PHIL10160 Critical Thinking

Academic Year 2022/2023

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes their share. But we tend to take the situation for granted.” (Harry Frankfurt, 'On Bullshit').

Thinking is easy, but *reasoning* -- in particular, reasoning *well* - is hard. This course is concerned with the question: how might we reason better, so that we can have more accurate beliefs and make better choices? 

In the first part of the course, we learn about how our cognitive biases make it hard for us to reason well, and what the typical characteristics of a good reasoner are; what an *argument* is, and what makes an argument either good or bad; what makes one claim *evidence* for another claim, and how we might fail in our search for evidence; and how to extract an argument from a piece of text, in order to assess whether it is good or bad.

In the second part of the course, we learn about rhetoric and the art of persuasion; bullshit; fake news; and conspiracy theories. Finally, we'll think about *paradoxes* (such as that generated by the statement ‘This sentence is not true’), which seem to threaten our most basic assumptions about good reasoning.

The course is taught by Dr. Daniel Esmonde Deasy (Assistant Professor, UCD School of Philosophy) and is delivered in the form of 24 one-hour in-person lectures and 7 one-hour in-person tutorials. Lectures will consist primarily in the presentation of material by the lecturer, and tutorials will involve active discussion of the material and non-graded quizzes.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

As a result of studying this course, students will learn to:

1. IDENTIFY key concepts in critical thinking such as 'reason', 'argument', 'premise', 'conclusion', 'evidence', 'valid', 'fallacy', 'cognitive bias' and 'paradox'
2. UNDERSTAND what makes an argument (logically) good or bad
3. RECONSTRUCT and ASSESS short arguments presented in texts
4. DISTINGUISH lies, bullshit, and rhetoric

Indicative Module Content:

The key topics in this course are:

1. Reasoning (good and bad)
2. Cognitive Biases (common patterns of thought that lead to bad reasoning)
3. Fallacies (commonly accepted patterns of bad reasoning)
4. Arguments (what they are; how they are structured)
5. Evidence (what it is; how it works; what makes it strong or weak)
6. Logical validity (a quality of arguments whose conclusions must be true if their premises are true)
7. Inductive strength (a quality of arguments whose conclusions are likely to be true given the truth of their premises)
8. Rhetoric (the art of persuasion)
9. Lies and Bullshit
10. Conspiracy theories and fake news
11. Paradoxes

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning

94

Lectures

24

Tutorial

7

Total

125

Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
1. TEACHING

Teaching for this module is centred around lectures; tutorials; and (graded and non-graded) assignments.

The course is taught by Dr. Daniel Esmonde Deasy (Assistant Professor, UCD School of Philosophy) and is delivered in the form of 24 one-hour in-person lectures and 7 one-hour in-person tutorials.

The course is assessed on the basis of five Short Online MCQs worth 50% of the final grade; and an Online Exam MCQ worth 50% of the final grade.

Lectures will be delivered in-person during timetabled slots. Each lecture will consist primarily in the presentation of content by the lecturer.

In tutorials, students will be divided into smaller groups and asked to collaborate on informal (i.e. non-graded) assignments related to the content of the module. For example, groups might be asked to identify the conclusions in short passages containing arguments, or to identify which statements provide reasons for another statement. The tutor will provide feedback in the tutorial on students' work. Students will also have the opportunity in tutorials to discuss the week's readings and the material presented in the lectures in detail, as well as to raise questions concerning the material with the tutor.

2. LEARNING

Learning for this module is centred around (i) content presented in lectures; (ii) reading material shared online by the lecturer; (iii) discussion and debate; (iv) informal tutorial exercises; (v) formal online assessments; and (vi) feedback on both formal and informal assessments.

Students will be expected to (i) read short set texts in advance of the lectures (shared on Brightspace as PDFs); (ii) attend in-person lectures; (iii) actively participate in in-person tutorials; and (iv) engage with their continuous online assessments.

Students will be supported in their learning of the module material by lecturers and tutors, in both lectures and tutorials; by email; and in set office hours. Students will be supported in their completion of both formal and informal assessments by clear feedback in lectures and tutorials.
 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
 
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Online Exam MCQ. (A longer online MCQ covering material from the whole course.) Week 12 n/a Graded No

50

Assignment: Five Short Online MCQs. (Students can take up to six; only the best five are counted.) Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded Yes

50


Carry forward of passed components
Yes
 
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Online automated feedback
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

1. Short MCQ answers will generate immediate online feedback 2. There will be feedback to the whole class on each Short Online MCQ in the lectures 3. Students will receive individual feedback in tutorials on informal assignments and exercises 4. Students may have the opportunity to comment on each other's work in tutorials

Name Role
Armando D'Ippolito Tutor
Lucas Dijker Tutor
Marta Dmuchowska Tutor
Ms Miho Kaneko Tutor
Haikyung Kwon Tutor
Nathan Mulder Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
 
Autumn
     
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 11:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Mon 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Mon 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Tues 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Fri 12:00 - 12:50
Tutorial Offering 5 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 7 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 8 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Tues 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 9 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 10 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Fri 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 11 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Mon 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 12 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Wed 10:00 - 10:50
Tutorial Offering 13 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 15 Week(s) - 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Tues 15:00 - 15:50
Autumn