Phil 2003A: Critical Thinking/Optional Takeâ€“Home Assignment
Note: As indicated above, this assignment is entirely optional. If you choose to submit it, it will be worth 10% of your overall grade for the course, and the final exam will then be worth 30% rather than 40%.
Date Due: The assignment is due on April 7.
Submitting your assignment: You may submit your assignment to the Philosophy Essay Box on level 3A Paterson Hall, or send it to my Carleton email as a Word document (Kenneth.Ferguson@carleton.ca)
? No title page please, just put your name and student number on first page
? 12 point font, 3-4 pages in length (about 1000 words)
? Any Internet sources used must be cited, with complete address, as follows: <http://www.search.yahoo.com/â€¦.
Choose one of the two topics described below:
Choose one of the conspiracy theories from the list given in the document on CuLearn entitled â€œTop Ten Conspiracy Theoriesâ€ (or some other prominent conspiracy theory) and then do the following:
a) (2 points) State or describe the conspiracy theory as clearly as you can.
b) (1 point) Identify as clearly as you can the phenomena or events the theory is supposed to explain.
c) (1 point) What conventional, non-conspiratorial theory or hypothesis, if any, is usually or often accepted as the correct explanation of the phenomena?
(6 points) Evaluate how plausible or convincing the conspiracy theory is. One thing you might do in your evaluation is to apply the criteria for evaluating explanations given in the lecture on explanation (especially consistency, simplicity, and coherence with background information) but you need not necessarily restrict yourself only to these criteria. (Your main goal in evaluating the conspiracy theory should be to assess as clearly and convincingly as you can how plausible it is in light of all available considerations and evidence.)
Choose an example of what is commonly regarded as a pseudo science and then do the following:
a) (1 point) Describe clearly, but concisely, in one paragraph the beliefs, theories or assumptions associated with the pseudo science.
b) (5 points) Discuss the extent to which the mistakes or fallacies of evidence described in the lectures on scientific reasoning and pseudoscience (slides 44-55) are applicable to the pseudoscience you have chosen.
c) (4 points) Describe a rigorous scientific test that could be applied to the pseudo science to evaluate its truth. In describing your test you must identify clearly:
i. The hypothesis being tested.
ii. The prediction you are using to test it.
iii. How the prediction is implied by the theory.
iv. The experimental conditions or observations that would determine whether the prediction is true or false
Some Common Mistakes to Avoid
? Elaborate, artificial introductions â€“ get to the point fairly quickly
? Repetition, except very selectively for emphasis, and stating (or worse, defending) the obvious
? Being too colloquial, although an informal writing style, including use of the 1st person, is permitted
? Sentences that are too long or complicated to be clear, vagueness, ambiguity, and clichÃ©s
? Grammatical mistakes (incorrect use of commas, or incomplete sentences, are common mistakes)
? Using too many quotations (only quote when necessary)
? Padding to get the required length â€“ this is easy for graders to spot
Do not plagiarize: It is the responsibility of each student to understand the meaning of â€˜plagiarismâ€™ as defined in the Carleton University Calendar, and to avoid both committing plagiarism and aiding/abetting plagiarism by other students.
Philosophy 2003: Critical Thinking
List of Topics and Readings
Barriers to Critical Thinking
Reading 1 (Text): Lewis Vaughn, â€œWhat is Critical Thinking?â€, from The Power of Critical Thinking, (Oxford: Oxford University press, 2005) pp. 3-7
Reading 2 (online): Watch the movie â€œTwelve Angry Menâ€, starring Henry Fonda and directed by Sydney Lumet, available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0NlNOI5LG0
II. Analyzing and Reconstructing Arguments
(a) Reasoning and Argument: The Basics
Reading 3 (Text): Ronald Munson and Andrew Black, The Elements of Reasoning, 6th edition (New York: Wadsworth/Thomson, 2004) pp. 1-13
Reading 4 (CuLearn): More exercises on identifying premises and conclusions
(b) Recognizing Arguments
Reading 5 (Text): G. Bassham, W. Irwin, H. Nardone and J.M. Wallace, Critical Thinking: A Studentâ€™s Introduction, 3rd edition, (Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 2008) pp. 37-53
Reading 6 (CuLearn): More exercises on recognizing arguments
(c) Structure Diagrams for Arguments
Reading 7 (Text): Ronald Munson and Andrew Black, The Elements of Reasoning, 6th edition, (New York: Wadsworth/Thomson, 2012) pp. 24-27
Reading 8 (CuLearn): More exercises for structure diagrams
(d) Distinction between Deduction and Induction
Reading 9 (online): Deductive and Inductive Argumentsâ€, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/ded-ind/
Reading 10 (Text): Lewis Vaughan and Chris MacDonald, The Power of Critical Thinking, 2nd Canadian Edition (Oxford, Oxford U. Press, 2010) pp. 75-77
III. Sources of Belief and Knowledge
(a) Trusting Experts
Reading 11 (Online): Watch the documentary â€œThe Trouble With Expertsâ€, by Josh Freed, available on YouTube
Reading 12 (Text): Bruce Waller, Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict, 6th edition, (Toronto, Pearson, 2012) pp. 141-153
(b) Observation and Memory
Reading 13 (online): Douglas Starr, â€œFalse Eyewitnessâ€, from Discover Magazine, November, 20 at: http://discovermagazine.com/2012/nov/04-eyewitness
Reading 14 (online): Elizabeth Loftus, â€œCreating False Memoriesâ€, Scientific American?September 1997, vol. 277 #3?pages 70-75, at: https://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm
Reading 15 (online): â€œEyewitness Testimonyâ€, from Wikipedia website at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness_testimony
Reading 16 (Text): Lewis Vaughan, The Power of Critical Thinking (Oxford U. P, 2005) pp. 144-149
(c) Cognitive Biases
Reading 17 (online): Listen to the lecture on cognitive biases by Kevin deLaplante from the website Criticalthinker.com, at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTJLchCHsrc
Reading 18 (online): Jim Holt, â€œTwo Brains Runningâ€, (A review of Daniel Kahnemanâ€™s book Thinking Fast and Slow, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011) at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/books/review/thinking-fast-and-slow-by-daniel-kahneman-book-review.html?pagewanted=all
IV. Informal Fallacies and Rhetorical Devices
(a) Informal Fallacies
Reading 19 (Optional online): Useful website on fallacies: The Fallacy Files, by Gary Curtis, available at: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/
Reading 20 (Optional online): Max Schulman, â€œLove Is A Fallacyâ€, available at: http://logicuste2082.wordpress.com/2-12/3-informal-fallacies/
Reading 21 (Text): Lewis Vaughan, The Power of Critical Thinking â€¦ pp. 177-183
Reading 22 (CuLearn): Additional exercises for informal fallacies
(b) Illicit Rhetorical Devices
Reading 23 (online): â€œWriting and Rhetorical Devicesâ€, (Note the brief video clip by psychologist Steven Pinker which is included in this reading) at: http://www.neo-philosophy.com/LogicWeek5.html
Reading 24 (Text): Brook Moore and Richard Parker, Critical Thinking, 7th edition (Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2004) pp. 141-149
V. Advertising and the Media
Reading 25 (CuLearn): Jeffrey Schrank, â€œThe Language of Advertising Claimsâ€, at: http://home.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/comp/ad-claims.html
Reading 26 (Text): Nancy Cavender and Howard Kahane, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: the use of reason in everyday life, 11th ed (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 2010) pp. 317-321
Reading 27 (online): Dr. Andrew R. Cline (Professor of Journalism, Missouri State University), â€œMedia/Political Biasâ€, from the website â€œThe Rhetorica Networkâ€, at: http://rhetorica.net/bias.htm
VI. Deductive Reasoning
(a) Deductive Reasoning: Sentential Logic
Reading 28 (Text): William Hughes and Jonathan Lavery, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, 4th edition (Peterboroughâ€ Broadview Press, 2004) pp. 179-196
Reading 29 (CuLearn): Exercises on deductions
(b) Deductive Reasoning: Categorical Syllogisms
Reading 30 (online): â€œCategorical Propositionsâ€, From the philosophy.lander.edu website, at: http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/venn_prop.html
Reading 31 (online): â€œCategorical Syllogismsâ€, From the philosophy.lander.edu website, at: http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/syll_venn.html
Reading 32 (CuLearn): Exercises for Categorical Syllogisms
VII. Pseudoscience, Explanation and Conspiracy Theories
(a) Explanation and Conspiracy Theories
Reading 33 (online): â€œTop 10 Conspiracy Theoriesâ€, at: http://listverse.com/2007/08/21/top-10-conspiracy-theories
Reading 34 (online): Kurt Eichenwald, â€œThe Plots to Destroy America: Conspiracy Theories are a Clear and Present Dangerâ€, from Newsweek, May 15, 2014, available online at: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/05/23/plots-destroy-america-251123.html
Reading 35 (online): â€œConspiracy Theories: Who Believes Them and Why, and How to Determine if a Conspiracy Theory is Trueâ€, By Michael Shermer and Pat Linse, from the Skeptics Society, at: http://www.skeptic.com/downloads/conspiracy-theories-who-why-and-how.pdf
Reading 36 (Optional online): Fred Clark, â€œThe Full Scope of the Climate Change Conspiracyâ€,
Reading 37 (CuLearn): Explanation Exercises.
Reading 38 (Text): Lewis Vaughan and Chris MacDonald, (Toronto: Oxford U. Press, 2008) â€¦ pp. 341-344, 360, 369-370, and 377
(a) Science and Pseudoscience
Reading 39 (online): Carl Hempel, The Philosophy of Natural Science, Chapter 2, â€œInvention and Testâ€, pp. 3-9, at: http://faculty.washington.edu/lynnhank/Hempel.html
Reading 40 (online): Frank Wolfs, â€œIntroduction to the Scientific Methodâ€, at: http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu:8080/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html
Reading 41 (online): Watch the documentary â€œHere be Dragonsâ€, written and presented by Brian Dunning, at: http://herebedragonsmovie.com/
Reading 42 (online): Rory Coker, Distinguishing Science and Pseudoscienceâ€, at: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/pseudo.html
Reading 43: Harriet Hall, â€œAnswering Our Criticsâ€ (A Defense of Conventional Medicine) from the website Science-Based Medicine, available at: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/answering-our-critics-part-1-of-2/
Reading 44 (Text): Lewis Vaughan and Chris MacDonald, The Power of Critical Thinking, 2nd Canadian Edition â€¦ pp. 392-393 and 415-419
(b) Creative Thinking: Is There a Method for Discovering New Ideas and Theories?
Reading 45 (online): Debra Kidd, â€œIn Defense of the Six Thinking Hatsâ€, Sept. 20, 2013, from Debra Kiddâ€™s bog Love Learning, at: https://debrakidd.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/in-defence-of-the-six-thinking-hats-2/comment-page-1/
Reading 46 (Optional online): Steven Harnad, â€œCreativity: Method or Magic?â€, available online at: http://cogprints.org/1627/1/harnad.creativity.html
VIII. Induction and Causal Reasoning
(a) Inductive Reasoning
Reading 47 (online): Wesley Salmon, Logic, Section 26: â€œInduction by Enumerationâ€, at: http://www.ditext.com/salmon/logic.html
Reading 48 (Text): Lewis Vaughan and Chris MacDonald, The Power of Critical Thinking, 2nd Canadian Edition â€¦ pp. 283-285, 298-300, 317-319, and 326-328
Reading 49 (online): Wesley Salmon, Logic, Section 26: â€œAnalogyâ€, at: http://www.ditext.com/salmon/logic.html
Reading 50 (CuLearn): â€œFamous Examples of Arguments from Analogyâ€
(b) Causal Reasoning and Millâ€™s Methods
Reading 51 (online): Garth Kemmerling, â€œCausal Reasoningâ€, The Philosophy Pages website, available at: http://www.philosophypages.com/lg/e14.htm
Reading 52 (online): â€œCausal Arguments and Causal Fallaciesâ€, from the California State University at Sacramento website, at http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/mayesgr/phl4/Handouts/phl4causalfallacies.htm
Reading 53 (online exercises): â€œCausal Fallacy Worksheetâ€, from the California State University at Sacramento website, at: http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/mayesgr/phl4/Tests/phl4excausalfallacies.htm
Reading 54 (CuLearn Exercises): â€œCausal Reasoning Exercisesâ€
Reading 55 (Text): Merilee Salmon, Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking, (Belmont, California: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007) pp. 181-186
IX. Normative Reasoning
(a) Moral Reasoning
Reading 56 (online): Peter Singer, â€œShould We Trust Our Moral Intuitions?â€, at: http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/200703â€“.htm
Reading 57 (online): Mark Oppenheimer, â€œWho Lives? Who Dies? The Utility of Peter Singerâ€, at http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2659
(b) Legal Reasoning
Reading 58: Julie Dickson, â€œInterpretation and Coherence in Legal Reasoningâ€, 2010, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/legal-reas-interpret/
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