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Critical Thinking: Fundamentals of Good Reasoning

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13,466 people completed this program


This course is an introduction to critical thinking—thinking about arguments, about reasons that might be given in support of a conclusion. The objective of the course is to improve the student's ability in the basic skills of critical thinking:

● how to recognize arguments,

● how to interpret them,

● how to evaluate them,

● how to construct them.

Developing these skills is extremely important, because critical thinking is an essential, pervasive part of our lives. We need to think critically whenever we consider reasons for or against some claim or action—something required in all fields of knowledge and all kinds of decision-making.

Of course, we all know, to some extent or another, how to think critically—how to think about reasons for or against some claim. The course is built on the assumption that learning more about what exactly is involved in thinking about reasons leads us to do it better. Thus, in each topic covered, our natural logical instincts serve as a starting point, from which we develop a rigorous, theoretical understanding, which then boosts our critical thinking skills.

● Arguments: What They Are and How to Recognize Them

● Interpretation: Saying What the Argument Is

● Evaluation: Arguments Good and Bad

● The Logic of Sets

● Conditional and Disjunctive Arguments

● Truth Trees and Relations

● Generalization and Causation

● Analogy and Explanation

● Constructing Arguments


Lesson 1. What’s “Critical Thinking?”

Lesson 2. What are Arguments Made Of?

Lesson 3. From Premises to Conclusions

Lesson 4. Recognizing Arguments: Introduction

Lesson 5. Argument vs. The Text Containing It

Lesson 6. Recognizing Conclusions

Lesson 7. Arguments vs. Explanations

Lesson 8. Argument Diagrams: Introduction

Lesson 9. More about Argument Diagrams

Lesson 10. Argument Diagrams: Examples

Lesson 11. Hedges

Lesson 12. Disclaimers

Lesson 13. Examples

Lesson 14. Rhetorical Language

Lesson 15. Referential Attribution

Lesson 16. Principles of Interpretation

Lesson 17. Implicit Premises

Lesson 18. What’s a Good Argument?

Lesson 19. More Virtues of Arguments

Lesson 20. Argument Ad Hominem

Lesson 21. Argument Ad Verecundiam

Lesson 22. Argument Ad Populum

Lesson 23. Argument Ad Ignorantiam

Lesson 24. Argument Ad Baculum and Ad Misericordiam

Lesson 25. Venn Diagrams

Lesson 26. Beyond Venn

Lesson 27. Modus Ponens

Lesson 28. Modus Tollens

Lesson 29. Conditionals

Lesson 30. Reductio Ad Absurdum

Lesson 31. Process of Elimination

Lesson 32. Separation of Cases

Lesson 33. Truth Trees: An Example

Lesson 34. How to Grow Truth Trees

Lesson 35. Truth Trees: Another Example

Lesson 36. Reflexive Relations

Lesson 37. Symmetric Relations

Lesson 38. Transitive Relations

Lesson 39. Inductive Generalization

Lesson 40. What's a Good Sample?

Lesson 41. The New Riddle of Induction

Lesson 42. From Induction to Causation

Lesson 43. Evaluating Causal Generalizations

Lesson 44. Argument from Analogy: Basics

Lesson 45. Argument from Analogy: Examples

Lesson 46. Who Needs Analogues?

Lesson 47. Inference to the Best Explanation

Lesson 48. Experimentation

Lesson 49. Building an Argument

Lesson 50. Writing Up an Argument

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Critical Thinking: Fundamentals of Good Reasoning
9 weeks
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