Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic (Online)
Reasoning enables us to acquire knowledge, to persuade others, and to evaluate their arguments. But only if we reason well. We shall be learning how to recognise, evaluate, construct and analyse arguments, and how to recognise common fallacies (bad arguments that look like good arguments). This will give you confidence in your ability to reason well.
Reasoning is central to the life of a human being. Without it we would be restricted to learning through our senses and immediate experiences. Reasoning can take us, literally, to the moon and back. Reasoning enables us to theorise about our world, to persuade others of our theories and to evaluate theirs. But reasoning can do this only if we do it well. Bad reasoning takes us nowhere. In this course we shall be looking at how to recognise and evaluate arguments, how to construct and analyse arguments and how to recognise common fallacies (bad arguments that look like good arguments). By the end of this course you should be more confident about your everyday reasoning, your ability to present a good case to others, and your ability to distinguish a good argument from a bad one.
Listen to Marianne Talbot talking about the course:
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
1. The Nature of Argument
In this unit we learn how to recognize arguments and distinguish them from other sets of sentences, and from assertions, especially conditional assertions.
2. Analysing Arguments
In this unit we look at how to analyse arguments and set them out logic-book style. This makes it much easier to see the structure of the argument (which in turn makes it much easier to evaluate the argument).
3. Deduction and Induction
This is the unit in which we learn how to distinguish deductive arguments from inductive arguments. Deduction and induction are two quite different types of argument. All arguments fall into one category or the other. The two types of argument are evaluated quite differently.
4. Induction, Popper and the Paradoxes of Confirmation
In this unit we will be stepping back from critical reasoning to consider the philosophy of critical reasoning. In particular we will be considering the nature of induction and some problems endemic to inductive reasoning.
5. Types Of Induction
Having got to grips with the problems endemic to inductive reasoning we shall now consider the different types of inductive reasoning, and look at how to evaluate them.
6. Deduction, Validity And Truth
In this unit we will consider how to evaluate deductive arguments. We will start by reflecting on the notions of validity, entailment and truth. Then we will look at the process by which all deductive arguments are evaluated.
7. The Rudiments, Purpose and Limits of Formalisation
In this unit and the next we shall be looking at the rudiments of formalisation. Why do logicians use symbols? How do they help? In unit seven we shall ourselves learn how to formalise simple arguments.
8. The Rules of Propositional Logic
Having learned in the last unit how to formalize simple arguments we shall now learn how to apply a set of mechanical rules by which to test these formalized arguments.
The last two units have been tough. This unit will be a bit of relaxation. In this unit we will learn about fallacies. These are bad arguments that look like, and can easily be mistaken for, good arguments. You will do some research of your own into particular types of fallacy.
10. Analysing Complex Arguments
In this, our final unit, you will be set the task of analyzing a complex argument. Half of you will analyse a complex inductive argument, the other half a complex deductive argument.
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following e-book:
Talbot, Marianne Critical Reasoning: A romp through the foothills of logic available from: http://mariannetalbot.co.uk or
A version for Kindle is available from Amazon
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Dr Julia Weckend
Julia has taught at the Universities of Southampton and Reading before joining the OUDCE in 2014. She has taught a wide range of courses, amongst others on human nature, free will, theory of mind, perception, truth and metaphysics.
- Introduce participants to the nature of arguments and the different types of arguments.
- Help participants learn how to evaluate arguments of the different types.
- Encourage participants to acquire the language of logic.
- Enhance participants confidence in everyday reasoning and argument.
- Understand what an argument is
- Recognise arguments
- Analyse arguments
- Distinguish deductive arguments from inductive arguments
- Evaluate inductive and deductive arguments
- Understand formal and informal fallacies
- Understand the rudiments of formalisation
- Apply the rules of propositional logic
- Guided reading of texts
- Group discussions of particular issues
- Questions to be answered in personal folders
- Debating from positions given rather than from personal belief (to hone skills of debate)
By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:
- How to recognise arguments, distinguish them from conditional sentences and sets of sentences that are not arguments, and set them out logic-book-style.
- Understand the difference between deduction and induction, and the different types of each argument-type and how they are distinguished from each other.
- Evaluate arguments by testing them for validity or inductive strength, and checking the truth of their premises.
- Understand and recognise common fallacies.
By the end of this course students will have gained the following skills:
- Confidence in everyday reasoning and argument.
- The ability to distinguish deduction and induction and recognise the strengths and weaknesses of each.
- The skills involved in analysing arguments and setting them out logic-book-style.
- An understanding of how to evaluate arguments of different types.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support