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: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Mr George Mason

Email: g.p.mason@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module enhances students’ ability to understand and construct complex arguments through the study of logic and the psychology of human reasoning. Reading: A module guide will be available. Recommended: Jamie Carlin Watson and Robert Arp, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Reasoning Well, 2nd edition, Bloomsbury, 2015.

This module will introduce you to the basic concepts and methods of critical thinking, basic logic, and the psychology of reasoning. 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 for critical and reflective thinking. These skills are essential both to further study in philosophy and to other areas of academic work. The module will provide a foundation for the complex cognitive work that will be at the centre of your future life and career. This module is compulsory for all students intending to continue with Philosophy in part 2.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module you will understand:
•what logical reasoning is and why it matters
•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 logical fallacies and cognitive biases, and how to recognize and avoid them
•how to analyse and evaluate passages of reasoning from contemporary and historical sources
•how to begin to represent arguments using formal methods and to recognise the symbols used in formal logic.

Additional outcomes:
You will also receive:
•training in how to write a philosophy essay.
•preparation for study of more advanced logic modules, which will examine the techniques of modern formal logic in greater depth.

Outline content:
Schedule of topics to be covered:
1) Critical thinking, reason and argument
2) Good and bad arguments
3) Logical fallacies & cognitive biases
4) Research skills and philosophical essay writing
5) Argument structure and categorical logic
6) Propositional logic
7) Truth tables and validity
8)Inductive and statistical reasoning
9) Transferrable skills
10) The limits of logic

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be by means of weekly interactive lectures and a weekly seminar. In the seminars, students will practice the techniques presented in lectures, work through examples and case studies, and engage in intensive 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 assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Assignment 1: 50%
Assignment 2: 50%.

Formative assessment methods:
Weekly homework assignments discussed in seminars.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor 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:
    Two hours (in-class)

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

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 24 October 2017

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