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
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.
Prof. Klement’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
TA Anupam Devkota’s email is email@example.com, and his office is South College E306. Office hours are TBD and by appointment.
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.
We will be using a mixture of book chapters from various sources, typically logic and critical thinking textbooks. 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).
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. The full schedule can be found on the website.
Academic honesty is defined in the University Academic Regulations document (page 5), available at http://www.umass.edu/registrar/sites/default/files/academicregs.pdf. 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.
|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)|