Critical Thinking Unit 1 and 2 Revision Notes

A glossary of the main terms in Critical Thinking and different types of flaws and examples. Have fun revising !

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  • Created on: 16-05-10 13:05
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Ad hominem (flaw) Attacking the arguer. A form of reasoning which criticises the arguer's
features so that the readers will dismiss his argument.
Ambiguous A word or phrase with more than one meaning.
Analogy A form of argument in which two similar situations are compared. An
analogy is used to help the reader to reach a conclusion.
To analyse an argument Breaking the argument into its component and naming them.
Appeal A reference to someone or something. This helps the reader to reach a
Appeal to authority Referring to an expert witness or recognised authority to support a
Example: it is right to go to war, the Prime Minister says so. Just
because he said so does not make it a good reason. It does not mean
that their opinions should override anyone else's.
An appeal to authority can be weak if:
1. the authority is irrelevant
2. if there is vested interest
Appeal to emotion Support a prediction on what has happened in the past or in past
experience. However the past is not completely reliable. There
could be changes. Just because something has happened in the past
does not mean it will definitely happen again.
Appeal to popularity Justifies a conclusion by its popularity
Example: most people believe that...therefore it should be true.
However just because something is popular does not mean it is right
and it is not enough to support the conclusion.
Appeal to tradition An attempt to say that an action is right by relying on the basis of a
long standing practice. Has been done for years. But this does not
mean it is right.
Arguing from one thing to Using a reason for one thing to support another conclusion
Argument An attempt to make the reader accept something. Usually an argument
can be made of reasons and conclusion.
Belief Something that is thought to be true but may not be objectively
Circular argument (flaw) One of the reasons is the same as the conclusion and the argument
does not lead anywhere. Does not decide anything.
Example: the murder verdict must be correct. It was decided in the
court of law.
Here both the reason and conclusion leads to the fact that the murder
verdict was right.
Claim A statement that can be challenged.
Conflation (flaw) Bringing two different concepts together and treating them like two
similar situations. There will be confusion between the terms and
conclusion might fail.
Confusion correlation and cause Assuming that because A happened before B, A caused B.

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Post Hoc Assuming that because A and B happened at the same time, A caused
B or B caused A. However, there could be a relation between the two
situations and it is possible that neither caused the other.
Confusing necessary and An argument that assumes that a necessary condition is sufficient to
sufficient conditions (flaw) support the conclusion.
A necessary condition is one that is needed for something to
A sufficient condition guarantees that the next step must follow.…read more

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Sweeping generalisation (flaw) A stereotype. A generalisation which moves from some to many to all.
It will sometimes move back to one individual.
Tu quoque (flaw) This means `you too'. An attempt to justify an action on the basis that
someone else is doing it.
Two wrongs don't make a right A flaw that attempts to justify one harmful thing on the basis of
(flaw) another, different harmful thing which has been accepted.…read more

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Personal observation
Statistical or numerical data
Statement from a source or witness
Make sure to know:
How many were surveyed?
Did the sample represent different categories of people?
Expertise of the person who did the survey
When was the survey conducted?
How well educated or experienced are the people?
It is important to notice words such as :
Average how was it calculated?
Sample ­ what kind of people?
40 % of how many people?
When evaluating reasons, how state the reason and say if…read more

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Slippery slope
Reasons from one possibility through a series of events that are not properly or logically linked.
Extreme consequence.
Hasty generalisation
To draw a general conclusion from insufficient evidence. One reasoning or one example to
general conclusion.
Sweeping generalisation
A stereotype. A generalisation which moves from some to many to all.
Tu quoque
This means `you too'
Two wrongs don't make a right
A flaw that attempts to justify one harmful thing on the basis of another, different harmful thing
which has been accepted.…read more

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This is whether the accounts of different witnesses or sources agree with each other.
Inconsistency is when evidence contains two claims which cannot both be correct at
the same time.
A motive to lie.
To favour another person, party, newspaper.
Like paparazzi. They select what will be reported to make themselves/other people look
Someone that has no connection with anyone and does not favour anyone.
Journalists are expected to be neutral.
Vested interest
Like bias, there is a motive to say something.…read more

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Although there is vested interest on both sides, the views of the person from Police
Superintendents' Association might be seen as more credible, as they do not
directly benefit from the reversal of the trial, thus making the side against the blackout
slightly more credible.
The likelihood is that where lights are switched off these areas are likely to become less safe, since the aim of
street lighting is to enable the public to see better in the dark.…read more


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