Course Description

Critical thinking becomes relevant when someone presents a reason for a certain truth-claim or when you are asked to make a decision. When you are presented with a reason as evidence for a certain truth-claim, you must ask: Is this evidence good evidence? Does it really support the claim? How much does it support the claim? Is there other relevant evidence I should consider? When you are asked to make a decision, you must ask: What evidence bears on this decision? Do I know how my actions affect the outcomes? If I don’t, how do I act to maximize my values? If I do, how do I act to maximize my values?

Critical thinking is thus concerned with:

  • The evaluation of the strength of evidence
  • The evaluation of logical and evidential connections
  • The search for new, relevant evidence
  • Rational decision-making under ignorance
  • Rational decision-making under risk

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn to:
  • Contextualize claims and arguments
  • Recognize and avoid common cognitive biases and errors
  • Identify common logical fallacies
  • Understand the basics of the scientific method and experimental design
  • Evaluate empirical claims in light of the evidence
  • Employ key concepts of statistics
  • Understand and evaluate appeals to experts and authorities
  • Manage decisions under ignorance and risk

Measurement of Learning Outcomes

Student progress will be measured by weekly homework assignments that implement the key concepts and strategies learned in class each week. A final exam will test the students’ mastery.