BU121 Lecture Notes - Soundness

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19 Mar 2013
Critical Thinking
Monday, January 28, 2013
1:21 PM
Reading, thinking, learning that involves asking questions, examining
assumptions, weighing validity of arguments
Improves your arguments to make communication more effective/persuasive
Major conclusion that author is trying to persuade you to accept
"in summary…", "in fact…" etc.
Uncontested vs. contestable claims (is it common sense?)
Uncontested: conditions in which people may accept claim without
challenge (ex. is it consistent with own observations/experiences?)
Examine and evaluate evidence given to justify claim
Present ideas with clarity and emphasis, use visuals
Put claim up front, use cue words
Use headings and subheadings to make logic transparent, easy to
"why is this true?" - argument = claim + evidence
Ex. stats, details of actual events, anecdotes
"because", "as a result", "for example", "studies show"
Quality of evidence: accuracy, precision, sufficiency,
representativeness, authority, clarity
Clearly state meaning/significance of evidence
Present arguments in form of claim and supporting evidence
Treat evidence as claims, provide evidence to show soundness
Underlying Assumptions
"Logical link that fills gap between evidence and claim"
Usually implicit and unstated
Need to be examined explicitly- what does writer believe?
What must be true for claim to follow from evidence?
Reality assumptions vs. value assumptions
Reality vs. subjectivity (what you feel etc.)
Make it clear that each piece of evidence is relevant by articulating
underlying assumptions and reasoning explicitly
Question your assumptions
Causal Claims
Certain events or factors (Causes) are responsible for bringing out other
events or situations (events)
Causation vs. correlation (A happened followed by B, therefore, A caused B)
May be multiple or rival causal explanations due to:
Differences between groups, correlation between characteristics, post
hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy (after this therefore because of this)
Think through all possible causes- address them explicitly
Examine soundness of causal argument
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