Proposed: Critical Thinking

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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 (Concise Edition).  Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2016. (Required)
  2. Readings on electronic reserve. (Required)

Course Requirements

Requirement Description Weight Date
Short Project A short project designed to test your competency with the material from Unit One. 15% Week 06
Midterm One cumulative midterm to test your competency with the material from Units One and Two. 20% Week 10
Long Project A cumulative project designed to test your competency with the course material, especially Units Two and Three. 25% Week 14
Seminar Participation Assessed by your TA on the quality and quantity of participation. 10%  
Final Examination One sit-down cumulative examination. 30% See Registrar

Tentative Schedule

Week Topic Readings
1 “The First Steps” Mon Syllabus.
Weds CT: 1.1 to 1.4, 1.6.
2 “Statements and Definitions” Mon CT: 2.3.
Weds CT: 2.6, 2.7, 2.9, 2.11, 2.12, 2.13.
3 “Clarifying Statements” Mon CT: 3.1, 3.2.
Weds CT: 3.4, 3.6, 3.7.
4 “Necessary and Sufficient Conditions” Mon CT: 3.8, 3.9.
Weds CT: 3.8, 3.9.
5 “Standard Form” Mon CT: 4.1, 4.2, 4.3.
Weds CT: 4.8.
6 Winter Break Mon  
7 “Good Arguments: Acceptability” Mon CT: 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.6.
Weds CT: 6.7, 6.8.
8 “Good Arguments: Relevance” Mon CT: 7.1 to 7.3.
Weds CT: 7.4, 7.5.
9 “Good Arguments: Adequacy” Mon CT: 8.1 to 8.3
Weds CT: 8.4 to 8.6.
10 “Deductive Reasoning” Mon Midterm; no readings.
Weds CT: 9.1, 9.2.
11 “Inductive Reasoning” Mon CT: 9.3 to 9.5
Weds CT: 10.1 to 10.4
12 “Rhetoric and Persuasion” Mon CT: 12.1 to 12.6.
Weds CT: 12.7 to 12.11.
13 “Cognitive Biases” Mon On electronic reserve.
Weds On electronic reserve.
Unit One:
Clarifying Ideas
Unit Two:
Strengthening Arguments
Unit Three:
Reason and Anti-Reason
CT: Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills.
Italicized numbers indicate a recommended self-test.