Our overarching aim will be to learn to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments, and thereby improve both our critical thinking skills and our capacity to construct successful arguments. In a good argument, the premises offer good reasons to believe the conclusion — in the best case, if the premises are true then the conclusion has to be true. We will develop techniques for evaluating the quality of arguments. We will examine the content of reasoning in everyday contexts. We will also consider some common kinds of defective arguments including informal fallacies: superficially compelling but bad forms of reasoning.
Assignments will include weekly problem sets, and computer-aided study and standardized exams.
The course is open to students from all areas of the University interested in improving their reasoning ability and their ability to construct and recognize compelling arguments. These skills may be helpful in a wide variety of university subjects and extra-academic pursuits.
2 hr lecture and 1 hr discussion per week