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CODE 98544
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The course aims to introduce to the critical exercise of thought, with a predominantly applicative orientation, practicing the analysis of forms of reasoning, cultural and conceptual assumptions, ways of justification, rhetorical and pragmatic dimensions. It will deal with forms of discourse belonging to every sphere: from common reasoning, in cognitive and moral perspective, public discussion, to more specific issues of the social sciences, up to complex forms of philosophical argumentation.



The course aims to promote the acquisition of reflection skills and argumentation tools concerning every kind of discourse, up to the philosophical level of conceptual analysis.
The theoretical part will be developed together with the operative part, which will concern both the critical approach to given discourses and the production of speechs and texts showing a good level of argumentative force.  Given the practical orientation of the course, it is particularly recommended for those wishing to attend the classes.


The course in particular has the following objectives:
- To explore the main forms of discourse, in every sphere of knowledge, of social interaction, in the various uses of language in relation to the possible dimensions of truth
- To examine "implicit" discourses, i.e. forms of persuasion that do not necessarily aim at the truth, but to induce behaviors
- To examine the different ways in which explicit and implicit forms of discourse aim at persuasion and the construction of real or presumed justifications of their own truth claims
- To identify and reconstruct the implicit assumptions in assertions and in common and scientific discourse
- To examine and practice the forms of argumentation proper to philosophy, and their relation to the questions posed in scientific and common discourses
- To let students acquire the ability to critically analyze data discourses in relation to argumentative procedures, identifying biases and fallacies in the individual and collective thought
- To exercise the search for solutions to conceptual problems in a philosophical perspective




Alongside lectures, open to discussion and interactions with students, there will be analyzes - carried out in common and in the form of individual and group exercises - of texts drawn from the most diverse communication contexts, as well as exercises for the production of argumentative texts and exercises of discussion and argumentation in oral form.

For international students, a list of texts in English could be provided on requestThe exam may be taken, in the required forms, in English, Spanish or German.

Students with disability or other special educational needs are recommended to contact the teacher at the beginning of the course to agree on teaching and exam methods that, in compliance with the objectives of the course, take into account the individual learning approaches and provide appropriate compensatory tools.


The course will present the notion of critical thought, its emergence and its cultural role, in relation to the most directly related philosophical problems, such as knowledge, truth, justification, and the contemporary cultural context, with the notions of public opinion, post-truth, fake news, relativism. It will introduce to the various forms of reasoning and the most common fallacies; to fundamental elements of argumentation and rhetoric theory.

An important part of the course will consist of exercises of critical analysis and of construction of argumentative discourses.


Attending students are supposed to read for the exam two texts (the text 1 and one text from group 2), the non-attending students in addition also a third text chosen between the two listed in n. 3. For attending students the second text may be replaced by a written paper, according to the indications given at the end of the course. It is advisable to wait for the choice of the text of group 2.

1. F. Paoli, C. Crespellani Porcella, G. Sergioli, Ragionare nel quotidiano. Argomentare, valutare informazioni, prendere decisioni, Milano, Mimesis, 2012.

2. One book from the following:


- G. Jervis, Pensare dritto, pensare storto. Introduzione alle illusioni sociali, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2007
- Franca D'Agostini, Verità avvelenata. Buoni e cattivi nel dibattito pubblico, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2010
- Paola Cantù, E qui casca l'asino. Errori di ragionamento nel dibattito pubblico, Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 2011
- T. Williamson, Io ho ragione e tu hai torto. Un dialogo filosofico, Bologna, il Mulino, 2016
- D. Marconi, Per la verità. Relativismo e filosofia, Torino, Einaudi, 2007
- G. Carofiglio, L’arte del dubbio, Palermo, Sellerio, 2009.


- Platone, Teeteto o Protagora
R. Descartes, Meditazioni metafisiche
- I. Kant, Fondazione della metafisica dei costumi
- F. Nietzsche, Genealogia della morale
- Th. Nagel, Questioni mortali, Milano, il Saggiatore, 2015

For non-attending students, in addition:

3. One book from the following:

- P. Cantù / I. Testa, Teorie dell’argomentazione. Un’introduzione alle logiche del dialogo, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2006
- R. B. Cialdini, Le armi della persuasione, Firenze, Giunti, 2017

Foreign students can agree with the teacher books in English or in other languages






Classes will be held in the second semester, starting the week beginning February 17, 2025.




The exam consists of an oral interview, which for attending students may be partly on the written essay delivered before the exam.


For attending students, the assessment will take into account the activities carried out during the course, the written essay and the interview on the text or texts.
For students who have not attended the course will focus on the texts provided for the exam.
In both cases, not only knowledge will be assessed, but the ability to orient oneself in argumentative forms and identify problems related to argumentation and the exercise of critical thinking.


By agreement with the teacher, foreign students will be allowed to read texts in English or in other languages.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Peace, justice and strong institutions
Peace, justice and strong institutions