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Unit information: Logic and Critical Thinking in 2020/21

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Unit name Logic and Critical Thinking
Unit code PHIL10032
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Catrin Campbell-Moore
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces the student to the analysis of arguments. It provides students with the tools to discern and analyze the structure of an argument, to distinguish good arguments from bad ones, to understand commonly encountered forms of reasoning, and to diagnose common ways in which arguments and reasoning may be flawed or misleading. Students will also be introduced to the tools of Formal Logic and taught how to use these to make arguments more precise and to evaluate their correctness in precise and rigorous ways. Topics covered will typically include the analysis of the sort of informal arguments occurring in everyday life (including statistical reasoning), as well as the exploration of common fallacies in reasoning, the effects of various biases (including implicit bias), and the way certain forms of propaganda work.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit the students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the key ideas in elementary logic, including deduction, validity, soundness, proof;
  2. Demonstrate familiarity with the propositional calculus and predicate calculus;
  3. Analyse both the overall structure and the precise logical form of arguments and be able to translate arguments from English into the propositional calculus and predicate calculus;
  4. Construct clear arguments and proofs, both formally and informally;
  5. Demonstrate an appreciation of the role and importance of evidence;
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of certain important forms of formal and informal reasoning (e.g. statistical inference);
  7. Identify common fallacies and biases in reasoning;
  8. Be reflective about their own reasoning; be less susceptible to committing fallacies and be less liable to bias.

Teaching Information

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Information

Summative: take home open book exam - 100% [designed to test ILOs 1-8] + Formative: Regular short on-line problem sets [designed to test ILOs 1-8]

Reading and References

Bowell, T., and G. Kemp, Critical Thinking, Routledge, 2002.

Barwise, J., and J. Etchemendy, The Language of First Order Logic, CSLI Press, 1993.

Stanley, J., How Propaganda Works, Princeton University Press, 2016.