Course Syllabus

PHIL 3: Critical Thinking
SPRING 2020, Dr. Mulder

Section 5503 TTh 10:30-12:00, room 1520

Section 6179 TTh 1:30-3:00, room 1520

Office: Appointment required, available TTh 12:30-1:20, Emeritus 1516

Instructor Contact: USE “INBOX” in CANVAS

(non-enrolled students use email:


AS SOON AS YOU ARE ENROLLED IN THIS CLASS, ***CLICK ON YOUR CANVAS ACCOUNT (just under SRJC logo in the top left), click "NOTIFICATIONS," and make sure "ANNOUNCEMENT" and "CONVERSATION MESSAGE" are turned ON. You may select others if you choose***

Students With Special Needs

Every effort is made to conform to accessibility standards for all instructor-created materials. Students should contact their instructor as soon as possible if they find that they cannot access any course materials. We can AWLAYS find a way to make it work! Students with disabilities who believe they need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disability Resources (527-4278).


  1. UnSpun, by Jackson and Jamieson. New York: Random House, 2007. Reserve: BF637.D42 J33 2007. Also available as an e-book, iBook.
  2. Science and Religion by Thomas Dixon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Reserve: BL240.3 .D57 2008
  3. Prof. Mulder's Online Notes for Critical Thinking

Recommended online resource: Critical Thinking 4th edition

You can locate and order textbooks online via the SRJC Bookstore or online elsewhere. Older editions can be quite cheap online at Ebay, Amazon, etc.

Course Description

This course teaches practical reasoning, argumentation and the analysis of language as useful tools for making reasonable decisions about what to do and believe.

This is an introductory course in critical thinking and critical reading skills. In this course, you will learn how to identify, construct, analyze, and evaluate ARGUMENTS. These skills will increase your comprehension of material you read in other courses and material from the media. These skills will also make your writing clearer and more persuasive. We will cover the different kinds of argument and various methods for evaluating arguments. We will also work on critically reading argumentative ("persuasive") essays and writing short argumentative passages. You will develop your ability to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments and, your ability to reason and write well. We will study fallacies, language, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, and arguments involving probability and statistics. We will also give special attention to advertising, the news media, political rhetoric, fake news, and science vs. pseudo-science.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Analyze arguments to identify and explain the claims and premises.
2. Evaluate arguments to determine whether claims are adequately supported.
3. Compose cogent written arguments.


Class Meetings

Class Meetings:

Section 5503, TTh 10:30-12:00, Emeritus 1520, Jan. 14 - May 14.

Section 6179, TTh 1:30-3:00, Emeritus 1520, Jan. 14 - May 14.

Course Web Site

Students will use the Canvas course web site for assignment instructions, submitting assignments, viewing classmates' work, sharing resources, and viewing grades.

Course Requirements:


* Please show respect to your fellow students and the instructor. It's OK to disagree with others but do so respectfully rather than in a way that shuts people down or makes them feel hurt. And if you think you know more than the instructor, you should be teaching your own class.

*Political propaganda, either left-wing or right-wing, will not be tolerated.
* Please arrive on time for class. If you must be late, for reasons beyond your control, please do not disrupt the class. Find a seat as near to the door as possible, as quietly as possible.

* Please do not talk during class (except for participating in class discussions) or engage in other behavior that might be distracting for other students.

* NO texting, tweeting, video gaming, etc. etc. during class. If I catch you texting, tweeting, gaming, or browsing the web during class, I'll ask you to "take it outside."

* Please do not start packing your things until I dismiss you. What I say in the last few minutes of class is often the most important information for you to keep up with assignments.

* Cell Phone Use: Students and professor alike are to keep cell phones turned off or in silent mode during class, except for serious reasons. Please advise the professor before class if you have a situation that might require you to possibly take an urgent call.


Class Participation (25 points)

Proper classroom conduct and respectfulness, and regular attendance and participation in class are required. See Standards of Conduct and Attendance below.

Class Presentation (25 points)

You may present a brief summary and explanation of an article, from a list I will provide, on topics related to our course. Alternately, you may find and present to the class one example of a “critical thinking lapse” or a “critical thinking success” from your own experience or someone you know. I will give you several examples in class before any students have to give a presentation. You’ll be graded about 2/3 on the content and about 1/3 on the quality/clarity of your presentation style.

Assignments (30 points each)

Regular reading assignments from the textbooks and my own online materials in Canvas must be completed before the class meeting for which they are assigned.

There will be SIX (6) graded homework exercise sets (worth 25 points each) online in Canvas. All homework will be CUMULATIVE, but emphasizing the most recent topics. LOWEST GRADE DROPS on NOV. 20, so FIVE (5) Count

All homework must be completed and turned in online in CANVAS. If it's not in your Canvas account, it doesn't count.

Two submissions for each exercise set allowed; grade equals average of two scores. They will consist of short answer, fill-in the blank, multiple-choice, true-false, and matching. The material comes from the textbook, class lectures and supplemental materials (videos).

Graded homework in Canvas opens after Thursday's class meeting and is due BEFORE 10:00 am on the following Tuesday, giving you 100+ HOURS to get it done. NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED.

Final Exam 50 points

OPEN BOOKS, OPEN NOTES. The material comes from the textbook, class lectures and supplemental materials.

If you get at least a PASSING GRADE on the final, you will not drop below the course average you had before the final!!! (Dropping a whole letter grade at the very end is just too cruel :-0

Late Policy

No late work accepted. All assignments are due at the designated time on the due date. Assignments will be open in Canvas for 100+ HOURS, so NO LATE WORK IS ACCEPTED.

Grading Policy

Click the “Grades” link in Canvas to keep track of your grades.


Class Participation: 25 points

Class Presentation: 25 points

Graded Homework Exercises: 30 points each (x5 after dropping lowest)

Final Exam: 50 points

250 points TOTAL

Grades will be assigned as follows:

A: 90-100%
B: 79-90%
C: 67-79%
D: 55-67%

If taking Pass/No Pass you need at least a 67% overall average and must complete the final exam to pass the class.

Required Software

Chrome is the recommended browser for Canvas

Run this computer readiness test to check your browser for plugins and versions.

Dropping the Class

If you decide to discontinue this course, it is your responsibility to officially drop it. A student may be dropped from any class by the instructor when that student's absences exceed ten percent (10%) of the total hours of class time. It is strongly advised that if you need to miss more than one class/homework deadline in a row that you contact the instructor to avoid being dropped from the class.


For face-to-face courses, students who fail to attend the first class meeting may be dropped by the instructor. For classes that meet online, students who fail to log on and initiate participation by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the first day of the class may be dropped by the instructor.

Instructors are required to drop all No-Show students immediately following the second class meeting. A No-Show is an enrolled student who has not attended any class meeting of the course. For classes that meet online, a No-Show is an enrolled student who has not logged on and initiated active participation by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the second day of the class.

Pass‐NoPass (P/NP)

[You may take this class P/NP. You must decide before the deadline, and add the option online with TLC or file the P/NP form with Admissions and Records. With a grade of C or better, you will get P.

You must file for the P/NP option by [date]. Once you decide to go for P/NP, you cannot change back to a letter grade. If you are taking this course as part of a certificate program, you can probably still take the class P/NP. Check with a counselor to be sure.]

Instructor Announcements and Q&A Forum

The instructor will post announcements on the Announcements page in Canvas throughout the semester. Canvas notifies students according to their preferred Notification Preferences. SET YOUR NOTIFICATION PREFERENCES TO INCLUDE ANNOUNCEMENTS & CONVERSATION MESSAGE.

Standards of Conduct

Students who register in SRJC classes are required to abide by the SRJC Student Conduct Standards. Violation of the Standards is basis for referral to the Vice President of Student Services or dismissal from class or from the College.

Collaborating on or copying of tests or homework in whole or in part will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and result in a grade of 0 for that test or assignment. Students are encouraged to share information and ideas, but not their work. SRJC Policy

Special Needs

Every effort is made to conform to accessibility standards for all instructor-created materials. Students should contact their instructor as soon as possible if they find that they cannot access any course materials. Students with disabilities who believe they need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disability Resources (527-4278).

List of assignments

Note to students: the assignments listed below do not include all course content. To view all course content, go to HOME.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due