Critical thinking is the ability to exercise autonomous and effective control over what we believe. We hold beliefs because we feel we are expected to, because we don’t want to antagonize certain people, because we are influenced by hopes and fears, etc. We also hold beliefs because we have reasons for them. If we aim at the truth, we should be able to distinguish reasons from other factors that motivate us to adopt beliefs, and assess their merits. We need skills to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information, to identify, analyse and evaluate arguments as they occur in real life, possibly poorly organized, with hidden assumptions, and perhaps immersed in confused or manipulative rhetoric, to detect and avoid fallacies and errors, and to build cases for conclusions of our own. These skills are essential to pursue any course of academic activity, and this module is designed to develop them. Logic, the study of the formal patterns of inference that preserve truth, is an essential tool. The module will help students to become more perceptive readers and listeners, more persuasive writers and presenters, and to sharpen their sense for intellectual honesty and responsibility. It also lays the foundations for successfully preparing for admission tests assessing thinking skills.
Module Leader:Péter Rauschenberger