Offered to: Class of 2020, 2021, and 2022
Office Hours: Drop-in sessions and/or by appointment
Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate an argument. An argument is an attempt to persuade someone that a claim is true by giving reasons. Arguments proliferate in scholarly, civic, and personal discourse. Participants of this course will learn the tools and language that philosophers, lawyers, and rhetoricians use to reflect on such questions. What makes for a good argument? Should I be persuaded? Will others be persuaded?
By learning to ask and answer such questions, policy professionals will become more discerning in their pursuit of truth and effective in their persuasion. Topics covered include the structure of arguments, claims and their types, valid and invalid arguments, strong and weak arguments, plausibility of premises, refutation of arguments, and fallacies. The skill emphasized is reasoning well with "if-then" statements, commonly used statistical measures, analogies, and cause and effect relationships.