidence.


UNIT IX. EVALUATING THE EVIDENCE IN RESEARCH STUDIES

1.    Define and examine sample population, target population, characteristic of interest, representative sample,
      biased sample, and hasty generalization.
2.    Recognize and apply techniques for evaluating research studies with respect to sample populations, means
      of measurement, and characteristic of interest.


UNIT X. SEARCHING FOR RIVAL CAUSES

1.    Define and examine causality, causal claim, correlation and post hoc fallacy.
2.    Examine causality and scientific research.
3.    Recognize and apply techniques for evaluating rival causes.


UNIT XI.          CONSTRUCTING AN ARGUMENT ESSAY ON A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC (SUCH AS
                  ABORTION, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY,
                  MULTICULTURALISM, ETC.)

1.    Study and reconstruct a number of short essays (handed out in class) on the topic.
2.    The pro and con sides of the topic will be discussed in class.
3.    Using guidelines of how to write an argument essay, students will write their own argument essays in
      relation to the chosen topic and apply what they’ve learned to their own writing.


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REQUIREMENTS AND GRADE EVALUATION

1.    “Passage 4” Exercises                                       -20%
2.    Midterm Exam                                                -20%
3.    Final Exam                                                  -20%
4.    Pro/Con Paper (Argument Essay)                              -20%
5.    Clippings Notebook                                          -20%


CLIPPINGS NOTEBOOK

Each student must complete a clippings notebook which consists of the following:

1.    Five separate, substantial newspaper editorials are clipped and taped into the notebook.

2.    For each editorial, the student will reconstruct the argument by giving the issue-question, conclusion and
      main reasons.

3.    For each editorial, the student will also evaluate the argument by looking for ambiguities, identifying
      fallacies, evaluating value assumptions and descriptive assumptions and evaluating the reasons.

4.    An example of a clippings notebook entry has been provided. (See below.)

EXAMPLE OF A CLIPPINGS NOTEBOOK ASSIGNMENT (This is an actual editorial)

                                        A DEPLORABLE SCARE TACTIC ON BEEF

While technology paves the way for the wonders of the 21st century, some people seem to want to go back to
the 19th. They urge the public to make decisions on the basis of fear and emotion rather than on scientific fact.

Such is the case with the idea of using irradiation to kill bacteria in beef, thereby minimizing food poisoning
cases. Opponents of irradiation are asking consumers to rise up against the idea.

However, the process has been used for years to purify food. Consumers would be foolish to drive this
technology from the market based on the scare tactics of critics.

The Food and Drug Administration in 1986 approved the use of irradiation to purify fruits and vegetables. In
1990, the authority for its use was extended to poultry and pork. Now Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy says he
will ask the FDA to approve irradiation for use on beef. The treatments have been shown to be effective in
ridding beef of the deadly E. Coli, bacterium.

One anti-irradiation group is distributing posters of a child eating a hamburger with the caption: “the
government’s next radiation experiment?” Such tactics are deplorable. They prey on the concerns of people
who might not be informed about the difference between nuclear fallout and the rays that cook and purify their
food. So long as a good number of people graduate from high school with a poor understanding of scientific
principles, hysteria-mongers are in a position to exploit the fear of the unknown.
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The human race couldn’t support itself if it agreed to eat nothing but communally grown organic roots and
berries. Nor should it try. Thanks to improvements in transportation and food processing technology, people
can enjoy a wide variety of safe, fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruits throughout the year. Irradiation is one
more such improvement. Of course, any new process should be thoroughly tested. But when all the scientific
arguments are in favor of using the process and the only opposition is based on emotionalism, it’s foolish to
withhold it from the public.

A.      Presentation of the Argument

        I.        Issue-question:

                  Should the FDA approve irradiation for use on beef?

        II.       Main claim (conclusion)

                  Yes, the FDA should approve irradiation for use on beef.

        III.      Reasons:

                  1)        Irradiation minimizes food poisoning cases.
                  2)        The FDA has already approved irradiation on fruits, vegetables, poultry, and pork.
                  3)        Treatments have been shown to be effective in ridding beef of the deadly E. Coli.
                            bacterium.
                  4)        There is a difference between nuclear fallout and the rays that cook and purify food.
                  5)        The human race couldn’t support itself on nothing but communally grown organic
                            roots and berries.
                  6)        All the scientific arguments are in favor of irradiation.
                  7)        The only opposition is based on emotionalism (on the basis of fear and emotion
                            rather than on scientific fact).

B.      Evaluation of the Argument

        Reason (1) is a mere assertion. As such, it is not good evidence for the conclusion; I hope that further
        evidence will be presented in support of reason (1). Reason (2) appeals to the authority of the FDA’s
        approval of the irradiation of other foods. The authority of the FDA carries some weight, but the FDA
        has been wrong in the past too (EX: thalidomide). The problem with reason (2) is that it relies totally
        on the authority of the FDA and not on the actual findings (scientific tests) of the FDA. Were there any
        side effects cited at all by the FDA?

        Concerning reason (3), I’d like to know how effective the treatments were in ridding beef of E. Coli.
        Bacterium. In reason (4), “rays that cook and purify food?” I would like a clear description of the
        process before I agree with the conclusion. Reason (5) is a red herring; it diverts attention from the
        issue. The issue is not whether the human race can support itself on communally-grown food: The
        Issue is whether the FDA should approve the irradiation of beef. Reason (6) is a mere assertion with no
        evidence given to back it up. All the scientific arguments? Which ones? Which studies? Has the
        author actually done a survey of all the scientific arguments? Reason (7) is true in the sense that the
        example given of the child eating the hamburger relies on emotionalism. However, the author’s own
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        argument is not based on scientific fact but on mere assertion and appeals to authority. This is a weak
        argument. I would not accept the conclusion on the basis of these reasons alone.

C.      Peer-Group Comments:

        Add any comments your group makes about Section A and B here.




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COURSE REQUIREMENTS/EVALUATION:

Upon completion of the objectives of this course, students will have completed activities requiring a progression
from the knowledge through the evaluation levels of the cognitive domain.



                                 COURSE OBJECTIVES/ASSESSMENT MEASURES


                  COURSE OBJECTIVES                                        ASSESSMENT MEASURES
 1. Identify argument, issue, reasons and conclusion.            1. Passage 4 exercises, class exercises, midterm
                                                                    exam, clippings notebook, final exam, pro/con
                                                                    essay.

 2. Identify inductive and deductive arguments.                  2 Same as above.

 3. Identify ambiguity.                                          3. Same as above.

 4. Identify descriptive assumptions.                            4. Same as above.

 5. Identify value conflicts and value assumptions.              5. Same as above.

 6. Evaluate arguments for fallacies.                            6. Same as above.

 7. Evaluate arguments based on intuition, appeals to            7. Same as above.
    authority and testimonials.

 8. Evaluate inductive generalizations in research               8. Same as above.
    studies.

 9. Evaluation of rival causes.                                  9. Same as above.

10. Construct an argument from one’s own position               10. Argument essay.
    on a controversial topic.




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