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The University of Southampton

PHIL1016 Reason and Argument

Module Overview

One of the main reasons the study of Philosophy is valued by employers is that it develops an ability that is invaluable in all sorts of contexts: the ability to reason rigorously and correctly. All Philosophy modules aim indirectly to develop this skill, but Reason and Argument is directly concerned to develop it. The module is all about how to tell the difference between good and bad arguments, how to use language precisely, how to identify weak arguments and misleading uses of language in the writings of philosophers, politicians and others whose job it is to persuade us to believe what they want us to believe. The module focuses on arguments in ordinary language and aims to give you the concepts and skills you need to identify the tricks commonly used to disguise bad arguments as good ones and to develop your own skills in constructing valid arguments.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the concepts of validity and soundness.
  • the techniques of basic logic, including translating arguments into symbolic notation and constructing truth tables.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use informal and basic formal techniques to assess the validity of arguments.
  • identify any fallacies arguments in ordinary language may contain.
  • construct valid arguments.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify arguments, including their premises, their conclusions and their form.
  • analyse and assess arguments.
  • identify underlying issues and presuppositions in debates.


The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics may include: 1. The concepts of validity, soundness, form 2. Identifying and evaluating arguments 3. Meaning, emotive force and types of definition 4. Informal Fallacies 5. Venn diagrams 6. The logic of categorical propositions 7. Truth tables

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending lectures - Contributing to discussion in lectures - Practising relevant exercises In the lectures, you will be introduced to the issues central to this module, as well as to a variety of exercises designed to help you develop the skills and abilities required to achieve the learning outcomes of this module. Any difficulties you encounter can be raised and discussed in lectures and office hours.

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Stephen Layman (2005). The Power of Logic. 




Exercises and Quizzes


MethodPercentage contribution
Exercise 20%
Timed Assignment 80%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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