PHL 320 Critical Thinking (2015-16)

PHL 320U

Critical Thinking

Dr. Jeff Johnson

Distance Delivery

PHIL 320U is a course on evidence evaluation. We will be exploring the practical and theoretical applications of a particular model of good evidence  ‐‐  inference to the best explanation, in practical, scientific, literary, and even theological contexts. I intend the skills developed in this course to be of value, not only in other Philosophy courses, but in your general academic and professional lives, as well.

Required Texts:

Learning Outcomes:

  • Mastery of inference to the best explanation
  • Knowledge of Semmelweis’s discovery of the cause of childbed fever
  • Knowledge of Darwin’s theory of common descent
  • Knowledge of Darwin’s theory of natural selection
  • Knowledge of philosophical discussions of mystical experiences
  • Knowledge of the constitutional issues regarding the death penalty

Means of Assessment and Grading

  • Eight weekly quizzes (top seven used in final grade calculation) (10% each of course grade)
  • Analytical paper (30% of course grade)


WEEK ONE – Schematizing arguments

Quiz One due 10/4/16

WEEK TWO – Inference to the best explanation

Quiz Two due 10/11/16

WEEK THREE – New data and experimentation

Quiz Three due 10/18/16

WEEK FOUR – Darwin’s theories of common descent and natural selection

Quiz Four due 10/25/16

WEEK FIVE – Contemporary evolutionary theory

Quiz Five due 11/1/16

WEEK SIX – Testimony

Quiz Six due 11/8/16

WEEK SEVEN – Textual interpretation

Quiz Seven due 11/15/16

WEEK EIGHT – Constitutional interpretation

Quiz Eight due 11/22/16

WEEK NINE – Race and the death penalty

WEEK TEN – Analytical paper

Analytical Paper due 12/5/16