The end result is that both sides end up talking past each other without ever really listening to what the other says. Elements of an Argument: Definition Helps answer the question “What is it?” Provides clarity for a topic Three methods of defining: Synonyms Examples Stipulations. In other words, she never directly says that we need to drink more red wine, but she clearly hints at it when she suggests that drinking four or more glasses a day will provide us with health benefits. Let's look at how statements become arguments. Critical thinkers take the time to systematically examine a message. These traits are summarized in Table 6.1:, Recall that critical thinking is an active mode of thinking. “Applied Deductive Reasoning” CC-BY-NC-ND. Understanding how logic is used will help us communicate more efficiently and effectively. Consider this example: “Man and Woman Arguing” by mzacha. The bathroom responsibilities alternate weekly according to the work chart. As you read through the explanation of and examples for each skill, think about how it works in conjunction with the others. The study of logic has a long history. A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth. Click HERE for details. Critical thinkers apply accepted criteria or conditions to their analyses. Wouldn’t you like to know how to prevent this from happening to you? Considered in this manner, it should be clear how the strength of the conclusion depends upon us accepting as true the first two statements. It sounds kind of fishy. The terrorists were Muslim (or Arab or Middle Eastern). Critical thinkers have faith in the power of logic and sound reasoning. The key focus in deductive arguments is that it must be impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false. Four or more glasses of wine in one sitting doesn’t seem right. It is easy to fall prey to missteps in reasoning when we focus on syllogisms and deductive reasoning. A logical argument should not be confused with the type of argument you have with your sister or brother or any other person. Does the fact that this evidence exists negate your claims? However, when the person says something you feel strongly about you start formulating a counter-argument in your head. Teach writing and critical thinking skills. For example, in Shonda’s speech, she implies it is better to drink more red wine. Her argument can be summarized as follows: 1. Clarity of communication is one aspect of this. Let’s turn to recent world events for another example. Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education, Learn new skills with a flexible online course, Earn professional or academic accreditation, Study flexibly online as you build to a degree. In practice we often begin analyzing messages while still listening to them. The following is a list of typical questions we may ask, along with an evaluation of the ideas in Shonda’s speech. Critical thinkers remain open to the possibility of changing their view on an issue when logic and evidence supports doing so. Now let’s consider infer. When we say that someone is having an argument, what we are really saying is that they are having a fight. For example, let’s say you’re writing a speech on why we should wear our seatbelts at all times while driving. In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises or premisses (both spellings are acceptable), intended to determine the degree of truth of another statement, the conclusion. She begins by stating the general house rule of alternate weeks for cleaning. At its most basic, hearing refers to the physiological process of receiving sounds, while listening refers to the psychological process of interpreting or making sense of those sounds. One way we evaluate a message is to ask questions about what is being said and who is saying it. Critical thinkers want to know more and take action to learn more. Girls are better at cleaning bathrooms than boys. Therefore, Stan was breaking the law. PLAY. The audience infers. Critical thinkers ask questions of the message, breaking it into its individual components and examining each in turn. Let’s now look at Sydney’s argument and why it works. It is not quarrel or dispute. We use logic everyday when we construct statements, argue our point of view, and in myriad other ways. That is, they don’t just jump on the bandwagon of common thought because it looks good or everyone else is doing it. It’s important to note that while our discussion of the skills is presented in a linear manner, in practice our use of each skill is not so straightforward. Let’s return to Sydney’s argument to see how induction develops in action: What Sydney does here is build to her conclusion that Harrison should clean the bathroom. If we were to analyze this part of Shonda’s speech (see Table 6.2), we could begin by looking at the claims she makes. This example also clearly illustrates how easy it is to get tripped up in your use of logic and the importance of practicing self-regulation. Defeated, Harrison digs out the cleaning supplies. Certainly, there exists contradictory evidence arguing seat belts can cause more injuries. Critical thinkers are curious by nature. Is the evidence from a validcredible source? While Shonda may not be an expert per se on the issue of health benefits related to wine, she has made herself a mini-expert through conducting research. We will consider syllogisms in a few minutes. The focus on syllogisms dominated the field of philosophy for thousands of years. This logic was sufficient for the United States to invade Iraq; however, as we have since learned, this line of reasoning also shows how quickly logic can go bad. Most likely Shonda’s claims will be weakened. ~ Ambrose Bierce. With self-regulation, we consider our pre-existing thoughts on the subject and any biases we may have. “US Invasion Deductive Reasoning Example”, http://publicspeakingproject.org/psvirtualtext.html, CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martha_Stewart_nrkbeta.jpg, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seat_belt_BX.jpg, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ig8/4295549232/, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sharia-law-Billboard.jpg, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Decorative_toilet_seat.jpg%20, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WTC_1993_ATF_Commons.jpg. “Sharia Law Billboard” by Matt57. Brother and sister, Sydney and Harrison are arguing about whose turn it is to clean their bathroom. – In Critical Thinking, argument is an act of presenting reasons to support individual’s position or point of view. Think about the claims we see in many advertisements today—Buy product X, and you will be beautiful/thin/happy or have the carefree life depicted in the advertisement. The chart indicates it is Harrison’s turn to clean the bathroom this week. This need for truth sets up deductive reasoning as a very rigid form of reasoning. Like many other bodily functions, it happens without our willing it to happen. Harrison, still unconvinced, refuses to take responsibility for the chore. To give an argument is to provide a set of premises as reasons for accepting the conclusion. This leaves the first premise that girls are better at cleaning bathrooms than boys. 2. We must focus on what is being said – and not said.  Of the classical pillars of a core liberal arts education of logic, grammar, and rhetoric, logic has developed as a fairly independent branch of philosophical studies. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information. When we enact critical thinking on a message, we engage a variety of skills including: listening, analysis, evaluation, inference and interpretation or explanation, and self-regulation. Clearly, we can see the problem in this line of reasoning. Assuming for the moment that we agree with Harrison’s first two premises, then it would seem that his argument makes sense. Critical thinking helps us to determine the truth or validity of arguments. Sydney may have agreed to take Harrison’s week of bathroom cleaning in exchange for him doing another one of her chores. We use logic every day. Critical thinkers reserve judgment on a message until they have examined the claims, logic, reasoning, and evidence used. Definition: An argument is a group of statements some of which, the premises, are offered in support of another statement, the conclusion. Critical thinkers are fair-minded and understand that a message is not inherently wrong or flawed if it differs from their own thoughts. Once we have listened to a message, we can begin to analyze it. In order to understand listening, we must first understand the difference between listening and hearing. Before that, we need to be clear on what arguments are, and how to recognise them. Sydney then points to the work chart and shows him where it specifically says it is his turn this week. Critical thinkers are sensible in their actions. Does the statement ring true or false based on common sense?
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