The Art of Critical Thinking

$268 Limited inc GST / $241
The Art of Critical Thinking

<p>Develop critical thinking skills through practical sessions and the study of informal logic techniques. Learn the basics of a good argument and evaluate the problems which make an argument go wrong

...

Develop critical thinking skills through practical sessions and the study of informal logic techniques. Learn the basics of a good argument and evaluate the problems which make an argument go wrong. Work through practical exercises and evaluate examples from everyday life to gain a better understanding of how to construct a clear and persuasive argument and how to assess the clarity of the arguments of others.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Introduction to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Ideas.
  • Elements of an Argument: An argument may be very simple with only a single premise and a conclusion, or may be composed of a convoluted series of premises and sub conclusions, one technique for working out the relationship between the different elements in an argument is to reconstruct it in the form of a structure diagram. We will take a variety of examples to learn this technique.
  • Language & Definitions: Many of the problem in arguments occur because of lack of clarity or precision in defining the terms in the argument. We will discuss Stipulative and Operational Definitions.
  • Appeals to Authority: Why do we accept the truth of some arguments as reliable and others as unacceptable? We will look at the ways in which arguments appeal to different authority sources for their justification and consider the merits of these appeals to truth.
  • Problems of Relevance: Many bad arguments work by diverting attention from the main issues of the argument. For example by attacking the personality of the opposition rather than debating his or her claims. We will discuss a number of these divisional fallacies including the Straw person fallacy; Ad Hominem; Tu Quoque; Appeals to Ignorance; The gambler’s fallacy.
  • Arguments from Analogy: Good persuasive arguments can be made through the use of analogies. For example the use of precedent in the legal system is a form of argument from analogy to a previous case. However in making these arguments one must be careful that the analogy supports the primary case.
  • Arguments from Experience: Arguments from experience use information about things we have experienced to draw conclusions about outcomes in the future, or they generalize the experiences of a few individuals to make claims about many others. We will evaluate the reliability of these forms of argumentation.
  • Statistical arguments: How reliable are statistics in arguments. What are the rules of statistical usage.
  • This week we will apply the techniques we have learnt to a number of complex arguments.
  • In this last session we will discuss some contemporary debates from the media and assess the quality of their argumentation.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have a better understanding of the structure of arguments.
  2. Construct a good argument themself.
  3. Critically assess the arguments of others.