Core 100: Critical Thinking
Dr. James Wallace
Critical Thinking studies a process which is indispensable to all educated persons--the process by which we develop and support our beliefs and evaluate the strength of arguments made by others in real-life situations. It includes practice in inductive and deductive reasoning, presentation of arguments in oral and written form, and analysis of the use of language to influence thought. The course also applies the reasoning process to other fields such as business, science, law, social science, ethics, and the arts.
Successful completion of this course will enable you to
The goals of the course are to help you
After you have finished this course, you should be more:
TEXTS AND MATERIALS
The required text for the course is Critical Thinking: A Student's Introduction, 2nd ed. (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone, and Wallace). Many supplemental materials will be distributed as needed. Also, since thinking critically depends largely on your being aware of your world, I recommend that you read a daily paper and familiarize yourself with some of the periodicals available in the library and with news sources available on the Internet.
A number of helpful Internet sites are available to students
of critical thinking. The Center for Critical Thinking
Because this course is intended to help you develop the skills necessary for making you an effective thinker, there will be very little lecturing. If you feel that the success of a course is measured by the amount of lecture notes a student can accumulate during a semester you will be very disappointed in this course. The course will consist almost entirely of discussion and practice.
In completing the assignments during the semester, you can
earn a total of 200 points as follows:
Your participation--which means coming to
class prepared, expressing and defending your ideas clearly and constructively,
contributing relevant points of interest, making connections between course
material and material from other classes and from the world outside the school,
demonstrating enthusiasm, and completing in-class exercises--will count for 15
points on the final grade.
There will also be a number of
exercises—projects, short essays, worksheets—and quizzes
during the semester. These exercises and
quizzes will add up to 120 points, or 60 percent of the final grade. Some exercises will be assigned for homework
and collected in class. Some exercises
will be assigned and collected in the same class period. Homework assignments handed in late will be
accepted, although a penalty my be assessed.
In-class exercises cannot
be made up.
A final, cumulative exam will count for 25
A large percentage of your grade—40 points (20
percent)—will be determined by your performance on a six- to seven-page argumentative
essay. In this essay, you'll present a claim and defend it with
solid evidence and clear reasoning. Instructions for the essay will be
provided early in the semester.
A = 193 to
A- = 186 to 192
B+ = 178 to 185
B = 170 to 177
B- = 162 to 169
C+ = 154 to 161
C = 145 to 153
C- = 137 to 144
D = 120 to 136
F = Below 120
Attendance is mandatory in classes at King’s. I will take role every day until I learn your names, after which I will take notice of who is in class and who is not. Whether you come to class or not is your decision, but keep two things in mind: 1) fifteen points of your grade will come from your class participation, and 2) in-class exercises cannot be made up.
We'll talk about plagiarism early in the semester so that you'll know what it is and how to avoid it. Plagiarism, which means attempting to give your reader the impression that words or ideas in an essay are your own when in fact they are someone else’s, is a serious academic offense that can get you thrown out of college. Don't take any chances. If you have questions about what should be documented and cited, please ask. (A more developed policy on plagiarism is available here.)
OFFICE HOURS AND COMMUNICATION
My office is Hafey-Marian 401. Office hours are
Monday and Wednesday, 1:00 to 2:00 and 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. I will hold hours on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by appointment.
Besides talking to me before or after class or during my
office hours, you can communicate with me by e-mail
Click here for additional readings.
1. WHAT IS AN ARGUMENT?
Statements: What must be proved
Exercise: 2.1.I: Statements
Premises and Conclusions
Exercise: 2.2.I: Premises and conclusions
Exercise: 2.2.II: Premises and conclusions
What is not an argument?
Exercise: 2.4.I (1-25): Arguments and non-arguments
Exercise: 2.4.II (1-20): Arguments v. explanations
What is a “good argument”?
2. PREPARING AN ARGUMENT: THE EARLY STAGES (By end of week 2, students must choose argument to work on for the remainder of semester. The argument will be written in drafts, which will be due at various points in the semester.)
3. BEING AWARE OF BIAS
Critical Thinking Standards
Barriers to Critical Thinking
Exercise: 1.3.I (in class)
Characteristics of a Critical Thinker
4. DEFINING TERMS: LANGUAGE
The Need for Precision: Vagueness, Ambiguity, Overgenerality
Exercise: 4.1.I: Vagueness, ambiguity, overgenerality
Exercise: 4.1.II: Verbal vs. factual disputes
Exercise: 4.2.I: Defining terms
Exercise: 4.2.II: Does the definition fit?
Exercise 4.2.III: Types of definitions.
Exercise 4.2.IV: Strategies for defining
Exercise: 4.4.I: Describing action
Exercise 4.4.II (1-3): Identifying emotive language
Euphemisms and Political Correctness
Exercise 4.5: Euphemism or P.C.?
5. PROVING YOUR CASE I: REASONING INDUCTIVELY AND DEDUCTIVELY
Deduction and Induction
Exercise: 3.1.I, II, and III (in class)
Organizing Your Argument
6. AVOIDING FALLACIES
Fallacies of Relevance
Fallacies of Insufficient Evidence
7. PROVING YOUR CASE II: GATHERING SUPPORT
Exercise: 12.1 (in class)
Exercise: 12.2.I: Listing facts and opinions
Exercise: 12.2.II: Separating fact from opinion
Exercise 12.3: How reliable are these sources?
Skim pages 356 to 362
Exercise: 12.4: Paraphrasing
Exercise: 12.6: To document or not?
8. THE MEDIA AS SOURCE
Exercise 14.3.III (in class)
The Mass Media and The News Media
Exercise: 14.3.I and II
9. WRITING THE ARGUMENT