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Want to develop an effective argument or explanation, we have to decide which premises need to have their relevance substantiated and which premises do not. Making this decision requires that we understand what is expected of us in reasoning. We must also consider the degree to which our audience will accept that what we claim to be relevant really is, even though we give no evidence for its relevance. Decisions about what to include or not include to establish relevance can only be made by...

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...