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Logical and Critical Thinking and Legal Reasoning

We’ve been looking at some broad areas in which effective logical and critical thinking are important and which generate distinct approaches to the questions they address.

Last week we looked at science. This week we’ll be looking at law, focussing on three important aspects of legal reasoning which connect to broader themes in logical and critical thinking:

  • Reasoning by Analogy
  • Law’s distinctive attitude to Arguments from Authority
  • The Burden of Proof.

We aim to help you to:

  • Identify and assess reasoning by analogy in law and elsewhere.
  • Recognise the significance of the burden of proof.
  • Explain why appeals to authority are respectable in law.

We’ll see that the things we’ve learned about logical and critical thinking enrich our understanding of these features of legal reasoning, and that the benefits run in the other directions as well: understanding how legal reasoning proceeds enriches our understanding of logical and critical thinking more generally.

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This article is from the free online course:

Logical and Critical Thinking

The University of Auckland

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Availability heuristic
    Availability heuristic
    video

    We tend to judge the probability of an event by seeing how readily examples come to mind, rather than by working out the real probabilities.

  • Pohutukawa tree case study
    Pohutukawa tree case study
    video

    When is it best to express your views by providing reasons? Are there cases in which other ways of expressing yourself might be better suited?

  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God
    video

    John Bishop and Patrick Girard from the University of Auckland discuss deductive and non-deductive arguments for and against the existence of God.

  • Science and falsification
    Science and falsification
    video

    Why falsifiability matters.

  • Going Vegan
    Going Vegan
    video

    A pretty wild exchange for and against becoming vegan. We'll use it to see how the skills you've learned during the course can be put into action.