GRA 2266 Critical Thinking, Argumentation and Manipulation - CANCELLED AUTUMN 2020

GRA 2266 Critical Thinking, Argumentation and Manipulation - CANCELLED AUTUMN 2020

Course code: 
GRA 2266
Department: 
Leadership and Organizational Behaviour
Credits: 
6
Program of study: 
Master of Science in Leadership and Organisational Psychology
Course coordinator: 
Haavard Koppang
Product category: 
Master
Portfolio: 
MSc in Leadership and Organisational Psychology
Semester: 
2020 Autumn
Active status: 
Active
Teaching language: 
English
Course type: 
One semester
Introduction

CANCELLED AUTUMN 2020

Arguing is a fundamental human activity that occurs round-the-clock, as for e.g. arguing with ourselves to figure out what we want, or reasoning proactively to defend our opinions. Yet, since experienced arguers use arguments that support their views and use innumerable methods to persuade, individuals – including groups and organizations – are vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation. Fake news, pseudo news, propaganda and mixture of good and fallible arguments are often hard to detect. This course provides insight in argumentation biases – resulting in misinformation, along with tactical moves and cover – resulting in disinformation.

This course is not a curriculum in rhetoric, influence and persuasion. It refers though to rhetoric for elucidating that argumentation theory is another field, and to Cialdini’s persuasion techniques as short cuts implying that they go straight to conclusions without time and interest for a lengthy and thoughtful analytical process.  The persuasion technique of e.g. authority is connected to appeal to expert opinion to support an argument (cf. argumentum ad verecundiam), while social proof appeals to popular opinion (cf. argumentum ad populum). Without hard evidence the method might be powerful thinking techniques of presumption and even more so as traditional fallacies. To figure out when e.g. an expert is manipulated to guide our acceptance of a proposition we can ask questions as: Is the expert identified based on popularity or celebrity status. Is the expert unbiased and trustworthy etc?

In persuasion theory and rhetoric, normative or cognitive components may not support argumentation to a specific audience, it sooner diverts attention from the main point: Great, as long as it works. Argumentation theory focuses on messages aimed at resolving a difference of opinion between two parties, or changing a belief by use of informal logic and reasoning, whereas Cialdini does not have interest in the everyday use and abuse of persuasion, including whether his techniques are reasonable and exploit errors in reasoning to get the person to do what you want. Indeed, as to rhetoric/persuasion ethics seems like alien substance, whereas for argumentation theory and ethics, norms are basic.     

Argumentation theory accentuates both a descriptive perspective when characterizing specific arguments, and a normative perspective while taking position on good, weak and fallible arguments. Argument production as well as argument evaluation will be covered, more by groups than individually. If you as graduate student have insight in how to reveal weaknesses in your own arguments but lack training of speaking before an audience or how to handle pressure and feelings of argumentative chaos in an organization or even in a group, improved argumentation skills might help you out. If you on the other hand know how to sway an audience, while lack insight in basic rules for good argumentation and evaluating your own arguments critically, better insight in argumentation theory might help out.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

This course offers knowledge on

  • applying argumentation to different traditions, such as the psychology of argumentation and the philosophy of argumentation
  • argumentation theory
    - and terms as critical thinking, informal logic, argumentation theory, types of arguments, where to place the burden of proof, how to deal with argument from expert opinion, reasoning, dual process theory, confirmation bias, motivated reasoning
    - analytical tools applicable for business settings, included e.g. societal, political settings and research
  • process of argumentation including production and evaluation of arguments by
    - constructing arguments and argument production
    - deconstructing arguments and argument evaluation
    - manipulative dialogue shifts, along with strong, weak and fallible arguments
    - manipulation and additional norms as of ethics
    - how nonverbal communication (cf. face expression, hand movements and voice) facilitates or confuses and even contradicts verbal communication
Learning outcomes - Skills

Upon finishing this course, students should be

  • capable of reasoning based on critical thinking, and realize the difference between strong and weak arguments compared to fallible arguments
  • able to reveal how dialogue shifts are tactical moves for manipulating recipients, in e.g. debates and how it might offer the upper hand if not revealed and interrupted
  • challenged by cases at society level to argue as to effects of organizational choices on society by using critical thinking and argumentation theory
  • better prepared to speak before an audience
  • equipped for process-evaluating arguments presented there and then          
General Competence

This course is well suited for reflection based on argumentation theory, tested out by role plays and debates – based on that students should be able

  • to reflect on types of arguments and dialogues used by a proponent
  • to reveal sophistical tactics for manipulation used in e.g. business administration and communication 
  • by refection to identify ethical and moral dilemmas and take appropriate action
  • upon reflection to understand the dynamics of argumentation by providing constructive argumentation
Course content
  • Argumentation theory, another area than rhetoric
  • The psychology of argumentation
  • The philosophy of argumentation
  • Argumentation in business and organizations
  • Argumentation theory and ethical theory
  • Term paper presentations
Teaching and learning activities

Students are expected to be actively participating in the class sessions:

  • argumentation theory and argumentation is tested out when presenting by paper-
  • in one or more sessions the class will be moved to BI’s research laboratory to learn about research by taking part in experiments, e.g. on individual problem solving compared to problem solving by argumentation in groups
  • role plays are an important part of the learning process as if in a
    - boardroom
    - senior management team
    - dialogue(s) with manipulative customers that might apply chaotic dialogue
Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory in all courses, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class.

This is a course with continuous assessment (several exam components) and one final exam code. Each exam component is graded by using points on a scale from 0-100. The components will be weighted together according to the information in the course description in order to calculate the final letter grade for the examination code (course). Students who fail to participate in one/some/all exam elements will get a lower grade or may fail the course. You will find detailed information about the point system and the cut off points with reference to the letter grades when the course start.

At re-sit all exam components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course.

Qualifications

All courses in the Masters programme will assume that students have fulfilled the admission requirements for the programme. In addition, courses in second, third and/or fourth semester can have specific prerequisites and will assume that students have followed normal study progression. For double degree and exchange students, please note that equivalent courses are accepted.

Exam categoryWeightInvigilationDurationGroupingComment exam
Exam category:
Activity
Form of assessment:
Presentation
Exam code:
GRA22661
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
-
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
20No -Group (2 - 3)
Exam category:
Activity
Form of assessment:
Presentation
Exam code:
GRA22661
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
-
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
20No -Individual
Exam category:
Submission
Form of assessment:
Written submission
Exam code:
GRA22661
Grading scale:
Point scale
Grading rules:
-
Resit:
All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
60No 1 Semester(s)Group (2 - 3)
Exams:
Exam category:Activity
Form of assessment:Presentation
Weight:20
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Group (2-3)
Duration: -
Comment:
Exam code:GRA22661
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category:Activity
Form of assessment:Presentation
Weight:20
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Individual
Duration: -
Comment:
Exam code:GRA22661
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Exam category:Submission
Form of assessment:Written submission
Weight:60
Invigilation:No
Grouping (size):Group (2-3)
Duration: 1 Semester(s)
Comment:
Exam code:GRA22661
Grading scale:Point scale
Resit:All components must, as a main rule, be retaken during next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Continuous assessment
Grading scale: 
ECTS
Total weight: 
100
Student workload
ActivityDurationComment
Prepare for teaching
30 Hour(s)
Student's own work with learning resources
20 Hour(s)
Group work / Assignments
70 Hour(s)
Write term paper, individual and group work together.
Submission(s)
20 Hour(s)
Assignments and indiv feedback.
Group work / Assignments
30 Hour(s)
Group work during and in addition to class , e.g. related to presentations.
Sum workload: 
170

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 6 ECTS credits corresponds to a workload of at least 160 hours.