Coursera.org offers a free, college-level, 12-week course called “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue” by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ram Neta. The course is divided into these four parts.
- How to Analyze Arguments
- How to Evaluate Deductive Arguments
- How to Evaluate Inductive Arguments
- How to Avoid Fallacies
Below I will build annotated list of links to my posts generated by this course:
- Laying Out an Argument: diagrams of formalizing an argument
- Conversation Maxims: tips on setting up fruitful conversation (coming)
- Argument Goals: understanding why we argue (coming)
Most readers here are well versed in arguments and logic and so this course may be far too basic and slow. I am taking this course because I have only studied this stuff piecemeal over the years — never in a systematic way. Over the decades, I have taken a year of symbolic mathematical logic, computer programming and lots of statistics, but I have only informally studied human deception. So taking the course may help me fill in the holes in my learning, pick up new vocabulary and view the connectedness of this field in a new way.
Huge Caveat: At Triangulations, I stress time and again that though people may make arguments, they are often deceiving themselves and/or using their arguments (reasons or beliefs) in ways far different from their outward appearance. Humans are not naturally logical, they are only naturally persuasive. Logic takes discipline and practice — lots of it. So with that, I go to this field understanding those limitations. Even learning to see behind an argument may not be helpful, because an even more important skill is to see behind people and to see behind ourselves.
That said, there are many fields where careful arguments are critical in both making presentations and seeing through those of others. And when two learned, disciplined parties agree to try to stick to clear argumentation, the results can be extremely fruitful.