PY114-4-FY-CO:
Critical Reasoning and Logical Argument

The details
2023/24
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Current
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
30
13 October 2023

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

(none)

Module description

Philosophical work involves dealing in arguments: assembling evidence in support of some conclusion. Such arguments are occasionally simple but often very complex; they are sometimes valid but they are often fallacious.This module functions as a kind of 'boot camp' intended to develop and hone the skills and methods required for university-level work in philosophy and related disciplines.


The primary aim of the module is to assemble and hone a set of tools for (a) the identification of arguments in philosophical prose (b) the representation of arguments in summaries, in argument-schemata and in symbolization (c) the assessment of arguments both for logical soundness and for rhetorical effectiveness (d) the formulation of effective arguments in the writing of essays and examinations. The module also provides opportunities for developing the distinctive skills involved in oral presentation of argument and navigating the ensuing debates.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:



  • To develop and hone the skills required for university-level work in philosophy and related disciplines.

  • To introduce techniques of logical analysis.

  • To develop the capacity to present and critically analyse arguments.

  • To develop the capacity to use critical thinking reflexively.

  • To develop the ability to produce university-level writing.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the autumn term, students will be expected to be able to:



  1. Identify and articulate arguments as presented in philosophical and other forms of prose.

  2. Have developed a range of skills for the assessment of arguments.

  3. Identify informal argumentative fallacies.

  4. Represent arguments using sentential letters and logical connectives.

  5. Construct and interpret truth tables.

  6. Have enhanced and developed their ability to write clear, forceful, argumentative essays in which arguments are presented and critically assessed, and in which a thesis is critically defended.


By the end of the spring term, students will be expected to be able to:



  1. Have a developed understanding of contemporary and historical approaches to the problem of free will.

  2. Identify both formal and informal fallacies.

  3. Have gained familiarity with the basic concepts of formal logic, including the notions of validity, soundness, deduction, induction, logical form, disjunctive proof, conditional proof, reductio ad absurdum, conjunction, disjunction, quantification, bivalence, dilemma.

  4. Be capable of constructing and assessing natural deduction proofs.

  5. Have a basic understanding of the universal and existential quantifiers, and their role in logical argument.

  6. Have enhanced and developed their capacity for philosophical analysis and argument through the study of what constitutes a valid argument.

Module information

Each year the module supervisor selects one or two philosophical topics to be used as target areas for argumentative analysis. These topics vary from year to year but will be selected so as to avoid overlap with other materials covered elsewhere in the first-year curriculum. Possible topics include: Can there be free will in a deterministic universe? What constitutes personal identity over time? What does it mean to follow a rule? How is self-knowledge possible? Students read a sampling of classic texts pertaining to the chosen topic to use as a basis for the primary skill-focused work of the module. In 2023-24, the topic will be: `Free Will`.


Coursework assignments will focus on skills of analysis and writing, and on the basic skills of elementary symbolic logic, including symbolization, construction of truth-tables, working of natural deduction proofs. Students will be given the opportunity to discuss their coursework, and will receive close feedback on essay-writing skills and methods. The module provides the opportunity for students to make brief oral presentations, but these will be neither required nor assessed.

Recommended reading
Watson, Free Will (Second Edition), (Oxford University Press, 2003).


This is an unusually work-intensive module, with weekly written homework assignments or logic exercises. It requires a high level of commitment from the students enrolled.


The module is open to students of all abilities. Whatever their starting point, intensive instructional support will be provided to help students achieve a `step-change` in their skills as they embark upon university-level studies in philosophy and related disciplines.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

Autumn term

  • One 2-hour lecture per week.
  • One 50-minute tutorial per week.

Spring term

  • One 2-hour lecture per week.
  • One class per week.
  • Two revisions sessions in the summer term.

Week 8 (Autumn Term) and Week 21 (Spring Term) are Reading Weeks; there will be no teaching events and no weekly assignments due in the two Reading Weeks.

Bibliography

This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Wk 3 - Formative Assignment 1  16/10/2023  0% 
Coursework   Wk 4 - Formative Assignment 2  23/10/2023  0% 
Coursework   Wk 5 - Formative Assignment 3  30/10/2023  0% 
Coursework   Week 6 summative assignment (1)  06/11/2023  16.66% 
Coursework   Wk 7 - Formative Assignment 4  13/11/2023  0% 
Coursework   Week 9 summative assignment (2)  27/11/2023  16.67% 
Coursework   Wk 10 - Formative Assignment 5  04/12/2023  0% 
Coursework   Week 11 summative assignment (3)  11/12/2023  16.67% 
Coursework   Wk 17 - Formative Assignment 6  22/01/2024  0% 
Coursework   Week 18 summative assignment (4)  29/01/2024  16.66% 
Coursework   Wk 19 - Formative Assignment 7  05/02/2024  0% 
Coursework   Wk 20 - Formative Assignment 8  12/02/2024  0% 
Coursework   Week 22 summative assignment (5)  26/02/2024  16.67% 
Coursework   Wk 23 - Formative Assignment 9  04/03/2024  0% 
Coursework   Wk 24 - Formative Assignment 10  11/03/2024   
Coursework   Week 25 summative assignment (6)  18/03/2024  16.67% 
Exam  Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 240.666666666667hr during January 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during September (Reassessment Period) 

Additional coursework information

The coursework will consist of weekly assignments in the Autumn and Spring terms, with the first assignment due in Week 3. There will be a total of 16 weekly assignments over the course of Autumn and Spring terms. However only six of these assignments are “summative.” That is, only six weekly assignments will be used in the calculation of the coursework mark for the module. The other ten weekly assignments are “formative.” They form an essential part of the skill development for the module, but they will not be assigned a numerical mark that will be used in calculation of the coursework mark for the module.

The Autumn Term summative coursework assignments will be due in Weeks 6, 9 and 11. The Spring Term summative course work assignments will be due in Weeks 18, 22 and 25. Each of the six summative coursework assignments will be worth 16.67% of the overall coursework mark for the module.

Coursework assignments will take two different forms: three will be short writing assignments; three will be logic exercise sets.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Wayne Martin, email: wmartin@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; pyugadmin@essex.ac.uk.

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
No

External examiner

Dr Josiah Saunders
Durham University
Associate Professor
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 28 hours, 24 (85.7%) hours available to students:
4 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.

 


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