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critical thinking 2.docx

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PHIL 2003
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Arguments are essential to critical thinkingWe said that critical thinking is the process of evaluating beliefs and theories to determine whether there are good reasons to accept them as true Reasons for believing something can always be presented in the form of an argument So we need to spend some time talking about argumentsDefinition of the term argumentThe term argument in philosophy and logic does not mean a quarrel or fight or even a disagreementAn argument is a set of two or more statements or claims one of which the conclusion is intended to follow from or be supported by the others which are the premisesExample of an argument1Euthanasia is deliberately killing an innocent person2Deliberately killing an innocent person is morally wrongTherefore3Euthanasia is morally wrongHere 1 and 2 are the premises 3 is the conclusionAnother example1Critical thinking is a skill that is essential to success in all walks of lifeTherefore2Critical Thinking should be a required course for all Carleton undergraduatesInferenceThe definition of an argument implies that every argument must include an inferenceie a claim to the effect that one thing makes something else likely to be trueThe presence of an inference therefore serves as the sign or criterion of somethings being an argumentThe term reasoningThe term reasoning as used in philosophy basically just means inferring one thing from anotherSo It looks like rain so you should take your umbrella with you counts as reasoning in this basic philosophical sense of the termStatements or claims are NOT argumentsA set of statements or claims by itself does not constitute an argumentIt doesnt matter how many times you repeat them or how emphatically they are uttered Bc a claim or set of claims is not an inferenceRemember the Monty Python sketch The ArgumentMan I came here for a good argumentMr Vibrating No you didnt no you came here for an argumentMan An argument isnt just contradictionMr Vibrating It can beMan No it cant An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a propositionMr Vibrating No it isntMan Yes it is Its not just contradictionMr Vibrating Look if I argue with you I must take up a contrary position Man Yes but thats not just saying No it isntMr Vibrating Yes it isNoteThe premises and conclusions of arguments must always be statements propositions or beliefsthat is things which are capable of being true or false that is which have a truth value Questions commands and other types of speech acts which lack truth values cannot function as premises or conclusions Of course a premise could be expressed as a rhetorical question But such questions are not really questionsFor example it would make no sense to say1Were Smiths fingerprints found on the murder weaponTherefore2Smith is guilty of the crimeNoteArguments can be good or bad strong or weak intelligent or stupideven bad arguments or weak arguments are still argumentsArguments can also be as complex as you likethere is no upper limit on the number of premises an argument can haveStatements and arguments have different propertiesStatementsClaimsAre true or false correct or incorrectJustified or unjustifiedCorrect or incorrect plausible or not plausibleArgumentsAre strong or not strong convincing or unconvincingValid or not valid sound or not soundInsightful creative well reasoned etc or the opposite of theseReconstructing Arguments
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