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Foundations of Critical Thinking: Reasoning

With this fifth session our year-long "course" enters the heart of critical thinking. Reasoning, using premises to support conclusions, is the foundational skill for forming rational beliefs and persuading others through arguments. We will discuss several kinds of deductive reasoning or logic, as well as the uses and limitations of deduction in practical affairs. We will then consider practical reasoning, the inferential activities we perform during our everyday lives, discussing inductive, causal, and similarity-based reasoning, among other prominent types.

The Humanists of Minnesota is pleased to sponsor this extended course entitled “Thinking Critically, Thinking Effectively.” Conducted by Jerry Smith, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa, the course consists of ten sessions, to be offered one per month beginning in September. It is based on a course he teaches to undergraduate business majors at UNI. As suggested by its title, the course covers traditional “critical thinking” topics, but it also addresses topics like creativity, problem solving, and decision making. Thus, broadly understood, it’s about “effective thinking.”

Sessions are held on the second Saturday of the month at the St. Anthony Park Public Library. The formal presentation will begin at 3pm but participants are encouraged to come any time after 2:30pm to socialize. Please keep your RSVPs accurate and up-to-date for this popular course.

Critical thinking is an essential skill for the humanist lifestance, and many of us are quick to credit ourselves with that attribute. But critical thinking is also a habit that needs to be practiced and reinforced. This in-depth "course" that emanated from the Habits of Humanism series last spring will help attendees foster good mental habits more consistently. While there is some “content-dependency” across sessions—later sessions might refer to material covered in earlier ones—interested parties can benefit from and are welcome to attend any sessions that fit their interests and schedules.

For more details on this course and a brief synopsis of each of the ten sessions, check out the Habits of Humanism page on our website at:

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  • Philip

    I enjoyed the sample problems and the discussions which followed.

    January 14, 2013

  • Jack C.

    Excellent in technical detail and presentation, although a bit of a clunker in that American audiences aren't interested in impracticality, esp. something explained so well as impractical.

    January 13, 2013

  • Sonny

    Excellent lecture, well organized.

    January 12, 2013

  • David G.

    Instructive, interesting and invigorating!

    January 12, 2013

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