PP1RA-Reason and Argument

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Dr Nat Hansen

Email: n.d.hansen@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module aims to improve students’ reasoning abilities, examining the nature of arguments and how to reason well.

This module will introduce you to the basic concepts and methods of reasoning and critical thinking, particularly as used in philosophy. We will explore the ways in which philosophy supplies the tools for reasoning logically and analytically, not just about abstract theories but about problems and situations in real life. You will be introduced to techniques for evaluating claims and arguments, assessing evidence, and justifying your beliefs. A mix of lectures, seminars, structured reading, assignments, and class discussion will furnish you with the skills essential to logical thought. These skills are essential both to further study in philosophy and to other areas of academic work. They are a foundation for the kinds of thinking you will have to do in your future life and career.

This module is compulsory for all students intending to continue with Philosophy in part 2.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes
By the end of the module you will understand:
•what logical reasoning is and why it matters
•the concepts of consistency and inconsistency, validity and soundness
•a variety of argument forms and styles, formal and informal, deductive and inductive
•how to construct and evaluate basic argument forms
•a range of common fallacies in reasoning, and how to recognize and avoid them
•how to analyse and evaluate passages of reasoning from contemporary sources and real-life examples
•how to begin to represent arguments using formal methods and to recognise the symbols used in formal logic.

Additional outcomes:
You will also receive:
•basic training in how to write a philosophy essay, and how to recognize good and bad style.
•preparation for next year’s Introductory Logic course, which looks at the techniques of modern formal logic in greater depth.

Outline content:
(Tentative) Lecture programme
1) Critical thinking, reason and argument
2) Good and bad arguments
3) Fallacies
4) Research skills and essay writing
5) Argument structure and categorical logic
6) Propositional logic and truth tables
7) Validity
8)Inductive reasoning
9) Transferrable skills
10) Limits of logic

Course pack (compulsory purchase): this pack contains handouts for each class and exercises for homework and to be done in seminars.

Recommended reading (not a compulsory purchase):
Tracy Bowell and Gary Kemp, Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide (Routledge, 2009, ISBN-13: 978-0415471824)

The Part 2 module on Introductory Logic (PP2IL) is extremely likely to use the following book, and sections of it are useful for this course, so again you might wish to purchase it now:

Wilfrid Hodges, Logic (Penguin, 2001).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be by means of weekly lectures and a weekly seminar. In the seminars, students will practice the techniques presented in lectures, work on examples and case studies, and engage in class discussion.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

Other information on summative assessment:
Two assignments worth 20% each, to be submitted by 12 noon on Wednesday of Weeks 6 and 11 of term respectively.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard and in hard copy to the Philosophy office, unless your seminar leader says that electronic submission only is permitted.

Formative assessment methods:
Weekly homework assignments discussed in seminars.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One examination of two hours in length and worth 60% of the module mark. Students must answer all questions.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August by written examination only

    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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