Public Reasoning

Introduces students to the practices of understanding as well arguing for claims in the public realm

Explores a range of tools by showing how these can be applied in various kinds of public reasoning. Our case studies will include instances of legal reasoning, public scientific reasoning, arguments about trends in the social and political life of the nation, and reasoning about matters of universal human concern such as the climate crisis. Students will, amongst other things, learn to read charts and other kinds of data, draw appropriate inferences from studies, and examine what makes one explanation better than another.

The broad intention of the course is twofold: introduce students to how public reasoning is actually done, and also teach them the mechanics of building and defending an argument for a considered position in public discourse. Students will be equipped with the means to establish and defend – both orally and in writing – a line of argument through sustained critical questioning of their assumptions about what they regard as being true, reasonable, or morally significant.