As rational creatures, we human beings routinely engage in reasoning and are frequently in the business of rationalizing (giving reasons for) our beliefs and actions. However, reasoning and rationalization is not an error-free process: it is an everyday fact that our reasoning is prone to committing some well-known fallacies and the rationalizations we provide for our beliefs and actions may actually be far from providing good reasons.
There are two central questions that we will attempt to address and discuss in this course: (1) What is it that makes a set of sentences an argument? (2) How are we to distinguish a good argument from a fallacy or a bad case of reasoning? The course will discuss a rich set of examples of arguments and fallacies and introduce some of the basic distinctions between different types of arguments. The course aims to endow students with some topic-neutral critical abilities, abilities that can be used in any specific rational inquiry.