PHIL 105

Critical Thinking

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for PHIL 105.


We are constantly being given reasons to do and believe things: to believe that we should buy a product, support a cause, accept a job, judge someone innocent or guilty, that fairness requires us to do some household chore and so on. Assessing the reasons we are given to do or believe these things calls upon us to think carefully and accurately. This course will help you improve your skills at giving and assessing reasons for beliefs and actions.

The course is divided into three parts:

Core Argumentation: We explore the basics of argumentation and how we might represent and analyse arguments. We will learn to analyse and evaluate arguments, and we will consider both good and bad arguments, and patterns we find in the wild.

Advanced Argumentation: We develop a systematic way to represent a particular, commonplace type of argument that often leads to action. Then we use this systematic representation to determine the best explanations and most reliable recommendations in our current circumstances.

Applied Argumentation: We apply our newly acquired reasoning tools to investigate the inner workings of three specialised contexts for reasoning: science, morality and the law. In each context we will consider how and why the techniques we have learned vary in that context, and how good reasoning varies in each context.

Course Outcomes

You'll learn how to:

  • Identify and avoid common thinking mistakes and habits that lead to the formation of bad beliefs
  • Recognise, reconstruct and evaluate arguments
  • Write and strengthen your own arguments
  • Reason both about abstract knowledge and for practical action
  • Apply reasoning tools in areas including science, morality and law.


Coursework + exam

View the course syllabus

Availability 2020

Summer School, repeated Semester 1 and 2


Lecturer(s) Dr Andrew Withy


Will be online.


The in-person and online streams will have the same assessment.

Coursework involving online activities (50%)
Final examination (50%)


PHIL 105: 15 points