Critical Thinking and Reading Cues

AN ARGUMENT…

  • Offers a reason or reasons in support of a conclusion
  • Broadly, arguments can be made to support a claim (poverty cannot be eliminated by injecting foreign aid) OR
  • A recommendation (sustainable development programmes should be adopted)

ARGUMENTS CONTAIN …

  • Language clues that indicate a conclusion is being drawn or reasoning is being provided
  • Unstated assumptions – items of information not explicitly stated but upon which the argument relies in order to draw its conclusion

ARGUMENTS PRESENT …

  • Two or more reasons which jointly, or independently support the conclusion
  • Reasons which supports an intermediate conclusion, which then is used with other reasons to support a main conclusion

ARGUMENTS CAN BE FLAWED…

If the conclusion drawn does not follow from the reasons provided.

  • Relying on inappropriate comparisons, examples, or analogies
  • Drawing conclusions on the basis of insufficient evidence
  • Using inappropriate/irrelevant evidence
  • Failing to look for other relevant evidence
  • Failure to consider other possibilities
  • Assuming causality: two things have occurred together, one has caused the other
  • Creating slippery slope arguments (a certain action, though possibly harmless in itself will be the first step along a road to inevitable and undesirable consequences)
  • Simply deviating from point and forgetting what you set out to prove.

ARGUMENTS SHOULD BE EXAMINED

Reading and reasoning critically develops THINKERS and WRITERS

  • What is the author’s argument or main point of view?
  • What are his reasons for his conclusion? How are these reasons related?
  •  Do the reasons lead logically to the conclusion? Why or Why not?
  • Has he made any assumptions that can be easily challenged?
  • Has he considered any alternative views? How does he respond to them?
  • And finally – what is YOUR view on this? What are YOUR reasons for your conclusion

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