PSCI 1050: Critical Thinking About Politics.
Spring Semester, 2007
Instructor: Jane Okwako
Class hours: M & W (4:00-5:15 pm)
Location: Dunbar 3208
Office: Department of Political Science, Friedmann Hall. Rm 3453
Office hours: M & W ( 2-3:30 pm)
This course will help students gain the necessary critical thinking skills for analyzing information, particularly those that address political questions. It will help students situate and analyze various types of values, information, and the sources from which they are drawn. The emphasis is on promoting skills for recognizing, investigating and evaluating everyday information with an effort to help students critically:
1. Survey the major issues discussed about contemporary political problems.
2. Structure arguments, the associated claims, and the evidence provided.
3. Situate the context in which issues are discussed and the associated implications.
4. Suggest through discussion the various ways of identifying and analyzing the effects different claims, assumptions, and evidence have on provision and consumption of information.
Main reading: Sherry Diestler. 2005.Becoming a Critical Thinker, 4th edition.
Other readings are in the Reserve Section of Waldo Library, JSTOR, and the Internet.
Supplemental readings may be assigned.
Attendance and Participation: Full attendance and active participation are both crucial for achieving good grades in this course. At the end of the semester, attendance will be used as a reference for borderline grades. Students should email me incase of any foreseen absences or absences due to emergencies to avoid penalties. This will be used to enable timely preparations for missed exams, quizzes or assignments.
Assignment deadlines. Presentation of assignments must meet the required deadlines and any late submissions will affect your grades. You will lose 5 points per day past the due date. Deadline extension and makeup policy is strictly based on prior arrangements.
Academic integrity: You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate Catalog (pp. 271-272) that pertain to academic integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse.
Mon., January 8: Introduction to the course, the course requirements and other administrative issues. Reading: None
Wed., January 10: Foundations of arguments
The Issue, the Conclusion, and the Reasons.
Reading: Diestler, (pp 1-20).
Mon., January 15: MLK Day.
Wed., January 17: Values and ethics I: Value assumptions.
Reading: Diestler, (pp 26-59).
*Assignment 1: Search path tutorial assignments- details will be provided.
Mon., January 22: Values and ethics II. Gun control vs. gun ownership.
Reading: (1st article- check JSTOR)
“Gun control” [LaFollette, H. Ethics Vol 110, No. 2. (Jan., 2000), pp. 263-281].
“Gun Control vs Gun Rights” (opensecrets.org) -Internet.
“Trust the People: the Case Against Gun Control” -Internet.
“America: The Most Violent Nation?” -Internet.
“Nine Myths of Gun Control” -Internet.
Wed., January 24: Values and ethics III. Globalization and values.
Reading. (search - JSTOR).
“Globalization and Democracy”.
[Schwartzman, K. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 24. (1998), pp. 159-181]
“Globalization and Democracy: A New "Great Transformation"? ”
[Munck, R. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 581, (May, 2002), pp. 10-21.
Mon., January 29: Reality assumptions.
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 63-73).
“Getting Used To Decadence: The Spirit of Democracy in Modern America” Reserve-Library.
*Search path tutorial assignments 1&2 due.
*Essay assignment 1 handed out.
Wed., January 31: Deductive Reasoning.
Reading: Diestler, 3 (pp. 74-99).
*Search path tutorial assignments 3&4 due
Mon., February 5: Inductive Reasoning I:
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 102-121).
“Telling the Truth About Damn Lies and Statistics” - Reserve-Library
*Search path tutorial assignments 5&6 due
Wed., February 7: Inductive Reasoning II:
Causal Generalizations (and correlation).
Reading: Diestler, (pp.124-151).
Mon., February 12. Inductive Reasoning III:
Causal Generalizations II, Anecdotal Evidence and Case Study.
Reading: “Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare” (Internet).
On Reserve- Waldo Library.
“The dangers of bread”
“No More Excuses for Poor Student Performance”
“Best and Brightest Fall Behind”
“The Good News About Schools”
Wed., February 14: Inductive generalizations:
Analogies, controlled studies and expert testimonies.
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 154-187).
*Essay assignment 1 due.
Mon., February 19: Values revisited
Reading: “Democracy as a Universal Value”
[Sen, A. Journal of Democracy 10.3 (1999) 3-17] -search internet
“Asian-Style Democracy: A Critique From East Asia”.
[Kim, Y. Asian Survey. Vol. 37, No. 12 (Dec., 1997), pp. 1119-1134], search JSTOR.
Wed., February 21:
Revision for Exam 1.
Mon., February 26: Exam1
Wed., February 28: The Power of Language I.
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 251-281).
Mon., March 5 & Wed., March 7.
Spring break. No class.
Mon., March 12: The Power of Language II.
Reading: Rhetorical Devices doc. (On Reserve-library)
Wed., March 14. A discussion on Death Penalty.
Reading: “The Ultimate Punishment: A Defense”. (JSTOR)
“Twenty Years of Capital Punishment: A Re-evaluation” (Internet)
Mon., March 19:
Exam II Review and discussion.
Wed., March 21:
Mon., March 26: Logical fallacies I
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 200-240).
*Essay 2 handed out.
Wed., March 28. Logical fallacies II
Reading: Logical fallacies doc. (On Reserve).
Mon., April 2: Review of Fallacies.
Reading: continued discussion and exercise on fallacies.
Wed., April 4: Review of Fallacies.
Reading: (on Reserve- Library)
“A logger’s lament”
“Condoms: The New Diploma”
Mon., April 9: Suggestions in the Media I.
Reading: Diestler, (pp. 287-330).
Wed., April 11:
*Essay 2 due.
Please drop your assignments at Friedmann Rm 3453 by 5p.m.
Mon., April 16: Suggestions in the Media II.
Media and the war in Iraq. The readings.
Persuasive speaking: critical aspects.
Wed., April 18:
Review for Final Exams.
April 23-27. Exam week.