Deaton's "How to Study Philosophy" and Deaton's "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking"



Deaton's "How to Study Philosophy" and Deaton's "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking"

First, review the syllabus and carefully read the section on the weekly reflection assignments. That way you'll know what's expected, how you'll be graded, that late reflections aren't accepted, etc. Should you have questions, email or call (always call for anything time-sensitive).

Second, read Deaton's "How to Study Philosophy" and "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking," and watch the lectures on each below. All course readings are available here on the course site in PDF (click "Modules to the left). All lecture videos will be inside the weekly reflection directions like this (see below). And I'll usually (though not always) also provide additional lecture notes, also found under Modules.

Once you've done all that, reflect a bit. Try organizing your ideas in your own words.

Then start a new thread and answer the following prompts by typing directly (or pasting your text directly) into your post (no attachments unless specifically requested by me in writing, though this first week you can attach an image of your diagrammed argument -- see below). Be sure to label each section of your response with its corresponding number (see below). Don't include any of these instructions or prompt details in your post (these do not count toward the word-count expectations articulated in the syllabus). And ensure you've submitted by the due date noted in the syllabus (usually by Wednesday at midnight), when the ability to post will end. 

Part 1: Summarize Deaton's “How to Study Philosophy.” Explain his tips in your own words, being sure to include key terms, as well as points you found especially interesting.

Part 2 (there are five sub-parts): Using the instructions found in "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking," locate, summarize, condense and enumerate the claims included within, diagram and then analyze an argument posted publicly on the internet in the last 30 days. The argument you choose can be from any area -- sports, fashion, economics, religion, philosophy, ethics, science, entertainment -- your choice.  Be sure to include not only an informal summary of the argument in your own words, but a condensed version where the premises and conclusion are numbered, a diagram of how the premises are intended to logically work together to support the conclusion, and your analysis of the argument. Please review "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking" and the associated lecture vid to see how to do all of this.

Your post should look something like this:

Part 1:  "Deaton explains in 'How to Study Philosophy' that academic philosophy is... He argues that philosophers are very much like scientists except... One good strategy for studying philosophy he recommends is... Another is..."

Part 2:

2a: [General introduction] The argument I chose to summarize, analyze and diagram is by... It was published at... You can check it out yourself at [include hyperlink]

2b: [Argument informally summarized in your words]

2c: [Argument condensed into its simplest, most straightforward form, with premises placed within [brackets] and assigned numbers]

2d: [A diagram of the argument (using the numbers you assigned the premises and conclusion in step 2c) which can be typed out as in the following example (an "I" with a "V" beneath is an arrow representing how premises support intermediate conclusions, and ultimately the final conclusion), or you can simply draw your diagram on a piece of paper and insert a picture of it in your post:]

 (1 + 2)    (4 + 5)  [<--these numbers correspond to the numbers you assigned premises in step 2c]

     I              I

    V             V

    3      +      6 [<--these numbers represent intermediate conclusions which become premises]



            7  [<--this would be the argument's ultimate conclusion]

2e: [Your analysis of the argument -- Are the premises credible? Do they work together to logically support the conclusion? If so, how strong is the argument? If not, how weak is it? Were any reasoning fallacies committed?  Please explain.]


Anticipated question 1: After summarizing "How to Study Philosophy"  and reading "Fundamentals of Critical Thinking," you want us to analyze a recent argument we're able to find online?

Answer: Yes. Any argument published in the last 30 days. If it's older than that by a day or two, no worries. If it's outside that range by a month, keep searching. The argument can be on any topic, so long as it constitutes an actual argument -- includes reasons intended to support a conclusion. 

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