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PHILOS 2CT3 Critical Thinking

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Sandra Lapointe

Email: lapointe@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 307A

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 20877

Website:

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00 - 3:00pm



Course Objectives:

§1. Description and Objectives

Drawing on psychology, cognitive sciences and especially philosophy the aim of the course is to provide students with conceptual tools to improve their academic skills and make informed judgements in everyday life. At the end of the course, successful students will have gained an understanding of the value of thinking critically about a number of issues (for instance: religion, morality, knowledge, sex, gender, love, science and media) as well as a better understanding of the significance of the issues themselves. They will recognise the usefulness of analytical skills in e.g. social, academic and professional contexts. They will be aware of the main challenges they face when it comes to accessing information, assessing options and making mindful decisions.

§2.Topics of lectures (a detailed schedule of reading will be made available on Avenue):

  • What is Critical Thinking?

  • Critical Thinking and the Mind

  • Critical Thinking and “Rationality”

  • Thinking Critically about Religion.

  • Critical Thinking and Morality

  • Thinking Critically about Knowledge, Opinion and Faith.

  • Biases

  • Thinking Critically about Consent

  • Thinking Critically about Sex and Gender

  • Thinking Critically about Science

  • Thinking Critically about Social Media

  • Thinking Critically about Truth and Reconciliation

  • Thinking Critically about Pluralism and Diversity

  • Knowledge, Wisdom and the Good Life.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Students will be expected to complete weekly readings in preparation for the lectures and tutorials. During the lectures, the reading material will be discussed, key notions defined and/or explained and cases will be discussed.

Readings will be made available in the form of an “e-Reader”

 


Method of Assessment:

§3. Evaluation

Participation in tutorials (20%). Students are expected to attend tutorial and participate in discussion . Students may miss two tutorials without a documented reason, after which 2 point will be deducted for each undocumented absence.

Term paper (20%) Around 1000 words on an assigned topic, due Week 8.

Mid-Term (20%)  Students will be asked to answer one question in essay form in relation to the texts read in class. A list of review questions will be distributed in advance.

Final Exam (40%). Students will be asked to answer a series of questions, some of them in essay form, in relation to the texts read in class. A list of preparatory questions will be distributed and detailed instructions will be provided.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

TBA


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.


Topics and Readings:

§4. Schedule

Week 1

Tue 6 September:    Introduction

We 7 September:     What is Critical Thinking?

Reading: “Why we don’t need to win arguments”

Week 2

Tue 13 September: Critical Thinking and the Mind

Reading: “How the Mind Works”

We 14 September:   Critical Thinking and “Rationality”

Reading: “Reason and Emotion in Moral Judgement”

Week 3

Tue 20 September: Thinking Critically about Religion. What is faith? (Framework on the basis of Lacewing’s papers)

            Reading: “Religion, Morality, Evolution”

We 21 September:   Thinking Critically about Religion (continued)

            Reading: “Religion, Morality, Evolution” 

Week 4

Tue 27 September: Critical Thinking and Morality I. What Makes Us Moral?  

            Reading: “The Moral Instinct”

We 28 September: Critical Thinking and Morality II. Moral Theories: Virtues, Rules and Happiness

Assignment: TAKE THE TEST http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/value/quiz-rel.php

And write a one-page report on your results to be discussed in tutorial.

Week 5

Tue 4 October: Review session with TAs in Classroom

We 5 October: IN CLASS EXAM

Assignment: TAKE THE TEST on implicit social attitudes: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ and write a report on your result, explaining what they are and what you think they mean.

RECESS

Tue 11 October RECESS

We 12 October RECESS

Week 7

Tue 18 October: Biases

            Reading: “The 12 Cognitive Biases that Prevent you from Being Rational”

We 19 October: Thinking (continued)

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 1

Week 8

Tue 25 October: Perception

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 2

We 26 October: Memory

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 3

Assignment: Each student is to prepare 2 questions relating to the reading to be discussed at the next tutorial. Questions need to be written (typed) and handed in at tutorial.

Week 9

Tue  1 November: Information and Judgement

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapters 4-5

We 2 November: Problem Analysis

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 6 (optional: chapters 7 and 8)

Assignment: Each student is to prepare 2 questions relating to the reading to be discussed at the next tutorial. Questions need to be written (typed) and handed in at tutorial.

Week 10

Tue 8 November: Biases

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 9-10

We 9 November: Biases

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 11

Assignment: Each student is to prepare 2 questions relating to the reading to be discussed at the next tutorial. Questions need to be written (typed) and handed in at tutorial.

Week 11

Tue 15 November: Biases

            Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 11

We 16 November: Biases

Reading: The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis chapter 12

Week 12

Tue  22 November: Thinking Critically about Sex and Gender

            Reading: “Sex Redefined”, “His Brain, Her Brain”

We 23 November: Thinking Critically about Science

            Reading: “Science vs Pseudo Science”

Week 13

Tue 29 November:  Thinking Critically about Media

            Readings:

“Here is how Facebook’s Newsfeed Actually Works”

“Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks”

“Facebook’s Unethical Experiment”

We 30 November:  Thinking Critically about Race, Equity and Diversity. Truth and Reconciliation.

Reading: TBD


Other Course Information:

Course Changes: The instructor and the University reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.