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UMass Philosophy 105: Practical Reasoning

Fall 2018 – Prof. Kevin C. Klement and TA Tim Juvshik

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:30am–12:20pm in ILC S131 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 Tim Juvshik’s email is tjuvshik@umass.edu, and his office is South College E416. Office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays 1–2pm and by appointment.

Lecture notes

Unit 1 Lecture Notes (Sept 6th – Oct 4th)
Unit 2 Lecture Notes (Oct 11th – Nov 8th)
Unit 3 Lecture Notes (Nov 13th – Dec 19th)

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 4th)
Study Guide for Exam 2 (November 8th)
Study Guide for Exam 3 (December 19th)

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 4 Sept Course Introduction
Th 6 Sept Arguments, Premises, Conclusions
Tu 11 Sept Distinguishing Arguments from Other Discourse
Th 13 Sept Induction and Deduction
Tu 18 Sept Evaluating Arguments: Key Concepts
Th 20 Sept Argument Maps
Tu 25 Sept Argument Reconstruction
Th 27 Sept Argument Reconstruction, continued
Tu 2 Oct Evaluating Arguments: Best Practices
Th 4 Oct — Exam #1 — (in class, 11:30am, ILC S131)
Tu 9 Oct No class. University follows Monday schedule.
Unit 2: Fallacies and Cognitive Biases
Th 11 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Relevance
Tu 16 Oct Traditional Inductive Fallacies
Th 18 Oct Fallacies of Presumption; Begging the Question
Tu 23 Oct Traditional Fallacies of Meaning
Th 25 Oct Rethinking Traditional Fallacy Theory
Tu 30 Oct Cognitive Biases: Overview
Th 1 Nov Cognitive Biases: Examples
Tu 6 Nov Cognitive Biases: Theoretical Issues
Th 8 Nov — Exam #2 — (in class, 11:30am, ILC S131)
Unit 3: Weighing Evidence and Thinking Well
Tu 13 Nov Belief, Knowledge and Truth
Th 15 Nov Evidence and Acceptable Reasons
19–23 Nov No class. Thanksgiving break.
Tu 27 Nov Causation and Mill’s Methods
Th 29 Nov Statistical Reasoning
Tu 4 Dec Hypotheses and Scientific Reasoning
Th 6 Dec Open-Mindedness
Tu 11 Dec Creative Thinking
We 19 Dec — Exam #3 — (1pm, ILC S131)

© 2018 Kevin C. Klement