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    The ideas of reason, truth and argument. What are the limits of argument? Common fallacies of reasoning. Traditional logic and its limitations. Modern logic. Non-deductive reasoning.

    This paper teaches students to develop clear, persuasive, rational arguments. It also teaches students a wide variety of methods for the analysis or reasoning both in academic and non-academic contexts. Topics covered include:

    • Recognising different types of arguments
    • Evaluating deductive arguments using logical validity
    • Setting out and analysing arguments using simple logical notation
    • Understanding causal reasoning
    • Recognising fallacies

    About this paper

    Paper title Critical Thinking
    Subject Philosophy
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Commerce, Science
    This paper is open to all students.

    Teaching staff

    Co-ordinator and lecturer: Professor Michael LeBuffe

    Lecturer: Professor Alex Miller

    Other teaching staff to be confirmed.

    Paper Structure

    Two 1-hour lectures per week and one tutorial.

    This is a skill-based paper. The point is not to learn any particular facts or content, but rather skills for dealing with any facts or content you might come across in life. In the first half of the paper, we learn about methods for evaluating evidence, telling when something is science versus when it is not and how to identify fallacious reasoning. In the second half, we learn some basic symbolic logic - Venn diagrams and truth-tables - as ways of telling whether or not a deductive argument is formally valid.


    • Two in-class tests (or an essay and a test): 15% each
    • Tutorial-based assessment 10%
    • Final exam 60%

    Readings are available on eReserve and Blackboard.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will gain:

    • The ability to critically assess the reasoning employed by themselves and others
    • A demonstrated understanding of the notions of validity and soundness; a demonstrated ability to test for validity employing the techniques of syllogistic reasoning, Venn diagrams and truth-tables; a demonstrated ability to apply Mill's methods to causal arguments
    • A demonstrated ability to recognise and discuss examples of common fallacies and to explain and assess pseudoscientific claims in their own words
    • The ability to develop and analyse philosophical reasoning collaboratively in group discussion


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 15-22
    Friday 12:00-12:50 9-12, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Monday 14:00-14:50 10-13, 15-22
    A3 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 10-13, 15-22
    A4 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 10-13, 15-22
    A5 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10-13, 15-22
    A6 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 10-13, 15-22
    A7 Wednesday 17:00-17:50 10-13, 15-22
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