Bader International Study Centre

Queen's University
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at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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PHIL 259/3.0 - Critical Thinking

Instructor: Dr. Eric Litwack

Course Description

Welcome to PHIL 259. In this course we will explore the basic techniques of logical reasoning in everyday life. This subject is fundamental to all rigorous and creative thought. This is because no matter what we direct our attention to, we ought to think clearly and effectively about it. The skills that you acquire in this course should prove helpful in a wide variety of personal and professional situations. Whether it be a matter of choosing a career, framing a political argument at a party, or making a key ethical decision, critical thinking techniques and criteria will prove to be invaluable.

Expected Learning Outcomes

These days, we are bombarded with information. In particular, it is important that truth be distinguished from propaganda, and faulty arguments from sound ones. These skills can be finely tuned with what you learn in this course. This course will help you to argue, write and speak more effectively in all areas of life. Whether or not we think effectively has enormous implications for us as citizens in a democratic society, and I look forward to working with you in developing these valuable skills..
Discussion and debate on controversial issues are key parts of this course—so be prepared to hear views with which you may disagree strongly.

Field Studies

The first field study will be to the Science Museum of London where students will explore a wide variety of well-curated primary artefacts that offer a broad overview of the history and cultural implications of science. Students will be asked to choose one artefact that grips them in order to engage in a creative and lateral thinking exercise that will be linked to class discussions surrounding the philosophy of science. 

The second field study will be to the Imperial War Museum where students will visit the Holocaust and Crimes against Humanity exhibits. Students will be asked to reflect upon the political and ethical implications of genocide and racism. 

Primary Research Expectations

You will be expected to focus on our assigned primary sources for your research in this course, but you may make secondary use of outside sources as well. Field studies will provide a rich opportunity for artifactual reflection.

  • Essay (due second class of Week Six - 500 words): 30%
  • Field Study Assignments (due date - in class on the second classes after the both field studies - 250 words each): 10%
  • Final Examination: 50%
  • Class Participation: 10%