Bringing It All Together Narrative and Structure

In this final chapter, I provide a fully worked example of a substantial written argument, which I have cast and commented upon, so as to demonstrate the way in which the main form in which we encounter reasoning the narrative flow is perhaps better understood as an expression of an underlying process of linking premises and conclusions. This longer example also demonstrates in more detail how you might end up writing something based on an analytical structure, pointing out the subtleties of...

Contents

Preface to First Edition i ' 1 Smart Thinking 1 What is smart thinking 1 How do we study smart thinking 5 Why do we need to 'think smart' 7 2 Claims The Key Elements of Reasoning 9 Understanding language 10 More about claims 14 Claims and reasoning 18 Review 22 3 Linking The Key Process in Reasoning 25 Links between claims 26 The analytical structure of reasoning 28 Learning more about the analytical structure 31 Review 37 4 Understanding the Links between Claims 39 Dependent premises 39 5 More...

Covering scope and certainty

We also know that claims always imply or state their scope and certainty and attention to this point will permit us to avoid one of the great errors in reasoning the sweeping generalisation. Often people will make a conclusion that is far too general, or definitive for the reasons they are presenting to support it. An example would be 'Australia has a good education system with strong programs to teach literacy, and thus all Australians know how to read and write.' It is true that Australia has...

Effective use of dependent premises Dependent premises providing one reason

A reason for a conclusion is very unlikely to consist in a single claim. No matter how we might state it in short-hand, it is, analytically, a complex interaction of many ideas and implications. The reason must be broken down into a chain of more precise premises. For example, the claim that 'university education should be free for all Australians' might be supported by the reason that 'the economy benefits from a well-educated Australian population'. But is our analysis of the situation...

Exercise

In the following complex argument, identify how the wording of the claims helps you to see the logic of the five arrows which represent the movement from premise to conclusion. 1. Ian should be jailed for between three and six months for assaulting Michael. 2. Ian threatened to attack Michael. 3. By law, threatening to attack someone is known as 'assault'. 5. A recent survey of 200 assault victims found that, for over 150 of them, the assault adversely affected their lives for between three and...

Further reading on knowledge and philosophy

Doyal, Len and Harris, Ken, Empiricism, Explanation and Rationality in the Social Sciences, Roudedge and Kegan Paul, London, 1986. A very comprehensive treatment of the topic. The authors' main argument is that naive empiricism (that is, the belief that facts are facts and we find them) is wrong because all 'facts' are interpretive claims based in political and or social circumstances. Gaarder, Jostein, Sophie's World A Novel about the History of Philosophy, Phoenix House, London, 1995. A story...

How to Use this Book

To get the most out of this book, you will need to read it carefully chapter by chapter. The book builds sequentially, so that many of the ideas and concepts introduced in earlier chapters underpin more complex discussion of related issues in subsequent chapters. Also, as you go, you should do the exercises in each chapter. Do not check the answers until you have completed all of a particular exercise and are satisfied with them. When you turn to the Answers, Discussion, and Further Advice, you...

Mainp softvnncom

ANSWERS, DISCUSSION, AND FURTHER ADVICE 157 It would be incorrect to diagram their relationship thus Claims 2 and 3 are related and, indeed, are dependent on one another (see chapter 4). It is wrong to use the -1 symbol for any form of relationship between claims other than for the logical relationship 'because therefore'. Instead the + symbol should have been used to join claims 2 and 3 on the same line. Other incorrect uses of the diagram tend to reflect a misunderstanding of the fact that,...

Preface to First Edition

The study and teaching of critical thinking (also known as informal logic) is relatively rare in Australia. There is little to guide the keen student or teacher in the development of skills for analysis and reasoning in everyday work and study The orientation of most of the available books on this subject is more traditionally logical, and this orientation further complicates the process of teaching and learning applied critical thinking skills, since it tends to remove the use of reasoning and...

Preface to Second Edition

I have been fortunate enough to find that I was right to assume that a practical book on critical thinking skills set in the context of communication would be both popular and necessary. I continue to be involved in teaching critical thinking in the unit Applied Reasoning, which is now a part of some courses of study through Open Learning Australia (REAl 1 visit http www.ola.edu.au), and is being revived on campus at Curtin University. I have also realised that, in writing Smart Thinking, I...

Reasoning and analysis Reasoning and knowledge

What any one individual knows about the world is extremely limited. People tend to be experts in certain small areas and ignorant in many others their detailed knowledge is often applicable only in limited situations. It could not be otherwise in modern society, considering the quantities of available information and consequent demands for specialisation. You do not need to be a walking storehouse of information about everything, since there are many places to look if you need to fill in gaps...

Reasoning from analogy

An analogy is a special form of reasoning, which has some similarities with reasoning from specific cases. Reasoning by analogy involves drawing an equally specific conclusion from specific premises via a comparison of like aspects. Good analogies avoid comparisons between items that have too many dissimilarities. For example Imagine a friend gave you a guinea pig to look after but forgot to tell you anything about what to feed it. You might say to yourself, 'I have a guinea pig and do not know...

The value of referencing

One of the problems that confronts teachers of first-year university units each semester is the need to ensure that students learn, quickly, the methods and skills of correct referencing. In some courses, students are very much left to fend for themselves, relying on, perhaps, the services of the university library, advice offered by individual staff members, or simply muddling through on the basis of critical feedback on their first assignments. The Department of Media and Information (DMI),...

More Effective Reasoning II Better Links

Writing well-formed and well-founded claims is only half the task of effective reasoning. The links between these claims must also be well made if our overall argument or explanation is to be strong. Looking carefully at the links between premises prevents us from making unconscious assumptions about how information is interrelated. We must also check the connections of our premises with their conclusion, making sure they are relevant and provide strong support. Otherwise our conclusion will...

The Key Elements of Reasoning

This chapter begins our in-depth exploration of how to use reasoning more effectively in order to make us smart thinkers. As suggested in chapter 1, learning to use reasoning better requires that we be more aware of what we are already doing. We need to learn some basic terms and concepts with which to talk and think about reasoning. The aim of this chapter is to improve our awareness of how we are actually doing reasoning. The focus in this chapter is on claims. In the next chapter we look at...

Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts

These 'key terms' summarise and draw together various points and concepts discussed in the text. Each includes a reference to the chapter in which they are first discussed many are generally applicable throughout the book. The conclusion is established by comparing similarities between like objects in the premises. The key questions to ask are about the similarities and differences between the known case and the case under discussion. (See chapter 7.) The process of thinking through the...

Wellformed claims Writing clear claims

Smart thinking requires, first of all, that our claims be well formed. Before we even think about how the links between claims might develop and before we even consider whether or not our claims are acceptable we need to write or speak clear claims. While this task is similar to all clear writing or speaking, it is not exactly the same. Some of the rules of narrative exposition such as not repeating words too frequently, the proper use of clauses within sentences, and so on do not apply at this...

Understanding the Links between Claims

Linking claims involves two distinct processes, as signalled by the and I symbols used in analytical structure diagrams. The first process involves connections between premises and other premises the second between premises and a conclusion. We must explore these links in more detail in order to understand, first, the analysis that lies behind such connections and, second, how to represent them accurately in the analytical structure format. Of course, in practice, the process of representation...

The Key Process in Reasoning

Claims are the basic material of reasoning, but they must be linked together if we are to argue and explain our points of view. We have already seen that claims that are linked to a conclusion by supporting it or explaining it are called premises. A conclusion, therefore, is a claim that is supported or explained. In this chapter we investigate this linking process in more detail. My principal goal, again, is to give you greater awareness of how you reason, in order to improve what you actually...

Smart Thinking

There is an inner logic, and we're taught to stay far from it It is simple and elegant, but it's cruel and antithetic And there's no effort to reveal it There are many words associated with what is, loosely, termed 'thinking'. We are often told to 'think about the issues', to 'analyse in more depth', to 'use reasoning', or to 'be rational'. Sometimes perhaps with reference to computers, or to the legendary Star Trek character Mr Sp ck we are told to 'be logical'. Often students are told that...