AP/MODR1760 6.0 B: Reasoning About Morality and Values

Offered by: MODR


Fall 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

Idil Boran


Office Location:  S426 Ross Building

Phone Number:  (416)736-2100 Ext. 30138

Office Hours:  Mondays 11:00 – 12:30 & Tuesday 2:30 – 3:30

    Expanded Course Description

The aim of this course is to develop skills of reasoning and argumentation specially designed for use in studies, professions, and everyday life.  With special focus on moral issues, students will develop skills for understanding and analysing arguments, distinguishing good from bad arguments, spot weaknesses in arguments, clarify concepts and terms, as well as articulating strong, convincing, and thoughtful arguments. They will also learn how to listen to different perspectives while being critically engaged.


The course is divided into two parts.  The first part is focused on acquiring analytical skills used to differentiate good arguments from bad ones (e.g. the distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning, fallacies, etc.).  The second part adds further dimension to these skills by learning how to recognize challenges to sound reasoning and how to address them.  In this process, the relationship between scientific thinking and moral reasoning is explored.  Explorations of moral reasoning are anchored on issues arising in law, health, and ethics.


The course blends lectures, supplementary resources through instructional videos, and interactive classroom exercises. Skills are refined and practices through Critical Reasoning and Reasoning about Morality and Values Labs, as well as Essay Writing Labs held in class.


The objectives are:

(1) to learn about the questions, concepts, and methods of critical reasoning with special interest in reasoning about moral questions and values

(2) to develop skills for independent critical inquiry using these questions, concepts, and methods, while gaining an understanding of the challenges they present.

    Required Course Text / Readings

Chris MacDonald & Lewis Vaughn, The Power of Critical Thinking (Fifth Canadian Edition) (Oxford University Press, 2019)

    Weighting of Course
Fall mid-term test: 30%
Fall essay assignment (cumulative): 20%
Winter mid-term test (cumulative): 20%
Final exam (take-home exam - cumulative): 30%
    Organization of the Course

The schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and through Moodle.


FALL 2019

Sept. 9

Introduction, overview, and the power of critical thinking

Sept. 16

Chapter 1: The power and environment of critical thinking

Sept. 23

Chapter 2: The environment of critical thinking, with introduction to ethics and values

September 30

Chapter 3: Making sense of arguments

Oct. 7

Critical Reasoning Lab

& review

Oct. 14

Fall reading week – no class – study for midterm

Oct. 21

Fall mid-term test in class

Oct. 28

Chapter 4: Reasons for belief and doubt

Nov. 4

Critical Reasoning and Reasoning about Morality and Values Lab

Nov. 11

Chapter 5: Faulty reasoning

Focus on Irrelevant Premises

Nov. 18

Chapter 5: Faulty reasoning

Focus on Unacceptable Premises

November 25

Critical Reasoning Lab

& review

Dec. 2

No class – assignment study day

Fall term cumulative assignment due – submit assignments on Moodle


Jan. 6

Chapter 6: Deductive reasoning: Categorical logic

Jan. 13

Chapter 7: Deductive reasoning: propositional logic

Jan. 20

Chapter 7: Deductive reasoning: propositional logic

Jan. 27

Chapter 8: Inductive reasoning

Feb. 3

Chapter 8: Inductive reasoning

Reasoning about Morality and Values Lab

& review

Feb. 10

Winter mid-term test

February 17

Reading week – no class – rest time

Feb. 24

Chapter 8: Inductive reasoning

Critical Reasoning & Reasoning about Morality and Values Lab

March 2

Chapter 9: Inference to the best explanation

March 9

Chapter 10: Judging Scientific Theories

March 16

Chapter 11: From science to ethics, moral theory, and values


Critical Reasoning & Reasoning about Morality and Values Lab

March 23

Chapter 11: Health, Law, and Ethics

March 30

Chapter 11: Health, Law, and Ethics

Essay Writing Lab

April 6

Chapter 11: Health, Law, and Ethics

Essay Writing Lab


Final exam – take-home exam during the exam period

    Course Learning Objectives

The objectives are twofold:

  1. Learning about principles of reasoning, and the common ways in which reasoning fails.  Acquiring the basic skills to recognize and use these principles of reasoning in studies, professions, and day to day life.
  2. Acquiring an understanding of why these principles matter in practice, what it takes to listen to different perspectives, and how to open the mind to thinking critically on an array of issues that touch upon morality, ethics, and law.
    Additional Information / Notes


Attendance is required. Students must come to class prepared by reading the assigned readings beforehand and be ready for discussion and class activities.

Policy on late assignments

Assignments are due on the due date.  Late assignments will be accepted during a late submission period of seven calendar days (one week) following the due date, for a flat penalty of 10% (e.g., 3 points on an assignment marked out of 30).  After the late submission period, late essays cannot be accepted.  If there is a case of illness or emergency, official documentation will be necessary and will be subject to approval by the instructor. The late assignment policy does not apply to take-home exams.

Policy on missed exams and assignments

In cases of unforeseen acute illness or medical emergency, providing a doctor’s note is necessary. For other emergencies, supporting official documentation is required. No accommodation can be provided without documentation. However, a doctor’s note is not an automatic pathway to reschedule a test. It is subject to review and approval by the instructor.


Students can register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS), and must promptly notify the instructor. Accommodation requests made through SAS will be honoured.

Further information on Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at York University can be found at:


Further information on procedures for requesting alternate exams (ALT-Exams) can be found at:


    Relevant Links / Resources