Prof. Michael KaganOffice Hours in RH-422   (445-4489) 
PHL 312-01, An Introduction to InformalT-TH: 11:30 AM -12:20 PM; 
Logic and Critical ThinkingMon and Fri (NOT Wed): 12:30-1:20 
Syllabus for Fall 1998  and by appointment. 


The goal of this course is to help students:
  1.  develop their abilities to detect and defend themselves from deceptivearguments;
  2.  evaluate arguments;
  3.  construct better arguments of their own.


OPTIONAL TEXTS AND READINGS (all on reserve at library or available frominstructor)


  1. We will introduce and examine the techniques of informal logic as answersto the general question, "When ought one accept a given conclusion on thebasis of argument?" To do this, we will consider the classical sourcesof logic in the analysis of debates, and what is now called "informal logic."This will be the focus of the earlier lectures and the readings.
  2. We will apply these skills to attempts at persuasion addressed to generalaudiences as well as to our own argumentative encounters.

  3. A major focus of our study will be defense against fallacies and frequentlyused types of attack and illegitimate persuasion. We will consider thesetechniques as used in a wide variety of fields (psychology, ethics, politics,and advertising among them) as well as in our own argument experiences.Students will be required to find examples of arguments addressed to thepublic, and to relate or create examples of their own debates on issuesof their own choosing.


Attendance is expected and will be weighed into the grading. Contributionsto and participation in discussions (small group and class) are also required,and will constitute a significant part of each student's grade. Studentswill also be asked to write short in-class essays from time to time.
  1. Midterm and final each count 12.5% of grade (25%)
  2. In class writings and homework exercises (25%)
  3. Final Project and its presentation counts 25% of grade (25%)
  4. Attendance and participation  (25%); each unexcused absence takes4% off this grade.
Students are expected to be familiar with the material in the lectures,discussions, and the required text.
Final Projects and other assignments will be determined on the basisof each student's goals. Possibilities include the following:


The final project consists of a written presentation and analysis of bothsides of a debate on some controversial moral, political, religious, philosophicalor other issue (please check with the instructor). This presentation maytake a variety of forms. For example, the student may write a dialoguepresenting arguments for both sides of an issue, or comment on and analyzea series of letters to the editor or editorials on the chosen issue. Ifthe argument is presented [e.g., from the editorial page], the studentwill be obliged to show how the weaker arguments might be strengthened.If a clear loser emerges in the debate, the grade will be weighted in termsof the performance of the loser [as augmented by the student's suggestionsfor improvements in the case of a presented debate].


In coordination with the AcademicSupport Center (ASC), reasonable accommodations are provided for qualifiedstudents with disabilities. Please register with Anne Herron in the ASCOffice for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations.After receiving your accommodation form from the ASC, you will need tomake an appointment with me to review the form and discuss your needs.Please make every attempt to meet with me within the first week of classso your accommodations can be provided in a timely manner. You can eitherstop by the ASC, Library, 1st floor, or call (445-4118 - voice or 445-4104- TDD) to make an appointment with Ms. Herron.



No Classes or office hours on the following dates:
Sep. 7  (Labor Day),  Sep. 21  (Rosh HaShanah), Sep.30 (Yom Kippur), Oct. 12 - Oct. 13 (Long
Weekend), and Nov. 23-27 (Thanksgiving Break).
No class on Tuesday, September 15( Mass of the Holy Spirit  10:15a.m. to 11:30 a.m.)
MIDTERM, OCT. 20;  TAKE-HOME FINAL distributed by Dec. 3; dueat time of in-class exam.
LAST DAY OF CLASS - December 10
FINAL EXAM IN-CLASS OPTION:  Monday Dec. 14, 9-11 a.m.
TAKE-HOME FINAL DUE Monday Dec. 14, at time of in-class exam.

 The course is divided into 15 weekly divisions; assignments are dueas indicated: