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PHILOS 106 - Critical Reasoning - Chris Blakey

Course:Critical Reasoning
Professor:Chris Blakey
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week



Greetings and hello!  My name is Chris Blakey.  I have been teaching full-time in the Philosophy Department at COC for about 20 years, and I want to welcome you to PHILOS 106/Critical Reasoning!  It is my belief that PHILOS 106 is one of the most important courses that a college student can take.  With all the information that is thrown at us daily from social media, the news, and in conversation with family, friends, and acquaintances, trying to think clearly about it all can be a little overwhelming.  This course will help you build reasoning skills that will give you more confidence as you interact with the information and misinformation that we encounter daily.  Students find the reading material in this course to be relevant and interesting, and I very much enjoy teaching this course!

Course Description

This course is not centrally about what to think, but rather about how to think.  Are you a good critical reasoner?  How would you decide?  What does it mean to be a good critical thinker?  What criteria would you use to determine this?  In this class we will learn how to take hold of ideas presented to us, how to understand and organize them, and then how to evaluate them in ways that are helpful and fair.  Fundamental to such a skill is having a firm grasp of the concept of an argument.  (By “argument” we don’t mean two people yelling at each other.  Instead, we mean the practice of putting forward reasons in support of a conclusion.) We will learn how to identify various types of arguments, and to evaluate their components in a helpful, constructive way.  You will find this to be a powerful tool as you make your way in the world.

This will also require that we familiarize ourselves with some of the ideas and ways of thinking that are current in today’s world – including common thinking habits encouraged by social media and societal norms today – and central ideas from value theory and moral philosophy.  Understanding these things will provide us with the needed context for the development of helpful reasoning strategies.

What to Expect in this Course

This course will take place 100% on-line with no face-to-face class meetings.  The course will be taught through Canvas.  In order take this class, you must have access to a computer, internet services, and COC e-mail.  Communications will occur through announcements, e-mail, and other modalities on Canvas . As with any on-line course, this course will require discipline, organization, reading and participation several days a week (3-4 days a week).  Our Canvas course site cannot be accessed until the first day of the semester.

Just as in a face-to-face course, you will need to regularly participate in the course by way of doing assigned readings, taking notes, watching short videos, participating in discussion board activities, doing practice exercises, etc. You should count on at least 5-6 hours per week of prep work for this course.  Exams and quizzes will be taken using Canvas and will have the same format as they would in face-to-face courses.  Exams and quizzes will be timed so you will not be able to look up very much in the process of taking them.  You will need to spend time studying and preparing for exams.  You will be expected to pay close attention to due dates and instructions for assignments, and to submit assignments on time.

Types of Assessments

4 Quizzes;   1 Final Exam;   2 Short Writing Assignments;   Weekly Journals;   Periodic Homework Exercises

Textbook Information / Link to ZTC Textbook

Demagoguery and Democracy, by Patricia Roberts-Miller, ISBN: 978-1-61519-408-7  (Needed the first week of class.)

A Workbook for Arguments, by David R. Morrow and Anthony Weston, 3rd Edition, ISBN: 978-1-62466-833-3  (Needed by the second week of class.)

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, by Michael Sandel, ISBN: 978-0-374-53250-5  (Needed by the third week of class.)

All three of these texts are quite affordable, and are available at the COC bookstore (purchase or rental).

Other Relevant Course Information

PLEASE NOTE: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS. In order to avoid being dropped from the class, you must log in to our Canvas site and complete an introductory discussion forum activity by the end of the first day of the semester, at 11:59 p.m.  I will be sending out an Announcement (on Canvas) and an email (to your MyCanyons email address) on the first day of class, or just prior, about all of this as a reminder.

Note: This is not a complete syllabus, but only an orientation letter.  The complete syllabus will be available within Canvas at the start of the semester.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

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Last updated: 12/13/2021 Sub#: 1181