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PHILOS 2CT3 Critical Thinking

Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2017

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Bradley Shubert

Email: shuberbj@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 314A

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23461

Office Hours: 3:30-4:30 pm Wednesday or by appointment



Course Objectives:

Classes: 6:00 - 9:00 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (May 2 - June 15)

Location: DSB B107

This objective of this course is to equip students with conceptual tools for successful critical thinking and reasoning. In addition, a major focus of the course will be the consideration of proper attitudes and values about reasoning which are characteristic of successful intellectual and academic practice.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Website: Avenue to Learn course page: http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/

Textbook: Sharon Bailin and Mark Battersby. Reason in the Balance: An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking (2nd Edition). McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2016.


Method of Assessment:

Evaluation Scheme:

Online Quizzes 20%

Midterm 25%

Case Study 25%

Final Exam 30%

 

Quizzes

Prior to most classes, there will be a short online quiz posted on Avenue . All quizzes will be posted on the weekend prior to that class and are to be completed by 3:00 pm on the day of class. These quizzes are designed to test a basic understanding of the reading prior to our discussion of that material in class. Each quiz will be worth 2% of your final mark with questions of various types -- multiple choice, true/false, matching, etc.

Case Study Assignment

For the case study writing assignment you will select from a list of topics (or, by approval, a topic of your own) and conduct an systematic evaluation of the issue in question. This assignment will differ from traditional essay-style writing assignments and will instead take a form similar to the case studies taken up in the textbook (chapters 8 & 9). Case studies will include the following components:

  1. A statement of the issue including a paragraph or two describing those factors which motivate the issue as well as reasons why the issue is important, interesting or worthy of inquiry.

  2. A list of arguments for at least two positions on the issue organized in a table like that given in chapter 8. This will include at least one objection to each argument and a response to each objection (if possible).

  3. A short description of the context of your issue. This should include the history of the debate as well as intellectual, historical, or political considerations.

  4. A table like that given at the end of chapter 9 where you will briefly evaluate individual arguments listed in your previous table, in light of the objections and responses that you have identified.

  5. Finally, you will write a short essay in which you take a position on your topic and argue for it. This should include attention to the possible objections you have identified as well as due consideration of the strongest arguments for an alternative position on the issue.

The entire case study should be at most 2000 words with about 1000 words devoted to the essay portion of the assignment. Case study topics will be posted no later than May 25 and are due June 11 (worth 25% of your final grade). Case studies will be submitted into a dropbox folder provided on Avenue.

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will take place in the last half of class on May 23 (worth 25% of your final grade). The exam will test students understanding of course material up to the end of section II of the text (Chapters 1-6).

Final Exam

The final exam will take place during the final class on June 15 (worth 30% of your final grade). Material covered on final exam will be cumulative.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late penalties will be applied to the case study assignment at a rate of 3% per day for a maximum of 1 week. Missed examinations will be dealt with on a case by case basis and may include opportunity to rewrite under appropriate circumstances.


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:

Class Schedule

 

Tuesday, May 2     Introduction – Nature & Value of Inquiry

Chapter 1

 

Thursday, May 4     Introducing Guidelines for Inquiry  - Practice Quiz

Chapter 2

 

Tuesday, May 9       Argument Types and Structure -  Online Quiz

Chapter 3

 

Thursday, May11     Probative Arguments and Fallacies  - Online Quiz

Chapter 4

 

Tuesday, May 16     Key Argument Types - Online Quiz

Chapter 5

 

Thursday,  May 18    Credible Sources and Appeals to Experts  - Online Quiz

Chapter 6

 

Tuesday, May 23      Identifying the Issue - Midterm Exam

Chapter 7

 

Thursday, May 25      Understanding the Case: Reasons and Context - Online Quiz

Chapter 8

 

Tuesday, May 30        Evaluating Arguments - Online Quiz

Chapter 9

 

Thursday, June 1       Making a Judgment and Making a Case - Online Quiz

Chapter 10

 

Tuesday, June 6       Dialogue and the Spirit of Inquiry - Online Quiz

 Chapter 11

 

Thursday, June 8      Inquiry in the Natural Sciences - Online Quiz

 Chapter 12
Case Study (June 11)

 

Tuesday, June 13 Inquiry in Philosophy and the Extraordinary - Online Quiz

Chapter 15 & 16

 

Thursday,  June 15 Conclusions & Final Exam - Final Exam

 


Other Course Information:

Course Evaluations: Students will be asked to complete course evaluations at the end of the term.

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.