PHIL 120 (3 cr): Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking

Course description:

This course is an introduction both to logic and to critical thinking, assuming no previous work in logic or philosophy. The critical thinking portion of the course covers the distinction between logic and rhetoric, the distinction between deductive and inductive arguments, the analysis of ambiguities and the nature of common fallacies in reasoning. In the logic portion of the course, the basic topics include the symbolization and evaluation of deductive arguments using truth tables and the construction of proofs to assess validity. We will also look at extensions of classical logic (such as modal logics, epistemic and deontic logics, multi-valued logics), as well as discuss some fundamental issues pertaining to the nature of reasoning and logic more generally. The objectives of the course, then, are both to become familiar and competent with basic techniques of formal logic and to acquire skill in using these and related formal techniques to assess reasoning in a wide variety of applications.

Student / audience description:

With no prerequisites, this course is attractive to a diverse group of students from different fields because of its focus on critical thinking. The course attracts the following students:

  • Potential Philosophy majors and honours students
  • Students from neighbouring disciplines (mathematics, computer science, economics) who might become interested in more advanced logic courses
  • Students from Arts and other Faculties who can benefit from a course in critical reasoning.

Course objectives / outcomes:

Students in this course will develop the ability to

  • Analyze arguments critically. This entails both the recognition of good arguments and the identification of fallacies (logical errors)
  • Use classical propositional logic as the simplest tool for analysis of arguments
  • Identify alternatives to classical propositional logic from the philosophical literature and from applications to reasoning tasks
  • Apply analytical tools to reasoning in a variety of real life contexts.

What the students must learn (conceptual component):

  • Forms of argument
  • Forms of common argumentative fallacies
  • Formal deductive systems (classical logic, its extensions and its alternatives)
  • Characteristics of inductive and scientific reasoning (in contrast to deductive reasoning).

What the students must be able to do (application of knowledge):

  • Apply the above to reasoning in the everyday assessment of the evidence and claims professed by experts, science, the news media, and personal experience.


J. Woods, A. Irvine and D. Walton, Argument: Critical Thinking, Logic and the Fallacies, 2nd edition, Pearson Canada, 2004. ISBN 0130399388

PHIL120 Textbook Order Form

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