AP/MODR1760 6.0 D: Reasoning About Morality and Values

Offered by: MODR


Summer 2019





Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

This is a skills-based course focusing on critical thinking, critical writing, and logical and linguistic analysis. The course uses examples drawn from areas in the humanities where value judgements are made. Different sections will stress different topics in ethics, aesthetics, religion or law. Course credit exclusions: AP/MODR 1730 6.00, 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. Jai Chetram
jaichetr@yorku.ca  and jaichetram@rogers.com
Office Location:  S401A Ross Building
Phone Number:  (416) 736 – 2100 Ext. 33624
Office Hours:  Tuesday & Thursday 2:00 - 3:30 (by appointment only)

    Expanded Course Description

The purpose of this course is to teach critical reasoning skills that are applicable and invaluable to your academic studies, professional career and your life in general.  The goal is to develop a rational and critical viewpoint that can be applied in general to analyze concepts, statements, arguments and theories. This aim is achieved by examining modes of reasoning drawn from the area of morality and values. We will cover a diverse range of Ethical Theories such as Kantian Deontological Ethics, Utilitarianism, Rights bases Ethics and Virtue Ethics. In the third section of the course, These moral theories will be applied in a multi - disciplinary manner from disciplines such as The Social Science, Sociology, Feminism, Humanities, Law and Education.


The course will coach students how to develop critical skills in how to to read or listen to other ideas and perspectives with an engaged mind, think critically about those ideas, develop cogent arguments and how to verbalize those ideas clearly and concisely, orally and in writing.


The course will be divided into three sections.  The first section of the course is devoted to learning analytical techniques. The use and misuse of language will be examined. Conceptual, factual and evaluative issues will be distinguished.  The basic forms of reasoning, their uses and limits will be analyzed.  Fallacies that are frequently found in ordinary discussion, academic texts, mass media, advertising, etc. will be carefully studied.   The avoidance of these fallacies and learning the analysis of arguments and fallacies will be a major concern in the first third of the course.


The second section of the course will concentrate on the techniques of conceptual analysis. The aim in the second third of the course is to master a step by step set of techniques for working out the meanings of unclear concepts and questions.  For example, we may work on questions of concept like: “Is Religion compatible with Evolution?”; “Does Morality apply to Humans outside Social Conventions?” and “Is Democracy a Universal Value?”  The techniques teach you to describe the way concepts work in concrete cases and to analyze their abstract characteristics and uses.


In the final section of the course we apply these skills to the analysis of texts.  We will put into practice the techniques learned in the first section on argument and in the second section on concept analysis.  Moreover:  in the third section of the course, we apply these skills to the analysis of texts.  We will put into practice the techniques learned in the first section on argument and in the second section on concept analysis. As this course take a Multi – Disciplinary approach to current Moral issues in mass media, advertisements, and thorny issues such as Euthanasia, Abortion, Pornography, Same Sex marriage and Religious Pluralism. This part of the course will apply the skills of argumentation and concept analysis on a number of passages and articles from the Social Science, Sociology, the Humanities (Religious and Literary, and Philosophical texts.)

    Required Course Text / Readings

(1)        Engel, S. Morris.  With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies.  Sixth Edition.  New York: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2000.

(2)        Chris MacDonald and Lewis Vaughn. The Power of Critical Thinking. Fourth Canadian Edition. Oxford University Press 2016. (The Fourth Edition.)

    Weighting of Course
  1. Fallacy Test: 25%.

  2. Question of Concept Analysis and Essay: 25%.
  1. Passage Analysis (Final in class test,) 20%.

4.  Article Analysis and Essay: 20%.

  1. Attendance, homework and in - Class Group Presentations: 10%

(Presentation 1+ attendance, Homework+ attendance, Please note: 5% will be deducted from total marks if a student fails to show up for a presentation.

Home work will be posted weekly on Moodle, the homework is graded by virtue of completion.  We will discuss the correct answers in class and your marks will be posted on the Moodle course site.


    Course Learning Objectives
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active reading; deconstructing others’ ideas; reading between the lines
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Critically evaluating what we hear and read; rational decision –making; presenting strong arguments; being aware of cognitive and illegitimate biases (self-bias and others’ bias.)
  • Awareness of Persuasion Techniques
  • Recognizing manipulative persuasion; developing persuasive tactics, ethically.
  • Personal Development discourse
  • hone the disposition of a competent layperson (the ability to engage in civil discourse
  • , even if one isn’t an “expert on the topic; clarity and confidence when presenting views.
  • Writing Skills
  • Improve general writing skills (grammar, writing style, thesis development, etc.); essay organization; writing persuasively; improving self-editing techniques.


    Relevant Links / Resources