Critical Thinking

PHIL 259/3.0


In this class you will learn how to think critically; you will learn how to evaluate arguments, claims, beliefs, and so on as well as how to make solid arguments of your own. You will learn how to think clearly, a powerful skill indeed. Since the complement to thinking clearly is writing clearly, this critical thinking course also includes a writing component. Many of the assignments require short essay or paragraph-style answers. These will be marked on content, grammar, and style. Please make sure you proofread your assignments before handing them in.

Learning Outcomes


Module 1Claims: Recognising, Identifying, Distinguishing, Normative vs. Non-normative
Issues: Recognising
Arguments: Recognising, Identifying, Distinguishing, Features, Deductive vs. Inductive, Structure, Standardising
Module 2Argument Forms
Translation Tips
Truth Tables
Module 3Credibility of Claims
Credibility of Sources
Rhetoric: Distinguishing Between Rhetoric and Argument Fallacies
Module 4Inductive Arguments: Generalising
Scientific sampling: Sample, Target, Feature, Typicality
Polls: Random Sample, Error Margin, Confidence Level Fallacies
Arguments by Analogy
Cause and Effect Fallacies


Fall 2022
Course Dates
Delivery Mode


20% - Assignments (x2)
20% - Quizzes (x2)
10% - Blog Argument Essay
10% - Blog Critique Essay

5% - Evaluation by Group
5% - Group Grade
30% - Final Proctored Exam

**Evaluation Subject to Change**

Late Penalties

Late penalties are set at 5% per day late. The turnaround time for getting comments on a late assignment could be considerably longer than for those which are submitted on time.

Final Examination

The final exam will test you on your understanding of the material covered in the course as a whole, as well as on your ability to apply the skills you have learned. It will be a closed-book exam in a form similar to that of the assignments. By the time you take the exam, the style of questions should be familiar to you since you will have encountered similar questions in the textbook exercises, as well as on your assignments.


  1. You may choose to write your exam(s) online using Examity proctoring services where you will be charged the additional $100 exam fee; or
  2. You may choose to write your exam(s) in-person on Queen's campus in Kingston where you will NOT be charged the additional $100 exam fee.


Once the exam schedule has been finalized the exam date will be posted on your SOLUS account. The exam dates for each Term are listed on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage under "Important Dates." Student exam schedules for the Fall Term are posted via SOLUS immediately prior to the Thanksgiving holiday; for the Winter Term they are posted on the Friday before Reading Week, and for the Summer Term they are individually noted on the Arts and Science Online syllabi. Students should delay finalizing any travel plans until after the examination schedule has been posted. Exams will not be moved or deferred to accommodate employment, travel/holiday plans or flight reservations.

Instructor Information

Dr. Nancy Salay (

Instructor Message

Hello and welcome to PHIL 259, Critical Thinking. My name is Nancy Salay and I am your instructor for this session. Please feel free to call me Nancy, but if you are uncomfortable with this or find it too familiar, you may address me as Professor Salay or Dr. Salay. This is the first time the philosophy department is offering this class on-line so please bear with us as we explore the new technologies that we hope will make this on-line experience as interactive as possible.  Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

My research interests are in the philosophy of cognitive science predominantly and I teach in both the Philosophy Department and the School of Computing. Recently I have founded an Institute  — still in its very fledgling stages — called ESC, Embodiment, Systems, and Complexity: Research Institute for Embodied Cognitive Science. If you’re interested in finding out more or attending some of our brown bag lunch sessions, please visit the website at

Courses I’ve taught in the recent past include Philosophy of Psychology, Science and Society, Topics in Artificial Intelligence, Minds and Machines, and Logic. If you are interested in any of these areas or you have questions about our class, please feel free to drop by my during office hours for a chat. You will find me in Watson Hall 322. I’ll post my office hours on the website, but be sure to check for the current week before you come in — if something has come up and I can’t make it, I will post that information on the site.

Nancy Salay

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

Required Textbook

Available from Queen's Campus Bookstore:

  • Moore, B. N. & Parker, R. 2016. Critical Thinking, 12th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 hours per week (120 hours per term) on the course.