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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Critical Thinking #5

In the fifth critical thinking class, we learnt about more complex arguments and their structure.
R1 : In a no. of countries, cars drive on the left. 
R2 : This can result in accidents involving drivers and pedestrians from other countries who are used to traffic being on the right. 
(therefore)1C : R3 : Roads would be safer if in all the countries, the rules were the same. 
R4 : Countries where cars keep to the left are in a very small minority. 
C : Those countries should chane to the right.
The structure of the argument would be:

 R1 and R2                    >R3 and R4                  > C
Then we moved on to what a claim is. A claim is a sentence that may or may not be true, but it has to be a sentence that could arguably be true. 
A question or an exclamation can never be a claim.
Claims can be divided roughly into those that state facts and those that express opinions. Opinions are purely subjective and differs from each individual. Fact is anything that can be verified and has a proof.
An argument that has facts is always a strong argument. An argument that mostly has opinions is an extremely weak argument.
Opinions are also called value judgments, i.e., stating that someone or something is good, bad, better, best, nice, nasty, wicked, etc.
Predictions and recommendations are also claims.

The day’s class ended with that. We had a few more minutes for the class to end. Our teacher explained to us the 6 stages of learning:
1.    Recalling
2.    Comprehension
3.    Application
4.    Analysis
5.    Synthesis
6.    Evaluation
He told us that critical thinking was in the 3rd and 4th stage (application and analysis stage). He told us that there was something called the “Degree of Difficulty” which helps to measure our knowledge. He ended the class with a few puzzles.
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Critical Thinking #4

In our fourth class of the critical thinking course we learnt how to represent an argument diagrammatically. 

For example:
R1: Satellite pictures show a belt of very low pressure moving in from the Indian Ocean. 
R2: Weather stations report huge clouds gathering in the northwest.Therefore, 
C: Stormy conditions are likely to develop. 
Here, R1 and R2 are two different reasons leading to a conclusion. So, the structure of the argument can be represented this way:

R1                > C <                 R2
Another example...
R1: The train leaves at 16:24 
R2: It can take 40 min to get to the station 
Therefore,C: We should set off by 15:40 to be on the safe side.
Here, both R1 and R2 together lead to the conclusion. So, the structure of the argument would be different from the last one. It would be:

R1 and R2                       > C

The single arrow shows that it is a combination of both the reasons that leads to the conclusion.
The arguments and the structure can get more complicated when there are more than two premises (reasons) in the argument. There may be a mixture of reasons that work in combination and reasons that work independently.

R1 : Rajinder was the only person, apart from me, who knew about Jed and Jill getting engaged. 
R2 : I haven’t said a word. 
R3 : The news is all around the college. 
R4 : Rajinder spread a story about Daniel Li which I told him in confidence. 
C : It is obvious that Rajinder cannot be trusted to keep a secret.
The first three reasons work together. The fouth reason is independent. This argument could be represented this way :

R1 and R2 and R3                       > C <                       R4

So, we have seen how an argument works by unpacking or analyzing it, identifying its reasons and its conclusion and showing the structure.