Critical Thinking Key Terms

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Ability to see or perceive
How well someone was able to witness an event, or how much access they have to all the facts of an argument
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Ad hominem
When an argument tries to get you to dismiss a counter-argument or accept a conclusion based on the good or bad qualities of the person arguing, rather than their argument
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Ambiguous
A statement or word is ambiguous if it can mean more than one thing, and it's not clear which is meant or intended
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Analogy
A comparison that tries to persuade you that if you accept a claim about one of the things being compared, you must also accept the same claim about the other thing being compared
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Appeal
Part of an argument that tries to persuade you that a conclusion is true without using rational reasoning
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Appeal to authority
Part of an argument that refers to the opinion of an expert or someone in charge to justify a conclusion
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Appeal to emotion
Part of an argument that tries to persuade you that because something's happened a certain way in the past, it'll also happen that way in the future
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Appeal to history
Part of an argument which tries to convince you that because something's happened a certain way in the past, it'll also happen that way in the future
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Appeal to popularity
Part of an argument that tries to persuade you that a conclusion is true because lots of people believe it is
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Appeal to tradition
Part of an argument that tries to persuade you that just because something's been done a certain way in the past, that's the way it should be done now
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Arguing from one thing to another
When an argument's reasons and conclusions are about different things. This is also called an unrelated conclusion.
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Argument
A speech or piece of writing hat tries to convince you to accept a conclusion. It must have at least one reason and only one main conclusion.
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Argument element
Part of an argument
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Argument indicator
A word that shows that a reason or conclusion might be coming up e.g because
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Assertion
A conclusion that isn't supported by any reasons
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Assess
When you assess something, you have to discuss one side, discuss the other side and then draw a conclusion
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Assumption
An unstated reason that is needed for the argument to work
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Begging the question
If an argument is begging the question you have to accept the conclusion before you can accept the reasons
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Belief
Something someone thinks is true
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Bias
An irrational preference for a particular side of an argument
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Circular argument
An argument where the conclusion repeats one of the reasons
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Challenge
A question that highlights a possible weakness in the argument
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Claim
A statement that it's possible to question or disagree with
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Coherent
A coherent argument makes sense- it's consistent and not illogical or confusing
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Common notation
Using letters to stand for the different elements of an argument so you can see its structure more clearly
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Conclusion
The suggestion, idea, belief or theory that the argument is trying to persuade you to accept, often referred to as the main conclusion
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Conflation
A type of flaw where two words or concepts are used as if they mean the same thing when actually they have different meanings
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Conflict
Two sources or claims that disagree with each other are conflicting. Conflicting sources or claims are also called inconsistent sources or claims.
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Confusing cause and effect
When an argument reverses a cause and its effects, saying the effect brought about the cause
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Confusing necessary and sufficient conditions
When an argument treats sufficient conditions as necessary or vice versa
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Consistent/consistency
Accounts are consistent if it is possible for all their claims to be true at the same time
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Contradict
Statements contradict each other if they say exactly opposite things
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Converse
A statement that reverses the two events in a statement of hypothetical reasoning
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Corroboration
When two sources or claims agree with each other
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Counter
Countering an argument means disagreeing with it by providing a claim or argument that goes against it
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Counter-argument
Part of an argument that disagrees with the main conclusion. They always have a conclusion and at least one reason.
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Counter-assertion
A statement that goes against the conclusion or argument. Not supported by any reasons.
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Credibility
How believable someone or something is.
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Credibility criteria
Tools that can be used to help judge the credibility of a document, person or organisation.
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Evaluate
If you're asked to evaluate something, you need to look at it's strengths and weaknesses and decide how effective it is overall
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Example
A description of a real situation that illustrates a reason
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Experience
Someone has experience if they've done or witnessed something that most other people haven't
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Expertise
Someone has expertise if they have specialist skills or training which give them knowledge other people don't have
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Explanation
A way of trying to improve our understanding of something by describing why it is that way
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False cause
When an argument claims that event A caused event B, but actually event A just happened before event B (also known as post hoc)
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False dichotomy
When an argument tries to present its conclusion as the best opton by only discussing a limited range of choices (restricting the options)
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Flaw
A mistake in the reasoning used to link an argument's reasons to its conclusion (flaws always weaken arguments)
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General principle
A general rule about how we should behave which can apply to many situations
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Hasty generalisation
When an argument uses a claim about a few things to support a conclusion about lots of things, or everything
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Hypothetical reasoning
A claim saying that if one thing happens, then something else will happen as a result of it
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Imply
If an unstated claim logically follows from the meaning of a statement, then the statement implies the claim
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Inconsistent
An argument is inconsistent if it contains two statements that can't both be true at the same time
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Infer
To look at reasons or evidence and decide what conclusions they could support
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Intermediate conclusion
A conclusion made on the way to the final conclusion, supported by reasons, but also acting as a reason for supporting the main conclusion
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Knowledge
Being certain something's true because you have information to prove it
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Necessary
A necessary condition for something is one that must happen or be true for something else to happen
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Neutral
Being neutral means not having any bias or vested interest
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Opinion
A personal belief based on taste or preference, not fact
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Opposite test
A test used to work out whether an assumption is necessary to make an argument work
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Plausibility
How reasonable a claim is, or how likely an outcome is
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Post hoc
When an argument claims that event A caused event B, but actually event A just happened before event B (also known as false cause)
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Primary evidence
First-hand evidence which comes directly from an eyewitness
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Reason
Part of an argument that aims to persuade you that the conclusion is true. An argument must have at least one reason.
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Reasonableness
Another word for plausability
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Reasoning
The process of drawing a conclusion from reasons and evidence
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Reasoning from wrong actions
A name for the 'tu quoque' and 'two wrongs don't make a right' flaw
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Refute
Refuting a claim means giving reasons to prove that it's wrong
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Reliablity
A source or document is reliable if it can be trusted
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Repudiate
Repudiating a claim means saying that it's wrong without giving reasons why
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Reputation
The opinion people have of someone
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Restricting the option
When an argument tries to present its conclusion as the best option by only discussing a limited range of choices (also known as false dichotomy)
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Secondary evidence
Second-hand evidence which comes through another person- indirect
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Simplifying casual relations
When an argument claims that one thing was entirely responsible for making something happen,when actually it happened because of several factors
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Slippery slope
A flaw which says that a small event will cause an extreme result, but gives us no reason to accept that the event and the result are properly linked
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Straw person/straw man
When an argument misrepresents or distorts a counter-argument to make it easier to dismiss
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Strengths
Parts of an argument the help support the conclusion effectively
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Structure
The different parts of an argument and the logical way they're linked together
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Sufficient
A sufficient condition for something is one that is enough for that something to happen
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Support
Supporting something means backing it up by giving reasons to accept it
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Sweeping generalisation
When an argument uses a claim about many things to support a conclusion about one individual case
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Therefore test
The test used to check which part of an argument is the conclusion and which parts are the reasons
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Tu quoque
When an argument defends an action by saying the same action has been done by other people
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Two wrongs don't make a right
When an argument justifies a harmful action by saying that other people have behaved badly in a different way
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Unrelated conclusion
When an argument's reasons are about different things (also called arguing from one thing to another)
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Vested interest
Someone has vested interest if they will gain something from supporting a particular side of an argument, or lose something if they don't
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Weakness
Parts of an argument that don't support the conclusion
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

When an argument tries to get you to dismiss a counter-argument or accept a conclusion based on the good or bad qualities of the person arguing, rather than their argument

Back

Ad hominem

Card 3

Front

A statement or word is ambiguous if it can mean more than one thing, and it's not clear which is meant or intended

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

A comparison that tries to persuade you that if you accept a claim about one of the things being compared, you must also accept the same claim about the other thing being compared

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Part of an argument that tries to persuade you that a conclusion is true without using rational reasoning

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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