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”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: 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 “Critical Thinking Toolkit: 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”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: 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 “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Don’t be a “Mere Skeptic””

Critical Thinking Toolkit: 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 “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Get the Categories Right”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: More on Basic Beliefs

In a previous post in this series, I discussed what are called properly basic beliefs. Because this is a frequently misunderstood idea in my experience thus far, I thought I’d add a dedicated but brief exposition of the idea and when it is and is not appropriate. A really great example of this goes backContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: More on Basic Beliefs”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: Weighing Evidence with Bayes’ Theorem

When we are involved in important discussions, it is important to not take pivotal claims of others – or ourselves – merely at face value. Instead, we debate the various available ideas. That is, we bring forth evidence that we have thought about and that we believe supports our position, and we listen to theContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: Weighing Evidence with Bayes’ Theorem”

Critical Thinking Toolkit: The Burden of Proof

One important aspect of philosophical arguments is whether or not there exist any “default positions.” That is, if I am trying to convince someone about X and that person is trying to convince me of the opposite of X, is either of us in some kind of default position? When is an idea innocent untilContinue reading “Critical Thinking Toolkit: The Burden of Proof”