This course emphasizes that people are responsible for the rationality of their opinions, in all areas of their lives. To that end, the course teaches methods for analysing and evaluating both ordinary and famous arguments, as found in everyday life, politics, religion, science, technology, and (even) philosophy.
BCIT ENGL 1177, or 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above, or 3 credits of university/college composition.
No class on Tuesday, November 11 (Remembrance Day). If there are fewer than 15 sessions, additional coursework will be assigned by the instructor. ALL FINAL EXAMS MUST BE WRITTEN DURING THE LAST WEEK OF THE COURSE ON THE DESIGNATED DATE AND TIME.
This course offering is in progress. Please check back next term or subscribe to receive email updates.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
Recognize and understand the role of the linguistic elements of arguments.
Understand the conversational rules that govern conversational acts.
See how conversational implication affects the meaning of speech acts.
Recognize the standard form of an argument and understand the concepts of validity, truth and soundness.
See that good arguments must not beg the question.
Understand why successful arguments depend on finding common ground.
Understand the role of assuring, guarding, and discounting expressions, as well as "argumentative performatives".
Recognize the role of evaluative language and its use and misuse in argument (persuasive definitions, euphemisms and figurative language).
Understand the many uses of arguments.
Distinguish 'impersonal normative' from 'dialectical' justification .
Distinguish proper attempts at refutation (parallel reasoning, reductios) from illegitimate ones (straw man).
Recognize the role of argument in systematization and simplification of belief systems.
Understand the role of argument in giving explanations and in providing excuses.
Apply learned skills in a 'close analysis' of a moderately complicated argument.
Reconstruct arguments according to a standard pattern.
See how to remove logically irrelevant material from an argumentative passage.
Clarify terms and break down arguments into individual claims.
Arrange subarguments in logical order.
Recognize that 'real life' arguments usually depend on 'suppressed' premises, and that, when acceptable, these premises often involve shared facts, 'analytic truths' and moral principles.
Tease out hidden premises that embody controversial assumptions.
Apply the 'method of reconstruction' to some extended arguments.
Realize that all arguments terminate in fundamental principles, which may be part of competing frameworks.
See the value of formal propositional logic in explaining and demonstrating some kinds of validity.
Recognize occurrences of logical conjunction, disjunction and negation.
Recognize the argument pattern of disjunctive syllogism.
Understand the role of truth-functional connectives in propositional logic.
Testing for validity using truth tables.
Distinguish indicative conditionals from subjunctive conditionals; give the truth table for indicative conditionals; and recognize some valid and invalid argument patterns involving conditionals (modus ponens, modus tollens, and hypothetical syllogism).
Translating some everyday language sentences using truth-functional connectives.
See how formal logic can determine validity in categorical arguments.
Represent categorical claims with Venn diagrams.
Recognize basic categorical form (i.e., A, E, I and O) propositions and represent them in Venn diagrams.
Translate everyday language claims into basic categorical form.
Recognize which categorical claims are contradictories (and contraries) of others.
See that 'particular' categorical claims have 'existential commitment'.
Recognize which categorical claims are immediate inferences from others.
Recognize categorical syllogisms and use Venn diagrams to evaluate them for validity.
See how various inductive styles of reasoning can produce strong arguments.
Recognize the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning standards.
See how inference to the best explanation works.
Recognize, use and evaluate arguments from analogy and distinguish them from inference to the best explanation.
Appreciate and evaluate causal reasoning, in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions and 'Mill's methods'.
Use inductive generalization to argue from samples to larger populations.
Recognize some biased samples.
Use and evaluate statistical syllogisms.
Understand and evaluate some arguments involving probability (if time permits).
See how the representative and availability heuristics can cause logical 'blunders'.
Grasp the notion of a priori probability.
Understand and use some probability laws (addition, multiplication and conditional probability).
Recognize and apply Bayes's Theorem.
Understand expected monetary and overall value.
Understand some principles of decision under uncertainty.
Recognize and avoid the Gambler's Fallacy.
See how regression to the mean can affect the relevance of exceptional events.
Recognize that 'strange things happen' all the time.
LIBS 7008 is offered as a part of the following programs:
Books for Fall 2014 offerings of this course are available in the following BCIT online bookstores. Please choose the bookstore appropriate for the offering you are considering.
BCIT Burnaby Bookstore
If you are taking this course, but are not taking it through either Distance Education or Online Learning, nor at the BCIT Downtown Campus (DTC), please purchase books for this course at the BCIT Burnaby Bookstore.
Cengage Advantage Books: Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Robert J. Fogelin
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