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UMass Philosophy 105: Practical Reasoning

Fall 2017 – Prof. Kevin C. Klement and TA Daniel Hadad

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30am–12:20pm in 123 LGRT with Friday discussions

Course description

This course covers methods for understanding and evaluating reasoning, arguments and inferences, of the sort found in daily life, political speeches, academic writing and beyond. We address such questions as: What is the structure of an argument? What considerations are relevant for determining its strength and cogency? What sorts of appeals to quantitative and scientific data are appropriate, and what sorts aren’t? What, if any, kinds of reasoning patterns can be identified as fallacious or abusive? How can we understand and overcome cognitive biases? This is an analytic reasoning (R2) course, and 4 credits.

Contact information

Prof. Klement’s office is South College E319. Office hours are Wednesdays and Fridays 11am–noon and by appointment. Email:
TA Daniel Hadad’s office is South College E318. Office hours are Wednesdays 2:30–4:00pm and by appointment. Email:

Lecture notes

Unit 1 Lecture Notes (Sept 7th – Oct 5th)
Unit 2 Lecture Notes (Oct 12th – Nov 9th)
Unit 3 Lecture Notes (Nov 14th – Dec 12th)


The website for this course is located at You can also log in through the UMass Moodle LMS, and the URL redirects there as well. There you can find lecture notes and course readings, check your grades, complete homework exercises, and more.

Course readings

We will be using a mixture of book chapters from various sources, typically logic and critical thinking textbooks. These are available to download below once you log in.These are available from our website. No additional required texts are assigned.

Requirements and grading

Your final grade is based on (a) three in-class exams (20% each / 60% total), consisting primarily of multiple choice, definition and short-answer questions; (b) weekly homework assignments (30% total); and (c) your participation in discussion section (10% total).

Homework exercises

Weekly homework assignments are completed through our website, and are typically due by 5pm on Mondays, covering the material from the previous week. There are some weeks where no homework is due. See the homework exercises page (link below) for the full schedule.The full schedule can be found on the website.

Click here to visit the homework exercises page

Academic honesty

Academic honesty is defined in the University Academic Regulations document (page 5), available at link. Plagiarism and cheating are serious offenses that strike at the very heart of academic life, and will result in serious penalties, including minimally (but not limited to) receiving an F in the course.


Common courtesy demands that you come to class on time, and refrain from leaving early without special permission. Cell phones must be turned off for the duration of class.

I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability and may require special accommodations regarding exam-taking, note-taking or similar. Please obtain the appropriate paperwork from Disability Services and inform me far enough ahead of time to make the appropriate arrangements.

Lecture topics schedule

Subject to change.

Day Topic
Unit 1: Argument Analysis
Tu 5 Sept Course Introduction
Th 7 Sept Arguments, Premises, Conclusions
Tu 12 Sept Distinguishing Arguments from Other Discourse
Th 14 Sept Induction and Deduction
Tu 19 Sept Evaluating Arguments: Key Concepts
Th 21 Sept Argument Maps
Tu 26 Sept Argument Reconstruction
Th 28 Sept Argument Reconstruction, continued
Tu 3 Oct Evaluating Arguments: Best Practices
Th 5 Oct — Exam #1 — (in class, 11:30am, 123 LGRT)
Tu 10 Oct No class. University follows Monday schedule.
Unit 2: Fallacies and Cognitive Biases
Th 12 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Relevance
Tu 17 Oct Traditional Inductive Fallacies
Th 19 Oct Fallacies of Presumption; Begging the Question
Tu 24 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Meaning
Th 26 Oct Rethinking Traditional Fallacy Theory
Tu 31 Oct Cognitive Biases: Overview
Th 2 Nov Cognitive Biases: Examples
Tu 7 Nov Cognitive Biases: Theoretical Issues
Th 9 Nov — Exam #2 — (in class, 11:30am, 123 LGRT)
Unit 3: Weighing Evidence and Thinking Well
Tu 14 Nov Belief, Knowledge and Truth
Th 16 Nov Evidence and Acceptable Reasons
20–24 Nov No class. Thanksgiving break.
Tu 28 Nov Causation and Mill’s Methods
Th 30 Nov Statistical Reasoning
Tu 5 Dec Hypotheses and Scientific Reasoning
Th 7 Dec Open-Mindedness
Tu 12 Dec Creative Thinking
We 20 Dec — Exam #3 — (1pm in Herter 227)

© 2017 Kevin C. Klement