A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking: Deciding What to Do and Believe / Edition 1

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Overview

Knowing how to think critically about what to believe and what to do is essential for success in both academic and professional environments. A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking introduces readers to the concepts, methods, and standards for thinking critically about reasons and arguments in virtually any area of practice. While most literature on critical thinking focuses on its formal applications within philosophy, this book offers a broad conception of critical thinking and explores its practical relevance to conducting research across a wide variety of disciplines, including business, education, and the biological sciences.

While the book pursues an interdisciplinary approach to critical thinking, providing examples and illustrations from diverse subjects and fields of research, it also provides strategies to help readers identify the methods and standards that are characteristic of critical thinking in their chosen branches of learning, in their workplace, and in their own lives. The concept of an argument is extended beyond its philosophical roots to include experimentation, testing, measurement, policy development and assessment, and aesthetic appreciation as activities that require critical thinking. The logical, core concepts of critical thinking are presented in a rigorous yet informal way, with creative and practical strategies for defining, analyzing, and evaluating reasons and arguments wherever they are found. Each chapter ends with a "Mistakes to Avoid" section as well as a variety of exercises designed to help readers integrate and extend the chapter's lessons.

A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking is an excellent book for courses on critical thinking andlogic at the upper-undergraduate and graduate levels. It is also an appropriate reference for anyone with a general interest in critical thinking skills.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“For an absolute beginner, in either logic or philosophy, but also in other disciplines (where we do not indeed need \reasonable, reflective thinking"?), this book may constitute a more substantial basis which may also raise an interest for a more conventional logic course.” (Zentralblatt MATH, 1 August 2013)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470167571
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/15/2009
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David A. Hunter, PhD, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ryerson University, Canada. He has published numerous journal articles in his areas of research interest, which include the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and critical thinking.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Note to Instructors xv

1 The Nature and Value of Critical Thinking 1

1.1 The Nature of Critical Thinking 2

Exercise 1.1 6

1.2 Critical Thinking and Knowledge 6

Exercise 1.2 7

1.2.1 Truth 7

1.2.1.1 Realism, Relativism, and Nihilism 8

1.2.1.2 Relativism and the Argument from Disagreement 10

1.2.2 Belief 13

1.2.3 Justification 15

1.2.3.1 Emotional and Pragmatic Reasons 16

1.2.3.2 Epistemic Reasons 17

1.2.4 Good Reasons Are Sufficient and Acceptable 21

1.2.4.1 When Evidence Conflicts 22

Exercise 1.2 24

1.3 Critical Thinking and Personal Autonomy 25

1.3.1 Belief and Prejudice 25

1.3.2 Making Up Your Own Mind 26

Exercise 1.3 29

1.4 Mistakes to Avoid 31

1.5 Practical Strategies 34

1.6 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 35

2 Clarifying Meaning 39

2.1 The Place of Definitions in Critical Thinking 39

2.2 Assertion 41

2.2.1 Propositions 42

Exercise 2.2.1 44

2.2.2 Assertion Test 44

Exercise 2.2.2 48

2.3 Constructing and Evaluating Definitions 49

2.3.1 Slogan 51

2.3.1.1 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 51

2.3.1.2 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Are Related in Complex Ways 51

2.3.1.3 Narrow and Broad Definitions 52

2.3.1.4 Definitions in Practical Life 53

Exercise 2.3.1 55

2.3.2 Expand 55

2.3.3 Example 56

2.3.4 Contrast 57

Exercise 2.3 58

2.4 Thinking Critically about Frameworks 59

Exercise 2.4 61

2.5 Clarifying Beliefs and Problems 61

Exercise 2.5 65

2.6 Technical Definitions 66

2.7 Meaning in Advertisements 68

Exercise 2.7 70

2.8 Mistakes to Avoid 71

2.9 Practical Strategies 72

2.10 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 73

3Sufficient Reasons 75

3.1 Critical Thinking and Arguments 75

Exercise 3.1 80

3.2 Identifying Premises and Conclusions 80

Exercise 3.2 85

3.3 Dependent and Independent Reasons 87

3.3.1 The Words Test 87

3.3.2 The False Premise Test 88

3.3.3 Circumstantial Reasons 91

Exercise 3.3 93

3.4 Subarguments 94

Exercise 3.4 96

3.5 Evaluating Logical Support 97

Exercise 3.5 100

3.6 Missing Premises 101

Exercise 3.6 103

3.7 Practical Strategies 104

3.8 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 105

4 Acceptable Reasons 107

4.1 Reliable Evidence 109

4.1.1 Reliability 109

4.1.2 Undermining and Overriding Evidence 111

Exercise 4.1 114

4.2 Observation 114

4.3 Memory 117

Exercise 4.3 119

4.4 Testimony 119

4.4.1 Appropriate Testimony 120

4.4.2 Competent Testimony 121

4.4.3 Unbiased Testimony 122

4.4.4 Advertising 124

4.4.5 News Reports 126

Exercise 4.4 129

4.5 Measurement 131

4.5.1 Measurement Consistency 134

4.5.2 Measurement Precision 135

4.5.3 Surveys 136

Exercise 4.5 141

4.6 Mistakes to Avoid 143

4.7 Practical Strategies 144

4.8 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 144

5 Reasoning about Alternatives and Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 147

5.1 Reasoning about Alternatives 149

5.1.1 The Meaning of Disjunctions 149

5.1.2 Denying a Disjunct 150

5.1.3 False Disjunctions 151

5.1.4 When Are Disjunctions Acceptable? 152

5.1.5 Exclusive Disjunctions 154

5.1.6 Criticizing Reasoning about Alternatives 156

Exercise 5.1 157

5.2 Reasoning about Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 159

5.2.1 The Meaning of Conditionals 160

5.2.1.1 Sufficient Conditions 160

5.2.1.2 Necessary Conditions 161

5.2.1.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 161

Exercise 5.2.1 163

5.2.2 Valid Forms of Reasoning about Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 165

5.2.3 Invalid Forms of Reasoning about Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 169

5.2.4 Making It Explicit 171

Exercise 5.2.4 172

5.2.5 When Are Claims about Necessary and Sufficient Conditions Acceptable? 173

5.3 Reasoning with Definitions and Standards 174

5.4 Reasoning about Causal Conditions 179

5.4.1 The Meaning of Causal Claims 180

5.4.2 Reasoning with Causal Claims 181

5.4.3 When Are Causal Claims Acceptable? 183

5.4.3.1 Discovering Necessary Causal Conditions 184

5.4.3.2 Discovering Sufficient Causal Conditions 185

5.4.3.3 Discovering Necessary and Sufficient Causal Conditions 186

5.3.4.4 Concomitant Variation 186

5.3.4.5 Experimenting and Simulating 187

Exercise 5.4 190

5.5 Mistakes to Avoid 192

5.6 Practical Strategies 194

6 Reasoning by Analogy 195

6.1 Reasoning by Analogy 196

6.1.1 Examples 196

6.1.2 Is Reasoning by Analogy Valid? 197

6.1.3 Relevant Similarity 198

6.1.4 When Is an Analogical Claim True or Acceptable? 200

Exercise 6.1 204

6.2 Reasoning Using Representational Analogy 205

6.2.1 Reasoning with Samples 207

6.2.2 When Are Sample Groups Representative? 208

6.2.2.1 Sample Size 208

6.2.2.2 Random Samples 209

6.2.2.3 Self-Selected Samples 210

6.2.3 Reasoning with Models and Maps 213

Exercise 6.2 215

6.3 Mistakes to Avoid 217

6.4 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 218

7 Critical Thinking in Action 219

7.1 Thinking Critically about a Discipline 220

7.1.1 Identifying a Discipline's Key Concepts 220

7.1.2 Clarifying a Discipline's Key Concepts 222

Exercise 7.1.2 223

7.1.3 Identifying a Discipline's Sources of Evidence 223

Exercise 7.1.3 225

7.1.4 Identifying a Discipline's Modes of Reasoning 225

7.2 Critical Thinking Questions 227

7.3 Thinking Critically in Your Own Decision Making 228

7.3.1 Clarify Your Views 229

7.3.2 Clarify Your Reasons 229

7.3.3 Show That Your Reasons Are Acceptable and Sufficient 230

7.3.4 Identify and Respond to Alternatives 231

7.4 Thinking Critically in Discussion 232

7.4.1 Ask Open-Ended Clarification Questions 232

7.4.2 Withhold Disagreement and Agreement 233

7.4.3 Keep Emotional Distance 234

7.5 From Theory to Practice: Applying What We Have Learned 235

Appendix A Mistakes to Avoid 237

Appendix B Practical Strategies 245

Index 251

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