Methods Syllabus

Methods of Reasoning—

Instructor: Rochelle DuFord (rduford1@binghamton.edu)

Time/Place: MW 5:50-7:20 S2 260

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 9-10 am, and by appointment in LT1205

Course Description

In this course, we will focus on developing skills related to good thinking and reasoning. Attention will be paid to analyzing arguments, deductive and inductive reasoning, identifying argumentative fallacies, and employing the elements of formal logic. We will practice these skills in a variety of contexts, including mathematics, science, law, advertising, ethics, religion, and politics. Successful completion of the course should result in an improved ability to articulate what separates good from bad arguments, develop promising lines of reasoning, quickly notice errors in reasoning, identify methods for resolving disagreements, and think critically in general.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

– Recognize the structure and nature of arguments in both everyday and academic discourse

– Identify fallacious reasoning

– Implement strategies for developing successful lines of reasoning

– Understand and employ the basic methods of formal logic, both propositional and predicate

– Employ the standards of inductive inference

Required Text

Introduction to Logic, by Copi, Cohen, McMahon 14th Edition

NOTE: If you do not purchase the 14th edition, you will still be responsible for all of the information, and exercises contained in this edition. If you have an older edition, the exercises, chapter order, and general content may differ—and it will be your responsibility to ensure that you have read the appropriate material, and prepared the correct exercises. Therefore, I urge you purchase a copy of the 14th edition, if you fail to do this “not having the right text” is insufficient as an excuse.

Course Policies

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to have read and understood the Student Academic Honesty Code in the University Bulletin, including, but not limited to, the sections ‘Plagiarism’ and ‘Cheating on Examinations.’  If you have any questions about what constitutes academic honesty or dishonesty, you are responsible for speaking to me about them.

Attendance and Participation

Attendance will be taken at each class and is mandatory. You are expected to arrive promptly at the scheduled start time for the course, as well as bring both your text book, as well as the completed exercises for the day. Students will receive 2 unexcused absences without penalty. If more than two lectures are missed without a university approved excuse (observation of religious holiday, illness, or emergency) students’ final grade will be reduced by a third of a letter grade per unexcused absence.

There will be in class opportunities for participation (asking questions, answering questions posed, helping to solve sample problems, etc.), to receive full credit for participation; students must participate verbally at least once per week.

Participation will be worth 10% of the final grade.

Exams

This course will have four exams. The first three are scheduled and will be given during regular class meetings. The fourth will be during the University’s scheduled final exam period for the course. All exams will be cumulative. All exams are closed book, thus consulting notes or texts during the exams will be considered academic misconduct.

No make-up exams will be given unless students can provide evidence extra-ordinary circumstances preventing the student from taking an exam at the scheduled time.

Each exam will be worth 20% of the final grade.

Quizzes and Exercises

Logic itself is not merely a series of concepts or definitions to be memorized, but rather a set of skills to be practiced. Because of the nature of both formal and informal logical skills, practice is essential—merely reading the text and sitting in lectures is insufficient to develop the level of practical skill necessary to succeed in the course. For this reason, students are expected to complete all exercises for assigned sections and chapters of the text. While these will neither be collected nor graded, the benefits of completion of the exercises will be apparent with regard to test taking. Most students will both need and benefit from regular practice, via completion of the exercises.

Additionally, there will be “pop” (unannounced) quizzes given in the course. The quizzes will only ask questions contained in the problem sets in the text. The quizzes may include questions from the assigned readings in the previous two weeks. Thus, students can prepare for these quizzes by completing the assigned exercises.

The quizzes, in total, will be worth 10% of the final grade.

Electronic Devices

All electronic devices, including computers and cell phones, are to be turned off before the beginning of class unless special permission has been granted to use a computer.  During exams, use of any such devices will be regarded as academic misconduct (i.e. cheating).

Religious Holidays

Observance of religious holidays is a justifiable excuse for absence. However, in order for your absence to be excused, please notify me via email (rduford1@binghamton.edu) prior to the missed class, with the reason for your absence. Only the actual holiday itself will be considered excused, therefore, time spent traveling, etc., will not justify an absence.

Schedule of Readings (Due the date listed)

1/28: Introduction

1/30: Basic Logical Concepts, Chapter 1.1-1.6

2/4: Language and Definitions, Chapter 3.1-3.3

2/6: Language cont., Chapter 3.4-3.6

2/11: Fallacies, Chapter 4.1-4.3

2/13: Fallacies cont., Chapter 4.4-4.6

2/18: EXAM I

2/20: Categorical Propositions, Chapter 5.1-5.5

2/25: Conversion, Obversion and Contraposition, Chapter 5.6-5.8

2/27: Categorical Syllogisms, Chapter 6.1-6.3

3/4: Syllogisms in Language/Venn Diagrams, Chapter 6.4, 7.1, 7.2

3/6: Syllogisms in Ordinary Language, Chapter 7.3, 7.4, 7.7

3/11: EXAM II

3/13: Truth Tables; Conjunction; Negation; Disjunction, Chapter 8.1-8.2

3/18: Truth Tables cont., Chapter 8.1-8.2

3/20: Conditional Statements & Material Implication, Chapter 8.3-8.5

3/25, 3/27, 4/1—NO CLASSES (SPRING BREAK)

4/3: Forms, Equivalence, Laws of Thought, Chapter 8.6-8.10

4/8: Rules of Inference, Chapter 9.1-9.5

4/10: Rules of Replacement, Chapter 9.6-9.7

4/15: Construction of Formal Proofs, Chapter 9.8

4/17: Construction of Formal Proofs cont., Review

4/22: EXAM III

4/24: Proof of Invalidity and Inconsistency, Chapter 9.9-9.12

4/29: Quantification Theory, Chapter 10.1-10.4

5/1: Proving Validity and Invalidity/Asyllogistic Inference, Chapter 10.5-10.7

5/6: Analogical Reasoning, Chapter 11.1-11.3

5/8: Review

EXAM IV

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