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Critical Thinking: Argument

Critical Thinking

Argument

 

A key skill when evaluating information is the ability to evaluate the strength of an argument and decide whether it’s reasonable. But what do we mean when we talk about arguments? Pause for a moment to consider the following question. When you have an answer, turn the card to learn more. 

 

 

Arguments can be divided into two categories: 

 

 

 

Evaluating arguments

 

Arguments can be evaluated by following four steps:

 

  1. Begin by deconstructing the argument so that you can identify its premises, the assumptions that underpin in, and its conclusions. 
  2. Establish whether the argument is deductive or inductive
  3. Determine whether the argument is logically valid. Does the conclusion follow from the premises? Is there any missing information or hidden premises that would be required to make the conclusion valid? 
  4. If you feel that the conclusions are valid, check that the premises are true

 

Evaluating arguments can be difficult at first. For an example of evaluation in action, watch this video which evaluates a common argument connected to climate change produced by staff at the University of Queensland (and if you're interested you can read their full paper examining this issue).