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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Philosophy

Logic and Critical Thinking PHIL-201

  • Fall 2012

  • Section 7

  • 3.0 Credits

  • 08/28/2012 to 12/18/2012

  • Modified 09/06/2012

This class meets Tuesday nights from 6:00 to 9:00PM in LKH 241

Contact Information

Instructor: Magne Kristiansen

Office: MOL 209
Phone: 509.869.4326

Office Hours:

Wednesday, 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM, MOL 209

Text me to schedule an appointment at this or any other time.


PHIL 201 is a general introduction to the reasoning skills and psychological approaches used for effective decision making, problem solving, and argument analysis and evaluation. This course provides instruction in skills essential to success in everyday life, citizenship, and as a professional in any career. It fulfills the critical thinking requirement for the A.A. degree, but does not fulfill an arts and humanities requirement for either the A.A. or A.S. degrees. Lecture: 3 hours each week Recommended: ENGL 101 and/or COMM 101


Think - Critical Thinking and Logic for Everyday Life

Author: Judith A Boss
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Edition: 2nd


PHIL 201:  The class aims to sharpen and deepen your thinking skills and sharpen your critical abilities. We will do this by learning the main issues of traditional logic and by thinking about, and thinking through a number of interesting and controversial issues on a wide range of topics.

We have a textbook, but equally important is your interactions with the other students in your class. There will be readings, assignments, discussions and participation in a class blog.

Although the class structure is (always) subject to change, the syllabus will follow the following topics:

WEEK 1.        INTRODUCTION     What is critical thinking?

  • Introductory
  • What is the difference between critical thinking and creative thinking?
  • Critical thinking is still a family-resemblance concept?
  • What are some good examples of critical thinking?
  • What are examples of constructive thinking?
  • What are examples of creative thinking?
  • How do these three differ?
  • What are some of the controversial issues that we might consider here in a class of critical thinking?
  • And always: the problems of language
  • For next week read Chapter 1: Critical Thinking: Why It's Important
  • For next week read parts of Chapter 2 (Reason & Emotion) and Chapter 3 (Language & Communication)

WEEK 2.        What is an argument?

  • Why do we argue?
  • Introducing theories of human nature
  • Introducing the concept of the manimal
  • Human susceptibilities
  • Personal susceptibilities: (What lines have I drawn in the sand. What subconscious factors are at work?
  • For next week read Chapter 4: Knowledge, Evidence & Errors in Thinking

WEEK 3.        What are facts?

  • What is true?
  • What is a fact?  (What is opinion?  What is BS?)
  • Here's what you can't do: You can't make up the facts. Check the facts!
  • How can you ascertain the facts?
  • The difference between facts and statistics?
  • Consider the constantly repeated facts and explanations: folk facts, folk explanations.  List ones that are not true.
  • For next week read Chapter 5: Informal Fallacies


  • False ways of arguing.
  • Why do these remain so popular.
  • Examples.
  • And more and more examples.
  • For next week read Chapter 6: Recognizing, Analyzing, & Constructing Arguments

WEEK 5.      LOGICAL DEDUCTION I: Arguments and Syllogisms

  • What are arguments?
  • Recognizing arguments.
  • Recognizing premises.
  • Recognizing conclusions
  • Using arguments in the professions.
  • The classical syllogism.
  • For next week read Chapter 8: Deductive Arguments

WEEK 6.      LOGICAL DEDUCTION II: Venn Diagrams, Truth tables, and formal logic

  • Venn diagrams.
  • The formalization of argumentation through mathematics
  • Evaluating syllogisms through truth tables
  • The limits of formal logic

WEEK 7.        How should we think about EDUCATION?

  • What is education?
  • What is self-improvement?
  • What do you need to learn?
  • How should we think about childrearing?
  • What should your child learn?
  • For next week read Chapter 12: Science

WEEK 8.        How should we think about SCIENCE?

  • What is science?
  • Why is science seen as true knowledge?
  • What can science NOT answer?
  • Science and falsifiability (Popper)
  • Thomas Kuhn on Paradigms
  • How do we evaluate statistical 'facts'?
  • On risk assessment
  • For next week read Chapter 7: Inductive Arguments


  • Induction vs. deduction
  • What is an inductive argument?
  • What makes a strong inductive argument?

WEEK 10.      How should we think about RELIGION?

  • What is it to think about religion?
  • Why is thinking about religion often discouraged?
  • For next week read Chapter 10: Marketing & Advertising
  • For next week read Chapter 11: Mass Media

WEEK 11.      How should we think about ADVERTISING?

  • How do ads work?
  • What do they have to do with reason?
  • What are the subconscious effects of advertising?
  • Should there be restrictions placed on advertising for the common good?
  • What things do not get any advertising?
  • For next week read Chapter 13: Law & Politics


WEEK 12.      How should we think about POLITICS and HISTORY?

  • How can we get information on the candidates apart from their ads?
  • What is with all the political signs?
  • The classic view of government
  • Issues of corruption
  • Political issues vs. political strategy
  • What is history?
  • Why do we take sides in history.
  • What is patriotism?
  • The dangers of language (once more)
  • For next week read Chapter 9: Ethics & Moral Decision-Making

WEEK 13.      How should we think about ETHICS and MORALITY?

  • The classic view of ethics.
  • The four moral theories.
  • Divine command theories
  • Negative vs. positive morality
  • How is morality actually decided? (the example of homosexual rights)

WEEK 14.      How should we think about EVERYDAY MORAL CHOICES?

  • What are some of the daily roles of morality in everyday life?
  • What is racism and prejudice?
  • Discussion: Moral problems of everyday life.

WEEK 15.      How should we think about LIFE CHOICES?

  • Who should I marry?
  • Thinking about sex
  • What profession should I go into?
  • Should I have children?
  • What should I tolerate?
  • Should I stay of should I go (videos)?

WEEK 16.      What have we learned?

  • What would I have liked you to learn?
  • What did you learn?
  • Where do you go from here?


Course Policies

Grades will be based on the points accumulated over the semster. Assignments will be 40% of the grade, discussions, participations and blogs will be 40% of the grade. Tests and examinations will be the rest.  

Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college.Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.

For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes for the fall term: November 7, 2011. 

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, ESU, 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

DROP FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  You must attend and participate in the first week of this class. Failure to do so will result in your being dropped from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. For Internet classes, attendance is based on participation in an instructional activity; you must complete the first week’s assignment(s) by the assignment due date. Drop for non-attendance occurs at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on the second Tuesday of the semester.