Chapter 1 Overview

Critical Thinking

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Chapter 1 Overview Critical thinking is clear thinking. It is the trained and practiced exercise of talents that all human beings have, but that they do not always use. Critical thinking examines the arguments by which we try to evaluate claims or settle issues. This chapter initiates the study of critical thinking: its value, its purpose, its subject matter. 1. Critical thinking is the process of assessing opinions. a. We all might be entitled to our opinions, but some opinions are more reasonable than others. b. Critical thinking consists of examining the views that you and others hold and the reasons for them. c. Its main purpose is not to make you either more persuasive or a better contestant against others, but to improve your ability to understand and evaluate what you believe. 2. Critical thinking is clear thinking about issues. a. Clear thinking about an issue involves identifying the issue, recognizing what positions people are taking on that issue, and understanding the arguments for and against those positions. i. All these steps can be quickly defined, but they cannot always be learned that quickly. ii. The ultimate goal of the entire process is a decision: What are the best reasons to accept a claim, reject it, or suspend judgment? b. An issue is any point being discussed or thought about. i. An issue may also be thought of as a question: Some assertion has to be decided on. ii. Issues can usually be stated so that they begin with "whether": Whether you should buy this car, or whether you should buy any car at all. iii. A psychological problem or hang-up is commonly called an "issue"; not here. iv. Nor is an issue something as broad as a topic of conversation, for a topic does not always call for a question to be answered, and an issue does. c. An argument is an attempt to support a claim by giving reasons for believing it. i. The claim being argued for is the argument's conclusion, while the claim or claims given as reasons for accepting the conclusion are premises. ii.
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Chapter 1 Overview - Chapter 1 Overview Critical thinking...

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