Argumentation Theory and Academic Writing
- learn how to analyze and evaluate arguments and how to avoid common mistakes in reasoning
- Able to carry out industrial or applied activities in an international environment
- Able to work with information: to find, evaluate and use information from various sources necessary to solve scientific and professional problems (including the basis of a systematic approach)
- Able to critically evaluate and rethink the accumulated experience (own and others), to reflect on professional and social activities.
- How to Spot an ArgumentIn this week's material we will teach you how to identify arguments as opposed to abuse. We will define what an argument is, distinguish various purposes for which arguments are given (including persuasion, justification, and explanation), and discuss the material out of which arguments are made (language). The last three lectures this week are optional, but they are recommended for advanced students.
- How to Untangle an ArgumentThis week’s material will focus on the special language in which arguments are formulated. We will investigate the functions of particular words, including premise and conclusion markers plus assuring, guarding, discounting, and evaluative terms. Identifying these words will enable students to separate arguments from the irrelevant verbiage that surrounds it and then to break the argument into parts and to identify what each part of an argument is doing. The lectures end with a detailed example that uses these tools to closely analyze an op-ed from a newspaper.
- How to Reconstruct an ArgumentThis week’s material will teach you how to organize the parts of an argument in order to show how they fit into a structure of reasoning. The goal is to make the argument look as good as possible so that you can learn from it. We work through the main steps of reconstruction, including putting the premises and conclusion into a standard form, clarifying the premises and breaking them into parts, arranging the argument into stages or sub-arguments, adding suppressed premises where needed to make the argument valid, and assessing the argument for soundness. The lectures begin by defining the crucial notions of validity, soundness, and standard form. You will also learn to diagram alternative argument structures, including linear, branching, and joint structures.
- Propositional Logic and Truth TablesThis week we will teach you how such phrases as “and”, “or”, “if”, and “not” can work to guarantee the validity or invalidity of the deductive arguments in which they occur. It will also teach you to understand the functioning of these phrases using a device called a “truth-table”, which shows how the truth or falsity of propositions that use these phrases depends upon the truth or falsity of the propositions contained within it. We highly recommend that you practice the skills that you will learn in this week by doing the puzzles at betapuzzle.sonjara.com.
- Categorical LogicThis week will teach you how such phrases as “all”, “some”, and “none” can work to guarantee the validity or invalidity of the deductive arguments in which they occur. It will also teach you to understand the functioning of these phrases using a device called a “Venn Diagram”, which shows how the truth or falsity of propositions that use these phrases depends upon the truth or falsity of other propositions that use these phrases. We highly recommend that you practice the skills that you will learn in this week by doing the puzzles at http://philgames-neta.apps.unc.edu
- Representing Information (written test)This week we will teach you how to use the tools that you’ve learned about in the preceding modules in order to represent information. Information can be communicated in very different ways – by means of different languages or signaling systems – but no matter how that information is communicated, it can be important to use that information in reasoning. In this week, you will learn how to reason from information that is communicated directly by means of truth-tables or Venn Diagrams.
- Inductive ArgumentsThis week begins by distinguishing inductive arguments from deductive arguments. Then we discuss four common forms of inductive argument: generalizations from samples (such as in political polls), applications of generalizations to particular cases (such as in predicting weather on a certain day), inferences to the best explanation (such as in using evidence to determine who committed a crime), and arguments from analogy (such as in identifying the use of one archaeological artifact by comparing it to other artifacts). We will expose the most common mistakes in these kinds of reasoning. Some of the "lectures" this week are a bit experimental (and perhaps weird!), as you will see. We hope that you enjoy them.
- Causal ReasoningThis module will focus on how to decide what causes what. Students will learn how to distinguish necessary conditions from sufficient conditions and how to use data to test hypotheses about what is and what is not a necessary condition or a sufficient condition. Then we will distinguish causation from correlation (or concomitant variation) and explain the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. It is sad that some diners had to die to make this lesson possible, as you will see.
- Chance and ChoiceThis week will cover chance and choice—in other words, probability and decision making. Probability is useful for measuring the strength of inductive arguments and also for deciding what to believe and what to do. You will learn about the nature and kinds of probability along with four simple rules for calculating probabilities. An optional honors lecture will then explain Bayes’ theorem and the common mistake of overlooking the base rate. Next we will use probabilities to evaluate decisions by figuring their expected financial value and contrasting financial value with overall value.
- Fallacies of UnclarityIn this week's material we will describes two phenomena that are both common and useful in the languages that human beings speak, but both of which give rise to the potential for fallacious reasoning. A word or phrase is vague when its meaning is not precise, and it is ambiguous when it has more than one meaning. When we use vague or ambiguous phrases in our reasoning, it is very easy for us to make a number of different kinds of fallacies. This week will teach you what these different kinds of fallacies are, and give us some practice in spotting them, so you can make sure to avoid them in the future.
- Fallacies of Relevance, Vacuity and CircularityThis week describes two of the most common fallacies that people make: ad hominem fallacies and appeals to authority. Part of what makes these fallacies so common, and so difficult to avoid, is that many ad hominem arguments, and many appeals to authority, are actually not fallacies at all! Only some of them are. And figuring out which of them are fallacies is more of an art than a science. There is no simple recipe, but there are some rules of thumb you can use. We hope that the practice that you get in this week will help you to improve your skills at distinguish the fallacious from the non-fallacious instances of ad hominem reasoning, as well as appeal to authority.
- Refutation: Its Varieties and PitfallsThis week we will teach you various strategies for refuting a fallacious argument. To refute an argument is to show that the argument is unsuccessful. Even if you are able to identify a fallacious argument as a fallacy, you might still not be able to prove to others that it is a fallacy. In this week, you will learn a variety of techniques for proving to others that the argument is a fallacy.
- Interim assessment (4 module)0.25 * Class activities + 0.5 * Final exam + 0.25 * Home assignments
- Forte, J. M., & Horvath, C. P. (2011). Critical Thinking. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=541360
- Crews-Anderson, T. A. (2007). Critical Thinking and Informal Logic. Tirril, Penrith: Humanities-Ebooks. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=373337
- Pfänder, A. (2009). Logic. Berlin: De Gruyter. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=603753