Suppose you’re a juror in a murder trial. The defense and prosecution present arguments for very different conclusions: the defendant’s innocence or guilt. Your job is to decide who is right. But how should you do this? This course will help you answer that question! In particular, we’ll learn how to evaluate arguments, determine whether they justify their conclusion, and spot subtle argumentative flaws. As part of this, we’ll learn some logic, which will give us powerful tools for analyzing arguments. The skills that we learn can be applied to any discipline-for example, politics (which politician should I vote for?), ethics (is abortion morally permissible?), and science (do video games cause violence?). Ultimately, the skills that we learn to help us evaluate arguments will also help us to create compelling arguments of our own.
The full syllabus is available here.
Students often find writing a good introduction to be one of the hardest parts of writing their first philosophy essay. I made this in-class exercise to generate discussion and ultimately help students understand what good and bad introductions look like.