Philosophy 5: Critical Thinking and Composition

Los Angeles Pierce College

Department of Philosophy & Sociology

Spring, 2020

 

Contact Information

Instructor: Christopher Lay, Ph.D

Email: laych@piercecollege.edu and teach@christopherlay.com

Website: www.christopherlay.com/criticalcomposition.html

Office Location: Room 910 in the 900/IRIS Building

 

Office Hours

A) Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday from 8:30 to 9:20AM (no appointment necessary),

B) Every Thursday from 12:40 to 2:30PM (no appointment necessary),

C) Tuesday, February 11 from 12:45 to 1:15PM (no appointment necessary),

D) Tuesday, February 18 from 12:45 to 1:15PM (no appointment necessary),

E) Tuesday, February 25 from 12:45 to 1:15PM (no appointment necessary),

F) Wednesday, March 4 from 2:15 to 2:45 (no appointment necessary),

G) Thursday, March 12 from 2:30 to 3PM (no appointment necessary), or

H) by appointment if you can't meet during the above times. 

These times will occasionally change.  I will give advance warning via email when these times change.  I will add more office hours in March, April, May and June. 

 

Meeting Times and Place for Course #16201

Lecture Meeting Times:  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:35AM to 11:00PM

Meeting Location:  BRCH 1108

 

Meeting Times and Place for Course #16205

Lecture Meeting Times:  Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:10PM to 12:35PM

Meeting Location:  BEH 1309

 

Catalog Course Description

"Students develop and refine the critical thinking skills necessary to formulate and evaluate argumentative essays. Critical writing about philosophical and logical concepts that are applicable to any systematic thinking is emphasized."

 

Prerequisite(s)

English 101: College Reading and Composition

 

Student Learning Outcomes:

1.  Ability to summarize an argument and evaluate an essay's arguments with respect to clarity of key terms, emotive use of language, informal fallacies, underlying assumptions and values, as well as validity, soundness, and strength of arguments;

2.  Be able to synthesize various arguments presented in essays on a single topic, comparing and contrasting the main points.

 

Required Texts

*

Graff, Gerald. They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. Any Edition (without "The Readings" is fine), W.W. Norton and Co., 20__.

 

(Any edition of this book should work–without "The Readings" is fine.) 

 

 

Recommended Texts

*

Relevant entries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

 

 

Course Grade and Assignments

Group Exercise & Quizzes

10% of course grade

First Essay 

15% of course grade

Second Essay 

20% of course grade

Third Essay 

25% of course grade

Final Essay 

30% of course grade

 

Course Grade Grading Scale

A

100 – 90%

B

89 – 80%

C

79 – 70%

D

69 – 60%

F

59 – 0%

 

Essay Grade Gradings Scale

A

100 - 94%

A-

93 - 90%

B+

89 - 87%

B

86 - 83%

B-

82 - 80%

C+

79 - 77%

C

76 - 73%

C-

72 - 70%

D+

69 - 67%

D

66 - 63%

D-

62 - 60%

F

59 – 0%

 

Quiz and Groupwork Grading Scale

Credit

100%

No Credit

0%

 

General Ground Rules:

Do what you can to be collegial and respectful–and don't be intentionally offensive. 

 

Attendance (from the Pierce College Catalogue):

"Students are expected to be in class on time and to remain for the entire class period. Medical appointments, work, job interviews, child-care responsibilities, etc. should be arranged so as not to occur during class time. Please do not make requests for exceptions. Any student who has unexcused absences equaling one week's worth of class time prior to census date may be excluded. Students may drop the class online, before the last day to drop. Students should never rely on the instructor to exclude them. Do not call the college offices to report absences … ."

"By the last day to add the class, students are responsible to inform the instructor of any anticipated absences due to observance of major religious holidays so that alternative arrangements may be made. Failure to do so may result in an inability to make other arrangements or a lower grade." 

"Students who are registered in a class and miss the first meeting may lose their right to a place in the class, but the instructor may consider special circumstances. Instructors will generally only exclude students through the census date for non-attendance. It is the student's responsibility to drop classes in time to avoid fees and/or grades of 'W'."

 

In-Class Participation

You are expected to do the readings on time (i.e. before the class period indicated) and come to class prepared to discuss them. 

 

Group Exercises and Quizzes

At various times during the semester/session we will engage in group exercises and quizzes for credit/no-credit.  Other, specific expectations for the group exercises and quizzes will be spelled out in the group exercise prompts and the quizzes themselves.  Note: at no point will you be graded on someone else's performance, or lack of performance.  The lowest four group exercise and quiz grades will be dropped–so no make-up group exercises or quizzes will be given (unless you have some credible excuse, e.g. doctor's note, jury summons, obituary notice, etc.).  Here are some of my notes on group work. 

 

Essays

You will be given a prompt for each of the four essays, and approximately a week to complete it.  The single lowest of the four grades will be dropped.  Note: I will not drop an essay grade if the essay in question includes an instance of plagiarism.  The essays for this class must be philosophical.  Your essay must have an original thesis/argument and support for that thesis/argument.  Other, specific expectations for the essay will be spelled out in the essay prompts.  Also, you will be expected to correct errors in mechanics, usage, grammar, and spelling.  Here are some of my notes on writing philosophy essays. 

 

Drafts

You are encouraged (but not required) to submit rough drafts of assignments (except the final essay).  I will comment on your draft and offer advice and assistance where I can.  Rough drafts should not exceed half of the final draft length (e.g. if the final assignment is three pages the rough draft submitted for comments should not exceed one and a half pages).  The deadline for turning in a draft for comments is three days before the scheduled due date.  If I get swamped with drafts before the assignment is due I sometimes return comments two or three days later, along with an extended due date, so that you have time to take my comments into consideration. 

 

Late Paper Policy

If you have a credible excuse (e.g., doctor's note, jury summons, obituary notice, etc.) late take-home assignments will be accepted.  Extensions for take-home assignments will be given only when 1) a compelling reason is given and 2) permission is sought at least three days before the normal deadline.  Without a credible excuse, late assignments will be given a third of a letter grade penalty for each day the assignment is late for up to seven days, after which late assignments without a credible excess will not be accepted for anything more than half of the assignment's value. 

 

Extra Credit

For 2.5% of extra credit, to be applied to your final course grade, seek out the assistance of our tutor at least twice before the middle of the semester/session.  For another 2.5% of extra credit attend some on-campus event (after the middle of the semester/session, but before the final essay is due) and apply the skills we've developed over the course of the semester.  More details about both of these extra credit options can be found here: http://www.christopherlay.com/criticalcompositionextracredit.html

 

Turn-Around Times for Emails, Rough Drafts, and Final Drafts

I am usually able to respond to emails within 24-hours, but sometimes I cannot (e.g., it is the weekend, or it is the day before an assignment is due and everyone is emailing me with last-minute questions, etc.)  I usually return rough drafts with comments about two days after they have been submitted to me, but sometimes it takes longer because there is a sudden flood of rough drafts (e.g., when the due date is two days away).  I usually return final drafts (with the exception of the final assignment of the semester) two or three weeks (or one week during a shorter session) after they have been submitted to me (which is not always the same thing as the assignment's due date).  Taking that amount of time to grade final drafts allows me to give you all of the comments I give—I try and give many, many comments.  The final assignment of the semester will be returned upon request only. 

 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (from the Pierce College Catalogue):

"Students with physical, psychological or learning disabilities are offered a wide range of services including registration, special parking and counseling. These services are also available to students with a temporary disability such as injury or post-operative recuperation. All services and equipment are provided free of charge to any qualifying disabled student."

"Deaf and learning disabled students are offered additional services including special classes, tutoring and computer-assisted instruction. The Disabled Students Office is located in the Student Services Building, room 48175. The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m." 

Phone: (818) 719-6430

Fax: (818) 710-4219

VP Number:(818) 436-0467

Email: special_services@piercecollege.edu

 

Student Health Center

Medical and mental health services are available to all currently enrolled students at the Student Health Center. There is no cost to students to see any of the medical and mental health providers during extended office hours. Please contact the Student Health Center at 818.710.4270 to make an appointment or to ask a question, or see them on the second floor of the Student Services Building. 

 

Current and Former Foster Students

Pierce College is making a special effort to support current and former foster youths at Pierce College. If you are a current or former foster youth you may qualify for other support services to help you achieve your educational goals.  Please contact our Guardian Scholars Program at 818.710.3323 or send an email to guardianscholars@piercecollege.edu so you can get the support you are eligible for.

 

Name and Gender Policy

The campus provides me with a roster that lists the name that it has on record for you.  But you may prefer a different name. In such cases, please email me or correct me in class and I’ll gladly refer to you however you wish as best I can.  The same applies with gender identity – if you identify with a particular pronoun, set of pronouns, or always by your proper name, please let me know and I’ll be sure to my part.

 

Academic Counseling Services

Academic counselors are available to assist you in identifying and clarifying your academic values and goals, developing a Student Education Plan, and interpreting articulation agreements with other colleges and universities amongst other things.  Please contact the Pierce College Counseling Center at 818.719.6440, or see them on the first floor of the Student Services Building. 

 

Tutors

The Center for Academic Success helps students who need academic support.  Tutors can help you acquire the skills and tools necessary to meet your academic, vocational, or personal goals. All tutoring services are free to currently enrolled Pierce College students.  Please contact the Pierce College Center for Academic Success at 818.719.6414, or see them on the first floor of the Library & Learning Crossroads Building. 

 

Three Attempts Policy

Familiarize yourself with the new statewide policy regarding how many times (generally 3) you may attempt a class before you are ‘locked out’ of further attempts in the LACCD.  See the Pierce College Schedule of Classes, the Counseling Center, or me for more info. 

 

Dates to Remember

Make sure to familiarize yourself with important dates (official holidays, the last day to drop without a W, the last day to drop with a W, etc.) found on the Pierce College academic calendar.

 

Reading and Assignment Schedule

(Subject to occasional change)

 

 

Week One

Introductions, the Metaphysics of College, & Representation

First Meeting

 

Reading: Course Syllabus including Schedule of Readings and Assignments  

Second Meeting

Reading: Delbanco's "College at Risk"

 

Optional Reading: V Soni's (2019) "There's a Loneliness Crisis on College Campuses

 

Reading: They Say, I Say, "Introduction: Entering the Conversation."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, "Introduction: Entering the Conversation."

 

Optional Reading: Labaree's (2018) "The Five-Paragraph Fetish: Writing essays by a formula was meant to be a step on the way.  Now it's the stifling goal for student and scholar alike," from aeon.co

 

Week Two

Critical Thinking, College, & Self-Knowledge

 

Reading: excerpts from Plato's "Apology" (the bolded parts on pages 1-4 & 13) 

 

Reading: They Say, I Say, Chapter 1 "'They Say:' Starting with What Others Are Saying"

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 1

 

Sample Paragraphs Outlined for a Working Draft of the First Essay

 

Optional Reading: "The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage," by Michael S. Teitelbaum

Lecture Notes for optional " Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage," by Michael S. Teitelbaum

 

Sunday, February 23

First Essay (3 pages) Due

 

Week Three

Doubt and Error 

 

 

Reading: Bill Nye on Descartes (transcript only)

Optional Reading: Bill Nye Reversal on Philosophy

Optional Reading: Phil[osophy] Skills

 

Reading: excerpts ("First Meditation" only) from Descartes' Meditations

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 2 "'Her Point Is': The Art of Summarizing." 

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 2

Week Four

Doubt and Certitude  

 

Reading: excerpts ("First Meditation" only) from Descartes' Meditations

 

Reading: They Say, I Say, Chapter 3 "'As He Himself Puts It': The Art of Quoting."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 3

 

 

Week Five

Thinking and Bodies

 

Reading: excerpts ("Second Meditation" only) from Descartes' Meditations

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 4 "'Yes / No / Okay, But': Three Ways to Respond." 

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 4

 

 

Week Six

Inner vs. Outer Knowledge

 

Reading: excerpts ("Sixth Meditation" only) from Descartes' Meditations

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 4 "'Yes / No / Okay, But': Three Ways to Respond." 

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 4

 

 

Second Essay (5 pages) Due

 

Week Seven

Implicit Bias

 

Reading: excerpts from Alexander's The New Jim Crow

 

Optional Reading: Banaji Interview Transcript 

Optional Reading: Baum's "Legalize it All: How to win the war on drugs"

Optional Reading: Ojiaku's "Is Everybody a Racist?"

Optional Reading: "Pre-Suasion"

Optional Reading: Gayla's "A Federal Court Asks Jurors to Confront Their Hidden Biases: But is a novel video tutorial the best way?  The jury is still out." 

Optional Reading: Lyon's "[Seven] Criminal Cases That Invoked the 'Sleepwalking Defense'"

Optional Reading: Lyon's "When Sleep Problems Become Legal Problems, Neuroscience Can Help"

Optional Reading: Hayward's "Implicit Bias: The New 'Original Sin'"

Optional Reading: Daryl Davis & the KKK: "'When Two Enemies are Talking, They're Not Fighting': Meet the Black Man who has Made a Career Out of Befriending Members of the KKK"

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 5 "'And Yet': Distinguishing What You Say from What They Say." 

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 5

 

 

Week Eight

Analogical Minds

 

Reading: excerpts from Russell's "The Argument from Analogy for Other Minds" from Human Knowledge

 

Notes on Research

 

Optional Reading: "Spectacle" and "Investigation" from Clever Hans

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 6 "Skeptics May Object': Planting a Naysayer in Your Text."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 6

 

Week None

Spring Break

 

Week Nine

Researching the Self

 

Reading: Purugganan & Hewitt's "How to Read a Scientific Article"

 

Optional Reading: Kaste's (2017) "Eliminating Police Bias When Handling Drug-Sniffing Dogs"

Optional Reading: (2011) "Explosive- and Drug-Sniffing Dogs' Performance is Affected by Their Handlers' Beliefs"

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 7 "'So What?  Who Cares?': Saying Why It Matters." 

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 7

 

Week Ten

Review

 

Review

 

 

Third Essay (7 pages) Due

 

Week Eleven

Consciousness

 

Reading: excerpts from Book I of Brentano's Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint  (Chapter II §§ 1, 3, 4, & the last paragraph of 5) 

 

Optional Reading: Nanay's (2017) "'Know Thyself' is not just silly advice: its's actively dangerous"

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 8 "'As a Result': Connecting the Parts."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 8

 

Week Twelve

Consciousness

 

Reading: excerpts from Book II of Brentano's Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (Chapter I §§ 5 & 6, Chapter II §§ 1, 2, 3, & 7) 

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 9 "'Ain't So / Is Not': Academic Writing Doesn't Always Mean Setting Aside Your Own Voice."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 9

 

Unorganized Questions about Brentano's Theory of Mind

 

Week Thirteen

The Unconscious

 

Reading: excerpts from Book II of Brentano's Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (Chapter I §§ 5 & 6, Chapter II §§ 1, 2, 3, & 7) 

 

Reading:  They Say, I Say, Chapter 10 "'But Don't Get Me Wrong': The Art of Metacommentary."

Lecture Notes for They Say, I Say, Chapter 10

 

 

Week Fourteen

Empathy

 

Reading: excerpts from Stein's On the Problem of Empathy

 

Optional Reading: (2013) "Dove Real Beauty Sketches"

 

Week Fifteen

Empathy and Self-Knowledge

 

Reading: excerpts from Stein's On the Problem of Empathy

 

 

Week Sixteen

Finals Week (Schedule)

 

Final Essay (9 pages) Due by 11:59PM for students in course #16201

Lecture Meeting Times:  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:35AM to 11:00AM. (I will be in the normal classroom during the scheduled final exam time.)

 

 

Final Essay (9 pages) Due by 11:59PM for students in course #16205

which meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:10AM to 12:35PM. (I will be in the normal classroom during the scheduled final exam time.)

 

 

 

 

 

Conduct on Campus for Students and Instructors (from http://info.piercecollege.edu/info/conduct/index.asp): 

"LACCD Board Rule 9803 STANDARDS OF CONDUCT"

"A student enrolling in one of the Los Angeles Community Colleges may rightfully expect that the faculty and administrators of the Colleges will maintain an environment in which there is freedom to learn. This requires that there be appropriate conditions and opportunities in the classroom and on the campus. As members of the college community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment, to engage in the sustained and independent search for truth, and to exercise their rights to free inquiry and free speech in a responsible, non-violent manner. In the furtherance of the students' interest in free inquiry and the search for truth, it is also important that students be able to hear the views of non-students and engage in the free exchange of ideas with non-students."

 

Academic Honesty (from the Pierce College Catalogue):

"I . Violations of academic honesty and integrity occur when a student participates in any act in which he/she uses deception or fraud while performing an academic activity. Violations include, but are not limited to, the following:

"• Submitting for a grade the words, ideas, and/or written work (including laboratory notes and drawings) of another person without giving due credit to that person. This includes purchased papers or papers written by other students."

 

Student Grievances (from http://www.piercecollege.edu/offices/compliance/stdgrievance.asp): 

"The student grievance procedure is designed to provide a prompt and equitable means for resolving student grievances, including but not limited to the grading process. The grievance procedure may be initiated by a student or group of students who reasonably believe that they have been subject to unjust action or denied rights that adversely affect their status, rights, or privileges as a student. To initiate a student grievance, please contact the Office of Student Services at 818-710-6418."

"Informal Resolution"

"All parties involved in a potential grievance are encouraged to seek an informal remedy."

"The recommended steps for students to follow are:

"meeting directly with the faculty member(s) with whom the student has a problem"

"meeting with the department chair of the faculty member(s)"

"meeting with the department's Dean of Academic Affair" or

"meeting with the College Ombudsperson Ombudspersons are faculty members appointed by the Academic Senate to assist students in obtaining informal resolution of a grievance."