Summer 2018 - PHIL 105 D100

Critical Thinking (3)

Class Number: 4585

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    RCB IMAGTH, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 9, 2018
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SWH 10081, Burnaby



An introduction to the evaluation of arguments as they are encountered in everyday life. The central aim will be to sharpen skills of reasoning and argumentation by understanding how arguments work and learning to distinguish those which actually prove what they set out to show from those which do not. Open to all students. Student with credit for PHIL XX1 may not take this course for further credit. Q/Breadth-Social Sci/Sciences.


This course is designed to improve your natural ability to reason in everyday contexts, and to improve your ability to think about that collective application of reason—science.  It is a course in the critical, thoughtful assessment of arguments and evidence.  Arguments consist, in this context, of the presentation of reasons to accept a conclusion.  They are what you should consult when trying to answer a variety of questions:  Should you vote for candidate X?  Should you change your behaviour in light of a study that claims factor Y causes factor Z?  Should you buy my used van?

In this course, we focus on two things.  One, we try to improve our ability to understand an argument or scientific study: what conclusion does the writer or speaker intend us to believe?; what claims is he or she making and how are they supposed to provide support for the conclusion?  Two, we try to improve our ability to evaluate an argument or scientific study: does the argument/study offered give us good grounds for believing its conclusion?  Somewhat more specifically, we will learn to distinguish arguments from other forms of persuasion, to differentiate deductive and inductive reasoning, to appreciate the basics of research methodology, to evaluate non-technical reports of scientific studies, and to recognize types of informal fallacies.

This is, in summary, a practical course, a course in applied logic.  It should help you to be a better reader and listener, thereby helping you to be a better writer and speaker.  It should make you thoughtful about research design and just generally a better consumer of the information available to you.  It should give you some of the tools you will need to pursue your chosen interests and fulfill your capacity to be rational.  What it cannot do is hone those tools or delve deeply into the subjects that make their acquisition worthwhile.  Reflection and practice are required for those tasks; they must be left to the rest of your university career and other of your intellectual pursuits.  Our goal is lofty enough – to learn to reason well.


PHIL 105 may be applied towards the Certificate in Liberal Arts, the Quantitative Requirement, and the Breadth-Social Sciences Requirement OR the Breadth-Science Requirement (but not both; student can choose which Breadth requirement to satisfy and plan enrollment in other courses accordingly).

: PHIL 105 has replaced PHIL XX1. If you have taken PHIL XX1 in the past and you enroll in PHIL 105, it will be considered a repeat.


  • Assignments 10%
  • Lecture participation (clickers) 10%
  • First midterm 20%
  • Second midterm 25%
  • Final 35%




As you may know, i>clickers can be used in different classes.  If you already have one, don’t buy another.  If you don't already have one, buy one knowing that you can use it in other courses, or just borrow one if you can bring it to every lecture and register it.  I>clicker 1 is fine for this course, as I ask only multiple-choice questions.  I>clicker 2 and i>clicker + are also fine, but Web-clicker is not.  Details available early in the term.  Bring your clicker to the very first lecture if you have it, but don’t fret about having one or registering it (until Week 2).


Reason and Argument Custom Edition for SFU.  Richard Feldman, Pearson/Prentice Hall, ISBN: 978-1-323-16518-8 or 978-0-536-38233-7 or 0-536-38233-6.  Just buy one book!  [Additional material may be made available as pdf (so, free) via our secure website.]

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.