Arguing About Arguing and Thinking About Thinking

Course Description

What does it take to construct a good argument, and what about a bad one? Can there be bad arguments for sensible conclusions? What about good arguments for misguided conclusions? If so, what is the value of arguments (in other words, what does an argument teach us, if not that its conclusion is true)?

The course starts with intuitive discussions of good and bad examples of arguments. As we try to diagnose those examples together, we build up to a more rigorous understanding of argumentative thinking, introducing some useful terminology and logic along the way (but not more than we need). With these tools, we discuss common fallacies and come up with a precise understanding of what good and bad arguments look like. Along the way, we practice both (a) isolating and evaluating arguments from various texts and (b) constructing and evaluating our own arguments on various topics.

Class time will include some lecturing, but much of the time will be dedicated to discussions and group work on short exercises and puzzles. Group discussions will sometimes be relatively conceptual (for example, when we talk about what it means for an argument to be persuasive), but sometimes you will hone your skills by engaging directly with particular arguments that we find in media, political, philosophical, or scientific writing. For parts of the class, you will break up into groups, develop arguments on a given topic and present them to the other groups, which will then try to constructively assess those arguments (This is not a debate class, though! The point of these sessions will be to examine the arguments, not to one-up our “opponents”). Often, you will have to develop arguments for conclusions that they may not, in fact, believe, to understand different points of view, and to become able to isolate the structure of an argument from its content. Homework will include problem sets and academic texts on various topics. There may be a few in-class tests, but participation and homework will be the main focus of your evaluation.

During this course, you will:

• Improve your critical thought about argumentative reasoning found in media and academic writing.
• Improve at constructing your own arguments.
• Build essential critical skills for effective college-level work and writing.
• Think more methodically about the world around us.

This course offers a very useful foundation for analytical thought and writing that is crucial to effective college-level work in most disciplines. At the same time, it offers a chance to start engaging philosophically (that is, through careful and analytical thinking) with the world around us.


No prior knowledge or particular academic background is necessary.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Stavros Orfeas Zormpalas
Course Number: 10013