701-0707-00L  Analysing Arguments in Science and Ethics

SemesterAutumn Semester 2018
LecturersC. J. Baumberger
Periodicityyearly course
Language of instructionGerman
CommentNumber of Participants is limited to 160

This lecture was offered until spring semester 17 under the title: "Analysing Texts". Students who completed this lecture already are not allowed to earn credits for this lecture again.


AbstractProblems of the environment and sustainable development are complex from a scientific as well as from an ethical point of view. Addressing them requires the ability to deal with arguments. This course provides basic knowledge and methods for reconstructing, analysing and evaluating arguments. We exercise and improve these abilities by using examples from science, ethics and political debates.
ObjectiveStudents acquire basic knowledge and methods for analyzing arguments. They are able to apply these methods to complex arguments concerning scientific and ethical questions about the environment and sustainable development, and to construct themselves arguments and apply them successfully. Moreover, they are able to evaluate the contribution of arguments to controversial debates with the help of rules. Students acquire thereby a crucial skill for Critical Thinking, which aims at responsible argumentation, communication and action.
ContentIn the sciences as well as in public discussions or in our everyday life, we try to convince others or to achieve consent in matters of disagreement. We do this with the help of arguments. But what are the criteria for arguments to be convincing and for claims to be clear? And how do we expediently feed arguments into a debate? How can we identify and avoid fallacies in reasoning? How do we analyse and define concepts? This course provides basic knowledge of conceptual analysis and argumentation theory as well as methods for identifying, reconstructing and evaluating claims and arguments. Its focus is on systematically addressing the following two questions: What do you mean? How do you know? The first question aims at a better understanding of the claim in question, the second at assessing the reasons that support or undermine the claim. We exercise and improve the abilities to address these questions by using texts on scientific and ethical questions concerning the environment and sustainable development. The course provides thus crucial skills for Critical Thinking, which aims at responsible argumentation, communication and action.
Lecture notesA textbook will be used, and handouts will be available.
LiteratureBrun, Georg; Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn. 2014. Textanalyse in den Wissenschaften. Inhalte und Argumente analysieren und verstehen. Zürich: vdf/UTB 3139 (2nd edition)
Bowell, Tracy; Kemp, Gary. 2014. Critical Thinking. A Concise Guide. New York. Routledge. (4th Edition)
Eemeren, Frans van; Grootendorst, Rob; Henkemans, Francisca Snoeck. 2010. Argumentation. Analysis, Evaluation, Presentation. New York: Routledge.
Pfister, Jonas. 2013. Werkzeuge des Philosophierens. Stuttgart: Reclam.
Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter; Fogelin; Robert. 2015. Understanding Arguments. An Introduction to Informal Logic. Concise. Stanford: Cenage Learning. (9th Edition)
Prerequisites / NoticeThis is a compulsory course in the social sciences and humanities in the second year of the BA Environmental sciences. For 2 ECTS-credits, all written tasks that are distributed during the course need to be solved.