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Reading Notes

Reading philosophical essays is more challenging in that you often have to scan once, read once, and review once before you can adequately explain the author's position. In order to be sure that you are receiving maximum benefit from your time spent studying, try to answer the guide questions posed below. If you cannot answer them, it is time to read or review to be sure you understand the main arguments presented. See more tips here.

Relativism, Logic & Fallacies: The tools of critical thinking


  1. Resources
  2. Guide Questions
  3. Smartboard Notes

Here are some web sites that will enhance your understanding of this week's reading:

Logic and Argument:



Guide Questions:

The following questions are designed to fine tune your understanding of the reading. The subject matter and answers to these questions form the basis of what you will be required to know for exams.

Objectives for this week: These are the learning objectives you should have mastered after attending the lectures and completing the questions below

  1. distinguish absolutist and relativist approaches to ethics
  2. identify the difference between ethical and cultural relativism
  3. list and describe the two components of every argument
  4. differentiate between deductive and inductive arguments
  5. identify the eight fallacies listed below


Guide Questions:

  1. Explain what it means to be an ethical relativist and a cultural relativist (these are different).
  2. Distinguish between fundamental and derivative ethical truths.
  3. Explain Bonevac's definition of political correctness in your own words. How does this differ from our discussion of this term during Week 1?

Arguments Guide Questions:

Guide Questions: please also read under the headings "Components of Arguments" & "Validity and Soundness"

  1. Name the two basic components of every argument.
  2. How can we distinguish premises from conclusions?
  3. What is the difference between complex and simple arguments?
  4. Distinguish deductive from inductive arguments. What is the major difference?
  5. Give the definition of a sound argument.
  6. Give the definition of a cogent argument.

Logical Fallacies: Irrational Ways to Argue...

Fallacies are irrational arguments designed to sway opinion through the use of emotion and psychological trickery. The following are some basic fallacies that are commonly found in everyday persuasive situations (e.g., letters to the editor, political debates, common disagreements at work, school or home). Fallacies are designed to work through diversion and attack, diversion from the original subject and attack on some other irrelevant point.

Types of fallacies:

* Hurley, Patrick J. A Concise Introduction to Logic, 6th edition. Belmont, CA & Albany, NY: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997.



Smartboard Notes

Smartboard Notes from Week 1 Lecture:

WK1_lecture notes_2





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