Monday, January 14, 2008

About homework exercises....

Some people have been wondering about homework for this class. I am leaving it up to you to do whatever exercises you need in order to attain the main learning objectives from each chapter.

But where do you find those objectives? Check the textbook website and click on "Chapter Outlines."

I deliberately don't assign homework because:

1) I don't collect or grade it.
2) some people wouldn't do it even if I did
3) some people wouldn't need to do it at all--they catch on just fine from class and the website, that it would be a waste of time for them
4) some people would need to do less than what I would assign, so that the extra would just be busywork
5) some people would need to do more than I what I would assign

This is college, not high school. You are all adults who know better than I do how much time you need to put into this class in order to succeed.

Best way to deal with the situation:

1) Look at the exercises and see how well you do with the "circled" ones which have answers in the back of the book.

2) If you're getting those without difficulty, you probably don't need to do any more.

3) If you're not getting them, you probably need to do more exercises and check them against the answer key on reserve. Be sure you get the answer key to match the proper edition of the textbook. If you are using a used textbook, ask for the 2nd edition answer keys. If you are using a new textbook, as for the 3rd edition answer key.

4) If you are still having problems, you need to let me know.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

HUMOR: Monty Python on Argument

"The Argument Clinic" is a classic! Definitely NOT what philosophy should be, but unfortunately what is can devolve into.

Here's an excerpt:

Palin: "I came here for a good argument!"
Cleese: Ah, no you didn't. You came here for an argument.
Palin: An argument isn't just contradiction.
Cleese: Well! it can be!
Palin: No, it can't! An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
Cleese: No, it isn't!
Palin: Yes, it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.
Cleese: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position!
Palin: Yes but it isn't just saying "No, it isn't."
Cleese: Yes, it is!
Palin: No, it isn't!
Cleese: Yes, it is!
Palin: No, it isn't!
Cleese: Yes, it is!
Palin: No, it isn't! Argument is an intellectual process. Contra- diction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
Cleese: It is not!
Palin: It is!
Cleese: Not at all! (continued

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

HUMOR: Argument 101* by David Barry

Perhaps you are familiar with humorist Dave Barry. While I don't recommend any of the following rules (especially #1) they do provide some comic relief if you are worn out from doing textbook exercises.

Argument 101*

I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me. You too can win arguments. Simply follow these rules:

1. Drink Liquor. (JD)

Suppose you're at a party and some hotshot intellectual is expounding on the economy of Peru, a subject you know nothing about. If you're drinking some health-fanatic drink like grapefruit juice, you'll hang back, afraid to display your ignorance, while the hotshot enthralls your date. But if you drink several large shots of Jack Daniels, you'll discover you have STRONG VIEWS about the Peruvian economy. You'll be a WEALTH of information. You'll argue forcefully, offering searing insights and possibly upsetting furniture. People will be impressed. Some may leave the room.

2. Make things up.

Suppose, in the Peruvian economy argument, you are trying to prove Peruvians are underpaid, a position you base solely on the fact that YOU are underpaid, and you're damned if you're going to let a bunch of Peruvians be better off. DON'T say: "I think Peruvians are underpaid." Say: "The average Peruvian's salary in 1981 dollars adjusted for the revised tax base is $1,452.81 per annum, which is $836.07 before the mean gross
poverty level." NOTE: Always make up exact figures.

If an opponent asks you where you got your information, make THAT up, too. Say: "This information comes from Dr. Hovel T. Moon's study for the Buford Commission published May 9, 1982. Didn't you read it?" Say this in the same tone of voice you would use to say "You left your soiled underwear in my bath house."

3. Use meaningless but weighty-sounding words and phrases.

Memorize this list:
Let me put it this way
In terms of
Per se
As it were
So to speak
well, anyhow
You should also memorize some Latin abbreviations such as "Q.E.D.," "e.g.," and "i.e." These are all short for "I speak Latin, and you do not." Here's how to use these words and phrases. Suppose you want to say: "Peruvians would like to order appetizers more often, but they don't have enough money." You never win arguments talking like that. But you WILL win if you say: "Let me put it this way. In terms of appetizers vis-a-vis Peruvians qua Peruvians, they would like to order them more often, so to speak, but they do not have enough money per se, as it were. Q.E.D." Only a fool would challenge that statement.

4. Use snappy and irrelevant comebacks.

You need an arsenal of all-purpose irrelevent phrases to fire back at your opponents when they make valid points. The best are:

You're begging the question.
You're being defensive.
Don't compare apples and oranges.
What are your parameters?

This last one is especially valuable. Nobody, other than mathematicians, has the vaguest idea what "parameters" means.

Here's how to use your comebacks:

You say: “As Abraham Lincoln said in 1873...”
Your opponent says: “Lincoln died in 1865.”
You say: “You're begging the question.”
You say: “Liberians, like most Asians...”
Your opponent says: “Liberia is in Africa.”
You say: “You're being defensive.”

5. Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler.

This is your heavy artillery, for when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong. Bring Hitler up subtly. Say: "That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say" or "You certainly do remind me of Adolf Hitler."
You now know how to out-argue anybody. Do not try to pull any of this on people who generally carry weapons.

This article has been plagarized! However, I have not been able to determine who the original author is. Ifound the article at the following sites: Argument 101 and Fun_People Archive - 8 Jan - Argument 101 . If you do know who the author, please let me know so I give proper credit.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Why Christians should examine all the wares in the Market Place of Ideas
Robert Harris Version

Date: March 15, 1991

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. --Proverbs 4:7

The heart of a liberal arts education is for the student to develop a wholeness of view, a circumspection, a breadth of understanding of the intellectual world--what ideas exist, who holds them and why. What are the claims for truth, for goodness, for action? What alternatives are proposed for living, for governing, for acting? What motivates people to do what they do, good or bad?

An acquaintance with many ideas provides a context and an explanation for our modern culture and its world views. So, for example, the Communist Manifesto or De Rerum Natura are important to read to provide us with such background and contextual information.

It is this wholeness of knowledge that gives us not only circumspection but humanness. The ultimate source of sympathy and compassion lies in an informed understanding of the situation of others. The French have a saying, "To know all is to forgive all."

Ideas, are in themselves, interesting things. Stimulating thought, analysis, new ideas, responses, causing you to adjust your position and incorporate new thinking into your view of things. Being challenged by strange ideas helps keep the rust and dogmatism off of our thoughts. Our thoughts are kept in proportion and a sense of measure is given to ideas.
Ideas are the raw material of other ideas, and you can't always tell what ideas are going to prove useful. Wisdom often travels unusual roads and it isn't always possible to know where or when you'll meet her. Impractical or plainly awful ideas can still be useful as stepping stones to practical or good ideas.

There are useful ideas and truths contained in the midst of bad ideas and falsehoods. Something true, useful, or good can be found in almost anything. Even Adolf Hitler said a few interesting things, about the nature of perseverance, for example.

All truth is God's truth. We should be interested in truth for its own sake, wherever it may be found, and we must realize that we don't have it all in hand right now. It is thus desirable to examine ideas to discover what truths they might contain.

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. -- Proverbs 18:17

Much of judgment consists in comparison of one thing with another. How do you know a good idea from a bad one unless you have a stock of ideas to compare with each other?

Unless you understand the opposing arguments and know how to respond to them, how can you hold your own position confidently, with integrity and conviction? For example, how can you feel sure that biodegradable products are so great unless you can state the arguments against them?

Belief of any kind, whether political, social, or religious, without thought is superstition. If something is true, it should be rational and open to thoughtful inquiry. Some truths are above being discovered or proved by reason, but all truths should be open to the investigation and affirmation of reason.

It is necessary to understand another point of view in order to rebut it. If you cannot argue the opposite side of the idea you believe, you do not fully understand the issue. In real thinking, we examine the arguments pro and con and come to a thoughtful conclusion. In backwards thinking, the kind all too common, we choose a conclusion or position and then generate reasons to prove it true. No real thinking or analysis goes on. To find out whether someone had come to a conclusion forward or backward, ask, "What are the arguments on both sides of the issue?"

Suppose a Muslim says, "But I believe in Jesus already." What will you say if you have no idea what Muslims believe?
If you say that Christianity is the best religion, in what way is it superior to Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism? What ideas do these religions have in common? What is there good in Buddhism, for example?

You might be wrong, after all. Unless you study the other side of a controversial issue, how will you ever know that you're right? You might learn something, change your mind, or at least adjust your position. For example, "Get the government out of the art business and eliminate the NEA." What arguments are there for the NEA? It supports traveling symphonies to small towns. Should that be eliminated, too?

Ignoring an argument strengthens it. There is a psychological problem with self-censoring ideas: they take on a power they otherwise would not have. As Robert Cialdini notes in his book, Influence, "Almost invariably, our response to banned information is to want to receive that information to a greater extend and to become more favorable toward it than before the ban" (239). In an experiment, when a group of college students learned that a speech opposing coed dorms would be banned, they became more opposed to the idea of coed dorms. "Thus," says Cialdini, "without ever hearing the speech, the students became more sympathetic to its argument" (240).

This means that if you refuse to listen to an argument against a position you hold, you may subconsciously be undermining your own position and giving the opposition position more power than it otherwise would have. You're thinking, "There is some argument, which I won't hear, that disproves my position." How firmly can you then hold your position?

Here's the danger of holding any belief with the attitude that all further thought about it is closed. It loses its suppleness, its strength, its health, and becomes stiff and cold and frozen, and ultimately, easier to conquer.
Supporters of a position who cannot discuss the objections to their position are either ignorant or dishonest. When I was an undergraduate, an anthropology faculty member told me, "There is no opposition to evolution." Having just read more than 30 books opposing the theory, I knew at once that he was either ignorant or dishonest--neither of which reflected very favorably on him or his belief.

Proponents of an idea who know of no objections show that they are not fully informed and they weaken the belief of those they persuade by not preparing them to respond to the objections. "Why I've never even heard that objection." Did no one who taught you the idea think of the objection? Or did they hide it dishonestly? How strong is the objection? If the proponent of the idea knew of this objection, would he have changed his mind? For example, when we teach about Christianity, we should discuss the problem of pain and the responses that have been made to it, so that those we teach will have thoughtful responses if ever asked about it.

An acquaintance with many different viewpoints lessens our worship of authority. The appeal to authority is weak; appealing to reason or data is better. When we discover that there is virtually no position--however bizarre or ridiculous--that some articulate intellectual hasn't held and promoted vigorously, then we will be less likely to accept some specious argument for some position. For example, the Marxists are fond of comparing Marxism in the abstract or theoretical to capitalism as practiced. Theory always looks better than practice, so theoretical Marxism sounds more humane than practical capitalism.

New ideas, by their nature appear strange and threatening, but lots of new ideas are good. We should get used to examining new ideas.

VirtualSalt Home Copyright 1991 by Robert Harris How to cite this page
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About the author: Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level.
RHarris at

Biblical Reasons to be a Critical Thinker

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. --Matt. 22:37-38

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." --1 Peter 3:15b

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." --Romans 1:20

"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." --John 17:17

"I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." --1 Cor. 14:15

"As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. 'This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,' he said." --Acts 17:2-3 (and see Acts 17:17, 18:4, 18:19 and 1 Cor. 13:11)

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. . . ." Phil. 1:9-10

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action. --1 Peter 1:13a

Welcome/Online Resource Center Link EDIT

Welcome to PH102, Fundamentals of Reasoning!

To access the online resource center, use this link

This will get you to the student 3rd edition online learning website. Use the scroll down window in the upper left hand corner to choose which chapter you want to work with. For each chapter of the text, this site provides a chapter outline, practice quizzes and online power point tutorials. Invaluable!

I recommend doing both the TF and the multiple choice quizzes. Also, look at the chapter outline and be sure you know what's listed there. The power point tutorials are another great way to review.

Let me know if you have problems.