This course aims to introduce students to practices of argumentation, critical analysis, and evaluation. Such skills in critical thinking are integral to the discipline of philosophy. They are also tremendously useful in other academic domains, in the workplace, and in everyday life. The course aims to help students to understand and develop the skills required for critical thinking, and to encourage them to explore the ways in which these skills can further their academic and non-academic pursuits. Topics covered may include: various forms of reasoning, common fallacies, the use of rhetoric, elementary logic, and decision and game theories.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Critically analyse one’s opinions to identify underlying assumptions and unforeseen consequences (especially assumptions or consequences that are open to objections).
- Analyse one’s and others’ arguments and examine whether they are successful.
- Analyse one’s and others’ unsuccessful arguments by identifying (1) where they have committed fallacies and (2) where their arguments are vulnerable to any criticisms.
- Formulate and communicate arguments whose conclusions are supported by given reasons.
This course will be an introduction to logic and critical reasoning. The course is divided into two components. The first component is on informal and formal logic, and the second component is on critical writing. Topics in the first component pertaining to informal logic include: general argumentation theory, argument identification, argument diagramming and mapping, and informal fallacy identification. Topics in the first component pertaining to formal logic include: validity and soundness, the syntax and semantics of the formal language of propositional logic, translation from natural language to formal language, truth-table analysis, and either truth-tree analysis or natural deduction as a procedure for determining the formal validity of arguments. Topics in the second component come from contemporary moral, political, and social issues as presented in the media or in professional scholarly journals. Topics are often taken from the NPR program Intelligence Squared, the New York TImes, the Atlantic, and Philosophy Journals.