What is the course about?
This course is an introduction to critical thinking. It is designed to help you develop your natural ability to evaluate
arguments, identify logical fallacies and rhetorical ploys, and defend your own views with convincing reasons. The
course focuses more on writing than debating, and takes examples of good and bad arguments from philosophical
as well as non-philosophical texts.
What will we cover?
Topics include the basic ingredients of an argument, deductive and inductive inference, common logical fallacies, the principle of charity, and the difference between what sentences mean and what speakers mean in using them.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
identify the premises and conclusions of an argument
formulate unstated premises
distinguish between deductive and inductive inferences
spot fallacies in a persuasive text
produce a concisely stated, logically sound defence of a controversial view.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
You don’t need to know anything about philosophy to do this course, but you’ll need to be ready to read and analyse some fairly difficult texts. If you’ve done, or would be able to do, GSCE English, you shouldn’t have difficulty with the reading and (occasional) writing tasks. You’ll also need to be ready to consider some controversial topics from other people’s point of view. We’ll all be arguing that we’re right. So we’ll all need to be ready to admit that we’re wrong!
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Activities in class will include lecture-style presentations, discussion in pairs and small groups, some analysis of non-philosophical texts (e.g. newspaper articles), and debates. To prepare for class, you’ll be expected to read a short text each week. You’ll also be encouraged, but not required, to contribute to online forums. Toward the end of the course, you’ll have an opportunity to write a short persuasive text and receive feedback on it from the tutor and other members of the group.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All course materials will be provided by the tutor or available free of charge online.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Day-time philosophy courses starting in May include HP034 Philosophy and the self, HP010 Understanding the modern world and HP096 Philosophies of modernism.