Introduction: Connecting Your Learning
"Thinking while you are reading"
As you may have realized, many of us don't know what to make of all the information that comes our way. So
when someone really wants to persuade us to accept some information or belief, we often don't react at all, or
we react emotionally, or we give in and let ourselves be persuaded. The upcoming lessons will be very helpful
in several ways. First of all, you will continue to improve your skills in critical reading and thinking. And
second, you will help yourself to develop an intelligent basis for evaluating arguments. You will feel more
confident in knowing when to reject, when to reserve judgment, and when to accept. This is important many
times in your life, including when you are voting, when you are buying a car, etc. Can you think of several
specific situations in your life where you are regularly involved in arguments? What are the common
characteristics of these arguments? (To increase your learning, write your thoughts here.)
We are asking you to analyze and evaluate arguments. This can also be referred to as criticizing arguments.
As you know, this does not mean to find fault with them, but instead it means to ask questions and make
decisions that enable you to analyze the merits of the reasoning and justify acceptance or rejection of the
argument. The main questions are: Is the argument logical? Is the argument objective? Is the argument able to
stand on its own with logical support for the conclusion, or does it include devices and techniques to
(unfairly) persuade us?
Focusing Your Learning
The focus for this lesson will be the course competencies regarding accuracy, logic and evidence given in
support. The complete list of course competencies is in your syllabus. The lesson competencies are then
broken down into specific lesson objectives.
Evaluate, in writing, an author’s accuracy, logic completeness, and clarity.
Evaluate, in writing, the nature of evidence given in support of an author's argument.
Apply critical reading skills to evaluate, in writing, all or part of an author’s argument.
By the end of this lesson you should be able to:
define inference, deductive validity, and inductive validity
analyze the support in an argument as being accurate, logical and clear
evaluate an argument as being a logical argument to a critical reader
analyze the kinds of support used in an argument
evaluate whether the support is logical and sufficient
Key Words, Concepts and Phrases