148 Syllabus


People do many things with their minds, and then try to communicate those things to others.  The first step in this process is known as reasoning, the second is often argument.  There are many different ways to reason, and several ways to argue.  Each method of reasoning is subject to its own criteria of quality. The same goes for each of the several methods of argumentation.  By the end of this course, students should be able to recognize distinct methods of reasoning and communicating and apply standards of quality to evaluate examples of reasoning and argumentation. This is the most important general life skill that inhabitants of a democracy can possess.

Instructor information:

Brandon Gillette

Office: 3100 Wescoe

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 11:00-12:30, and by appointment

Email: bsg@bgillette.com

Important: There is more than one Brandon Gillette at KU. If you lookup my email on the KU web page instead of the syllabus or course website, be sure to select the right one! The other Brandon Gillette has standing permission from me to play whatever joke he likes on students who email him instead of me.

Note: Email is the best way to contact me. A distant second is the department mailbox (if you can even find it). Also, sometimes I am just in my office during the day. Feel free to stop by at any time. You may also talk to me or email to set up an appointment if you are unable to see me during office hours.


2 exams:

  • Exam 1: 18% of the total grade
  • Exam 2: 22% of the total grade

2 written assignments:

  • Argument Analysis 15% of the total grade
  • Final Paper (2000 word) 25% of the total grade


  • 20% of the total grade

Grading Scale:

I will abide by the standards of quality as described in University Senate Rules and Regulations, available here: https://documents.ku.edu/policies/governance/USRR.htm#art2sect2

The numerical scores corresponding with the letter grades will be as follows. When final scores are calculated, I will round to the nearest whole number.

  • 100-90 A
  • 89-80 B
  • 79-70 C
  • 69-60 D
  • 59-0 F


I will keep track of attendance for my records. While there is not a grade specifically assigned to attendance, I will not accept exams, papers, or assignments outside of class (see Lateness/Make-Up policy below). Nearly all class periods will involve homework assignments, so a failure to attend regularly will manifest itself in the form of poor homework grades. Poor exam grades are also likely if you do not attend regularly. I do realize that, on occasion, some things are more important than class. I do not need to know what these things are in your individual cases unless some arrangements between us are necessary.

Lateness/Make-up Policy:

I do not accept homework outside of class, except in extreme circumstances (i.e. hospitalization). I realize that unexpected things occur frequently, and that some of these things are even out of your control, but a small number of homework assignments is not going to make or break your grade. If you are absent on a day that homework is collected or scored, then you will not receive credit for that homework assignment (barring aforementioned extreme circumstances). Make-up exams will be permitted in extreme circumstances at the discretion of the instructor, and may be offered for reduced credit. The earlier I am notified about an absence due to extreme circumstances on an exam day, the more likely it is that a make-up exam will be allowed. Written assignments will lose 10% of their original value each day that they are late. In the event that you know you will miss an exam day, you may be permitted to take an exam early, provided I am notified well in advance.

Course Text:

The book is Understanding Arguments, Eighth Edition, by Robert Fogelin and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Wadsworth 2010). Please get this book as soon as possible if you have not already. The ISBN is 0-495-60395-3. The book is available at the University Book Store and the Jayhawk Bookstore, and perhaps elsewhere as well.

Academic Honesty:

I will abide very strictly to the University’s policies on academic honesty. Violations of academic honesty policies can result in loss of credit for exams or assignments, and in some circumstances can result in loss of credit for the course. See University regulations here: https://documents.ku.edu/policies/governance/USRR.htm#art2sect6

Important Dates:

  • No Class: October 9, November 22
  • Exam Dates: October 4, November 20
  • Papers Due: September 18, Final Exam Day
  • Last Class Day: December 8
  • Final Exam Date: December 13, 7:30-10:00