PHIL 103 Reason and Argument
Siena College, Fall 2014
What makes one argument acceptable and another unacceptable? What makes one inference reasonable and another unreasonable? What counts as an argument? What place do beliefs, emotions, and intuitions have? Are arguments about beating an opponent or can they be collaborative? Students should come away from the course with a better understanding of some of the basic methods philosophers employ for studying argument and inference, along with an understanding of some of the basic philosophical issues surrounding reason and argumentation.
This class meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Specific content and skills will typically be introduced on two of these days. The third session will normally operate as a kind of lab to test out the content and skills, including analyzing arguments from the history of philosophy, evaluating different sources, developing position papers and essays, and engaging in small-group or whole class discussions or debates.
Coetzee, J.M. The Lives of Animals. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
Tittle, Peg. Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason. New York: Routledge, 2011.
Textbook companion site
Other texts will be posted to Blackboard.
Course Objectives and Goals
The Department of Philosophy seeks to stimulate reflection on fundamental issues such as justice, freedom, the nature of reality, the human condition, beauty, and God. Philosophy courses stress logical thinking, analysis, sound argument, and clear writing.
At the end of this course, successful students will be able to
• recognize arguments and inferences,
• identify the structure of different types of arguments,
• evaluate the strength of claims and arguments,
• understand different philosophical approaches to reason and argument,
• intelligently and charitably reconstruct another’s argument,
• recognize fallacies in speech and writing,
• construct, present, and defend clear and articulate positions on different topics, and
• work collaboratively to present, evaluate, and construct arguments through oral presentations and written assignments.
Full syllabus may be downloaded here.