Please note that all online classes will be taught in Blackboard at
bb9.canyons.edu. Students that do not sign into the course and
complete the instructions on the first day of class will be dropped from
the class, per COC policy.
Note: There are several letters below for each of the classes I
teach this semester. Please be sure to scroll down to the view the
appropriate letter for your particular class section.
PHILOS 101 ONLINE: INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
SUMMER, 2013, 91911 and 91910
June 3 - July 5
Dr. Andrew Jones-Cathcart
Office: On-line (Essentially, students will
contact me through Blackboard email, discussions, and
chat (if applicable). In addition, students may visit me
during my office hours on the COC main campus. These
will be posted at the start of the semester.)
E-mail: Please email me within the course via
Blackboard mail (Click on Communication - Click
on Messages, Browse to select).
(If necessary, I can also be reached by email at
This course will introduce you to
philosophical reasoning and the kinds of problems that have fascinated
philosophers for well over 2500 years. These problems can be grasped
most easily in the form of different questions which philosophers ask
about the world and try to answer in a rational manner. Examples of
these sorts of questions include:
What is the nature of reality?
What makes something real? How can I know that what seems to me is
not an illusion?
Do I have free will? Am I
responsible for my decisions, or is my conduct predestined or
programmed like a robot or a computer?
What is truth? How do I know
that something is true? Is anything; ever absolutely true (or
false), or is truth a social construction, i.e. something created by
our social circumstances?
What is the relation between
the mind and the body? Is there a "soul"? Does "soul" exist after
the body perishes? How do I know that other minds or people exist?
Am I the same person I was ten
years ago or the same person I will be ten years from now? What
makes me a person (or a self) in the first place?
Is anything ever right or
wrong absolutely? Is it ever right (or wrong)to judge other people's
choices? What makes an action good or bad in a moral sense? Can we
ever know that an action is morally good or bad?
What is the relation between
religious faith and reason? Is there a god? Is it possible to prove
that God exists? If an all powerful, all good God does exist, then
why is there evil and suffering in the world?
Does life have a meaning, or
is it a meaningless absurdity?
These questions have proved to be
difficult, if not impossible, to resolve to any satisfactory degree in
other disciplines, such as the natural sciences, mathematics, and social
sciences, which you may have studied already or will study in the
future. Nevertheless, these are the sorts of questions which human
begins have always asked out of a sense of philosophic wonder or
curiosity, and as long as human beings exist, there will be a need to go
on looking for answers to questions such as these.
Philosophy is the rational search
for a resolution to these questions, and in this class we shall look at
a number of philosophical readings which attempt to resolve some of
them. In particular, we shall concentrate on three major areas of
(which asks what knowledge is and how we know anything at all),
metaphysics (which asks
about the nature of reality), and
ethics (which asks about the nature of morality).
The readings will be drawn from a
variety of contemporary as well as historical sources. Although the bulk
of the readings are from the Western philosophical canon, whenever
possible, we shall point out similarities and differences between
Western and Eastern traditions. Thinkers and historical periods in
philosophy typically explored in this course include: ancient philosophy
(Socrates and Plato), mediaeval philosophy (Anselm and Thomas Aquinas),
modern philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Paley, Holbach,
Kant), late modern/nineteenth-century philosophy (Mill, Kierkegaard, and
Nietzsche), and twentieth-century/contemporary philosophy (James, Stace,
Russell, Taylor, Benedict, Rachels, Lamont, Moreland, Churchland, and
Philosophy by James and Stuart Rachels, McGraw, 3rd ed. 2011,
The Truth About the World by James Rachels, McGraw, 3rd ed.
PHILOS 106 ONLINE: CRITICAL REASONING
SECTIONS: 91932 and 91928 (July 8 - August 9)
91914 (June 3 - July 5)
Office: On-line (Essentially, students will contact me through
Blackboard email, discussions, and chat (if applicable). In addition,
students may visit me during my office hours on the COC main campus.
These will be posted at the start of the semester.)
E-mail: Please email me within the course via Blackboard mail (Click on
Communication - Click on Messages, Browse to select).
(If necessary, I can also be reached by email at
Are you a
good thinker? Are you certain that the reasons you have for
believing what you do are good ones? How can you tell? What
sets you apart from those whom you might see as “bad” or “irrational”
all of us have different opinions on a wide variety of subjects, whether
they have to do with moral and political problems (e.g. reproductive
rights, gay marriage, the justification to go to war), religious
questions, (e.g. “Only Jesus saves,” “There is no God”), aesthetic
concerns (e.g. “That haircut looks horrible on you!”, “Picasso is a
great painter”), and general issues in our culture (e.g. “The First
Amendment protects my right to burn the flag during war time,” “No one
should eat meat,” or “Buy Crest: it’s better!”). These
opinions are not just conveyed through personal contact, but also
through books, political pamphlets, advertisements, lobbying,
telemarketing, e-mails, radio and television broadcasts, movies, and
video games. But whose opinions should we believe and why?
Is it the case that every person’s opinion is just as good as another’s?
Or is there a way of differentiating between good and bad opinions?
What, if anything, might help us figure out which opinions to accept and
which to disregard? How do we avoid being taken advantage of in
our everyday lives?
good critical thinking requires that our beliefs be adequately supported
by good evidence. Another way of putting this is to say that we
ought ideally to base our convictions on facts, not hearsay, arguments
and not irrational conjecture or feeling.
aims to develop our critical thinking skills and help us understand what
it means to be a rational being in an increasingly complex and confusing
world. We will look at the different--and sometimes confusing
ways--we use language to think, reason, and communicate. We will
learn various techniques to read and analyze English language texts,
e.g. newspapers, letters to the editor, court decisions, etc. In
particular, we will become more adept at identifying and critically
evaluating different types of arguments (both deductive and inductive)
which are often used to influence our numerous beliefs about the world.
In addition, we will spend a good deal of time studying examples of bad
reasoning (formal and informal fallacies) so that we might not only
become more efficient at spotting other people's bad reasoning, but also
so that we can begin to recognize (and overcome) our own. We will
also gain a general understanding of the different ways in which
reasoning is used in different fields of study, such as law, politics,
and the various sciences.
al. Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction.
Ed. McGraw Hill,, 2012. (ISBN = 9780078038310)
required texts will be assigned as webpages, etc.
the purpose of the course is to teach students
critical thinking standards to help distinguish good arguments from bad
arguments, and better arguments from worse. This will involve being able
to distinguish common fallacies (mistakes in reasoning) encountered in
everyday life, and the ability to articulate the mistake.
conclusion of the course, students ought to be able to
Measure the important role critical thinking plays in everyday
Define basic logical concepts such as argument, validity, invalidity,
deduction, induction, etc.;
Distinguish common fallacies (mistakes in reasoning) encountered in
Categorize problems with language that occur within arguments, e.g.
ambiguity, vagueness, equivocation, inflammatory language, etc.;
Analyze and diagram the structure of reasoning in argument encountered
in everyday life;
Assess the acceptability of premises, their relevance to a conclusion,
and their support of the conclusion;
Question and appraise claims disseminated by the mass media;
Construct arguments on the basis of critical thinking standards;
Evaluate arguments on the basis of critical thinking standards