About this Course
4.7
908 ratings
251 reviews
How to Understand Arguments 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: When is someone giving an argument instead of just yelling? Which parts of what they say contribute to the argument? Why are they arguing instead of fighting? What are arguments made of? What forms do they take? Think Again: How to Understand Arguments will answer these questions a more. In this course, you will learn what an argument is. The definition of argument will enable students to identify when speakers are giving arguments and when they are not. Next, we will learn how to break an argument into its essential parts, how to put them in order to reveal their connections, and how to fill in gaps in an argument. By the end of this course, students will be better able to understand and appreciate arguments that they and other people present. 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 1-5, 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....
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 13 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 hours/week...
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Chinese (Simplified), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), German, Spanish, Romanian...

Skills you will gain

EvaluationInterpretationLanguageLinguistics
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Approx. 13 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 hours/week...
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Chinese (Simplified), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), German, Spanish, Romanian...

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
Clock
15 minutes to complete

Welcome to the Course

Welcome to Think Again: How to Understand Arguments. This course is the first in a series of four courses jointly titled Think Again: How to Reason and Argue. We are excited that you are taking this course, and we hope that you will stick around for all four courses in the series, because there is a great deal of important material to learn. In the series as a whole, you will 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. We will also have plenty of fun. 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 "Introduction to the Course" video first as it will help you learn more from the materials that come later. ...
Reading
1 video (Total 5 min), 1 reading
Reading1 reading
Course Logistics (Start Here)10m
Clock
5 hours to complete

How to Spot an Argument

CONTENT: In this week's material we will teach you how to identify arguments as opposed to abuse . We will define what an argument is, distinguish various purposes for which arguments are given (including persuasion, justification, and explanation), and discuss the material out of which arguments are made (language). The last three lectures this week are optional, but they are recommended for advanced students. LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of this week’s material, you will be able to :<ul> <li>define what an argument is</li><li>pull arguments out of larger texts</li><li>distinguish various purposes of arguments</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, Ninth Edition</em>, Chapters 1-2.</p> ...
Reading
10 videos (Total 101 min), 10 quizzes
Video10 videos
What Is an Argument?7m
What are Arguments Used For? Justification5m
Strong Arguments Don't Always Persuade Everyone8m
What Else are Arguments Used For? Explanation13m
What are Arguments Made Of? Language14m
Meaning9m
Linguistic Acts7m
Speech Acts9m
Conversational Acts17m
Quiz10 practice exercises
Why Arguments Matter6m
What Is an Argument?20m
What are Arguments Used For? Justification8m
Strong Arguments Don't Always Persuade Everyone10m
What Else are Arguments Used For? Explanation16m
What are Arguments Made Of? Language8m
Meaning12m
Linguistic Acts8m
Speech Acts24m
Conversational Acts18m
Week
2
Clock
5 hours to complete

How to Untangle an Argument

<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week’s material will focus on the special language in which arguments are formulated. We will investigate the functions of particular words, including premise and conclusion markers plus assuring, guarding, discounting, and evaluative terms. Identifying these words will enable students to separate arguments from the irrelevant verbiage that surrounds it and then to break the argument into parts and to identify what each part of an argument is doing. The lectures end with a detailed example that uses these tools to closely analyze an op-ed from a newspaper. <p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week’s material, you will be able to:<ul> <li>understand three levels of meaning</li> <li>identify argument markers</li></ul><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these topics, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition</em>, Chapters 3-4. </p>...
Reading
10 videos (Total 130 min), 9 quizzes
Video10 videos
Standard Form3m
A Problem for Arguments12m
Assuring14m
Guarding8m
Discounting10m
Evaluation17m
Close Analysis (Part I)20m
Close Analysis (Part II)13m
More Close Analysis17m
Quiz9 practice exercises
Argument Markers22m
Standard Form12m
A Problem for Arguments4m
Assuring10m
Guarding10m
Discounting10m
Evaluation14m
Close Analysis (Part II)20m
More Close Analysis20m
Week
3
Clock
5 hours to complete

How to Reconstruct an Argument

<p><b>CONTENT</b>: This week’s material will teach you how to organize the parts of an argument in order to show how they fit into a structure of reasoning. The goal is to make the argument look as good as possible so that you can learn from it. We work through the main steps of reconstruction, including putting the premises and conclusion into a standard form, clarifying the premises and breaking them into parts, arranging the argument into stages or sub-arguments, adding suppressed premises where needed to make the argument valid, and assessing the argument for soundness. The lectures begin by defining the crucial notions of validity, soundness, and standard form. You will also learn to diagram alternative argument structures, including linear, branching, and joint structures. <p><b>LEARNING OUTCOMES</b>: By the end of this week’s material, you will be able to:<ul> <li>label assuring, guarding, discounting, and evaluative terms</li> <li>determine whether an argument is valid or sound</li> <li>complete arguments by adding suppressed premises</li> <li>reconstruct arguments by and series of arguments</li> <li>classify argument structures</li></ul><p><b>OPTIONAL READING</b>: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of these topics, we recommend <em>Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition</em>, Chapter 5. ...
Reading
11 videos (Total 150 min), 9 quizzes
Video11 videos
Soundness4m
Get Down to Basics21m
Sharpen Edges17m
Organize Parts14m
A Student Example: A Debate About Smartphones in Class11m
Fill in Gaps22m
Conclude2m
An Example of Reconstruction (Part I)9m
An Example of Reconstruction (Part II)9m
An Example of Reconstruction (Part III)10m
Quiz9 practice exercises
Validity22m
Soundness (Part I)8m
Soundness (Part II)6m
Get Down to Basics14m
Sharpen Edges10m
Organize Parts16m
Fill in Gaps10m
Conclude6m
An Example of Reconstruction8m
Week
4
Clock
1 hour to complete

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>...
Reading
1 quiz
Quiz1 practice exercise
Final Quizm
4.7
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By FYJul 6th 2018

I found this course very challenging as I find critical thinking very difficult. However this course was extremely rewarding and I will be taking the other three modules in the Think Again series.

By RHFeb 16th 2017

This is a very very engaging and applicable course, and is truly presented with 10/10 efficacy! I couldn't be more sincere and adamant in my recommendation, no matter who you are or what you do.

Instructors

Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Professor
Philosophy

Dr. Ram Neta

Professor
Philosophy

About 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....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

  • How to respond if someone says that you would have to be a fool to disagree with them.

  • 
“I'd like to thank both professors for the course. It was fun, instructive, and I loved the input from people from all over the world, with their different views and backgrounds.”



    “Somewhere in the first couple weeks of the course, I was ruminating over some concept or perhaps over one of the homework exercises and suddenly it occurred to me, "'Is this what thinking is?" Just to clarify, I come from a thinking family and have thought a lot about various concepts and issues throughout my life and career...but somehow I realized that, even though I seemed to be thinking all the time, I hadn't been doing this type of thinking for quite some time...so, thanks!”

    “The rapport between Dr. Sinott-Armstrong and Dr. Neta and their senses of humor made the lectures engaging and enjoyable. Their passion for the subject was apparent and they were patient and thorough in their explanations.”



  • No. Completion of a Coursera course does not earn you academic credit from Duke; therefore, Duke is not able to provide you with a university transcript. However, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.