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critical reasoning

Contact Information

  • Leemon McHenry
  • Philosophy Department
  • Email: leemon.mchenry@csun.edu
  • Phone: 818-677-5806
  • Office Hours: 7:30 - 7:50 & 11:00 - 12:00.
  • Monday and Wednesday (and by appointment)
  • Office Location ST 534

Instructional Materials

Important Notices

Print Syllabus (See Instructional Materials)

EXAM I -- October 14

EXAM 2 -- December 7


Students with Disabilities:

If you have a disability, please identify yourself to me and to the University so that we can reasonably accommodate your learning and the preparation and evaluation of the work that you must do for this course. Please contact the Center on Disabilities, Student Services Building, Room 110, 818.677.2684 (fax: 818.677.4932; email: sdr@csun.edu). For more information, visit the COD’s website at the following address: http://www.csun.edu/cod.



Course Information Overview


Critical Reasoning

   Philosophy 200

“The democracy is only as good as the reasoning ability of its participants.”



Not open to students who have completed PHIL 100. Examination of the relationship between logic and language. Accelerated introduction to the concepts essential to the identification, analysis and evaluation of arguments, with attention to deduction, induction and common fallacies. Emphasis on the application of these concepts. (Available for General Education, Basic Skills, Critical Thinking)


This course satisfies the ACritical Thinking@ component of the Basic Skill section of the General Education Program, which recognizes critical reasoning as a fundamental competence. Courses in this section of General Education take reasoning itself as their focus. Their goals are to provide students with criteria and methods for distinguishing good reasoning from bad and to help students develop basic reasoning skills that they can apply both within a broad range of academic disciplines and outside the academic environment. Students are expected to acquire skill in recognizing the logical structure of statements and arguments, the ability to distinguish rational from non-rational means of persuasion, skill in applying the principles of sound reasoning in the construction and evaluation of arguments, and an appreciation of the value of critical reasoning skills in the pursuit of knowledge.



1.  Exam 1 (30%) --The exam includes multiple choice, true/false questions and short answers to logical problems. 

2.  Quizzes (30%) –There are approximately 8 quizzes. You are allowed to drop the lowest quiz grade.  The remainder will be averaged for 30% of your final grade.  Quizzes provide continuous feedback on the course material and prepare you for the exams.

3.  Participation/Attendance (10%) --Attendance will be taken at each class session. Participation will be judged on the basis of your willingness to take an active role in the class, e.g., response to exercises and discussion of lecture material.

4.  Exam 2 (30%) --Comprehensive but focusing attention on the last half of the course material. The second exam covers propositional logic that involves basic concepts learned throughout the course.  There is no Final Exam in the course.




Lectures and Practical Exercises--Initially lectures will be given to introduce new material or difficult concepts.  The majority of this course will be devoted to detailed examination of solutions to exercises in A Concise Introduction to Logic.  Students will be required to present homework exercises to the class. 



1.  Introduction to Logic and Critical Reasoning

            Basic Logical Concepts

            Arguments and Explanations

            Deduction and Induction

            Truth, Validity and Soundness

            Strength and Cogency

     Readings and Exercises: Chapters 1 and 3    


2.  Elementary Propositional Logic

            Symbols and Translation

            Truth Tables for Propositions

            Truth Tables for Arguments

            Argument Forms and Fallacies

            Natural Deduction

            Readings and Exercises: Chapters 6 and 7