Think Again IV: How to Avoid Fallacies

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Think Again IV: How to Avoid Fallacies

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About this course: How to Avoid Fallacies Think Again: How to Reason and Argue Reasoning is important. This series of four short courses will teach you how to do it well. You will learn simple but vital rules to follow in thinking about any topic at all and common and tempting mistakes to avoid in reasoning. We will discuss how to identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments by other people (including politicians, used car salesmen, and teachers) and how to construct arguments of your own in order to help you decide what to believe or what to do. These skills will be useful in dealing with whatever matters most to you. Courses at a Glance: All four courses in this series are offered throug…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: How to Avoid Fallacies Think Again: How to Reason and Argue Reasoning is important. This series of four short courses will teach you how to do it well. You will learn simple but vital rules to follow in thinking about any topic at all and common and tempting mistakes to avoid in reasoning. We will discuss how to identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments by other people (including politicians, used car salesmen, and teachers) and how to construct arguments of your own in order to help you decide what to believe or what to do. These skills will be useful in dealing with whatever matters most to you. Courses at a Glance: All four courses in this series are offered through sessions which run every four weeks. We suggest sticking to the weekly schedule to the best of your ability. If for whatever reason you fall behind, feel free to re-enroll in the next session.We also suggest that you start each course close to the beginning of a month in order to increase the number of peers in the discussion forums who are working on the same material as you are. While each course can be taken independently, we suggest you take the four courses in order. Course 1 - Think Again I: How to Understand Arguments Course 2 - Think Again II: How to Reason Deductively Course 3 - Think Again III: How to Reason Inductively Course 4 - Think Again IV: How to Avoid Fallacies About This Course in the Series: We encounter fallacies almost everywhere we look. Politicians, salespeople, and children commonly use fallacies in order to get us to think what they want us to think. Think Again: Fallacies will show how to identify and avoid many of the fallacies that people use to get us to think the way they want us to think. In this course, you will learn about fallacies. Fallacies are arguments that suffer from one or more common but avoidable defects: equivocation, circularity, vagueness, etc. It’s important to learn about fallacies so that you can recognize them when you see them, and not be fooled by them. It’s also important to learn about fallacies so that you avoid making fallacious arguments yourself. Suggested Readings Students who want more detailed explanations or additional exercises or who want to explore these topics in more depth should consult Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, Ninth Edition, Concise, Chapters 13-17, by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Robert Fogelin. Course Format Each week will be divided into multiple video segments that can be viewed separately or in groups. There will be short ungraded quizzes after each segment (to check comprehension) and a longer graded quiz at the end of the course.

Who is this class for: This material is appropriate for introductory college students or advanced high school students—or, indeed, anyone who is interested. No special background is required other than knowledge of English.

Created by:  Duke University
  • Taught by:  Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor

    Philosophy
  • Taught by:  Dr. Ram Neta, Professor

    Philosophy
Level Beginner Language English, Subtitles: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Chinese (Simplified) How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.6 stars Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said Coursework

Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.

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Duke University Duke University has about 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students and a world-class faculty helping to expand the frontiers of knowledge. The university has a strong commitment to applying knowledge in service to society, both near its North Carolina campus and around the world.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Welcome to the Course



<p>Welcome to <b>Think Again: How to Avoid Fallacies</b>! This course is the fourth in a series of four courses jointly titled <em>Think Again: How to Reason and Argue</em>. We are excited that you are taking this course, and we hope that you will take all four courses in the series, because there is a great deal of important material to learn.</p><p>In the series as a whole, you learn how to analyze and evaluate arguments and how to avoid common mistakes in reasoning. These important skills will be useful to you in deciding what to believe and what to do in all areas of your life.</p><p>We encounter fallacies almost everywhere we look. Politicians, salespeople, and children commonly use fallacies in order to get us to think what they want us to think. <em>Think Again: How to Avoid Fallacies</em> will show how to identify and avoid many of the fallacies that people use to get us to think the way they want us to think.</p><p>The first part of this course introduces the series and the course. It also clarifies some peculiarities you may find with this course. We encourage you to watch the "<b>Introduction to the Course</b>" video first as it will help you learn more from the materials that come later. </p>


1 video, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Introduction to the Course
  2. Reading: Course Logistics (Start Here)


Fallacies of Unclarity



<p><b>CONTENT</b>: In this week's material we will describes two phenomena that are both common and useful in the languages that human beings speak, but both of which give rise to the potential for fallacious reasoning. A word or phrase is vague when its meaning is not precise, and it is ambiguous when it has more than one meaning. When we use vague or ambiguous phrases in our reasoning, it is very easy for us to make a number of different kinds of fallacies. This week will teach you what these different kinds of fallacies are, and give us some practice in spotting them, so you can make sure to avoid them in the future.</p><p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week's material you will be able to: <ul><li>define what a fallacy is</li><li>distinguish various kinds of fallacies</li><li>understand the linguistic phenomena that give rise to fallacies</li><li>identify various kinds of slippery slop fallacies where they occur</li><li>identify various kinds of fallacies of equivocation where they occur</li></ul></p><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of the fallacies that result from vaguness or ambiguity, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments</em>, Ninth Edition, Chapters 13-14.</p>


9 videos, 7 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Introduction to Fallacies
  2. Practice Quiz: Introduction to Fallacies
  3. Video: Argument from the Heap
  4. Video: Vagueness
  5. Practice Quiz: Vagueness
  6. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Vagueness
  7. Video: Conceptual Slippery Slopes
  8. Practice Quiz: Slippery Slopes
  9. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Slippery Slopes
  10. Video: Fairness Slippery Slopes
  11. Practice Quiz: Fairness Slippery Slopes
  12. Video: Causal Slippery Slopes
  13. Practice Quiz: Causal Slippery Slopes
  14. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Out of the Box Argument
  15. Video: Ambiguity
  16. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Proper Names Ambiguous?
  17. Video: Semantic and Syntactic Ambiguity
  18. Practice Quiz: Semantic and Syntactic Ambiguity
  19. Practice Quiz: Fallacies of Equivocation
  20. Video: Fallacies of Equivocation
  21. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: What's the Difference?
  22. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Equivocation


WEEK 2


Fallacies of Relevance



<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week describes two of the most common fallacies that people make: ad hominem fallacies and appeals to authority. Part of what makes these fallacies so common, and so difficult to avoid, is that many ad hominem arguments, and many appeals to authority, are actually not fallacies at all! Only some of them are. And figuring out which of them are fallacies is more of an art than a science. There is no simple recipe, but there are some rules of thumb you can use. We hope that the practice that you get in this week will help you to improve your skills at distinguish the fallacious from the non-fallacious instances of ad hominem reasoning, as well as appeal to authority.</p><p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this section you will be able to: <ul><li>determine whether an ad hominem argument is a fallacy</li><li>determine whether an appeal to authority is a fallacy</li></ul></p><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these topics, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments</em>, Ninth Edition, Chapter 15.</p>


10 videos, 5 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Fallacies of Relevance and Vacuity
  2. Video: Fallacies of Relevance: Ad Hominem
  3. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Ad Hominem
  4. Video: Silencers
  5. Video: Dismissers
  6. Practice Quiz: Dismissers
  7. Video: Deniers
  8. Practice Quiz: Deniers
  9. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Your Examples
  10. Video: Appeals to Authority
  11. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Appeals to Authority
  12. Video: Amplifiers
  13. Video: Supporters
  14. Practice Quiz: Supporters
  15. Video: Affirmers
  16. Practice Quiz: Affirmers
  17. Video: Appeals to Popular Opinion
  18. Practice Quiz: Appeals to Popular Opinion
  19. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Other Authorities


Fallacies of Vacuity and Circularity



<p><b>CONTENT</b>: Now we will describe another common set of fallacies: fallacies that occur when an argument makes no progress from its premises to its conclusion. Sometimes, arguments make no progress because the conclusion is already contained in the premises. Sometimes, arguments make no progress because the conclusion is presupposed by the premises. And sometimes, arguments make no progress because the premises don’t make any claim at all, even if they might sound like they do. When you know how to identify such fallacies, you will find that they are more common than you think!</p><p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this section you will be able to: <ul><li>identify various kinds of circularity or vacuity where they occur</li></ul></p><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these topics, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments</em>,Ninth Edition, Chapter 16.</p>


3 videos, 3 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Fallacies of Vacuity
  2. Practice Quiz: Fallacies of Vacuity
  3. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Vacuity
  4. Video: Circularity and Begging the Question
  5. Practice Quiz: Circularity and Begging the Question
  6. Video: Self-Sealers
  7. Practice Quiz: Self-Sealers
  8. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: What's Wrong with the Argument?


WEEK 3


Refutation: Its Varieties and PItfalls



<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week we will teach you various strategies for refuting a fallacious argument. To refute an argument is to show that the argument is unsuccessful. Even if you are able to identify a fallacious argument as a fallacy, you might still not be able to prove to others that it is a fallacy. In this week, you will learn a variety of techniques for proving to others that the argument is a fallacy.<p><p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week you will be able to: <ul><li>refute fallacious arguments</li></ul></p><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these topics, we recommend Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition, Chapter 17. </p>


7 videos, 4 practice quizzes expand


  1. Video: Refutation
  2. Video: Refutation by Parallel Reasoning
  3. Practice Quiz: Refutation by Parallel Reasoning
  4. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Refutation by Parallel Reasoning
  5. Video: False Dichotomy
  6. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Share Your Parallel Reasoning Example
  7. Practice Quiz: Counterexamples
  8. Video: Reductio Ad Absurdum
  9. Practice Quiz: Reductio Ad Absurdum
  10. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Reductio Ad Absurdum
  11. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Share Your Reductio Ad Absurdum Examples
  12. Video: Counterexamples
  13. Video: Attacking a Straw Man
  14. Practice Quiz: Attacking a Straw Man
  15. Video: Why Walter Should Shave His Head
  16. Discussion Prompt: Share Your Thoughts: Should Walter Shave His Head?


WEEK 4


Catch-Up and Final Quiz



<p>This week gives you time to catch up and review, because we realize that the previous weeks include a great deal of challenging material. It will also be provide enough time to take the final quiz as often as you want, with different questions each time. </p><p>We explain the answers in each exam so that you can learn more and do better when you try the exam again. You may take the quiz as many times as you want in order to learn more and do better, with different questions each time. You will be able to retake the quiz three times every eight hours. You might not need to take more than one version of the exam if you do well enough on your first try. That is up to you. However many versions you take, we hope that all of the exams will provide additional learning experiences. </p>


1 video expand


  1. Video: The Great Shave

Graded: Final Exam

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