Critical Thinking Toolkit: Inductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is a very useful way to gain knowledge, but it is also very limited. Deduction is a type of reasoning that intellectually compels you to believe something if you accept some number of other things. But very few aspects of reality are like this. In most situations, there are a range of availableContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Inductive Reasoning”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Rebuttal versus Refutation

When you disagree with someone, there are a variety of ways to approach that disagreement. The most obvious kind of approach would be to ask someone why they disagree with you and what evidence they have that underlies the disagreement. After all, in order to have a productive conversation you need to be talking aboutContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Rebuttal versus Refutation”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: A Priori Assumptions

This is one of the most important – perhaps the most important – of the many tools in the “critical thinking toolkit.” I don’t say this because I like this topic most among the topics I want to write about – although I do enjoy this topic a lot. The main reason I think thisContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: A Priori Assumptions”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Ockham’s Razor

When we are in debates, very often there is more than one way to explain something. When we are presented with more than one way of explaining some aspect of reality – be it scientific, historical, religious, or anything else – these situations arise. When they do, we want to be able to differentiate betweenContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Ockham’s Razor”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Possible v.s Plausible

In our common experience, there are a plethora of alternative explanations of the realities we see around us. Some of these are highly likely, some fairly likely, some moderately likely, some that are reasonable but not strictly ‘likely’, and some that are extremely unlikely. There are a variety of situations that we might find ourselvesContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Possible v.s Plausible”

The Fallacy of Equivocation

This is one of many brief articles I am writing about how to avoid fallacious patterns of thinking. Here, we briefly discuss the fallacy of equivocation. Before I try to define it, it will be helpful to see an example of the fallacy in action. (I take this example out of the Wikipedia page forContinue reading “The Fallacy of Equivocation”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: External and Internal Contradictions

When developing critical thinking skills, learning to recognize falsehood is as important as learning to recognize truth. This is important for many reasons. Recognizing falsehood helps you realize when you are making mistakes, when others might be making mistakes or using confusing language, and can help you find out the truth by process of elimination.Continue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: External and Internal Contradictions”

Evaluating a Premise: Don’t be a “Mere Skeptic”

This is the last of the initial series of discussions I am putting forward about evaluating premises in an argument – or more colloquially, evaluating anything that somebody tells you is true. We’ve gone through a variety of nuances so far – about properly evaluating probabilities, when people do and do not need to justifyContinue reading “Evaluating a Premise: Don’t be a “Mere Skeptic””

Evaluating a Premise: Get the Categories Right

This is another brief, but important, note within our discussion of evaluating claims that people make while trying to prove a point. The shortest way to say this is that there is more than one type of claim. You should evaluate claims based upon the category into which they fit. I could see this summaryContinue reading “Evaluating a Premise: Get the Categories Right”

Evaluating a Premise: What Does it Mean to “Know”?

One of the most common and comical aspects of the lives of very young children that I find quite joyful can be summarized in one word… “Why?” Well, it is more like a sequence of these “Why” questions over and over again until your head is about to explode. Even though there is a sillinessContinue reading “Evaluating a Premise: What Does it Mean to “Know”?”