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PHILOS 106 - Critical Reasoning - Chris Blakey

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


Prof. Chris Blakey

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

You will take the course primarily through Canvas and Zoom meetings.  In order to take this class, you must have access to a computer, internet services, and COC e-mail.  Most communications will occur through announcements, e-mail, and discussion boards. 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 at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

This class will meet on Zoom at the regularly scheduled class times.  It will be very important for you to attend our Zoom sessions just as it would be to attend regular face-to-face class sessions.  Attending our Zoom sessions will be necessary for your success in the course.  There will be a link in our Canvas site that will allow you to connect to our Zoom sessions.  There will be a great deal of discussion during our Zoom meetings!

In order to allow for helpful engagement with me and your classmates, it is requested that you have your webcams on throughout the duration of our class Zoom meetings.

The course Zoom sessions will not be recorded, and so it will be essential to be present in class.  If you miss a session, you will need to get the notes from another student. 

Types of Assessments

4 Quizzes

Short journal assignments on readings.

Short exercise assignments for argument analysis practice.

2 Short Essays

Final Exam

Textbook Information

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 inexpensive, 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 11:59 p.m. on the first day of class.  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.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


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Last updated: 06/28/2021 Sub#: 321