Claims When you state a belief or opinion (same thing), you are making a claim. An argument is what a prosecutor gives a judge or jury to show that the defendant is guilty. It is what a parent gives you when he or she tells you why you should do something, or if you are a parent, what you give your own children.
Arguments When you present a reason for thinking a claim is true, you are giving an argument.
From this perspective an argument has two parts: the supported part, which is called the conclusion, and the supporting part, which is called the premise.
The premise of an argument, in other words, specifies the reason (or reasons) for accepting the conclusion.
The statement “I should be excused because my grandmother just died” has the required two-part structure. “My grandmother just died” is the premise, and “I should be excused” is the conclusion.
An argument consists of two parts, and one part (the premise or premises) is supposedly a reason for thinking that the other (the conclusion) is true.
Critically thinking about a claim that is not self-evidently or obviously true or false requires evaluating the arguments both for and against it.
Subjectivism This is the idea that one opinion is as good as the next, or that what is true is what you think is true.
What is it that makes a concept subjective? The answer is that there are expressions which we generally let people apply as they see fit.
Value judgments obviously include decisions that are among the most important we make
Basic Critical Thinking Skills
When you think critically about a belief/opinion, or more precisely about the claim used to state it, the first order of business is to pinpoint what claim is under consideration.
Claims can be vague, ambiguous, and obscure in other ways
There are different kinds of arguments, and they involve different principles of evaluation
Two Kinds of Good Argument
A good “deductive” argument and a good “inductive” argument
Deductive Argument The first type of good argument, a good deductive argument, is said to be “valid.” That’s an argument whose premises being true would mean necessarily that the conclusion is true.
For example, our student, Josh Fulcher, lives in Alaska; that means necessarily that Josh Fulcher lives in the United States. “Josh Fulcher lives in Alaska; therefore Josh Fulcher lives in the United States” is an example of a deductive argument.
Inductive Argument The second type of good argument, a good inductive argument, is said to be “strong.” That’s an argument whose premises being true would mean that probably the conclusions are true.
For example, “Josh Fulcher lives in Alaska; therefore he buys a lot of mosquito repellant.” That’s a strong inductive argument. Living in Alaska makes it probable that he buys lots of mosquito repellant, but it doesn’t mean that necessarily he does so.
Valid deductive arguments prove or demonstrate their conclusion; strong inductive arguments merely support their conclusion.
Critical thinking requires evaluating arguments for and against a claim, but, it isn’t always easy to recognize an argument as such. Extraneous elements frequently work their way into arguments, confusing matters. Plus, other things can be mistaken for arguments. Not every sequence of statements is an argument.
The two parts of an Argument An argument, whether deductive or inductive, has two parts, and one part is presented as a reason for believing the other part is true. The cardinal rule of argument identification is, therefore, elementary. You need at least two claims, and the word “therefore” or an equivalent must stand, either explicitly or implicitly, before one of them.
For example, “He said and she said and then I said and he goes and I am like, etc., etc.” is not an argument, or not usually so; the