Phil 141: Critical Thinking

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

    Handout: Famous Forms
    Handout: Formal Fallacies

    Handout: Necessary versus Sufficient Conditions

WEEK 6-8: Informal Fallacies
    Handout: Informal Fallacies: Pseudo-Deductions
    Handout: Fallacies of Unwarranted Premises
    Handout: Devious Rhetoric
    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 10-12: 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?
    Handout: What Makes for a Good Scientific Theory?
    Handout: The Bradford Hill Criteria

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

    Brian Earp, Mental Shortcuts

    Gorski & Novella, Clinical Trials of Integrative Medicine
    Rosa et al., A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch
    Handout: Remarks on Scientism
WEEK 13-14: Dialectical Method
    Plato, Crito
    Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham City Ja
il (excerpt)
        Optional: Handout: Historical Background to MLK's letter

        Optional: Huemer, Why People are Irrational about Politics
   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
WEEK 15: Critique as a Way of Life
    Baggini & Fosl, Foucaultian Critique of Power
    Forseman et al., excerpts from ch. 10 of The Critical Thinking Toolkit  

Herman & Chomsky, Preface to Manufacturing Consent
        Optional: Chomsky, excerpts from the Afterward of Failed States

        Optional: Handout: Coping with Ecological Despair

Updated: 26 November 2021