Critical Thinking (PHIL*2100) | College of Arts

Critical Thinking (PHIL*2100)

Code and section: PHIL*2100*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Don Dedrick


An argument is a set of statements (the premises of the argument) that is intended to provide rational support for some further statement (the conclusion of the argument). We use arguments to convince ourselves and others that some view or position is rationally supported. By “rationally supported” we mean “based on good reasons.” The purpose of a critical thinking class is to make you better at identifying, analyzing, criticizing, writing about, and constructing arguments. The core text for this course is How to Reason. It provides the basic tools for recognizing, analyzing, and criticizing arguments. Other course texts are available through Courselink, the platform for delivering this course in Fall 2020. The course ranges widely over a number of important philosophical topics: truth, knowledge, probability, bad reasoning. It also introduces important and useful concepts in the psychological study of reasoning as well as basic logical concepts. The course, in Fall 2020, will be delivered asynchronously via videos, written lectures on textbook material, and textual commentaries written by the professor. There will be “tutorials,” though they will involve short written assignments on assigned texts, graded by a tutor. Online evaluation (midterm and final exam) will also be used. The ultimate objective of the course is practical: to help the student develop useful tools for reasoning in any context.

Text: How to Reason, Richard Epstein

Course Outline