Thinking Critically



When you are reading in preparation for the debate on your issue, you must look not just at what the views are, but also at how. the author reached that view.  Be metacognitive and look for the logic of it.


According to Sweigart's Philosophy as Critical Thinking (pp. 213-222), in reading critically you will want to:

            1.  Clarify the concepts.

            2.  Evaluate the definitions.

            3.  Examine the ways of reasoning.

                           a.  Deductive argument?

                           b.  Inductive argument?

                           c.  Indirect Proof.

                           d.  Reasoning by Analogy.

            4.  Evaluate the nature and adequacy of the claims.


In writing up your own side of the issue, and in critically evaluating the opposing side, ask yourself:

            1.  Is what is said clear?

            2.  Are explanations of important concepts given?

            3.  Are appropriate examples given to illustrate the major points?

            4.  What are the main reasons for the claims made?

            5.  Do the reasons given provide evidence for the claims made?

            6.  Are there any dubious assumptions?  If so, are they indicated and argued for?

            7.  Are any obvious counter-examples and counter arguments taken into account?

            8.  What of possible reasoning by analogy, indirect proof, or other techniques of argument?  Are there any examples?

            9.  Are there any important aspects of the issue which are overlooked?