AP/PHIL2200 3.0 A: Critical Reasoning

Offered by: PHIL


Summer 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

A systematic study of practical argument, formal and informal fallacies, and the relationship between arguing well and winning an argument. Methods of identifying and undermining specious arguments will be explored as well as the question of when argument becomes propaganda. Course credit exclusion: AP/MODR 1770 6.00.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Dr. Patrick J.J. Phillips


Office Location:  S401A Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33624


Office hours: Monday 10.30 – 11.30 am (or by appointment) (prior to Monday’s lecture)


    Expanded Course Description

The topic of this course is critical reasoning.  Students will be challenged and required to improve their rhetorical and analytical argumentative skills.  This will be achieved through the acquisition of methods of logical analysis and the application of these methods to problems in philosophy through debate, discussion and writing.

    Required Course Text / Readings

The Power of Critical Thinking by Chris MacDonald and Lewis Vaughn

Fourth OR Fifth Canadian Edition

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 978-0-19-901868-0

What Does it All Mean? by Thomas Nagel
112 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (October 15, 1987)
ISBN-10: 0195052161
ISBN-13: 978-0195052169

Suggested Readings:
The Challenge of Relativism by Patrick J.J. Phillips
Hardcover:    157 pages
Publisher:      Continuum International Publishing Group (December 16, 2007)
ISBN-10:        0826497950
ISBN-13:        978-0826497956

    Weighting of Course

Two Debates: Dates T.B.A. (pass/fail) for a total of 10%. Note Students MUST attended both to receive this grade. Missing ONE of the two debates will result in a grade of zero.

Three exams (held in class)

In-Class Test 1: May 15th  2019 (35%)

In-Class Test 2: May 22nd  2019 (35%)

In-Class Test 3: June 5th  2019 (20%)


    Organization of the Course

This course is an exercise in experiential learning.  This model will include critical thinking, critical writing and critical reading skills.


Assessment for the course will test for the successful acquisition of these skills.


Debates and discussions will form the forefront of pedagogy in this course. Students will be required to discuss and debate the issues both in class and in tutorial.  Those students who do not wish to discuss their ideas are discouraged from undertaking this course. In addition, students will be challenged via an experiential learning model to develop their spoken and written eloquence, their listening skills, as well as their ability to argue their position, through the study and practice of: (i) argument, (ii) logic (including the fallacies), (iii) rhetoric; and iv) the practical application of skills gained in debates (debates will form part of the assessment for this course).


It is suggested that all students come reading-prepared with a set of questions and discussion points to all lectures. It is also suggested that students obtain a dictionary for use in lectures.


The approaches to course material will not be limited to the course texts but will also include social media, blogs and visual media sources such as films and documentaries.


There is no website for this course.  Readings will be announced on a lecture-to-lecture basis and, therefore, an emphasis is placed on the student to take full responsibility for any missed work and to collaborate with their fellow students to a high degree in discussions, assignments and for the purposes of the general business of the course (i.e. sharing lecture notes, dates, readings assigned, etc.).  Be mindful that this is NOT an online course and attendance at lectures is a pre-requisite for success.  Lectures will feature discussions and debates.  Formal debates will form part of the course assessment.  Tests on both the course readings and lectures will also feature.  If a lecture is missed, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain a set of lecture notes from a classmate.


Use of Smart Phones


The use of smart phones is strongly discouraged in lectures.


All course business will be discussed in office hours, NOT prior to, during or following, the lecture.

E-mail: Please ensure that email messages are in the formal mode, professional, clear and coherent.  Avoid instant text messaging terms, inappropriate language, emoticons and poor spelling, punctuation or grammar. The subject line of all emails must contain the following information: your first and last names, your student number, course name and section number. Simply put, if we cannot understand your email, we cannot respond to it.


Missed Exams

Students with acceptable documentation must request permission from
the Course Director to attend a make-up exam.  Make-up exams are NOT guaranteed.

Complete documentation on correct York University forms must accompany requests for make-up exams. Be aware that doctor(s) must complete York University’s Physician Statement to be found in on York’s Registrar site.  Documentation must be presented during the Course Director’s office hours. Missed assignments must be brought to the attention of the Course Director within 48 hours of the missed assignment.

Assignment Submission and Lateness Penalties

A 5% per calendar day grade reduction will apply, unless accompanied by a doctor’s note, court-date note, or other official documentation detailing a serious matter.

Please be mindful: Grades are not negotiable.

Extensions or accommodation for the final exam or any other
evaluation for the course will require students to submit a formal
petition to the Liberal and Professional Studies
.  Note: Family holidays, family events/celebrations and work commitments are not excusing conditions for missing exams or other work assignments.

The student must contact the Course Director and the Tutorial Leader in person, by telephone or email within 24 hours of the missed test/exam You must clearly state the following:

  • your name (it helps to spell your last name)
  • your student number, course and section
  • phone number and email where you can be reached
  • the reason why you missed the test/exam

2) If you cannot contact the the course director during this 24 hour period, subsequent documentation accounting for the delay must be provided.

3) You must also provide the following information within 24 hours:

  • A list of the dates and times for all other exams that you are required to write during the examination period. For each exam you must identify the course name, number, and section, as well as the name of the instructor.

4) Appropriate documentation verifying the circumstances for the missed test/exam must be provided at the time specified by the instructor. Failure to provide appropriate documentation will result in a grade of F on the missed test.

What is appropriate documentation?

a) medical circumstances – tests/exams missed due to medical circumstances must be supported by an attending physician’s statement or a statement by a psychologist or counselor. The physician’s statement must include the following:

  1. full name, mailing address, telephone number of the physician.
  2. state the nature of the illness and its duration (i.e., specific dates covered), and
  3. an indication of whether the illness and/or medication prescribed would have SERIOUSLY affected the student’s ability to study and perform over the day of the exam.


  • a headache, stomach ache or cold will not be considered sufficient excuse.
  • the physician's office may be contacted to verify that the forms were completed by the physician.

b) non-medical circumstances – tests/exams missed due to non-medical circumstances must be supported by appropriate documentation, i.e., death certificates, obituary notice, automobile accident reports, airline/bus ticket/receipt for emergency travel (with date of booking on ticket), etc. Airline/train/bus ticket/receipts for emergency travel must indicate destination, departure, and return dates. Having to work at the time of a test is not considered a valid excuse for missing the test.

5) The course director will examine the documentation provided by the student to determine whether the student is eligible to write a make-up exam. The course director will inform the student of his decision.

6) The manner in which the missed test (which has been legitimately documented) is handled will be at the discretion of the course director. In the case of a make-up test/exam, the student must be prepared to write the test at a date set by the instructor. Although the content to be examined will be the same, the format may or may not follow that of the original test/exam. A conflict in another course during the time of the make-up is not an acceptable reason for missing the make-up (unless there is an examination in the other course at that time).

Please enquire at the Department of Philosophy on the 4th Floor in South Ross regarding any formal petition process.

    Additional Information / Notes

All course-related business must be discussed in the office hours of the Course Director during office hours and NOT before, during or after lecturesThere no exceptions.  The Course Director’s (Dr. Patrick Phillips) office hours are Monday 10.30 -11.30 in South Ross 401A (or by appointment).


Readings will be assigned in class on a week-to-week basis.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain the readings assigned, as well as any information and handouts given out during a lecture, from a classmate if the student is absent from a lecture for any reason.

    Relevant Links / Resources