Characteristics of a Critical Thinker

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The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking
from http://www.criticalthinking.org/about/nationalCouncil.cfm

A Draft Statement of Principles
Dr. Richard Paul, Chair, NCECT


The goals of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction are as follows:
  1. To articulate, preserve, and foster high standards of research, scholarship, and instruction in critical thinking.
  2. To articulate the standards upon which "quality" thinking is based and the criteria by means of which thinking, and instruction for thinking, can be appropriately cultivated and assessed.
  3. To assess programs which claim to foster higher-order critical thinking.
  4. To disseminate information that aids educators and others in identifying quality critical thinking programs and approaches which ground the reform and restructuring of education on a systematic cultivation of disciplined universal and domain specific intellectual standards.
Founding Principles 
  1. There is an intimate interrelation between knowledge and thinking.
  2. Knowing that something is so is not simply a matter of believing that it is so, it also entails being justified in that belief (Definition: Knowledge is justified true belief).
  3. There are general, as well as domain-specific, standards for the assessment of thinking.
  4. To achieve knowledge in any domain, it is essential to think critically.
  5. Critical thinking is based on articulable intellectual standards and hence is intrinsically subject to assessment by those standards.
  6. Criteria for the assessment of thinking in all domains are based on such general standards as: clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, significance, fairness, logic, depth, and breadth, evidentiary support, probability, predictive or explanatory power. These standards, and others, are embedded not only in the history of the intellectual and scientific communities, but also in the self-assessing behavior of reasonable persons in everyday life. It is possible to teach all subjects in such a way as to encourage the use of these intellectual standards in both professional and personal life.
  7. Instruction in critical thinking should increasingly enable students to assess both their own thought and action and that of others by reference, ultimately, to standards such as those above. It should lead progressively, in other words, to a disciplining of the mind and to a self-chosen commitment to a life of intellectual and moral integrity.
  8. Instruction in all subject domains should result in the progressive disciplining of the mind with respect to the capacity and disposition to think critically within that domain. Hence, instruction in science should lead to disciplined scientific thinking; instruction in mathematics should lead to disciplined mathematical thinking; instruction in history should lead to disciplined historical thinking; and in a parallel manner in every discipline and domain of learning.
  9. Disciplined thinking with respect to any subject involves the capacity on the part of the thinker to recognize, analyze, and assess the basic elements of thought: the purpose or goal of the thinking; the problem or question at issue; the frame of reference or points of view involved; assumptions made; central concepts and ideas at work; principles or theories used; evidence, data, or reasons advanced, claims made and conclusions drawn; inferences, reasoning, and lines of formulated thought; and implications and consequences involved.
  10. Critical reading, writing, speaking, and listening are academically essential modes of learning. To be developed generally they must be systematically cultivated in a variety of subject domains as well as with respect to interdisciplinary issues. Each are modes of thinking which are successful to the extent that they are disciplined and guided by critical thought and reflection.
  11. The earlier that children develop sensitivity to the standards of sound thought and reasoning, the more likely they will develop desirable intellectual habits and become open-minded persons responsive to reasonable persuasion.
  12. Education - in contrast to training, socialization, and indoctrination - implies a process conducive to critical thought and judgment. It is intrinsically committed to the cultivation of reasonability and rationality.
History and Philosophy Critical thinking is integral to education and rationality and, as an idea, is traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practices — and the educational ideal implicit in them — of Socrates of ancient Greece. It has played a seminal role in the emergence of academic disciplines, as well as in the work of discovery of those who created them. Knowledge, in other words, has been discovered and verified by the distinguished critical thinkers of intellectual, scientific, and technological history. For the majority of the idea's history, however, critical thinking has been "buried," a conception in practice without an explicit name. Most recently, however, it has undergone something of an awakening, a coming-out, a first major social expression, signaling perhaps a turning-point in its history.

This awakening is correlated with a growing awareness that if education is to produce critical thinkers en mass, if it is to globally cultivate nations of skilled thinkers and innovators rather than a scattering of thinkers amid an army of intellectually unskilled, undisciplined, and uncreative followers, then a renaissance and re-emergence of the idea of critical thinking as integral to knowledge and understanding is necessary. Such a reawakening and recognition began first in the USA in the later 30's and then surfaced in various forms in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, reaching its most public expression in the 80's and 90's. Nevertheless, despite the scholarship surrounding the idea, despite the scattered efforts to embody it in educational practice, the educational and social acceptance of the idea is still in its infancy, still largely misunderstood, still existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality.

The members of the Council (some 8000 plus educators) are committed to high standards of excellence in critical thinking instruction across the curriculum at all levels of education. They are, therefore, concerned with the proliferation of poorly conceived "thinking skills" programs with their simplistic — often slick — approaches to both thinking and instruction. If the current emphasis on critical thinking is genuinely to take root, if it is to avoid the traditional fate of passing educational fad and "buzz word," it is essential that the deep obstacles to its embodiment in quality education be recognized for what they are, reasonable strategies to combat them formulated by leading scholars in the field, and successful communication of both obstacles and strategies to the educational and broader community achieved.

To this end, sound standards of the field of critical thinking research must be made accessible by clear articulation and the means set up for the large-scale dissemination of that articulation. The nature and challenge of critical thinking as an educational ideal must not be allowed to sink into the murky background of educational reform and restructuring efforts, while superficial ideas take its place. Critical thinking must assume its proper place at the hub of educational reform and restructuring. Critical thinking — and intellectual and social development generally — are not well-served when educational discussion is inundated with superficial conceptions of critical thinking and slick merchandizing of "thinking skills" programs while substantial — and necessarily more challenging conceptions and programs — are thrust aside, obscured, or ignored. 

Elements of Thought 
Linda Elder and Richard Paul 

If teachers want their students to think well, they must help students understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. In other words, students must learn how to take thinking apart. All thinking is defined by the eight elements that make it up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking. Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. We use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues. Thinking, then, generates purposes, raises questions, uses information, utilizes concepts, makes inferences, makes assumptions, generates implications, and embodies a point of view. Students should understand that each of these structures has implications for the others. If they change their purpose or agenda, they change their questions and problems. If they change their questions and problems, they are forced to seek new information and data, and so on.Students should regularly use the following checklist for reasoning to improve their thinking in any discipline or subject area:
  1. All reasoning has a purpose.
    1. State your purpose clearly.
    2. Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
    3. Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
    4. Choose significant and realistic purposes.
  2. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, solve some problem.
    1. State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
    2. Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope.
    3. Break the question into sub-questions.
    4. Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.
  3. All reasoning is based on assumptions (beliefs you take for granted).
    1. Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
    2. Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.
  4. All reasoning is done from some point of view.
    1. Identify your point of view.
    2. Seek other points of view and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.
  5. All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence.
    1. Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
    2. Search for information that opposes your position, as well as information that supports it.
    3. Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue.
    4. Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.
  6. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas.
    1. Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
    2. Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
    3. Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.
  7. All reasoning contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data.
    1. Infer only what the evidence implies.
    2. Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
    3. Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.
  8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences.
    1. Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
    2. Search for negative as well as positive implications.
    3. Consider all possible consequences.

Universal Intellectual Standards
Linda Elder and Richard Paul

Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold students accountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves. 
The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:
  1. Clarity - Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example? Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question "What can be done about the education system in America?" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the "problem" to be. A clearer question might be "What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?" 
  2. Accuracy - Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true? A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in "Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight." 
  3. Precision - Could you give more details? Could you be more specific? A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in "Jack is overweight." (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.) 
  4. Relevance - How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue? A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the "effort" does not measure the quality of student learning, and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade. 
  5. Depth - How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors? A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lacks depth). For example, the statement "Just say No," which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue. 
  6. Breadth - Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of...?A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.) 
  7. Logic - Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true? When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is "logical." When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not "make sense," the combination is not logical.

Valuable Intellectual Traits
Richard Paul and Linda Elder

Intellectual traits, or virtues, are interrelated intellectual habits that enable students to discipline and improve mental functioning. Teachers need to keep in mind that critical thinking can be used to serve two incompatible ends: self-centeredness or fair-mindedness. As students learn the basic intellectual skills that critical thinking entails, they can begin to use those skills in either a selfish or in a fair-minded way. For example, when students are taught how to recognize mistakes in reasoning (commonly called fallacies), most students readily see those mistakes in the reasoning of others but do not see them so readily in their own reasoning. Often they enjoy pointing out others' errors and develop some proficiency in making their opponents' thinking look bad, but they don't generally use their understanding of fallacies to analyze and assess their own reasoning. 
It is thus possible for students to develop as thinkers and yet not to develop as fair-minded thinkers. The best thinkers strive to be fair-minded, even when it means they have to give something up. They recognize that the mind is not naturally fair-minded, but selfish. And they understand that to be fair-minded, they must also develop particular traits of mind, traits such as intellectual humility, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual integrity, intellectual perseverance, faith in reason, and fair-mindedness. Teachers should model and discuss the following intellectual traits as they help their students become fair-minded, ethical thinkers.
  1. Intellectual Humility: Having a consciousness of the limits of one's knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one's native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one's viewpoint. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows. It does not imply spinelessness or submissiveness. It implies the lack of intellectual pretentiousness, boastfulness, or conceit, combined with insight into the logical foundations, or lack of such foundations, of one's beliefs.
  2. Intellectual Courage: Having a consciousness of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs or viewpoints toward which we have strong negative emotions and to which we have not given a serious hearing. This courage is connected with the recognition that ideas considered dangerous or absurd are sometimes rationally justified (in whole or in part) and that conclusions and beliefs inculcated in us are sometimes false or misleading. To determine for ourselves which is which, we must not passively and uncritically "accept" what we have "learned." Intellectual courage comes into play here, because inevitably we will come to see some truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. We need courage to be true to our own thinking in such circumstances. The penalties for non-conformity can be severe.
  3. Intellectual Empathy: Having a consciousness of the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others in order to genuinely understand them, which requires the consciousness of our egocentric tendency to identify truth with our immediate perceptions of long-standing thought or belief. This trait correlates with the ability to reconstruct accurately the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also correlates with the willingness to remember occasions when we were wrong in the past despite an intense conviction that we were right, and with the ability to imagine our being similarly deceived in a case-at-hand.
  4. Intellectual Integrity: Recognition of the need to be true to one's own thinking; to be consistent in the intellectual standards one applies; to hold one's self to the same rigorous standards of evidence and proof to which one holds one's antagonists; to practice what one advocates for others; and to honestly admit discrepancies and inconsistencies in one’s own thought and action.
  5. Intellectual Perseverance: Having a consciousness of the need to use intellectual insights and truths in spite of difficulties, obstacles, and frustrations; firm adherence to rational principles despite the irrational opposition of others; a sense of the need to struggle with confusion and unsettled questions over an extended period of time to achieve deeper understanding or insight. 
  6. Faith In Reason: Confidence that, in the long run, one's own higher interests and those of humankind at large will be best served by giving the freest play to reason, by encouraging people to come to their own conclusions by developing their own rational faculties; faith that, with proper encouragement and cultivation, people can learn to think for themselves, to form rational viewpoints, draw reasonable conclusions, think coherently and logically, persuade each other by reason and become reasonable persons, despite the deep-seated obstacles in the native character of the human mind and in society as we know it.
  7. Fair-mindedness: Having a consciousness of the need to treat all viewpoints alike, without reference to one's own feelings or vested interests, or the feelings or vested interests of one's friends, community or nation; implies adherence to intellectual standards without reference to one's own advantage or the advantage of one's group.


Argument Analysis

"Argument" is the most fundamental concept in our study of critical thinking. [Including] valid and invalid forms of arguments, strong and weak arguments, causal arguments, analogical arguments, and arguments based on generalizations. The significance of arguments to critical thinking makes it important for all of us to understand the term, and its relationship to some of the basic language of the critical thinking course.

The word "argument" is often used in everyday language to refer to a heated dispute, a quarrel, a shouting match. Please take note that we will not be using argument in this sense throughout this course. Instead, "argument," as we will be using the term refers to "a set of propositions, or statements, which are designed to convince a reader or listener of a claim, or conclusion, and which include at least one reason (premise) for accepting the conclusion."

Some other definitions of argument may be helpful to you. Kathleen Dean Moore defines an argument as "a claim or proposition put forward along with reasons or evidence supporting it." Robert Ennis defines an argument as "an attempt to support a conclusion by giving reasons for it." (Critical Thinking, 1995) Irving M. Copi, in his Introduction to Logic, defines an argument as a "group of propositions of which one, the conclusion, is claimed to follow from the others, which are premises." In his book, Critical Thinking, Richard Epstein provides the following definition of argument: " An argument is a collection of statements, one of which is called the conclusion whose truth the argument attempts to establish; the others are called the premises, which are supposed to lead to, or support, or convince that the conclusion is true."
To understand "argument," it necessary to understand the terms, "proposition" or "statement," the purpose of arguments, and the relationship of premises and conclusions in an argument. Warning: The different meanings of "argument" 

I made reference earlier to the everyday understanding of argument as a shouting match, dispute, or quarrel, and indicated that our definition of argument is different. This everyday conception of argument can cause confusion at times when you try to identify arguments. Sometimes students conclude that a specific passage is not and argument because they agree with the premise(s) and conclusion. Such an answer assumes that an argument requires a dispute or quarrel. Remember that a passage designed to convince you to accept a conclusion, with at least one premise to support that conclusion, is an argument.

Propositions and Statements
The building blocks of arguments are propositions (or statements or claims). A proposition (statement or claim) is a sentence that is either true or false. This means that a proposition is distinct from other sentences that not either true or false, such as, questions, commands, and exclamations, All of the following are examples of propositions: "The U. S. holds presidential elections every four years." "Bob bought a new car." "Suzanne has the measles." "More than forty people are enrolled in this class." "An advanced form of life exists on the planet Mars."
Each of these statements is a proposition because it is either true or false, or put differently, it has truth value. With some investigation, one can determine the truth or falsity of each statement. It is very important to note that even if a proposition seems obviously false, such as the statement about advanced life on Mars, it is still a proposition, though a false proposition.
You should also note that a single sentence may include more than one proposition, For example, the sentence, "Since smoking is bad for your health, you should not do it," includes two propositions: "Smoking is bad for your health." and "You should not do it." "Joseph went to the store and Barbara went to the beach," includes more than one claim.

Beware, sometimes a sentence may seem to include two propositions, but does not. A common error is to mistake propositions like the following as being two propositions: "If Andre comes to the party, then Susan will stay at home." We will discuss these types of propositions (they're called "conditionals") later in this course. For now, note that this proposition is NOT saying that both events (Andre comes to the party and Susan will stay at home.) will occur. Rather it is making a single proposition about the relationship of the two parts, namely that if one thing happens the other will happen too. Warning: "It's not a proposition. It's just his or her opinion."

The statement above is one commonly made by students in a critical thinking class. This statement reflects a misunderstanding that needs to be resolved now. If we define the term "opinion" as a belief that we accept, though without certainty, then the term covers many topics of vital interest to us. Our views about religion, the best form of government, what constitutes the virtuous life, the meaning of works of art, literature, and music, can all be classified as "opinions." If such statements are not propositions, then they are not true or false, and there is no need to offer reasons in support of them.
In this course, we will not dismiss beliefs which people accept, though without certainly, as mere opinions. Rather, we will make a distinction between "mere opinion," that is a belief that is unsupported by reasons, and "reasoned judgment," which is supported by reasons. We will try to improve our skills in developing arguments to support our own opinions, and in evaluating the arguments offered by others in support of their opinions.

The Purpose of Arguments: To Convince or Persuade
Arguments consist of at least two claims -- statements that are true or false -- which are offered for a specific purpose, namely to convince or persuade a listener or reader. Arguments are related to persuasion, the activities of convincing and of being convinced. These are activities very familiar to all of us. Scarcely a day passes without someone trying to convince us of something. Parents and friends try to convince us to take better care of our health, advertisers try to convince us to buy their products, or political candidates attempt to persuade us on how to vote. The list of examples could go on endlessly.

Recall something that someone has tried to convince you of -- something you should do or believe -- in the last several days? Make note of this example because we will come back to it.
While arguments are intended to convince, this does not mean that all attempts to convince are arguments. Most of us use and encounter a variety of methods of persuasion. A parent might use a simple gesture or facial expression to persuade a child to refrain from a specific behavior; advertisers sometimes try to convince us to buy their products with advertisements that depict a cute child or pet, a handsome man or pretty woman and the name of his or her product. Sometimes people try to persuade by manipulating language in a variety of ways, such as, through threats and flattery, or by calling people names that have powerful emotional associations, or phrases that insinuate or suggest claims.
Such efforts to convince are not arguments. Arguments can be distinguished from these other types of persuasion because they provide reasons for accepting the conclusion.

You should see that you can identify the issue by turning the conclusion into a question.
To determine the conclusion, ask yourself, "What is this writer or speaker trying to convince me of?"
A passage that only informs is not an argument; the writer or speaker must be trying to convince you of something before it can be called an argument. Note that 2 and 3, 14 and 15, deal with the same information, though only one of each pair is an argument.

The Parts of an Argument: Conclusion and Reasons
The purpose of arguments, namely to convince or persuade, is reflected in the relationship of their parts. We have already said that an argument is comprised of a claim, or conclusion, and at least one reason for accepting the claim or conclusion. The propositions in an argument are inferentially related, that is, one or more of the propositions are intended to establish the truth of the main proposition or conclusion. The conclusion of the argument is the claim that the writer or speaker is trying to convince another person to accept. In addition to a conclusion, an argument must have at least one reason offered in support of the conclusion. A proposition offered in support of a conclusion can be called simply a reason, or a premise.

Don't allow these terms and concepts to obscure from you the fact that hearing and developing arguments is a very common activity, even if you have never reflected on it. If you tell a friend, "You should stop smoking. It's bad for your health," you have given an argument, whose main claim, or conclusion, is "You should stop smoking," and includes at least one reason, or premise, "It's bad for your health." When you express a viewpoint or suggest a course of action to a friend or colleague, and he or she asks "Why?" then the other person is really asking you to give an argument to support your conclusion.

Identifying Arguments, Conclusions, and Premises
One of the objectives of this lesson is for you to be able to distinguish sets of propositions that are arguments from those that are not arguments. We have offered the following definition of argument: An "argument" is a set of propositions, which is designed to convince a reader or listener of a conclusion, and which include at least one reason (premise) for accepting the conclusion." Arguments, which are designed to convince, are different from sets of propositions that instruct, give directions, report or inform. Most newspaper articles, for example, give reports and are designed primarily to inform you. Instructional manuals provide directions on how to do something.

If asked to determine whether a set of propositions is an argument or not, ask yourself the questions, "Is this passage trying to convince me of something." If the answer to this question is "yes," then ask, "What claim or conclusion is the passage intended to convince me to accept?" After identifying the conclusion, ask, "What reasons are given for me to accept this conclusion?"
Remember that so long as you have a conclusion and at least one reason or premise, the passage is an argument.

Conclusion indicators and premise indicators - In identifying conclusions and premises, it is sometimes helpful to look for certain key words which, if used properly, indicate a conclusion or a premise. Terms such as, "therefore," "hence," "thus," "consequently," or "so," normally introduce a conclusion. Similarly, terms such as "since," "because," "for," and "inasmuch as" often introduce a premise.

Common Premise Indicators

Common Conclusion Indicators
In light of...Hence ...
Whereas...So ...
Given that...Thus ...
For the reason that...In conclusion...

It follows that...

As a result...
You must be careful in relying on these indicators. Unfortunately, these terms do not always serve as indicators. Consider the word "since." When it is used to indicate a time, i.e., "Since I came to FSU, I have had many friends." In this case, "since" refers to the time that I came to FSU. Moreover, writers and speakers do not always use these words to introduce their conclusions and premises, and sometimes when people use these term, they use them incorrectly. Hence (Note, I've used a conclusion indicator), these terms do not offer infallible guides to identifying premises and conclusions.

Even though these indicator terms are not infallible guides, they can provide a useful test when you seek to identify conclusions and premises. Consider the following examples. "Mr. Jones has served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years and has extensive experience in foreign affairs. You should support him for President."
Develop several formulations of the set of propositions with different conclusion and premise indicators to determine which formulation makes sense. One possible formulation would be "Since you should support Jones for President, therefore he has served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years and has extensive experience in foreign affairs."

Another possible formulation would be:
"Since Jones has served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years and has extensive experience in foreign affairs, therefore you should support him for President."
Supplying these premise and conclusion indicators make it clear that the second formulation is the most sensible. This lets us know that "You should support Jones for President" is the conclusion, and that "Jones has served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years and has extensive experience in foreign affairs" is the premise.

Issues and Arguments
The "issue" of an argument is the question that the argument is intended to answer. Consider the example just discussed:
"Mr. Jones has served in the U.S. Senate for twelve years and has extensive experience in foreign affairs. You should support him for President."
The issue here is whether I should support Jones for President.
Recognizing the issue can be helpful in identifying an argument's conclusion. Ask yourself what question the argument seems be answering, and then look for the answer to that question. At the same time if you identify the conclusion, it is then easy to state the issue. State "whether" at the beginning of the conclusion, and that is the issue.

The concept of issue is useful. In the course of discussions and debates, it is not uncommon for participants to lose focus, to stray from the topic at hand. Sometimes a person may intentionally try to turn a conversation away from the issue at hand, because they do not want to discuss it. In such situations, it is helpful to ask, "What is the issue?" In other words, clarifying the question your arguments are intended to answer can help us keep our attention focused.

from http://faculty.uncfsu.edu/jyoung/argument.htm


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Inductive Reasoning TFY C11 Student Summary

TFY Ch. 11 Inductive Reasoning

Ch. 11 is about the process of inductive reasoning. The word induction comes from the Latin inducere, which means to lead in. Inductive reasoning is to reason to a conclusion about all members of a class on the basis of an examination of a few members of a class. It is going from the specific to the general. 
Inductive reasoning is essential in the sciences, and it is analogous to the scientific method. One must observe, gather data and information, then come to meanings or conclusions. Some of the methods that have been used in inductive reasoning are sensory observation, enumeration, analogical reasoning, pattern recognition, and statistical reasoning. Sensory observation is observing with the use of your senses. This includes sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing. Simply observing and recording your observations can lead to correct inferences and have in the scientific world led to scientific breakthroughs. 
Reasoning from enumeration can just be a simple counting of parts to come to a conclusion about the whole. You use extrapolation to come to that conclusion. Extrapolation is a probability estimate or projection. Analogical reasoning is coming to conclusions based on making comparisons or analogies between two seemingly different things. 
Analogical reasoning is crucial in the legal system in the United States, where legal precedents can affect the decision of a case. Patterns are also important in inductive reasoning. If patterns are recognized, then this can help in drawing conclusions about the nature of them and why they might be important. Statistical reasoning is using enumeration to predict on the basis of an estimate of probabilities. This method is used when it is impossible to examine all of the available data. 
There are five basic rules about the reliability of the conclusions that come from statistical sampling.
1. The greater the size of the sample, the more representative the sample will be of the whole.
2. The more representative the sample is, the more likely it is that accurate conclusions will be drawn about the whole.
3. One counterexample can refute a generalization.
4. If statistical evidence is offered, it should be offered in sufficient detail to permit verification.
5. When polls are taken, it is important to know whether a reputable organization took the poll and the exact formulation, or wording of the question.

Inductive reasoning is vital for us in academia and normal, everyday life. We use inductive reasoning when we don’t know something or are confused to figure out what it is.

Student C11 Map

TFY - Chapter 11 - Inductive Reasoning & Fallacies Student Exercise

TFY - Chapter 11 - Inductive Reasoning & Fallacies Student Exercise

TFY: Chapter 11 – Inductive Reasoning and Inductive Fallacies Exercise

Class Discussion Exercise – Page 333:
List the contradictions you find in the following examples.

1. I love mankind; it’s just I can’t stand people.
Contradiction: Mankind is made up of people – Loving mankind (people), but not being able to stand people (mankind) is the contradiction.

2. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has imposed strict penalties for employees at nuclear plants found to be stoned from illicit drug use on the job; but no penalties were prescribed for workers discovered to be drunk at the nuclear controls. ( David Freudberg, KCBS Radio, February 16, 1990)
Contradiction: They imposed punishment for drug use, but not alcohol use?!?! This is the same difference. Being under the influence of a mind altering substance should be punished the same.

3. I’d like to order one Big Mac, large fries, twenty chicken nuggets, two apple pies, one chocolate sundae, and a diet Coke, please.
Contradiction: Here the person is ordering all these fatty foods and dessert, but then also orders a somewhat healthier beverage. That is the contradiction.

4. Capital punishment is our society’s recognition of the sanctity of human life. (Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah)
Contradiction: The sanctity of human life is the direct opposite of capital punishment.

5. The more killing and homicides you have, the more havoc it prevents. (Richard M. Daley, former mayor of Chicago)
Contradiction: I would think killing and homicides would be considered havoc!

C11 Map


Argument -- 50 Argument Topics

1. Is global climate change man-made?
2. Is the death penalty effective?
3. Is our election process fair?
4. Do colleges put too much stock in standardized test scores?
5. Is torture ever acceptable?
6. Should men get paternity leave from work?
7. Is a lottery a good idea?
8. Do we have a fair taxation system?
9. Do curfews keep teens out of trouble?
10. Is cheating out of control?
11. Are we too dependent on computers?
12. Are parents clueless about child predators on the Internet?
13. Should animals be used for research?
14. Should cigarette smoking be banned?
15. Are cell phones dangerous?
16. Are law enforcement cameras an invasion of privacy?
17. Are test scores a good indication of a school’s competency?
18. Do we have a throw-away society?
19. Is child behavior better or worse than it was years ago?
20. Should companies market to children?
21. Should the government have a say in our diets?
22. Does access to condoms prevent teen pregnancy?
23. Does access to condoms irresponsible, dangerous, or bad behavior?
24. Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
25. Are CEO’s paid too much?
26. Do violent video games cause behavior problems?
27. Should creationism be taught in public schools?
28. Are beauty pageants exploitive?
29. Should English be the official language in the United States?
30. Should the racing industry be forced to use biofuels?
31. When should parents let teens make their own decisions?
33. Should the military be allowed to recruit at high schools?
34. Should the alcoholic drinking age be increased or decreased?
35. Does age matter in relationships?
36. What age is appropriate for dating?
37. Should gay couples be able to marry?
38. Are there benefits to attending a single-sex school?
39. Does boredom lead to trouble?
40. Does participation in sports keep teens out of trouble?
41. Is competition good?
42. Does religion cause war?
43. Should the government provide health care?
44. Should girls ask boys out?
45. Is fashion important?
46. Are girls too mean to each other?
47. Is homework harmful or helpful?
48. Should students be allowed to grade their teachers?
49. Is the cost of college too high?
50. Is college admission too competitive?