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Everyone is trying to convince us of something: companies try to convince us to buy their products; politicians try to convince us to support them; or, our friends try to convince us to go out instead of studying. The primary means by which these attempts at persuasion are carried out is through arguments—a series of premises used to convince you to accept a conclusion. This course is designed to improve your ability to spot, assess, and respond to arguments, and to create strong arguments of your own. You will learn the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning, and the unique methods of dealing with them. You will learn how to recognize logical fallacies and will be able to avoid them in your own writing. Finally, you will learn about cognitive biases and how they are used to exploit our reasoning.
- Hughes, William and Lavery, Jonathan. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Canadian Edition). Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2016. (Required)
- Readings on electronic reserve. (Required)
||Two tests on the material from Units One and Two.
||Weeks 06 & 12
||One project to test competency with material from Unit Three.
||A cumulative project designed to test your competency with the course material, especially Units Three and Four.
||Worth three points each, with an extra point for participation. See description for more details.
||One sit-down cumulative examination.
||Statements, definitions, and assertions
||CT: 2.3 to 2.11, 2.12
||CT: 3.1 to 3.6, 3.7
||Necessary & sufficient conditions
||CT: 3.8, 3.9
||CT: 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.8
||[Review & Unit Test 1]
||Good Arguments: Introduction
||CT: 5.1 to 5.3
||Testing for acceptability
||CT: 6.3 to 6.7, 6.8
||Testing for relevance
||CT: 7.1 to 7.4, 7.5
||Testing for adequacy
||CT: 8.1 to 8.6, 8.7
||Never read the comments [flex]
||[Review & Unit Test 2]
||Welcome back! [review]
||Your notes from T1.
Thinking it Through
||CT: 9.1 to 9.5, 9.6
||Inductive & abductive reasoning
||CT: 10.1 to 10.5, 10.6
||CT: 11.1 to 11.2, 11.3, 11.4
||CT: 12.1 to 12.3, 12.4, 12.9
||Information literacy [flex]
||CT: 16.1 to 16.4, E3
How to Win the Internet
||Starving the trolls [counterarguments]
||CT: 14.1 to 14.4, 14.5
||Fighting dirty [rhetoric]
||CT: 15.1 to 15.10, 15.11, E4
||Know thine enemy [cognitive biases]
||Knowing when to quit
||Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Canadian Edition)
||Clifford, W. K. “The Ethics of Belief” (selections)
||[News articles from competing sources with different biases on current events]
||[Opinion pieces for hot political topic]
||Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal”
||Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow (selections)
||James, W. Pragmatism (selections)
||Indicate recommended self-test