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Why study modes of reasoning?

Strong critical thinkers are in high demand by employers.  More importantly, the ability to think critically is essential to being a good citizen and living a good life. This is not an exaggeration.

The Modes of Reasoning program is designed to help students improve their critical thinking skills through a variety of methods. There are many aspects of good reasoning and a Modes course will help you to understand and appreciate what is (and what is not) involved in thinking clearly and carefully. You will learn the details of argumentative strategies, how to evaluate arguments, how to determine what information is relevant to an issue and how to judge scientific claims. In addition, you will learn about common mistakes in reasoning and how to avoid them. You will come to better appreciate what a debate between reasonable people can accomplish and how to present your own ideas clearly and persuasively, both orally and in writing.

There are three versions of Modes of Reasoning, but all of them focus on critical reasoning skills.  The difference concerns the content that is used to teach those skills. Reasoning About Social Issues (MODR 1730) focuses on topics typically covered in the social sciences and successful completion of the course earns students six general education credits in social science.

Reasoning About Morality and Values (MODR 1760) focuses on topics typically covered in the humanities with special attention paid to ethics. It is worth six general education credits in humanities.

Techniques of Persuasion (MODR 1770) takes a more general approach and incorporates elements from both the social sciences and humanities.  It is worth either six credits in social science or six credits in humanities.

Although Modes of Reasoning courses are typically taught by people with training in philosophy, they are not philosophy courses and no prior knowledge of any academic field is assumed. They are introductory courses designed to help students perform well in any other course. For this reason, it is strongly recommended students enrol in Modes of Reasoning as early as possible in their time at York.  Feedback from our students suggests those who took a Modes of Reasoning course early on in their academic career are very glad they did.

One. There is a course credit exclusion on all versions of Modes of Reasoning at the Keele campus, meaning that you can get credit for only one version.

Yes. 1730 counts for six credits of Social Science. 1760 counts for six credits of Humanities. 1770 counts for six credits of either Social Science or Humanities (but not both).

All Modes of Reasoning courses focus on critical reasoning skills. The difference is in the material used to teach those skills (what you will read, what you will talk about in class, what you will write about in your assignments). In 1730 – Reasoning About Social Issues – material is taken from the social sciences. In 1760 – Reasoning About Morality and Values – material is taken from the humanities, with an emphasis on ethical issues. In 1770 – Techniques of Persuasion – material from both the social sciences and humanities is used and there is a focus on the ways people try to persuade each other in these fields and in other aspects of life.

Yes. Although MODR is usually offered as a two-term course, there are accelerated sections offered every year, in the Fall only or the Winter only. All Summer sections of MODR are offered over the full SU term.

Yes. There are blended versions of MODR courses in which some instruction is delivered online and some in-person. Look for the “BLEN” indicator on York’s courses website. There are also fully online versions. Look for the “ONLN” designation on York’s courses website.

Yes. MODR 1790 – Reasoning in Everyday Language – is specifically designed to meet the needs of ESL students. It is taught by an instructor who is trained in ESL education. MODR 1790 counts for six credits of either Social Science or Humanities general education (but not both).

In most instances, no. Unless you take a blended section of MODR, you will be in a class of no more than 50 students. Since Modes of Reasoning courses are small by the standards of introductory courses at York, your instructor is able to provide more personal guidance and is in a good position to know the needs of the classes they teach. Your instructor will grade all of your assignments.

Please do not hesitate to contact the coordinator for the Modes of Reasoning Program: Brian Huss, huss@yorku.ca.