Critical Thinking

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
PHIL 1101
Critical Thinking
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week/semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week/semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction
  1. Lecture and seminar.  The class may be divided into small sections for the seminars.
  2. Regular practice/exercises, based on lectures and seminars.
  3. Examination of written and oral arguments to detect fallacies and illustrate sound thinking.
  4. May also include regular on-line, in-class, or take-home practices or exercises, based on lectures, seminars, or on-line content.
Course Description
This course examines the basic nature of reasoning and the fallacies which prevent good reasoning. Emphasis will be on understanding the logical structure of argument and on recognizing the influence of emotional and rhetorical persuasion in media presentations, political discussions, advertisements, general academic writings and one’s own arguments. Students may also have the opportunity for their own arguments to be assessed by others. Both the theory and practice of critical thinking are covered. There is a greater emphasis upon the popular presentation of oral and written arguments than in PHIL 2201. Critical Thinking is highly recommended to all students in occupational and academic programs, and provides an important foundation for further work in Philosophy.
Course Content
  1. The nature of sound reasoning as differentiated from unsound reasoning, the examination of proposition and inference, of inductive and deductive argument.
  2. The analysis and evaluation of basic argument forms both spoken a written, as in, for example, current newspapers, magazines, articles, excerpts from books, and on the web.
  3. The nature of the development of a philosophical understanding and the role of arguments in that development.
  4. Practice in various specific forms of reasoning such as analogy, causal inference, and inference from authority.
  5. Practice in the dialogical formulation of arguments, by means of formal and informal debate and of the assumption of argument roles.
  6. Practice in composing brief written arguments on selected subjects.
  7. Practice in the detection and recognition of natural language fallacies.
Learning Outcomes

The successful student will be able to appreciate and engage in the following practices:

  1. Participation in dialogue in a way that enables the students to experience and reflect upon their own thinking as it is expressed in communication with others.
  2. Examination from newspapers, magazines, articles and books, the web, and other instances of contemporary expression so as to discern genuine thinking from the spurious.
  3. Thinking for themselves, and the development of confidence in their own thinking.
  4. The recognition that much, if not most, of what passes for thinking actually prevents thinking and substitutes for it other things such as force, rhetoric, propaganda, etc.
  5. The discovery of those elements which militate against thinking. 
  6. The cultivation of a deeper understanding of the world.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based upon course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.

Any possible combination of the following which equals 100%:

  Percent Range       Example  
Tests, Quizzes, Short Written Assignments   30% – 60% Five 10% Tests  50%
Written Class Presentations, Argument  Analyses, Exams   20% – 50% Two 20% Analyses  40%
Instructor’s General Evaluation 
(may include attendance class participation,
group work, homework, etc.)
   0% – 20% Attendance/

(No one evaluation component within each category may exceed 40%)

Textbook Materials

Textbooks will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:

  • Govier, T. A Practical Study of Argument, 7th ed.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth-Thompson, 2010.
  • Groarke, L. and Indale, C.W., Good Reasoning Matters, 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Hughs, W.; Lavery, J. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, 5th ed. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2008.