Philosophy 145, section 2

Critical Thinking

Winter, 2003


Professor: Paul Thagard

Office hours (HH368): MF 1:00-2:00 and by appointment.

Email: Phone: extension 3594.

Web page:

Time: TTh, 10:00-11:20, PHY 313

Textbooks: Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So; Schick & Vaughn, How to Think About Weird Things; Russo & Shoemaker, Decision Traps.

Assignments: Marks will be based on :

The portfolio will consist of a collection of examples of dubious reasoning identified by the student and analyzed using the conceptual tools provided in the course. The portfolio will be roughly equivalent to an 8-page essay. See link below for further information. The one-minute essays will be written at the end of each class.

Description: This course will examine complex types of reasoning, including statistical judgment, decision making, and causal and analogical thinking. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of concrete examples, evaluating for example the basis for beliefs about ESP, alternative medicine, and astrology. Students will be encouraged to improve their own judgment and decision making by learning about common errors and biases that have been identified by philosophers and psychologists. There will also be extensive discussion on the relation between how people do reason and how they ought to reason.

 Week  Dates  Gilovich, chapter  Schick, ch. Russo, ch.
 1 Jan. 7-9  1, 2  1  1
 2  Jan. 14-16  3-4  3  4-5
 3 Jan. 21-23  5-6    
 4 Jan. 28-30 EXAM  7  5
 5 Feb. 4-6    6-7
 6 Feb. 11-13 PORTFOLIO 8  8
 7 Feb. 25-27  9-10  2  
 8 Mar. 4-6 EXAM  11  9  
 9  Mar. 11-13      2-3
 10 Mar. 18-20      6-7
 11  Mar. 25-27 PORTFOLIO      8-9
 12 Apr. 1-3 EXAM      10

Lecture notes

Updated pages are marked "2003".

Week 1. Introduction. Interpreting data. 2003

Week 2. Evaluating data. 2003

Week 3. Motivated inference. Social biases. 2003

Week 4. Social support. Knowledge and belief. 2003

Week 5. Evidence and pseudoscience. 2003

Week 6. Health and medicine. 2003

Week 7. Interpersonal strategies and ESP. 2003

Week 8. Challenging dubious extraordinary beliefs. 2003

Week 9. Decision making: Introduction and framing. 2003

Week 10. Individual and group decisions. 2003

Week 11. Negotiation and social decisions. 2003

Week 12. Learning to improve decision making. 2003

Information on portfolios and exams, including review questions

Portfolio 2 and exam 3. 2003.

List of error tendencies, part 2. 2003


Exam 2, March 3, 2003

Portfolio 1 and exam 1, 2003

List of error tendencies, part 1. 2003

Good reasoning strategies. 2003

Other Web sites useful for critical thinking. 2003

From the Faculty of Arts:

All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes an academic offense, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for their academic actions.  When the commission of an offense is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline).  For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline) which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (p.1:11).  If you need help in learning how to avoid offenses such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission, or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your course instructor for guidance.  Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean.

Faculty of Arts information on plagiarism and other offences.

This page updated March 31, 2003

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