Critical Thinking & Reasoning: Introduction

Gears in a head "Filos segundo logo" by Filosofias filosoficas. CC-BY.

As we meander through our daily routines, we are surrounded by numerous messages and people trying to get our attention and convince us to do something. We sign into our e-mail accounts and are bombarded with sales pitches to help us get rich quick or promise to fix all of our embarrassing physical problems. We drive to school and see billboards touting tantalizing restaurants or pitching local political candidates. We converse with our friends and family about current events like the crazy car thief who tried to avoid the police by driving down train tracks right into an oncoming train.  Throughout all of these exchanges, we must constantly strive to make sense of the messages and determine which are true and which are not true, which are probably and which are improbable, which are intended and which are unintended. When we do this we practice critical thinking.  We evaluate the arguments presented and determine if their logic is sound or if they rely on fallacies to build their case. In this chapter you will learn how to use critical thinking in all areas of your life, including preparing and presenting speeches. You will also learn how to construct a logical argument that avoids the pitfalls of fallacious thinking.

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