Summer 2020 - PHIL 105 D100

Critical Thinking (3)

Class Number: 4512

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 17, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    Location: TBA



An introduction to the evaluation of arguments as they are encountered in everyday life. The central aim will be to sharpen skills of reasoning and argumentation by understanding how arguments work and learning to distinguish those which actually prove what they set out to show from those which do not. Open to all students. Students with credit for PHIL XX1 may not take this course for further credit. Q/Breadth-Social Sci/Sciences.


The official name of this course, Critical Thinking, is not very informative because “critical thinking” means different things to different people. The unofficial name says what the course really is: How to Think. The purpose of this course is to think clearly and reason well.

The course is not “What to Think”. It will not give you a bunch of facts, and the exams will not ask you for facts. It’s not that we don’t care about truth. The ultimate purpose of clear thinking and good reasoning is to find, understand, and communicate truth. But our goal here is not to memorize facts. Our goal is to develop a set of thinking tools that we can use to get true beliefs and avoid false ones.

We’ll always need some true beliefs to begin with. The tools on their own are not enough. If we start with too many false beliefs, the concepts and skills of good reasoning alone will not help us. But if we care about truth, and are willing to learn about the world so that we have some facts to reason with, the tools of critical thinking are very powerful.

These tools include argument analysis, basic logic and probability, and scientific reasoning. Developing them requires hard work. But it’s worth the hard work because they empower us to better understand the world around us, to recognize when we should change our beliefs, to find and criticize other people’s errors, and to clearly organize, express, and defend our thoughts. So get ready to think!


  • Recognize and reconstruct arguments.
  • Analyze deductive arguments and evaluate them as valid or invalid.
  • Provide and describe counter-examples, and formulate objections.
  • Apply rules of probability to hypothesis testing.
  • Recognize and criticize some common fallacies of confirmation.
  • Reconstruct and evaluate reasoning by analogy.
  • Appreciate the relevance of sample size, and explain a biased sample.
  • Evaluate causal reasoning in informal and scientific (controlled experiment) contexts.
  • Diagram causal explanations.
PHIL 105 may be applied towards the Quantitative Requirement, and the Breadth-Social Sciences Requirement OR the Breadth-Science Requirement (but not both; student can choose which Breadth requirement to satisfy and plan enrollment in other courses accordingly).

: PHIL 105 has replaced PHIL XX1. If you have taken PHIL XX1 in the past and you enroll in PHIL 105, it will be considered a repeat.


  • 3 exams (15% each) 45%
  • Lecture (iClicker Reef response) 15%
  • Tutorial 20%
  • Short assignment 20%


Course Delivery
The course is completely on-line (as are all SFU courses this term). There will be no in-person meetings at all. It will run synchronously. That means that everything (lectures, tutorials, review sessions, office hours, and exams) happens live, with participants active together at the same time. Classes are live-streamed, not prerecorded. Tutorials are designed for real-time small group interaction. Exams occur at specific times with short deadlines.



Technology Requirements
You need reliable high speed internet access throughout the term. I also highly recommend that you have a laptop (or desktop) computer -- (if not your own, then at least one not shared with anyone who needs it during the times of our meetings). Please do not try to do the whole course on a phone. If you expect the internet or computer hardware requirements to be an obstacle for you, please email me so that we can discuss solutions.
Online Tools
We will use Zoom for lectures and tutorials. Zoom is free to use, with or without an account. It runs best as a standalone app. I will post and send more info later about how to use Zoom to join lectures and tutorials. Please join meetings with a consistent name so that I and the TAs can get to know people. You may use a preferred name instead of your registered name, but for tutorial you will need to make sure that your TA knows who you are.
Zoom is designed for videoconferencing. We will not use this feature for lectures. I will be on video but you will not. For tutorials, I encourage but do not require you to use your device's camera and microphone to participate in that way.
This course uses a student response system called iClicker for participation in lectures. For in-person classes, students use iClicker with a physical device they bring to class. You do not need this device for our online course. Do not buy it. Instead we will use the software version of iClicker, called iClicker Reef. A one-term license costs US $9.99. For Reef to work correctly and record your marks, you must sign up with your SFU email address and SFU Canvas log-in info.


PDF supplied with registration.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.