Real-World Reasoning:
Informal Logic for College

 8:30 - 11:45 MTWThF Peter Suber Lilly Library 304 Summer 1999
Syllabus

We will explore what makes some reasoning good and other reasoning bad. We'll learn how the validity of reasoning differs from the truth of statements. We'll learn a number of common fallacies, how to recognize them, criticize them, and avoid them. We'll spend a good deal of time practicing fallacy-detection on actual specimens of reasoning from political speeches, argumentative essays, advertisements, and letters to editors. Our goal is to be readers who are well-armed against fallacies and deception, and writers whose reasoning is honest, rigorous, and persuasive.

Reaching me

• Our textbook is T. Edward Damer, Attacking Faulty Reasoning, Wadsworth, third edition, 1995. We'll read all of it except Chapter VIII (pp. 172-86), which is recommended but not required.
• We'll take our short specimens for study from current newspapers and magazines.
• We'll take our longer specimens from Stephen R. C. Hicks and David Kelley, Readings for Logical Analysis, W.W. Norton, second edition, 1997.
• I've put a collection of course-related web links at http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/inflogic/inflinks.htm. You may want to read from some of these web sites to supplement both our specimen collection and Damer's analysis.

Exercises

There are three levels of doing exercises for this course.

1. Do them all, for your own sake. You'll learn the material much better. This is just a recommendation, not an assignment. In the back of his book, Damer gives short answers to each exercise; you can use these to grade yourself.
3. Do one quarter of them, in writing (legible, complete sentences) to turn in. This is an assignment. If you are an Even, write up your answers to the first half of the even-numbered exercises for a given day. Do the first half of the odds if you are an Odd. Again, go beyond the names of fallacies to the pertinent details of what has gone wrong. On your papers, don't forget to include your name, your parity (Even or Odd), the page numbers of the exercises, and the exercise numbers. They are due at class time every day that exercises are assigned (Days 3-7). I will not grade them for correctness, but only note whether you did them. You will get feedback on their correctness from class discussions.

Other work

• On Days 8 and 9, I'll ask you to explicate some the arguments we find in Hicks & Kelley. I describe this assignment in a separate hand-out. Before these are due, we'll go over the nature of explications carefully in class.
• Note the quiz on Day 5 (30 minutes) and the exam on Day 10 (90 minutes). We'll spend some time on Day 9 reviewing for the exam. You would help yourself and the others in class if you would write down your questions and bring them to that review session.
• Read newspapers or magazines during the course, keeping an eye out for arguments worth discussing in class. Read with the vigilance of an archaeologist or botanist looking for specimens. If you borrow newspapers or magazines from Earlham's library, then either bring the whole issue to class or photocopy selected advertisements, editorials, and letters to the editor. If they are your own copies, then consider clipping the best specimens to bring to class.
• Let me recommend Hicks & Kelley as background reading throughout the course. It's fun. It gives you some serious, real-world practice. It's a great foundation for late-night debates in the dorm. And it will help you pick selections for class discussion on Days 8 and 9.
• Be prepared to speak helpfully and voluntarily every day in class.

On the days listed below, we will discuss or presuppose the Damer pages assigned, which you should therefore read in advance.

 Monday, June 21 Day 1

 Tuesday, June 22 Day 2
• Damer 1-30
• No exercises due.

 Wednesday, June 23 Day 3
• Damer 31-60
• Exercises to do:
• 43-44, fallacies of irrelevance
• 56-57, fallacies of irrelevant emotional appeals
• 58-60, all fallacies studied to this point

 Thursday, June 24 Day 4
• Damer 61-87
• Exercises to do:
• 76-77, fallacies of linguistic confusion
• 86-87, fallacies of begging the question

 Friday, June 25 Day 5
• Quiz on material to date, including today's reading
• Damer 88-108
• Exercises to do:
• 104-105, fallacies of unwarranted assumption
• 106-108, all fallacies studied to this point

 Monday, June 28 Day 6
• Damer 109-143
• Exercises to do:
• 126-127, fallacies of missing evidence
• 138-140, causal fallacies
• 140-143, all fallacies studied to this point

 Tuesday, June 29 Day 7
• Damer 144-171
• Exercises to do:
• 149-150, fallacies of counterevidence
• 164-166, diversionary fallacies
• 166-171, all fallacies studied to this point
• Pick readings from Hicks & Kelley for tomorrow.
• Pick a conclusion or two (Hicks & Kelley) to explicate for tomorrow.

 Wednesday, June 30 Day 8
• Discuss readings from Hicks & Kelley (selected yesterday).
• Pick readings from Hicks & Kelley for tomorrow.
• Pick a conclusion or two (Hicks & Kelley) to explicate for tomorrow.
• Explication due (assigned yesterday). No exercises due.

 Tuesday, July 1 Day 9
• Discuss readings from Hicks & Kelley (selected yesterday).
• Explication due (assigned yesterday). No exercises due.
• Review for tomorrow's exam.

 Friday, July 2 Day 10
• 9:00 - 10:30 Final exam
• 11:30 lunch

The final exam on Day 10 will cover all of Damer except Chapter VIII. We may do some preliminary grading of it in class on the day that you take it.