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public:t-720-atai:atai-16:mtalbot-critical-reasoning [2016/01/19 09:26]
thorisson2
public:t-720-atai:atai-16:mtalbot-critical-reasoning [2016/01/19 09:28] (current)
thorisson2
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 The human capacity for reason is a species characteristic. It will develop in an individual human so long as that individual develops normally. It will develop as the individual acquires a language. It is interesting, in fact, to speculate how the two capacities are linked. Would reason be possible without language? Would language be possible without reason? What do you think? The human capacity for reason is a species characteristic. It will develop in an individual human so long as that individual develops normally. It will develop as the individual acquires a language. It is interesting, in fact, to speculate how the two capacities are linked. Would reason be possible without language? Would language be possible without reason? What do you think?
  
-The Attempt To Describe How To Reason Well+===The Attempt To Describe How To Reason Well===
  
 As with any of our natural capacities, attempts have been made to develop a theory of reasoning. This theory is called logical theory. Logical theory is normative, meaning it sets standards, tells us whether we are reasoning well or badly. And as with any theory of a practical capacity, theory and practice interact: we observe practice in order to develop the theory, then we use the theory to improve the practice. As with any of our natural capacities, attempts have been made to develop a theory of reasoning. This theory is called logical theory. Logical theory is normative, meaning it sets standards, tells us whether we are reasoning well or badly. And as with any theory of a practical capacity, theory and practice interact: we observe practice in order to develop the theory, then we use the theory to improve the practice.
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 Anyone can improve their capacity to reason by learning some logic. My experience has been that a lot of people are interested in improving their ability to reason. Given the centrality of reason to human life, this isn’t surprising. Anyone can improve their capacity to reason by learning some logic. My experience has been that a lot of people are interested in improving their ability to reason. Given the centrality of reason to human life, this isn’t surprising.
  
-Recognising Arguments+===Recognising Arguments===
  
 Probably the first thing you’ll learn on any critical reasoning course is how to recognize an argument. You might think this is easy. But it is amazing how many people think the following is an argument: Probably the first thing you’ll learn on any critical reasoning course is how to recognize an argument. You might think this is easy. But it is amazing how many people think the following is an argument:
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 Offering a conditional assertion and making an argument are two quite different things we do with language. Someone studying critical reasoning must learn that, and why, they are distinct. Offering a conditional assertion and making an argument are two quite different things we do with language. Someone studying critical reasoning must learn that, and why, they are distinct.
  
-Analysing Arguments+===Analysing Arguments===
  
 Having learned how to recognize an argument, our trainee critical thinker needs to learn how to analyse arguments: how to identify the parts of an argument – the conclusion and the premises. Here, for example, is the sort of thing you might read in your morning newspaper: Having learned how to recognize an argument, our trainee critical thinker needs to learn how to analyse arguments: how to identify the parts of an argument – the conclusion and the premises. Here, for example, is the sort of thing you might read in your morning newspaper:
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 I hope you’ll agree that what is being asserted, and the reasons for asserting it, are much clearer now the argument is set out ‘logic-book style’. I hope you’ll agree that what is being asserted, and the reasons for asserting it, are much clearer now the argument is set out ‘logic-book style’.
  
-Evaluating Arguments+===Evaluating Arguments===
  
 Possibly the thing you’ll be most interested in if you are interested in learning how to reason critically is how to evaluate arguments; how to tell whether arguments are good or bad. You might already have decided whether or not the previous argument is a good argument. But on the basis of what have you decided? Possibly the thing you’ll be most interested in if you are interested in learning how to reason critically is how to evaluate arguments; how to tell whether arguments are good or bad. You might already have decided whether or not the previous argument is a good argument. But on the basis of what have you decided?
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 For an argument to be good, the only thing that matters is whether its conclusion follows from its premises. The actual truth-values of its premises and conclusion are irrelevant. A good argument is such that if its premises are true its conclusion must be true (or as we’ll see below, probably true). For an argument to be good, the only thing that matters is whether its conclusion follows from its premises. The actual truth-values of its premises and conclusion are irrelevant. A good argument is such that if its premises are true its conclusion must be true (or as we’ll see below, probably true).
  
-Soundness+===Soundness===
  
 If you thought the truth-value of the premises must be important for evaluating an argument, you are not wrong. We want our arguments to be good, such that their conclusion follows from their premises; but we also want them to be sound, meaning that their premises are true, and their conclusions follows from their premises. If you thought the truth-value of the premises must be important for evaluating an argument, you are not wrong. We want our arguments to be good, such that their conclusion follows from their premises; but we also want them to be sound, meaning that their premises are true, and their conclusions follows from their premises.
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 This is a good argument. If its premises are true then its conclusion will also be true. If you reject the conclusion of this argument, though, the very fact that it is a good argument tells you where to look to find the problem. The problem must be in the premises: if the conclusion of a good argument is false, then at least one of its premises must be false. The distinction between the argument’s being good and its being sound tells us how to go about questioning the conclusion of a good argument. In this case, both premises of this argument are matters of dispute. This means that we needn’t accept the conclusion of this argument, even though it is undoubtedly a good argument. This is a good argument. If its premises are true then its conclusion will also be true. If you reject the conclusion of this argument, though, the very fact that it is a good argument tells you where to look to find the problem. The problem must be in the premises: if the conclusion of a good argument is false, then at least one of its premises must be false. The distinction between the argument’s being good and its being sound tells us how to go about questioning the conclusion of a good argument. In this case, both premises of this argument are matters of dispute. This means that we needn’t accept the conclusion of this argument, even though it is undoubtedly a good argument.
  
-Deduction vs Induction+===Deduction vs Induction===
  
 I have been talking about ‘following from’ as if it were the same in every case. In fact there are two sorts of ‘following from’. A conclusion may follow deductively from its premises, or it may follow inductively. I have been talking about ‘following from’ as if it were the same in every case. In fact there are two sorts of ‘following from’. A conclusion may follow deductively from its premises, or it may follow inductively.
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 Inductive arguments can be weak or they can be strong, or they can be anything in between. Induction doesn’t give us certainty, nor does it give us conclusivity. Conclusivity means that if a deductive argument is valid, then it will remain valid whatever else we might learn. An inductive argument, on the other hand, might go from being very strong to very weak (or vice versa) as we acquire further knowledge. For example, I said that Argument Seven was a strong argument. But imagine if tonight we learn that a rogue black hole is just about to hit the sun – would we still be so confident of the truth of its conclusion? A new piece of knowledge could cause us to revise our belief that Argument Seven is a strong inductive argument. Inductive arguments are never conclusive. Inductive arguments can be weak or they can be strong, or they can be anything in between. Induction doesn’t give us certainty, nor does it give us conclusivity. Conclusivity means that if a deductive argument is valid, then it will remain valid whatever else we might learn. An inductive argument, on the other hand, might go from being very strong to very weak (or vice versa) as we acquire further knowledge. For example, I said that Argument Seven was a strong argument. But imagine if tonight we learn that a rogue black hole is just about to hit the sun – would we still be so confident of the truth of its conclusion? A new piece of knowledge could cause us to revise our belief that Argument Seven is a strong inductive argument. Inductive arguments are never conclusive.
  
-Systematicity+===Systematicity===
  
 Furthermore we have no method of logically testing inductive arguments. This is at least partly because inductive arguments can be evaluated only a posteriori – only in the light of experience. By contrast, any deductive argument can be evaluated a priori – without any experience of the world. If you doubt this, try evaluating this deductive argument: Furthermore we have no method of logically testing inductive arguments. This is at least partly because inductive arguments can be evaluated only a posteriori – only in the light of experience. By contrast, any deductive argument can be evaluated a priori – without any experience of the world. If you doubt this, try evaluating this deductive argument:
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 This feature of some deductive arguments makes deduction the ultimate in transferable skills: it doesn’t matter what the subject matter of a deductive argument is, you will be able to tell whether it is a good argument or a bad one. This feature of some deductive arguments makes deduction the ultimate in transferable skills: it doesn’t matter what the subject matter of a deductive argument is, you will be able to tell whether it is a good argument or a bad one.
  
-Induction is Ineliminable+===Induction is Ineliminable===
  
 Induction might not give us certainty, conclusivity or systematicity. It might also be such that we can evaluate an inductive argument only in the light of our background knowledge of the world. But we cannot do without it. Induction might not give us certainty, conclusivity or systematicity. It might also be such that we can evaluate an inductive argument only in the light of our background knowledge of the world. But we cannot do without it.
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 Induction is as important as deduction, but it is different. Understanding that and how it is different is an important part of sharpening your reasoning skills. Induction is as important as deduction, but it is different. Understanding that and how it is different is an important part of sharpening your reasoning skills.
  
-Conclusion+===Conclusion===
  
 Reasoning is central to our notion of what it is to be human, but we can reason well or we can reason badly. Logical theory aims to identify what it is to reason well. By learning some logical theory, as you just have, you can improve your reasoning. Reasoning is central to our notion of what it is to be human, but we can reason well or we can reason badly. Logical theory aims to identify what it is to reason well. By learning some logical theory, as you just have, you can improve your reasoning.
/var/www/ailab/WWW/wiki/data/pages/public/t-720-atai/atai-16/mtalbot-critical-reasoning.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/19 09:28 by thorisson2