Critical thinking is exercising rational control over what we believe. We hold beliefs because we are expected to, because people we like hold them, because it gives us comfort, etc. We also hold beliefs because we have good reasons for them. Supposing that we aim at the truth, it is important to distinguish between reasons and other factors that may motivate beliefs, and to assess the merits of the reasons we have for or against adopting a belief. Part of it is to tell apart reliable and unreliable sources of information, and to be able to detect and analyse arguments, even when they are poorly organised, rely on unstated assumptions, or are immersed in confused rhetoric. There are various types of argumentative strategies that may work as guides to the truth, and also common types of errors and fallacies. Logic, the study of patterns of inference that preserve truth, helps to navigate through these. Being skilled in critical thinking also helps to organise our own thoughts, and to make a strong case for our own points. This module develops these skills. As it happens, some top universities assess their applicants’ thinking skills as part of their admission process. This module helps preparing for such tests. Towards the end, Oxford/Cambridge Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) tests will be used extensively.
Module Leader:Péter Rauschenberger
Division:Arts and Humanities