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COURSE TITLE: Classical Logic and Epistemology: the Foundations of Philosophical Thinking


Dr. Philippe Yates,


The ability to order, reflect on, and present our thoughts rationally is one of the pillars of civilization. Classical Logic gives us the rules and the mental discipline to be consistent in this. Thus it is the foundation of any study, and especially the study of philosophy where we seek to investigate who we are, what we are and how we are.

Once we have the tools for rational thought and investigation, we need to consider the object of our reflection: knowledge. What is knowledge? What is it to know? What, if anything, can we know? How can/do we know? These are the questions posed in the study of epistemology: the philosophy of knowledge.

These two disciplines are the twin foundations upon which all philosophy depends and this course lays these foundations. It relies on Aristotelian insights as developed by the great Christian philosophers of the Middle Ages, and develops these in the light of contributions from modern and contemporary philosophy to the questions covered.


  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the role of logic in philosophical and everyday discourse
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to reason logically according to the rules of classical logic
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the responses to the major questions in epistemology expounded by leading philosophers
  • Students will be able to argue an intellectually coherent response to the epistemological questions.


Week 1: Introduction and The First Act of the Mind: Understanding, Part 1

Classical and symbolic logic – why study the former?


Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters, Introduction, I, and II. pp. 1-67

Assignment: Tests I and II

Week 2: The First act of the Mind: Understanding, Part 2

Material Fallacies and Definitions

Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters III and IV, pp. 68-137.

Assignment: Find examples of fallacies, Test IV

Week 3: The Second Act of the Mind: Judgment, Part 1

Judgments, Propositions and Sentences

Changing Propositions

Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters V and VI, pp. 138-172

Assignment: Tests V and VI

Week 4: The Second Act of the Mind: Judgment, Part 2


Third Act of the Mind: Reasoning, Part 1

Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters VII and VIII, pp. 173-199.

Assignment: Tests VII and VIII

Week 5: The Third Act of the Mind: Reasoning, Part 2



Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters IX and X, pp. 200-236.

Assignment: Tests IX and X

Week 6: The Third Act of the Mind: Reasoning, Part 3

Checking Syllogisms

More Difficult Syllogism

Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters XI and XII pp. 237-288.

Assignment: Tests XI and XII

Week 7: The Third Act of the Mind: Reasoning , Part 4

Compound Syllogisms


Required Reading: Kreeft, Chapters XIII and XIV, pp. 289-341.

Assignment: Tests XIII and XIV

Week 8: Complete Logic Tests

Week 9: Can we know? Wonder, skepticism and method in epistemology

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 1: the Status of Knowing, p. 3-23.

The Role of Doubt? What is well grounded knowledge?

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 2: The Critical Doubt, p. 24-43.

Week 10: The Problem of Perception. Is seeing believing?

Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant

Consciousness and the World Around us. How do we relate to the world?
Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 3: The Point of Departure, p. 44-67.

Concepts. What are they and (how) can we know them?

Universals – Plato, Nominalism – Ockham

Locke, Berkeley, Moore Russel, Broad Ayer, Stebbing, Wittgenstein

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 4: The Problem of Perception, p. 68-102

Week 11: Realism and Objectivity

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 5: The Problem of Perception II, p. 103-127.

Unconditional Truth. Can anything be known absolutely?

Hume and Kant

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 6: The Search for the Unconditional, p. 128-152.

Week 12: Conceptual Knowledge

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 7: Conceptual Knowledge, p. 153-178.

Thought and Experience. How do these relate in knowledge?


Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 8: Thought and Experience I, p. 179-206

Week 13: Induction and Tautology

Hume, Ayer, Von Hildebrand.

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 9: Thought and Experience II, p. 207-225.

Existential Truth. What Counts as Evidence?

Kierkegaard, Marcel.

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 10: Existential Truth, p. 226-250.

Week 14: Intersubjective knowledge. (How) Can I Know Another?

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 11: Intersubjective Knowledge, p. 251-275.

Science and Moral and Aesthetic Experience

Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 12: Remainders


Required Reading: K. T Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Chapter 13: Reprise

Week 15: Final Project Development

Develop Multimedia Presentation, Check Postings/Replies on Discussion Forums and add if necessary.


Logic will account for 50% of the grade and Epistemology for 50%.

Logic – 50%

In Week 2 students will be examined on the examples of fallacies they have discovered in the media as well as a short test. Weeks 1 and 3-7 will be examined through short tests taken online. Each week will have the same weight in the final grade (i.e. be worth approx. 7.14% of the final grade)

Epistemology – 50%

Discussion postings – 20%

One or more discussion forums will be available each week of the course from Week 9 up to Week 14. Students will respond substantively to one Week 9 question and any 3 other weekly forums for a total of 4 postings. The postings should be 300-400 words each and should address with some depth of thought the discussion prompt based on the lecture and the assigned readings.

Peer Responses – 10%

For the second accountability exercise, students will respond (in around 50 words or so) to at least 4 reflections made by any of your colleagues (using the rubric on page 4) on at least 3 separate weekly discussion forums between weeks 9 and 14. The idea is to get to know one another through interaction and develop your understanding by bouncing ideas off each other.

The Semester Project – 20%

For the third accountability exercise, students will develop a short multimedia project based on some aspect of epistemology and post it for viewing during the final week of the course.

This project will be divided into two parts, each of which will be on the dates assigned below.

The first part is to confirm a title with the professor (by the end of week 11), establish a blog at Wordpress or Blogger and post a short annotated bibliography concerning some aspect of epistemology that you want to pursue. The annotated bibliography should include 3-4 resources. Due end of week 12.

Here is a sample entry in an Annotated Bibliography -- note the indentation format and that the description is 27 words which is just about right to summarize and defend the applicability of the article to the subject studied:

Harrison, D. J. “Using the Moral Language of Cultures to Dialogue.” Social Justice Review, 100 (2009):142-146. An examination of the use of Natural Law to enable interfaith dialogue, which is pertinent to my research because it addresses communication between peoples of different backgrounds.

The second part is to build a short (10-15 minute) multimedia presentation on the topic. Students are free to determine what exactly it is they will do but their title must be confirmed with the professor. The presentation should be uploaded to YouTube (or a similar site) and a link posted on the blog. Due the end of Week 15.

(The rubric for the discussion postings – see below - applies to this multimedia presentation. The student is not graded on aesthetics or functionality of the experience, but attention to these things is appreciated.)

Students who wish to do so may work in groups. The composition of groups and the contributions of each member to the final project must be confirmed with the professor.


  • K.T. Gallagher. The Philosophy of Knowledge. New York: Fordham University Press, 1986. The textbook is available online at
  • Socratic Logic: A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles, 3rd ed., Peter Kreeft (St. Augustine’s Press: 2008). ISBN: 1587318059. (Edition 3.1 may also be used, page numbers may differ slightly)



(Basis of evaluation with explanation regarding the nature of the assignment and the percentage of the grade assigned to each item below). Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at


A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Grading Rubric for the Major Papers and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

0 pts. – Paper
0 pts. – DB Posting;

3 pts. – Paper
2 pts. – DB Posting;

6 pts. – Paper
4 pts. – DB Posting;

9 pts. – Paper
6 pts. – DB Posting;

12 pts. – Paper
8 pts. – DB Posting;

15 pts. – Paper
10 pts. – DB Posting;



Absence of understanding

Analysis shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic.

Lack of understanding

Analysis seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Analysis is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Analysis demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid understanding

Analysis demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Analysis clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.



Missing Research

Paper shows no evidence of research: citation of sources missing.

Inadequate research and/or documentation

Over-reliance on few sources; spotty documentation of facts in text; pattern of citation errors.

Weak research and/or documentation

Inadequate number or quality of sources; many facts not referenced; several errors in citation format.

Adequate research and documentation but needs improvement

Good choice of sources but could be improved with some additions or better selection; did not always cite sources; too many citation errors.

Solid research and documentation

A number of relevant scholarly sources revealing solid research; sources appropriately referenced in paper; only a few minor citation errors.

Excellent critical research and documentation

Critically selected and relevant scholarly sources demonstrating extensive, in-depth research; sources skillfully incorporated into paper at all necessary points; all citations follow standard bibliographic format.


Incomplete writing

Analysis is only partially written or completely misses the topic.

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Analysis fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Analysis noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Analysis is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors.

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Analysis is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error.

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Analysis is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage.


COMMUNITY INTERACTION (50-word response)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting.

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.



Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete and must receive the grade that they have earned. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


Dr. Philippe Yates studied philosophy at the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury, England and philosophy of law at St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada. In addition to philosophy, he teaches canon law, Latin and church history. He lives in Olean NY with his wife Cookie and dog Pica.

He may be contacted at:

(860) 632-3010