PHL101: Critical Thinking
Lanigan Hall 104, MWF 11:15 - 12:25 p.m.
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: Piez Hall 225
Office Hours: MW 1:45 -- 3:15 p.m., most Fridays 1:45 -- 3:15 p.m., and by appointment
This class is meant to teach the skills of critical thinking.
The class will have the following structure. First, we will review
the goals of critical thinking. These include above all determining what
claims should be believed. We will review the kinds of claims that there
are and how one usually is introduced to claims. Next, we will review the
methods of evaluating claims that are specific to their source. We will
finish with a review of less explicit forms of belief and judgment.
If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your
ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the
Disability Services Office.
There will be extensive class notes, and some online readings. There are
Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit.
Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent.
Assignments and exams
You will have four exams, one for each our of first four topics.
There will be periodic assignments and reading quizes, and a
comprehensive final exam. All assignments must be done on your
own. You can of course study with others and even help each other,
but final work must be yours alone. A zero is give to all assignments
where one is copied from another.
I regret that I will not accept assignments by email.
The raw grade will be determined in the following way:
Exams: 60% (15% each)
See my grading policy for an explanation
of how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.
Assignments and quizes: 20%
Final exam: 20%
If you miss an exam and have an excused absence for the day you miss
the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you
are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange
any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the
exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I
cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the
Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification
with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical
visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting
events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in
writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must
notify the Philosophy Dept. secretary, Jane Santore, before you are
going to be absent, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at
x2249. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of
the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a
request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your
information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my
phone or email for some reason.
Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before
the end of the semester I recommend that you ask me to review the
grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any
In addition to the listed office hours, I encourage you to make
appointments. I am available quite a bit. Please try to come to
office hours with specific questions in mind. You can of course come
with a general request for help, but it is always helpful if you spend
a little time thinking about how I can best help you out.
By the end of this class, you should know:
- What critical thinking is meant to accomplish.
- Some of the kinds of claims there are.
- Some of the sources of claims that we encounter,
and the specific methods we use to evaluate these.
- Basic statistics of observations.
- Basic nature of scientific method.
- Basic logic and the notion of validity.
- Some of the problems with consolidated sources of
- Some of the pitfalls of human reasoning skills.
I will frequently update an online schedule of readings and
assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for
the class at least every other day!