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

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

David A. Hunter

Language: English

Pages: 280

ISBN: 0470167572

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A practical introduction to critical thinking across various disciplines

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 and logic 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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great responsibility too: I am not free to torture or hurt people for the fun of it. A r e there also limits to what you can believe? Could you now, at this very instant, voluntarily make yourself believe that 2 + 2 = 27, or that the E a r t h really is at the center of the solar system? O r are your beliefs not under your immediate voluntary control? Would you like them to be? A r e there also responsibilities that come along with having beliefs? Would it be irresponsible for you to believe that

Applying What We H a v e Learned, 144 107 CONTENTS Reasoning about Alternatives and Necessary and Sufficient Conditions 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 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 W h e n A r e Disjunctions Acceptable?, 152 5.1.5 Exclusive Disjunctions, 154 5.1.6 Criticizing Reasoning about Alternatives, 156 Exercise 5.1, 157 Reasoning about Necessary and Sufficient Conditions, 159 5.2.1

answer is no. Killing someone in self-defense might be a deliberate killing, but would not be murder. So being a deliberate killing is not sufficient for being a murder. 2.3.1.3 Narrow and Broad Definitions A proposed definition is too narrow if it includes conditions that are not really necessary. The following proposed definition is too narrow: A n apple pie is a pie-shaped, apple-filled, and cinnamon-flavored pastry. This is too narrow because it excludes things that really are apple pies,

and whether they provide sufficient support for one's beliefs and decisions. But learning how to distinguish reasons from the conclusions they are m e a n t to support is difficult. It can help to begin by learning how to identify the premises and the conclusion in cases where the reasoning has been m a d e explicit. In this section we will look at how to analyze very simple arguments into premises and conclusions. Unfortunately, there is n o foolproof, sure-fire method for doing this. Authors of

reliability of a source of evidence depends on whether it is operating in optimal conditions. My friend in D.C. might be a better judge of the weather in the morning on his way to work than in the afternoon when he is sitting in his office cubicle. This means that as a source of evidence on the D.C. weather he is m o r e reliable in the morning than in the afternoon. The bathroom scale is reliable only when it is on a flat and level surface. O u r eyesight is reliable only when the lighting is

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