Dr. Lee McGaan  

  Office:  WH 308  (ph. 309-457-2155);  email
  Home:  418 North Sunny Lane (ph. 309-734-5431, cell 309-333-5447)

Fall 2016 Office Hours:   MWF:  9:30 - 10am, 11am - Noon & 1 -2pm TTh:  2-3pm & by apt.  |  copyright (c) by Lee McGaan, 2006-2016


last updated 8/21/2008


Course Description:  This course deals with how arguments (i.e. logical statements which attempt to prove something) are structured and arranged.  We will be concerned with determining what is logically correct and what is fallacious reasoning, using Stephen Toulmin's system of analyzing arguments.  In addition, we will consider what makes arguments, strong and effective (for a particular audience or in a specific field).  A portion of the course will be devoted to discussing how arguments are used in various fields including:  law, journalism, science, history, and politics.  During the course students will analyze, orally and in writing, arguments from texts and from everyday life (editorials, speeches, materials from other courses, etc.).  The major project for the course involves constructing a comprehensive policy case based on extensive research for oral and written presentation.


Required Text:   T.A. Hollihan and K.T. Baaske. (2005)  Arguments and Arguing (2nd ed.).  Waveland.  
     ISBN 1- 57766-362-4  (paper)

Course Goals:  The goals of the course include the following:

a)   to introduce students to the formal structure and analysis of practical arguments.

b)   to develop student competencies in creating and criticizing arguments.

c)   to introduce students to models of policy case construction

d)   to increase student competencies in information acquisition

e)   to develop student abilities to reason and argue effectively and logically, orally and in writing.

Course Policies:  Since the course depends on step‑by‑step development of analytic skill/understanding and frequent practice, students will be expected to attend all class meetings.  Excessive class absences may result in a student being placed on "no cuts" by the instructor or in a significant reduction in the student's grade in the course.  In order to meet objectives students must always prepare for class by doing reading in advance and by COMPLETING HOMEWORK as it is assigned.  In particular, students should be prepared to present and analyze an appropriate "Argument of the Day" at every class meeting.  Quizzes, homework, and in-class discussion comprise a significant portion of the course grade.  Like courses in math or foreign language, this is a course in which, IF YOU GET BEHIND, YOU MAY NEVER CATCH UP.


Students are responsible for all assigned reading material whether or not it is discussed in class and all lecture material whether or not duplicated by readings.  Except for medical or other emergency reasons, assignments will not necessarily be accepted late unless advance arrangements are made.



ACADEMIC DISHONESTY CAN RESULT IN FAILING THIS COURSE and will be reported to the Academic Dean.  Enrollment in this course constitutes an agreement by the student that the instructor may photocopy and maintain on file any materials submitted for assignments.




Graded Assignments:


1st exam 15 %  Oral presentation of Policy Case 20 %
2nd exam 15 % Written "Brief" on Policy Case 25 %
Final exam 15% "Involvement" grades (homework, bibliographies, class participation, etc.) 10 %