Phil 145 (001): Syllabus

Course Title: Critical Thinking (PHIL 145)
Instructor: Chris Eliasmith (, HH 331, x32638)
Room and Time: MC2066, T/Th 8:30-10a
Texts: Gilovich (1991). How we know what isn't so. Free Press. (HWK)
  McKay (1993). Reasons, Explanations and Decisions (RED) - CourseWare

Course Description: In this course we will examine various kinds of complex problem solving and reasoning including: reasoning with statistics; reasoning with logic; informal argumentation; scientific explanation; and analogy. Students will be introduced to conceptual tools to help them reason, and identify poor reasoning, in both formal and informal settings. Topics traditionally in either philosophy (logic, vagueness) and psychology (social determinants of reasoning) courses will be addressed.





Arguments and Analogy

Sept 10

Chp 1 RED; Chp 1 HWK



Chp 2, 3 RED

Logic and Vagueness


Chp 4, 5 RED Fallacies and Analogy


Oct 1

Chp 2, 3 HWK

Interpretation of statistical data


Chp 4 HWK (Start Chp 6 RED)

Bias and ambiguity



Chp 6, 7 RED

Evaluating explanation
Midterm (%25)
Oct 16th


Chp 8 RED

Portfolio 1 (%20) Oct 25th

Bias and Evidence


Chp 9 RED, Chp 8 HWK

Testing explanations

Comparing Theories and Beliefs

Nov 5

Chp 5, 6, 7 HWK

Determinants of belief


Chp 9, 10 HWK


Decision Making


Chp 10 RED (Time permitting)

Decision making
Portfolio 2 (20%)
Nov 20th


Chp 11 HWK

Summary and Discussion
Final Test (25%)
Nov 29


Grading: The course requires the writing of a midterm exam worth 25%, an end-of-term test (25%) and in-class essays (10%).  As well, there will be two portfolios due during the term (20% each). For information on these assignments, see here.

Note on avoidance of academic offenses: All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes an academic offence, to avoid committing academic offences, and to take responsibility for their academic actions. When the commission of an offence is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline). For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (section 1; on the Web at If you need help in learning how to avoid offences such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission, or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy , ask your TA or course instructor for guidance. Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean. Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance,

Also see: Avoiding Academic Offences: