Critical Thinking AS - Unit 2


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Definitions (1)

  • Explanation: reasons that show how/why something is the way it is
  • Description: the author describes something that has happened and doesn't attempt to persuade the reader
  • Claim: a sentence that is thought to be true but might not be - it can be challenged. Reasons and conclusions are claims
  • Conclusion: a statement the author wants the reader to accept based on the reasons given
  • Reason: a statement that aims to persuade the reader to accept the conclusion
  • Intermediate conclusion: a conclusion that is formed on the way to the main conclusion. It is supported by reasons and acts as a reason/gives support to the main conclusion
  • Counter argument: an additional argument tht opposes the initial argument
  • Counter assertion: also known as a counter claim. If there is no reasoning, it can only be an assertion/claim and not an argument
  • Evidence: something used to develop/support a reason. It is usually in the form of numerical data
  • Example: something used as evidence. They often illustrate the reason and provide good support for the conclusion
  • Evaluate: judge whether the argument or reasoning is strong or weak
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Definitions (2)

  • Appeal: a reference to something or someone in order to persuade an audience to accept a conclusion
  • Flaw: a fault in the pattern of reasoning that weakens the support given to the conclusion of an argument
  • Analagy: form of argument that uses parallels between similar situations to persuade the audience to accept a conclusion
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  • Appeal to authority: supports a claim by referring to an expert witness or recognised authority. Example: "It is right to go to war. The Prime Minister says so."
  • Appeal to popularity: justifies a conclusion by its popularity. Example: "Thousands of people read their horoscopes in newspapers and magazines. So we should include horoscopes in our magazine."
  • Appeal to tradition: supports a conclusion by saying its traditional or has always been done this way. Example: "Our family has always donated one-fifth of its income to charity. It's what we do. So we should carry on giving money to the needy."
  • Appeal to history: supports a prediction about the future with reference to the past. Example: "I've always passed my exams without putting much effort in, so I'll breeze through my A Levels too."
  • Appeal to emotion: supports a conclusion by engaging the audiences emotions rather than by giving reasons. Example: "If you care about your children's success in school, and in fact if you care about your children's future at all, you will buy this set of encyclopedias."

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Flaws (1)

  • Two wrongs don't make a right: attempts to justify one harmful thing on the basis of another different harmful thing. Example: "Why are you telling me off for texting during the lesson? You didn't tell Jake off for spitting."
  • Tu quoqe: attempt to justify an action on the basis that someone else is doing it. Example: "Of course America should sign international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other countries have."
  • Hasty generalisation: draws a general conclusion from insufficient evidence. Example: "Australian researchers have shown that genetically modified peas trigger allergic reactions in some people. Genetically modified crops are simply too dangerous for human consumption."
  • Sweeping generalisation: moves from some or many to all, creating a stereotype. It may sometimes move back to one individual again. Example: "Jaz prefers talking to her friends at home to going clubbing and Kyle would rather play chess with his girlfriend. This shows that stereotypical images of young people going to drunken parties are rubbish."
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Flaws (2)

  • Unwarranted assumption of a casual relationship/casual flaw: assumes that a casual connection without good reason oversimplifies casual relationships or confuses cause and effect
  • Condfusing correlation and cause: assuming that because one thing happens before another, or two things happen together, one causes the other. However, there may simply be a correlation - relationship between two things which happen at the same time but where neither causes the other
  • Post hoc: special form of confusing correlation and cause. In a post hoc flaw the reasoning follows the pattern: A happens before B. Therefore A causes B
  • Restricting the options: presents a limited picture of choices available in a situation in order to support one particular opinion
  • Slippery slope: reasons from one possibility, through a series of events that are not properly or logically linked, to an extreme consequence 
  • Circular argument: one of the reasons is the same as the conclusion, or an argument in which you have to assume that the conclison is right in order for the reasons to make sense
  • Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions: assumes that a necessary condition is also sufficient, or that assumes a sufficient condition must also be necessary
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Flaws (3)

  • Attacking the arguer (ad hominem): a form of reasoning that dismisses an opposing view by attacking the person putting forward that view rather than by adressing their reason
  • Straw person: misrepresents or distorts an pposing view in order to dismiss it
  • Conflation: bringing together two or more different concepts and treating them as the same thing
  • Argung from one thing to another: for of reasoning which uses a reason about one thing to support a conclusion about something different
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