More Effective Reasoning I Better Claims

We have not yet discussed the question of how to reason more effectively. The analytical structure format allows us to see more clearly what we are doing and, thus, gives some basis for improvement. But of itself, the format is not really much help: we must also know how to make our reasoning strong and effective while planning and revising our work. This chapter and the next discuss the ways in which we can avoid errors in reasoning, both initially, in developing our ideas, and then when planning them using the analytical structure format. This format, therefore, can be regarded as a 'checkpoint' at which we can stop and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our own arguments and explanations, and then improve them, before fully expressing them in a narrative flow. Remember, the analytical structure itself does not 'make' the reasoning work. It is simply a way of putting your ideas on paper, logically, so you can check and revise them.

This chapter will cover two main areas:

1 We will learn that the claims in our arguments and explanations need to be well formed. A well-formed claim clearly states what it means in a way that allows its truth to be evaluated. A poorly formed claim may or may not truly state something about the world, but its weakness is that we cannot judge its truth.

2 We will look at well-founded claims. Such claims are likely to be accepted as true by people reading or hearing them. As we might expect, we need to be sure that the claims we are using are true. However, an effective argument is based as much, if not more, on whether such claims are demonstrably true. Poorly founded claims may

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