Critical Reasoning (Informal Logic)
Being able to reason well is a crucial skill in many areas of our lives. We need to be able to critically assess the positions expressed by politicians, journalists, academics and businesses, as well as friends, family members and work colleagues. We also want our own views to be rational and able to stand up to critical scrutiny.
This course provides a philosophical introduction to principles of good reasoning. We discuss examples of both reasoning about facts and the reasoning required in making practical decisions. We distinguish deductive and inductive reasoning.
Students are taught how to analyse and evaluate others' attempts to persuade them. They are shown how to spot and avoid common fallacies and misuses of language. Moreover they are encouraged to think critically about the ideas presented to them.
No previous knowledge of critical reasoning and logic is needed. This course will be enjoyed by those who relish the challenge of thinking rationally and learning new skills. The skills and concepts taught in the course will also be useful when studying other areas of philosophy.
Term Starts: 5th October
Week 1: What is critical reasoning? What is a logical argument?
Week 2: Certainty versus probability: the distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning.
Week 3: Varieties of linguistic meaning. Distinguishing arguments from rhetoric.
Week 4: What makes an argument deductively valid? When do arguments rely on hidden premises?
Week 5: Deductive validity and logical form.
Week 6: Two riddles of induction.
Week 7: Examples of good and bad inductive reasoning.
Week 8: Reasoning about what to do.
Week 9: What are you entitled to use as a premise in your reasoning? When is it appropriate to believe what others tell you?
Week 10: Putting it all together: We analyse and assess longer passages of reasoning.
Bowell, T and Kemp, G., Critical Thinking. A Concise Guide. 4th edition (Routledge, 2014)
If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.
If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.
All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.
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Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes 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.
If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.
Course fee: £199.00
Take this couse for CATS points: £10.00
Andrea Lechler holds a degree in Computational Linguistics, an MSc in Artificial Intelligence, and an MA and PhD in Philosophy. She has extensive experience of teaching philosophy for OUDCE and other institutions.
To help students improve their critical reasoning skills.
1. To help students reflect on how people reason and how they try to persuade others of their views.
2. To make students familiar with the principles underlying different types of good reasoning.
3. To teach students how to spot mistakes in reasoning.
The tutor will present the content of each lesson in an interactive way using plenty of examples and exercises. Students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in class discussions and group work. To consolidate their understanding of the subject they will be assigned further exercises as homework.
By the end of the course students will be expected to:
1. Be able to pick out and analyse logical arguments in texts and conversations.
2. Be able to assess the cogency of such arguments.
3. Use these skills in evaluating others' reasoning and in developing their own views.
Assessment is based on either four homework assignments completed during the course or one longer assignment at the end of the course, consisting of a set of exercises. One set of homework exercises can be submitted as a practice assignment.
Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.
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.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.
Level and demands
Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support