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We live in a complex world that can at times frustrate our attempts to understand it. To cope with such an environment human beings must be able to reason clearly, methodically, subtly, comprehensively – in a word, skillfully. Although this ability depends to a certain extent on one’s innate intellectual endowment, much of it is due to learning and habit. One’s education, beginning in the home and continuing thereafter in school, plays an important role in how well we contend with the flood of natural and man-made information that daily washes over us. The university bears a particular responsibility for educating reason, that is, transmitting to students a set of thinking skills and content that will help them make their way, not just in the tumultuous present, but also in any alternative future they are likely to face. We will argue that, in order to carry out this responsibility, higher education must first acknowledge that its task is not simply to transmit a curriculum that enables the student to be technically proficient, that is, to apply skills competently and reliably. Education, properly so called, demands more than this. It requires that students develop a wealth of epistemic virtues: internal, deeply-grounded, acquired intellectual excellences which motivate and direct one’s use of the cognitive skills in such a way as to promote a life worth living. In order to address this theme we will examine a range of benefits and challenges associated with learning and teaching cognitive skills at the college level. Specifically, we will look at deduction and some of its multiple articulations with other intellectual skills. These benefits and challenges will be organized according to the following categories: (1) logical issues having to do with deduction itself; (2) linguistic concerns related to translation from natural language into the formal language of modern logic; (3) certain matters associated with other cognitive skills which bear an important functional relationship to deduction, such as application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation; and (4) an account of the epistemic virtues, including the fundamental role they play in the exercise of the skills and their importance in the development of the cognitive agent.

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