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Critical Thinking and Logic - 1st year


Teaches the application of the principles of critical thinking to evaluating and creating arguments. Critical reasoning skills are presented and practiced in the context of the construction and criticism of numerous written, extended arguments.



Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. Identify the main issue of an argument;

2. Identify premises of an argument;

3. Identify the main conclusion of an argument and demonstrate an understanding of its significance;

4. Identify value assumptions in an argument;

5. Demonstrate knowledge of the difference between effective and ineffective arguments;

6. Examine different types of arguments and identify some common fallacies;

7. Identify unclear and emotive language in an argument;

8. Conduct library research as appropriate;

9. Develop arguments, which are based on sound inferences and clear premises.

Topics:

Course topics will include the following:

1. Presentation of the concept of “argument” and its various components, e.g. issue, conclusion, premise, and assumption; discussion of methods of identifying these components; practice in paraphrasing arguments

2. Discussion of clarity in language use; how to recognize unclear language and how to improve the clarity of one’s own arguments

3. Discussion of emotive language; how to recognize emotive language and how to remove or appropriately use emotive language in one’s own arguments

4. Description of the various types of argument, e.g., deductive, inductive, syllogism, generalization, analogy, casual argument; and practice identifying them in arguments

5. Presentation and written application of methods for evaluating each of the various types of arguments

6. Description and written application of methods for determining the acceptability of claims of fact, value, and opinion

7. Discussion and written application of methods for developing and presenting relevant support for a conclusion

8. Development of appropriate library research and documentation skills

9. Practice revising the essay to improve its clarity, coherence, accuracy, cogency and logical progression

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Discussion

3. Small group work

4. Library work

5. Possible use of videos, and other audio visual aids as appropriate

6. Interviews with experts, as appropriate

Types of Assignments:

1. Research assignments in the library

2. Assigned readings in the text

3. Homework assignments practicing skills

4. In-class work developing short arguments and practicing skills

5. Short written arguments

6. One oral presentation or debate on a particular issue

Sample Text:

1. Diestler, Sherry. Becoming a Critical Thinker. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.

2. Browne, M. Neil, and Stuart M. Keeley. Asking The Right Questions. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003.