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Course Outlines

LIBS 7008

Logic and Practical Reasoning

School School of Computing and Academic Studies
Program Liberal Studies
Course Credits 3
Minimum Passing Grade 50%
Start Date September 07, 2021
End Date December 17, 2021
Total Hours 45
Total Weeks 15
Hours/Weeks 3
Delivery Type Other
Pre-requisites BCIT ENGL 1177, or 6 credits BCIT Communication at 1100-level or above, or 3 credits of a university/college first-year social science or humanities course.
CRN 38598

Acknowledgement of Territories

The British Columbia Institute of Technology acknowledges that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam).

Instructor Details

Name Mazen Guirguis
E-mail Instructor to provide
Office Hours Instructor to provide

Course Description

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.

Course Learning Outcomes/Competencies

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.

Learning Resources

  • No textbook is required for this course. All learning resources will be supplied by the instructor.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Online Test 1 (25%)
  • Online Test 2 (30%)
  • Formal Writing Assignments (10%)
  • Final Exam 35%

BCIT Policy

Any student who needs special assistance in the event of a medical emergency or building evacuation (either because of a disability or for any other reason) should promptly inform their course instructor(s) and Accessibility Services of their personal circumstances.

Human Rights, Harassment and Discrimination:
The BCIT community is made up of individuals from every ability, background, experience and identity, each contributing uniquely to the richness and diversity of the BCIT community as a whole. In recognition of this, and the intrinsic value of our diversity, BCIT seeks to foster a climate of collaboration, understanding and mutual respect between all members of the community and ensure an inclusive accessible working and learning environment where everyone can succeed.

Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion is a supportive resource for both students and employees of BCIT, to foster a respectful learning and working environment. Any student who feels that they are experiencing discrimination or harassment (personal or human rights-related) can confidentially access this resource for advice and support. Please see Policy 7507 – Harassment and Discrimination and accompanying procedure.

Students should make themselves aware of additional Education, Administration, Safety and other BCIT policies listed at

Guidelines for School of Computing and Academic Studies

Students must successfully complete a course within a maximum of three (3) attempts at the course. Students with two attempts in a single course will be allowed to repeat the course only upon special written permission from the Associate Dean. Students who have not successfully completed a course within three attempts will not be eligible to graduate from their respective program.


I verify that the content of this course outline is current.
Mazen Guirguis, Instructor
September 01, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed.
Michael Bourke, Faculty
September 02, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed and complies with BCIT policy.
Patricia Sackville, Associate Dean
September 02, 2021

Note: Should changes be required to the content of this course outline, students will be given reasonable notice.