Critical Thinking

Course Description

Developing your own ideas in a logical and critical manner is an essential part of being a student in higher education. In this course, you will learn about the nature of argumentation, how to evaluate arguments, uncover hidden premises, and sharpen your own thinking skills. We will start by looking at the difference between arguments and non-arguments and why being able to present an argument is such an important skill. Then we will look at different kinds of arguments, such as deduction, induction, and arguments from inference to the best explanation. Not all arguments are made equal.

Some arguments are irrefutable – others barely convincing – and others still completely misleading. We will look at how you can assess the quality of an argument and avoid common logical pitfalls. Finally, we will finish by looking at some philosophical puzzles and paradoxes involving logic and reasoning including Hume’s notorious problem of induction and the Sorites paradox.

Course Learning Goals

– Course Learning Goals:

+ Understand the importance of critical thinking and logical thinking

+ Know that an argument consists of premises and a conclusion

+ Explain the difference between soundness and validity

+ Identify premises and conclusions in natural arguments and be able to formalize them

+ Describe the different kinds of arguments found in science and other disciplines

+ Evaluate an argument for soundness and validity

+ Apply the critical thinking skills to an argument from their own discipline

– Specific Course Learning Objectives: (map with accreditation outcomes)

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

+ Define an argument and distinguish arguments from non-arguments

+ Explain the different kinds of arguments: deductive, inductive and inference to the best explanation (abductive)

+ Understand the different conceptions of scientific reasoning: inductivism, hypothetico-deductive (H-D) method and falsificationism

+ Know the most common types of fallacies such as equivocation, straw man, ad hominem, circular reasoning, modus morons, etc.

+ Formalize and evaluate deductive arguments using simple propositional logic and truth tables

+ Formalize and evaluate non-deductive arguments using the concept of subjective degrees of belief and probability

+ Know how logical thinking has limits and can lead to puzzles and paradoxes, including Hume’s problem of induction, the liar and the Sorites paradox. Investigate simple solutions to these problems