Sacramento City College

Philosophy 320

Logic and Critical Reasoning - Student Information Sheet
Satisfies General Ed AA/AS Areas C, D2;
CSU General Ed Area A3
Transferable CSU and UC

Spring 2007

Dr. Robert T. Carroll

Course description

The goal of the course is to improve your capability as a logical and critical thinker. You will learn what logic and critical thinking are, and how to apply critical thinking skills to your college studies and to your everyday life. Special emphasis is placed upon recognizing and overcoming hindrances to critical thinking and upon recognizing misleading, fallacious or irrational appeals that attempt to manipulate our beliefs and actions.


Becoming a Critical Thinker - A Guide for the New Millennium, second edition (Pearson 2005) by Robert T. Carroll is the required text. The Student Success Guide by Robert T. Carroll is recommended, but not required, for those who want to improve their study & writing skills. For supplemental reading, The Skeptic’s Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll is also available from most bookstores.

Corrections of errors in the text may be found at:

Course outline

1. Critical Thinking

2. Language and Critical Thinking

3. Sources

4. Identifying Arguments

5. Evaluating Arguments

6. Evaluating Extended Arguments

7. Sampling and analogical reasoning

8. Causal Reasoning

9. Science and Pseudoscience

Course requirements and grading

There will be eight exams [one on each chapter except ch. 6, "Evaluating Extended Arguments"] worth 50 points each. All exams will be true/false, multiple choice exams, for which you will need a Scantron 882 answer sheet and a #2 pencil with eraser (available at the College Store). The chapter 9 exam on pseudoscience will be given during the final exam period. Make up exams will be given only for good reasons such as illness or deaths in the family; they will be given during the final exam period after the chapter 9 exam. The following do not constitute good reasons for missing an exam: I haven't had time to study; I'm not prepared; I've scheduled this vacation months ago; my car was broken into last night. It may be possible to take an exam early, or with another section. Discuss any scheduling problems with me prior to the exam.

There will be frequent homework assignments, each worth 5 or 10 points. Although 150 points worth of homework will be assigned, a maximum of 100 homework points may be applied to the course grade. Homework must be turned in when due; no late homework will be accepted. Please label all homework (e.g., exercise 3-1).

The course grade is based on exam scores and homework, with exam scores counting about 80% of the grade. A: 450-500; B: 400-449; C: 350-399; D: 300-349; F: 0-299. Borderline grades will be decided by attendance and participation in the course. A borderline grade is defined as being within one percent of the next higher grade.

Final Exam

The final exam will be a test on chapter nine. After the final exam, make-up exams will be taken.

Attendance Policy

Attendance at all classes is expected. You are considered absent if you are late for class or if you leave class early. Repeated tardiness will not be tolerated. If you cannot be on time, do not come to class. Attendance does not just mean physical presence. Attendance means you are present and attending to the business at hand, viz., listening, writing or discussing logic. Obviously, you are not in attendance if you are absent from class. But you are also not in attendance if you are present but sleeping, daydreaming, studying for some other class, reading a newspaper, a novel, a psychology text, etc. You are also not in attendance if you engage in private discussions while class is going on.

You may be absent twice the number of weekly scheduled classes without being dropped from the course. If you miss more than this number of classes, you may be dropped from the course.

note: Should you decide to drop any class, remember that it is your responsibility to officially drop the class.

Logic & Critical Reasoning Assignments - Fall 2006

Primary Assignments for each chapter: Each of the primary assignments is due on the day of the exam for that chapter.

Chapter 1. Exercises 1-5 (pages 23-24) , no. 1 (10 points) or no. 4 (10 points).

Chapter 2. Find three examples of different weasel words in print ads (4 pts for three ads). Find three examples of doublespeak jargon in print ads (3 pts for three ads).  Find 3 examples of doublespeak euphemisms used by a public figure within the last two months (6 pts for three examples). Find two examples of false implications on product labels or in print ads (2 pts for two labels or ads).  Turn in a copy of the doublespeak; clearly identify where the doublespeak is by circling or underlining it. Clearly label what type of doublespeak it is.

Chapter 3. Compare the treatment of the same news story by two newspapers or two news magazines. Examine the articles for similarities and differences in sources, language, slant or bias, positioning (where the article is located), headlines, etc. I will provide the news stories. [10 points]

Chapter 4. Exercise 4-8 (pp 92-97); Do all the non-asterisked ones. 5 points for the diagrams and 5 points for the multiple-choice answers.

Chapter 5. Find one example in newspaper or magazine advertisements of each of the following fallacies: ad populum, irrelevant comparison, irrelevant appeal to fear, irrelevant appeal to vanity, irrelevant appeal to authority.  [2 points each, max 10 points] Turn in a copy of the ad. Clearly identify where the fallacy occurs by circling or underlining it. Clearly label what type of fallacy it is.

Chapter 7. Evaluation of a newspaper or news magazine article that reports on a statewide or national poll. Up to 10 points. I will provide you with a copy of the article to evaluate.

Chapter 8. Evaluation of a newspaper or news magazine article about a scientific causal study. Up to 10 points I will supply you with a copy of the article to evaluate.

Chapter 9. Exercise 9-2 (p 215) (10 points) and exercise 9-4 (p 216) (15 points)

Secondary Assignments will be announced in class.




Links to Sites of Interest


Chapter 1 - What is critical thinking?

Chapter 2 - Critical thinking and language

Chapter 3 - Sources

News media

The Internet

Chapter 4 - Identifying Arguments

Monty Python's Argument Clinic - a little humor

Chapter 5 - Evaluating Arguments

Chapter 7 - Sampling

Chapter 8 - Analogical and Causal Reasoning

Chapter 9 - Science and Pseudoscience

Other courses

Other sites of interest


 last updated 05/28/07