Proposed: Critical Thinking (Full-Year)

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Course Description

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.

Course Texts

  1. Hughes, William and Lavery, Jonathan. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Canadian Edition).  Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2016. (Required)
  2. Readings on electronic reserve. (Required)

Course Requirements

Requirement Description Weight Date
Unit Tests Two tests on the material from Units One and Two. 2×12.5% Weeks 06 & 12
Short Project One project to test competency with material from Unit Three. 15% Week 18
Long Project A cumulative project designed to test your competency with the course material, especially Units Three and Four. 25% Week 24
Weekly Assignments Worth three points each, with an extra point for participation. See description for more details. 10% Weekly
Final Examination One sit-down cumulative examination. 25% See Registrar

Tentative Schedule

Term One 

Week Topic Readings
01 Welcome! Syllabus, E1

Clarifying Ideas

02 Statements, definitions, and assertions CT: 2.3 to 2.11, 2.12
03 Clarifying statements CT: 3.1 to 3.6, 3.7
04 Necessary & sufficient conditions CT: 3.8, 3.9
05 Standard form CT: 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.8
06 [Review & Unit Test 1] N/A

Assessing Arguments

07 Good Arguments: Introduction CT: 5.1 to 5.3
08 Testing for acceptability CT: 6.3 to 6.7, 6.8
09 Testing for relevance CT: 7.1 to 7.4, 7.5
10 Testing for adequacy CT: 8.1 to 8.6, 8.7
11 Never read the comments [flex] E2
12 [Review & Unit Test 2] N/A

Term Two 

Week Topic Readings
13 Welcome back! [review] Your notes from T1.

 Thinking it Through

14 Deductive reasoning CT: 9.1 to 9.5, 9.6
15 Inductive & abductive reasoning CT: 10.1 to 10.5, 10.6
16 Scientific reasoning CT: 11.1 to 11.2, 11.3, 11.4
17 Moral reasoning CT: 12.1 to 12.3, 12.4, 12.9
18 Information literacy [flex] CT: 16.1 to 16.4, E3

How to Win the Internet

20 Starving the trolls [counterarguments] CT: 14.1 to 14.4, 14.5
21 Fighting dirty [rhetoric] CT: 15.1 to 15.10, 15.11, E4
23 Know thine enemy [cognitive biases] E5
24 Knowing when to quit E6


CT Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Canadian Edition)
E1 Clifford, W. K. “The Ethics of Belief” (selections)
E2 [News articles from competing sources with different biases on current events]
E3 [Opinion pieces for hot political topic]
E4 Swift, Jonathan. “A Modest Proposal”
E5 Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow (selections)
E6 James, W. Pragmatism (selections)
Italics Indicate recommended self-test