Principles of Sound Reasoning is a first-year undergraduate course offering an introduction to philosophical logic. The course goes above and beyond simply the general "critical thinking" which students may have had previously, to look more closely at what a claim is, the connections between claims, what could possibly make a claim true or false, what counts as evidence for a claim, and what arguments can be given a claim. After a discussion of fallacies to avoid, the course gradually develops around the idea of a deductively valid argument, and then students learn and practice rules of inference which can be applied to guarantee validity. Ultimately this culminates in extracting arguments to represent the reasoning behind a particular position, and students extract and defend arguments by writing two position papers on topics of their choice. Depending on the semester and the size of the class, practice may involve homework, class presentations, automated quizzes, and/or peer review. All students who have the prerequisite English or Writing courses are welcome in this class regardless of major, and no prior familiarity with philosophy or even interest in philosophy is expected. The class is designed to be valuable to all students who plan engage in reasoning and who need to work thoughtfully through disagreements with others, regardless of their particular major or interests.
"It was a bit more work than I was expecting out of an elective class, but the information I learned was worth it and interesting." (Spring 2016 Student)
"This class helped me improve my methods and had very interesting material." (Spring 2016 Student)
"It helped with my critical thinking." (Spring 2016 Student)