Phil 141: Critical Thinking

Fall 2022

Instructor: Ted Parent,


Schedule of Readings

WEEK 1: Introduction
    Buddha, the Kalama
    Paul Graham, What You Can't Say
    Handout: Pessimism about Argument

    Video: Ruth Chang's TED talk on Hard Choices
        Optional: Video:, Developing Wisdom
        Optional: Handout: Decision Theory Primer

WEEK 2: Psychological Obstacles
    Video: Shepherd on Cognitive Biases
    Lewis Vaughn, Reasons for Doubt
Handout: Cognitive Biases
    Videos: Laurie Santos on Cognitive Biases

    Handout: What is the Ideal Setting for Inquiry?
    Handout: S.L.O.W. Thinking Tool
      Optional: Handout: Defense Mechanisms

        Optional: Huemer, Why People are Irrational about Politics
Optional: Kenyon & Beaulac, Critical Thinking Education and Debiasing

WEEK 3-4: The Five Types of Argument
    Handout: Five Types of Argument
    Handout: Premise and Conclusion Indicators
    Handout: Criticizing the Five Types of Argument

WEEK 5: Symbolization
    Bergmann et al., excerpts from ch. 2 of The Logic Book, 6th edition.
    Video: Crash Course in Formal Logic: Propositional Logic
    Handout: Necessary versus Sufficient Conditions

WEEK 6: Argument Forms
    Howard-Snyder et al., The Power of Logic, chapter 1 (excerpts)

    Handout: Famous Forms
    Handout: Formal Fallacies

WEEK 7-10: Informal Fallacies
    Handout: Informal Fallacies: Pseudo-Deductions
    Handout: Fallacies of Unwarranted Premises
    Handout: Devious Rhetoric
    Handout: Fallacies in 12 Angry Men
    Dan Dennett, excerpts from ch. 2 of Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking
Lewis Vaughn, Experts and Evidence
    Handout: Website Credibility Checklist
    Handout: Are Emotions Relevant?

WEEK 11-13: Scientific Thinking
    Forseman et al., excerpts from ch. 6 of The Critical Thinking Toolkit
Forseman et al., excerpts from ch. 9 of The Critical Thinking Toolkit
Forseman et al., more excerpts from ch. 9
    Handout: Are You Prone to the Base-Rate Fallacy?
    Video: Cooke on the "Scientific Method"
    Handout: What Makes for a Good Scientific Theory?
    Handout: The Bradford Hill Criteria

         Optional: Susan Haack, Correlation and Causation: The Bradford Hill Criteria

    Gorski & Novella, Clinical Trials of Integrative Medicine
    Rosa et al., A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch
Video: Critique of Scientism
    Handout: Remarks on Scientism
WEEK 14-15: Dialectical Method
    Plato, Crito
    MLK Jr., Letter from a Birmingham City Jail (excerpt)
    Handout: Historical Background to MLK's letter
        Optional: Plato, In Praise of Dialectic
        Optional: Russ Shafer-Landau, Ethical Subjectivism (excerpt)
    Jay Rosenberg, excerpts from chs. 5 and 6 of The Practice of Philosophy

    Handout: How to Address Objections
    Handout: Writing Advice
    Forseman et al., Meta-Narratives

Baggini & Fosl, Foucaultian Critique of Power
    Forseman et al., more excerpts from ch. 10 of The Critical Thinking Toolkit  

Herman & Chomsky, Preface to Manufacturing Consent
    Chomsky, excerpts from the Afterward of Failed States
    Handout: Coping with Ecological Despair

Updated: 1 September 2022