Critical Thinking - Inclusion of Formal Methods
Clarification of GE Guidelines - Area A3 Critical
One of the four Content Objectives of Area A3 is:
All critical thinking classes should teach formal and informal methods for determining the validity of deductive reasoning and the strength of inductive reasoning, including a consideration of common fallacies in inductive and deductive reasoning.
To clarify this Content Objective the following was developed by the Critical Thinking General Education Advisory Panel (GEAP) and adopted by the Board of General Studies on May 16, 2002:
- "Formal methods for determining the validity of deductive arguments" refers to techniques which focus on patterns of reasoning rather than content. While all deductive arguments claim to be valid, not all of them are valid. Students should know what formal methods are available for determining which are which.
- Such methods include, but are not limited to, the use of Venn's diagrams for determining validity of categorical reasoning, the methods of truth tables, truth trees, and formal deduction for reasoning which depends on truth functional structure, and analogous methods for evaluating reasoning which may be valid due to quantificational form. These methods are explained in standard logic texts.
- We would also like to make clear that the request for evidence that formal methods are being taught is not a request that any particular technique to taught, but that some method of assessing formal validity be included in course content.