Informal Fallacies

Description: The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once said, “Just as surgeons always keep their scalpels handy to provide emergency care on demand, so you should keep your principles with you at all times.” That is exactly what we’ll do in this class, and in many ways this class is a primer on the basics of how one’s worldview impacts their arguments. We’ll study the nature and scope of logic, the logical use of language, and different fallacies related to the content of an argument. Students will think deeply about three questions every argument has to answer, which are also three assumptions every argument makes: (1) “What is real?” (2) “How do you know what is real?” and (3) “What should you do about it?” A heavy emphasis is placed upon arguments advanced by politicians, philosophers, and theologians of all kinds. Students will read the text thoroughly and work through various examples, both inside and outside of class. Through patient study and practice, students will learn to determine the relevance of premises to conclusion, to question vague, ambiguous, or equivocal terms, and to expose unstated assumptions. They’ll need to devote 45-60 minutes per day for this class. The grade is based on active participation, reading, and an essay. This class is worth 1/2 a high school credit in philosophy, Logic, or as an elective.

Grade Level: 9-12 (ages 14-18)

Prerequisites: Traditional Logic I and II or a course in formal logic would be very helpful for students but not required.

Required Materials: With Good Reason by S. Morris Engel (6th edition only). Students will also need a USB headset microphone (built-in microphones also work).

Informal Fallacies A Spring 2025Alexander HansonM2:40 - 4:10 PM ET01/27/25 - 05/30/257$315.00