Critical Thinking

University of South Alabama, Department of Philosophy, Fall 2012

Syllabus | Schedule | Professor

General Information


Professor Ted Poston
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(or by appointment)
Humanities Building124


M,W,F, 1:25-2:15pm
Humanities Building 136
8/20/2012 - 12/7/2012



Logic is the science of correct reasoning. The primary object of study in logic is the argument. In this course we will study ways to recognize, assess, and construct arguments. We will learn the forms that arguments can take and the properties that they must have to be good. Moreover, we shall study common errors in reasoning. We will look at irrational forms of persuasion and cases of faulty reasoning. The overall goal is to perfect your ability to recognize, reconstruct, and evaluate a complex piece of reasoning. This is an essential goal for anyone. We encounter claims everyday. Some are well-reasoned and others are not. We need to recognize whether we have good evidence for these claims and also how the evidence supports the claims. This will help us to act on good information and to avoid acting on bad information.


This course does not have any official prerequisites.

Course Materials


Synder, Synder, and Wasserman, The Power of Logic, 5th edition (McGraw-Hill, 2012).



Course Homepage:

COURSE Requirements


(3 exams each worth 15% of your final grade)

The exams will consist of a mixture of true/false, multiple choice, proofs, and short answer questions. Each exam will build upon the previous exam.


(10% of final grade)

Attendance is required in this course. By not coming to class, students will be hurting their own final course grades in several ways. First, I won't take attendance, but I will keep track of who is in class and actively, regularly participating. At the end of the course, I will give each student a percentage grade that will be worth 10% of his or her final course grade. Second, less directly, students who miss classes will thereby miss important course content; as a consequence, students who miss class will not do as well on tests, homework, or in class discussion.


(45% of final grade)

I will assign daily homework assignments designed to hone your logic skills. Each day we will cover a new concept or technique. The assignments will enable you to test your mastery of the new concept or technique.


Final letter grades will follow a standard 10-point scale: 90-100 A, 80-89 B, 70-79 C, 60-69 D, 0-59 F. I will not be using a curve when calculating your grades.

Policies, etc.


In general, I do not allow students to make up missing homework or missed exams. I also generally don't allow students to turn in late work. Some exceptions might be made in cases where students have a valid reason excusing them and evidence of that reason (e.g., sickness and a doctor’s note).


Please turn off your electronic devices during class. This very much includes your cell phones! If you absolutely feel like you have to have your tablet or laptop with you to take notes during class, please talk to me outside of class to argue your case.


Student Academic Conduct Policy (Adopted 1988; Revised 2004, 2007) “As a community of students and scholars, the University strives to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity. All members of the community are expected to exhibit honesty and competence in academic work. This responsibility can be met only through earnest and continuing effort on the part of all students and faculty. Any dishonesty related to academic work or records constitutes academic misconduct including, but not limited to, activities such as giving or receiving unauthorized aid in tests and examinations, improperly obtaining a copy of an examination, plagiarism, misrepresentation of information, or altering transcripts or university records. Academic misconduct is incompatible with the standards of the academic community. Such acts are viewed as moral and intellectual offenses and are subject to investigation and disciplinary action through appropriate university procedures. Penalties may range from the loss of credit for a particular assignment to dismissal from the University. Note that dismissal from any University of South Alabama college or school for reasons of academic misconduct will also result in permanent dismissal from the University. Faculty, students, and staff are responsible for acquainting themselves with, adhering to, and promoting policies governing academic conduct.” From The Lowdown


The University of South Alabama seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you have a specific disability that qualifies you for academic accommodations, please notify the instructors and provide certification from Disability Services (Office of Special Students Services). The Office of Special Students Services is directed by Ms. Andrea Agnew and is located in the Student Center, Room 270, Phone 460-7212.