Critical Thinking

UAB Barcelona Summer School

20 - Critical Thinking - Jordi Vallverdú

Number of credits: 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)
Course Fee: 850 €
Course Fee for UAB students and Alumni UAB Premium+ : 200 €
Teaching Language: English
Place: Online
Teaching Period: 12 July to 30 July

  • 9-10h: Lecture class with professor 
  • 10-11h: Interactive seminar
  • 11-12h: Organised tutoring sessions

Registration of international and national students (non-UAB students) before May 16 will get 20% discount.

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Enrolment guidelines




Jordi Vallverdú, Ph.D., M.Sci., B.Mus, B.Phil is ICREA Acedèmia researcher and Professor of Philosophy of Sciences, Computing & AI. His current main research is Causality and Deep Learning, but as an expert in Cognitive Sciences, his research on natural and artificial reasoning integrates also several disciplines and topics, being focused into emotions as well as (culturally laden) multi-heuristics. His true passion is robotics, besides enjoying haiku poetry, and jazz music.

Alger Sans Pinillos, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Researcher on Philosophy of Science at the Department of Humanities —Philosophy Section— of the University of Pavia (UNIPV). Apart from Philosophy of Science, his research areas also include Cognitive Science and the History of Philosophy. His current research deals with the different dimensions of abductive reasoning in general and its incidence on ethical issues in particular. You can see his website to consult his publications, his participation in conferences, and his collaboration in different research groups and international projects:



Contents overview

Do you want to improve your critical thinking skills? In our everyday life, we are constantly giving reasons to believe things and take decisions. In this introductory course you will learn how to identify arguments, how to evaluate them, and how to avoid fallacies, and believing mistakes that lead to the formation of bad Beliefs.           

Critical argumentation is a practical skill that needs to be learnt, from the very beginning, through the use of real examples of arguments. The real arguments we will analyze in the course will give practice in putting the desired skills to work. The methods presented are based on the latest state-of the-art techniques developed in argumentation theory and informal logic, as well as the most updated discoveries on cognition and argumentation.      

During the course we will organize an Argument Writing Workshop where the students could put into practice the different learnt skills. There are no prerequisites to this course.     

During the first two weeks, no computers, mobiles phones or any electronic devices are allowed to be used in class. All materials used by professors for their teaching will be uploaded to the Campus Virtual, where the students will have access to them.


Week programme

Critical Thinking
 Week   Contents Teaching/learning activities
1 a) The nature of arguments and “evidence”
b) Rethorics and different types of arguments
c) Deductive and inductive arguments Abductive arguments
- Analysis of arguments
- Deductive and inductive arguments
- Logic Games
2 d) Fallacies
e) Post-truth and fake news
f) Into the Reasoner’s Minds 
g) Generalizations, analogies, metaphors, and causal arguments
- Identification of fallacies
- Contemporary challenges case studies: climate change, cancer, AIDS
- Argument Writing Workshop: argumentative essays and argument diagramming

3 h) Visual aspects of arguments
i) Numbers, data, and statistics in argumentation
j) General rules for composing arguments.
k) Possible counter-argument techniques

- Multimodal arguments analysis
- Identification of misleading numeric aspects of arguments
- Argument defense in a public debate (half class against the other half class) about one selected topic. 



The course will be evaluated on the basis of diary exercises and on the qualifications of 3 weekly Assignments (A):

A1) Exercises on deductive and inductive arguments     

A2) Writing a short argument   

A3) Group class debate activity.

The grading formula is: A1 (20%) + A2 (30%) +A3 (50%, as a result of several sums of related exercises, to be detailed in class)         


Links and references

  • Douglas, M. (1996). Thought styles: critical essays on good taste. UK: Sage.
  • Groarke, L. (2017) Informal Logic, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL= .
  • Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2006). How we reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kahneman, D., & Egan, P. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow (Vol. 1). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Moore, B. N., Parker, R., & Rosenstand, N. (2011). Critical thinking. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Walton, D. (2005). Fundamentals of critical argumentation. Cambridge University Press.
  • Swatridge, C. (2014). Oxford guide to effective argumentation and critical thinking, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Vallverdú, J. & Müller, V. (2018). Blended Cognition. Germany: Springer.
  • van Eemeren, F. H. , Garssen B., & Krabbe, E.C.W. (2014). Handbook of Argumentation Theory, Berlin: Springer Verlag.