Faculty of Arts

PHIL 105

Critical Thinking

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 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; decide whether 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 critically and logically. This course will help you improve your skills at creating and assessing arguments.

PHIL 105 can be taken purely online (except for a final exam), or in the traditional lecture and tutorial format.

The syllabus is divided into three parts:

  1. Reasoning for Knowledge: 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.
  2. Reasoning for Action: 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.
  3. Reasoning in Context: 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.

Accordingly, the course objectives are 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

In line with the Bachelor of Arts Graduate Profile, expected learning outcomes include the ability for students to:

  • Identify and evaluate the premises, conditions and contexts of knowledge claims and information sources
  • Conceive and formulate questions based on synthesising information and ideas from multiple sources and diverse perspectives
  • Construct reasoned, reflexive arguments and interpretations using valid evidence to justify claims and conclusions
  • Research, imagine and aim to create transformative solutions to defined problems

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Summer School, repeated Semester 1 and 2


Lecturer(s) Dr Andrew Withy


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

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


PHIL 105: 15.0 points

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