When I was younger, I often found myself disagreeing with something I’d read or heard, but couldn't explain exactly why. Despite being unable to pinpoint the precise reasons, I had a strong sense that the rules of logic were being violated. After I was exposed to critical thinking in high school and university, I learned to recognize problematic arguments, whether they be a straw man, an appeal to authority, or an ad hominem attack. Faulty arguments are all-pervasive, and the mental biases that underlie them pop up in media coverage, college classes, and armchair theorizing. Want to learn how to avoid them? Look no further than Critical Reasoning For Beginners, the top rated iTunesU collection of lectures led by Oxford University’s Marianne Talbot.
Talbot builds the course from the ground up, and begins by explaining that arguments consist of a set of premises that, logically linked together, lead to a conclusion. She proceeds to outline the way to lay out an argument logically and clearly, and eventually, the basic steps involved in assessing its strengths and weaknesses. The six-part series, which was recorded in 2009, shows no sign of wear, and Talbot, unlike some philosophy professors, does a terrific job of making the content digestible. If you’ve got some time on your hands, the lectures, which average just over an hour in length, can be finished in less than a week. That's peanuts, if you consider that all our knowledge is built on the foundations that this course establishes. If you haven’t had the chance to be exposed to a class on critical thought, I can’t recommend Critical Reasoning For Beginners with enough enthusiasm: there are few mental skills that are as underappreciated, and as central to our daily lives, as critical thinking.
Critical Reasoning For Beginners is currently available on the University of Oxford website in both audio and video formats, and also on iTunesU and YouTube. You can find it listed in our collection of Free Online Philosophy Courses, part of our collection of 1100 Free Online Courses.
Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writing at the Huffington Post.
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The University of Auckland is offering free online course on Logical and Critical Thinking. This course is open to anyone with an interest in improving their logical and critical thinking skills. No previous knowledge or experience is required.
In this eight week course, applicants will improve your logical and critical thinking skills in this free online course. Identify common obstacles to effective thinking. This course will start on February 12, 2018.
Course At Glance
Length: 8 weeks
Effort: 4 hours/week
Subject: Logical and Critical Thinking
Institution: University of Auckland and Future learn
Certificate Available: Yes
Session: Course starts on February 12, 2018
The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading university and the only one included in the Times Higher Education top 200.
About This Course
University are constantly being given reasons to do and believe things: to believe that we should buy a product, support a cause, accept a job, judge someone innocent or guilty, that fairness requires us to do some household chore, and so on.
Why Take This Course?
This is a free online course. This MOOC will be offered with Video Transcripts in English. Applicants can get a verified certificate.
By the end of the course, you’ll be able to…
- Explore key concepts in logical and critical thinking
- Apply key concepts in logical and critical thinking
- Identify obstacles to logical and critical thinking
- Identify the components of a good argument
- Produce an argument in standard form
- Classify deductive and non-deductive arguments
- Evaluate arguments based on criteria such as validity, strength and cogency
- Interpret scientific, moral and legal arguments
- Develop an argument “in the wild”
- Assess arguments charitably
This course is open to anyone with an interest in improving their logical and critical thinking skills. No previous knowledge or experience is required.
Tim Dare is Head of Philosophy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He lives on a (very) small farm with his wife Justine and two pet pigs. He is committed to the practical value of philosophy.
Patrick Girard is an originally from Québec, Canada. I completed a PhD in Philosophy at Stanford University in 2008, specializing in Logic, and I am now a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
How To Join This Course
- Go to the course website link
- Sign Up At FutureLearn
- Select a course and Join
- Once a course has started, applicant will be able to access the course material
- After the start date, students will be able to access the course by following the Go To Course link on My Courses page.
- Applicants can buy, to show that they have completed a FutureLearn course.
- On some FutureLearn courses, learners will be able to pay to take an exam to qualify for a Statement of Attainment. (These are university-branded, printed certificates that provide proof of learning on the course topic(s)).