BBI 3420 Critical Reading and ThinkingFACE TO FACE MEETING PART II
Critical thinking is primarily about the evaluation of arguments.
Definition of an argument: a set of statements of which it is claimed that one of those statements (the conclusion) is supported by the others (the premises). a reason or reasons offered for or against something
ARGUMENT = CONCLUSION (assertion) + PREMISES
Example A Simple ArgumentLawyers earn a lot of money. (Premise)I want to earn a lot of money. (Premise)I should become a Lawyer. (Conclusion)
Identifying the conclusionAn argument's conclusion is what the person making the argument is ultimately trying to convince you of, i.e., the person's point.
To identify the conclusion of an argument 'what does the person making the argument want me to walk away thinking?' (If the answer is 'nothing', then you're not dealing with an argument.)
Identifying the conclusionTry putting the word "therefore" before each of the statements in turn. The statement that fits best will be the conclusion.
Lawyers earn a lot of money. I want to earn a lot of money. I should become a Lawyer.
Some Conclusion Indicator Words:Look for conclusion indicator words, such as:
therefore, consequently, as a result, thus, it follows that, so, which shows that, hence, accordingly
Identifying the PremisesEvery argument must also consist of at least one premise.
A premise is a statement that is meant to support the conclusion. Ideally, a premise provides a good reason for believing the conclusion.
Some Premise Indicator Words:To identify premises, it often easiest to look for premise indicator words, words that are often used to introduce a claim as a premise such as: because, since, as, for, given that, as, judging from, seeing that
Missing Premises and Conclusions:
People don't always come out and say what their point is. Similarly people may not always explicitly mention all the premises they are working with.
As a result, we must be prepared to identify both missing premises and missing conclusions (i.e., conclusions or premises that are not explicitly stated by the arguer, but that are implicit in what the arguer does say).
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers - Voltaire
What is a good argument?A good argument from the standpoint of critical thinking is:
The most important critical thinking standards are:
AccuracyLogical CorrectnessClarity, precision, relevance, consistency, completeness and fairness
An argument that satisfies the relevant critical thinking standards that apply in a particular context.Mobile phone use increases brain activity
Does the Claim Come from a Credible Source?Is the source contained in a source that is generally unreliable (e.g. gossip magazine) ?Has the source been cited correctly or has been quoted out of context?Is the issue one that can be settled by expert opinion?Is the claim made by the source highly improbable on its face?Critical thinkers must ask, Are all premises true? and Do the premises provide good reasons to accept the conclusion?Evaluating Arguments
Evaluating ArgumentsGeneral Guidelines Are the premises true? relevant to the conclusion?Is the reasoning correct? Is the argument deductively valid or inductively strong?Does the arguer commit any logical fallacies?Does the arguer express his or her points clearly and precisely?Are the arguers claims logically consistent? Do any of the arguers claims contradict other claims made in the argument?Is the argument complete? Is all relevant evidence taken into account (given understandable limitations of time, space, context and so on)?Is the argument fair? Is the arguer fair in his or her presentation of the evidence and treatment of opposing arguments and views?
FallaciesA form of reasoning that is illogical or violates the rules of valid argument *hasty generalization 5 days of dating
* dicto simpliciter( sweeping generalization)
"Women are on average not as strong as men and less able to carry a gun. Therefore women can't pull their weight in a military unit."
Hominem Bandwagon Circular Reasoning Either . . . or Fallacy False Analogy Hasty Generalization Non Sequitur Post HocRed Herring
An argument saying, in effect, "Everyone's doing or saying or thinking this, so you should, too.
Faulty: Everyone else is drinking, so why shouldn't I?(The majority is not always right.)
HominemAttacking the person who presents an issue rather than dealing logically with the issue itself
Faulty: She is a bad politician because she smokes.
Dodging the real issue by drawing attention to an irrelevant issue.
Faulty: Why worry about a few terrorists when we ought to be doing something about acid rain? Acid raid has nothing to do with the actions of terrorists.)
Evaluating ArgumentsWhen is it reasonable to accept a premise?
In general, it is reasonable to accept and unsupported claim as true when:The claim does not conflict with personal experiences that we have no good reason to doubt, the claim does not conflict with background beliefs that we have no good reason to doubt, andThe claim comes from a credible source.Women are better leaders than Men!Men are more creative than Women!
SOCRATIC QUESTIONINGThe overall purpose is to challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal
SOCRATIC QUESTIONINGConceptual clarification questionsProbing assumptionsProbing rationale, reasons and evidenceQuestioning viewpoints and perspectivesProbe implications and consequencesQuestions about the question
Socratic QuestioningRead and analyse the content of the text given. Then answer the questions that follow using the Socratic questioning framework to probe the question further. Remember that there are questions within the questions.What is the topic of the text?What is the central message of the text?What is the purpose the text?What is the underlying concept?What is the question at issue?What can you infer from the text?What evidence can you find in the text to support the issue?What assumptions can you make?What conclusions can you draw from the information in the text?What are the implications of your conclusion?
Identifying TopicWhat the text is about.The main or central subject of the communication.You should not express it by a sentence. Identifying central message of textWhat is the overall message the writer is communicating about the topic?
ExampleIts not a crime to download
Recognising PurposeWhen reading, part of the evaluation process involves recognizing the writers purpose, or reasons for writing. That can help you distinguish between facts and opinions, uncover bias, and assess the overall reliability of information.Readers can infer the motivations behind the text based on:Authors background or affiliationPublication in which the writing appearsThe information itselfHow the information is presented
To informTo persuadeTo entertain
Remember that the purposes of writing are not limited to the above three
Combination of Purposes ??e.g: provide factual information + persuade readers to accept his viewpoint and take action
Question at IssueThe main or primary question the author asks and then goes on to answer.Must contain the topicShould be the main question author is trying to answerShould be a question that can be given an answerShould be a question that can be answered in at least two different ways.If the author does not directly answer the question you have chosen as the issue, more than likely you have not correctly identified the authors issue
PROBING REASON AND EVIDENCE
FACTS VS OPINIONS
WHAT ARE FACTS?A statement is a fact if you can answer yes to these two questions:Is it true?Can it be proved?
What is an opinion?An opinion statement can be well thought out but cant be proved true or false it is always open to debate.Ask yourself: Does this statement tell a thought or feeling?Would the statement be true all the time?Look for signal words
Opinion CautionAgreeing with a statement doesnt make it true. For example:Dairy Queen ice cream tastes better than ice cream you buy from the grocery store.
Why is this statement an opinion?This is a personal judgment: someone else may not agree.did you notice the signal word?
Identify the fact or opinion
Maryland is located in the United StatesReading is the most interesting subject in school.The character of Cinderella should marry the prince. Bats use echolocation when they fly to see where they are going
Identify the fact or opinion
Maryland is located in the United StatesF
Reading is the most interesting subject in school.O
The character of Cinderella should marry the prince. OBats use echolocation when they fly to see where they are going F
Authors use facts to support opinionsAds promise that youll be happier if you buy certain clothes or toys.Articles try to talk you into believing an idea.Speeches and propaganda try to persuade you to change your mind to do something. These are examples of persuasive writingIn persuasive writing the writers goal is to explain why a reader should think, act, or feel the same way he or she does.
Making inferenceWhy do you think the cat is in the tree?
Making inferenceWe dont know exactly why the