OCR Critical Thinking Section A

A brief summary of section A elements that you should know- hope it helps!

  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 07-01-12 16:22

Elements of an argument

  • Main conclusion- supported by all reasons
  • Reasons- supports/ leads directly to the main conclusion
  • Counter assertion- a conclusion which opposes an argument
  • Counter argument- conclusion and reasons that oppose the argument
  • Evidence- supports reasons 
  • Example- illustrates/ demonstrates evidence or reasons
  • Hypothetical reasoning- conditional and usually has the form "If....then..." E.g. If he wanted to learn how to drive, then he would have to take driving lessons" It is usually a statement in which someone predicts what is going to happen in the future or as a result of some other variable 
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Unseen argument elements


  • Persuasion- powerful words or sentences which can influence a persons decision/ perception; indicator words to look out for include, "should", "must"
  • Assumption- when looking at statements or claims, an unseen assumption may have been presumed. For example, in an article arguing that children below the age of 10 should be issued ASBOs for criminal activity, a source states "woman and the elderly never leave their homes after dark for fear of abuse or violent attack"- the source is assuming that most night attacks are performed by children under the age of 10!
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These can simply be in the form of:

  • Facts/ information- I tend to think of these as using words as opposed to numbers e.g. we know that gravity is a force which attracts two physical bodies together, dependant on their mass 
  • Data- I tend to think of this as using just numbers, e.g. if you were to look at past weather forecast readings or past lottery draws, you would be looking at lists of numbers that someone may use in their argument 
  • Statistics- only when you begin to interpret data and analyse it, can you provide statistics (numbers and words). E.g. by using the weather example above, you could look at a set of data and state "Overall, the UK experienced more rain in 2011 than in the previous 2 years" (crude example I know, but you get the point!)
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Evaluating evidence

Be sure to ask yourself the following questions when evaluating evidence: MRRR!

  • Is it MEANINGFUL? i.e. does it make sense and in the right context? 
  • Is it RELIABLE? i.e. what are its sources and could you trust them?
  • Is it REPRESENTATIVE? i.e. is there a sufficient amount of this evidence or does it need further interpreting or proof?
  • Is it RELEVANT? i.e. is it even related to the argument posed? 

Think of a traffic light and begin at the amber light; based on the summary of the questions you have asked, can you trust the evidence (move to green light) or can you not trust it (move to the red light) 

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Reasons and conclusion

Ask yourself whether the reasons themselves link to the conclusion. Then you can begin assessing how far it leads to the conclusion and the strength of the links. 

A checklist that you should use when commenting on this are as follows:

  • Remember to refer to the conclusion and reason
  • Describe the link between them
  • Judge whether the reason leads to the conclusion 
  • Comment on how strong or weak the link is

And that's about it for section A! (:

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