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UMass Philosophy 105: Practical Reasoning

Fall 2019 – Prof. Kevin C. Klement and TA Anupam Devkota

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30am–12:20pm in LGRT 123 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 email is klement@umass.edu, and his office is South College E319. Office hours are Mondays 3pm–4pm, Wednesdays 11am–noon. You can also schedule an appointment at https://logic.umasscreate.net/appts/?view=klement., or click here to schedule an appointment.
TA Anupam Devkota’s email is adevkota@umass.edu, and his office is South College E306. Office hours are TBD and by appointment.

Lecture notes

Unit 1 Lecture Notes (September 3rd – October 3rd)
Unit 2 Lecture Notes (October 8th – November 7th)
Unit 3 Lecture Notes (November 12th – December 13th)

Website

The website for this course is located at https://logic.umasscreate.net/reasoning/. You can also log in through the UMass Moodle LMS https://moodle.umass.edu. 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 to download from our website.

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 when 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

Study guides for exams

Study Guide for Exam 1 (October 3rd)
Study Guide for Exam 2 (November 7th)
Study Guide for Exam 3 (December 13th)

Academic honesty

Academic honesty is defined in the University Academic Regulations document (page 5), available at http://www.umass.edu/registrar/sites/default/files/academicregs.pdfthis 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.

Policies

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 3 Sept Course Introduction
Th 5 Sept Arguments, Premises, Conclusions
Tu 10 Sept Distinguishing Arguments from Other Discourse
Th 12 Sept Induction and Deduction
Tu 17 Sept Evaluating Arguments: Key Concepts
Th 19 Sept Argument Maps
Tu 24 Sept Argument Reconstruction
Th 26 Sept Argument Reconstruction, continued
Tu 1 Oct Evaluating Arguments: Best Practices
Th 3 Oct — Exam #1 — (in class, 11:30am, LGRT 123)
Unit 2: Fallacies and Cognitive Biases
Tu 8 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Relevance
Th 10 Oct Traditional Inductive Fallacies
Tu 15 Oct No class. University follows Monday schedule.
Th 17 Oct Fallacies of Presumption; Begging the Question
Tu 22 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Meaning
Th 24 Oct Rethinking Traditional Fallacy Theory
Tu 29 Oct Cognitive Biases: Overview
Th 31 Oct Cognitive Biases: Examples
Tu 5 Nov Cognitive Biases: Theoretical Issues
Th 7 Nov — Exam #2 — (in class, 11:30am, LGRT 123)
Unit 3: Weighing Evidence and Thinking Well
Tu 12 Nov Belief, Knowledge and Truth
Th 14 Nov Evidence and Acceptable Reasons
Tu 19 Nov Causation and Correlation
Th 21 Nov Statistical Reasoning
24–30 Nov No class. Thanksgiving break.
Tu 3 Dec Hypotheses and Scientific Reasoning
Th 5 Dec Open-Mindedness
Tu 10 Dec Creative Thinking
Fr 13 Dec — Exam #3 — (1pm, LGRT 123)

© 2019 Kevin C. Klement